Last Week in Cyberpunk 8/2/2017

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Our cyberpunk reality is a kind of uneasy mirror of the hacker crackdown of the 90s, and the cyberpunk fictions of our time seem to be a continuous stream of new iterations of the old.


Cyberpunk Reality

Bitcoin Operator Arrested in Connection of Money Laundering

Alexander Vinnik, a 38-year-old Russian man (L) suspected of running a money laundering operation, is escorted by a plain-clothes police officer to a court in Thessaloniki, Greece July 26, 2017.REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

The operator of BTC-e, one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges, Alexander Vinnik was arrested on Thursday in a village northern Greece. The arrest was made under charges of money laundering and assisting in the concealment of a host of other crimes including ransomware, fraud, identity theft, tax refund fraud schemes, public corruption, and drug trafficking. This brings up an interesting case. Bitcoin was designed to be an anonymous currency that was not under the control of any centralized bank or institution. Inherently, any system with those attributes is going to enable individuals to engage in crime but enables people to behave freely for non-sinister reasons as well. BTC-e at the time of Vinnik’s arrest has processed more that 4 billion dollars worth of bitcoin.

Human Embryos Edited in the US for the First Time

Shoukhrat Mitalipov is the first U.S.-based scientist known to have edited the DNA of human embryos.
OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Human embryos have been edited in Portland Oregon’s Oregon Health and Science University led by researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov. This practice had been pioneered by Chinese researchers previously but resulted in what is called ‘mosaicism,’ or editing errors that result in not all of the changes being successfully applied to all of the cells in an embryo. Mitalipov’s team has significantly reduced the number of occurrences of mosaicism in their own research, which shows promise for the future of genetic engineering. In fact, although none of these embryos were introduced into a womb, and were never intended to be, the research focused on removing the genes responsible for inherited diseases from the genome of the embryos.

Jeff Bezos Surpasses Bill Gates as Wealthiest Man in the World

Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc. Photographer: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Due to a surge in the stock price of Amazon’s stocks, of which Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) owns about 17% percent, Bezos was elevated to a net worth of 92.3 billion dollars. Bill Gates is currently worth 90.8 billion and has consistently remained the richest man in the world. Bezos was only richer than Gates for a moment since stocks didn’t stay that high, however, due to the increasing size of Amazon and its involvement in a host of industries, it is likely that Bezos will seize and keep this title moving into the future.

Programmer of Nanocore and Net Seal Pleads Guilty in Court

Photo illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

Taylor Huddleston, the 26-year-old resident of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and author of the programs Nanocore and Net Seal has pleaded guilty in court to developing software that was knowingly used by malware programmers to commit criminal acts. Besides being used in malware, both Nanocore and Net Seal have legitimate uses, much like BTC-e mentioned above. In a turn around from his initial argument that his software was never intended to be used to harm, he has now signed a statement of facts declaring that “that he intended his products to be used maliciously.” A plea deal perhaps? The sentencing hearing is happening on December 8th,¬†Huddleston potentially faces a sentence of ten years in prison.

AlphaBay and Hansa Take Down by Globally Coordinated Effort

Europol

AlphaBay and Hansa are online black markets, like the Silk Road, that operated within the Dark Web to protect the anonymity of both the sites’ users and their operators. On July 20th, it was announced that a collaboration between the FBI, DEA, Dutch National Police and Europol resulted in the takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa and resulted in the arrest of creator/operator of AlphaBay, allegedly a Canadian citizen living in Thailand. Additionally, millions of dollars worth of crypto-currency were seized, as were servers in Canada and the Netherlands.


Cyberpunk Movies

Alien Franchise Under Scrutiny

Michael Fassbender (Walter) stars in ALIEN: COVENANT

According to the Hollywood Reporter, due to Alien: Covenant‘s poor performance, grossing $232 million worldwide, Fox is going to have to reassess the future of the Alien franchise. This is about half of what Prometheus made, and Prometheus was also considered a failure by Hollywood standards. We don’t know what reassess means at this point, we’ll have to wait and see, but Scott has stated that he has plans for at least three more films.

Blade Runner 2049 Experience and Runtime

If you missed the Blade Runner Experience at Comic-Con, then io9 made a short video showing off some of the displays, the VR experience, and the set recreation of the opening of the first film.

Additionally, it was revealed during Comic-Con that Blade Runner 2049 will have a runtime of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Blade Runner 2049 opens on October 6th, 2017.

First Look at Ready Player One

We got our first glimpse of Ready Player One this week, and it looks like the same kind of homage to the 80s, cyberpunk and all, that the original book was. The official synopsis for the movie is:

When the creator of an MMO called the Oasis dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all Oasis users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg.

If you’d like to read the book before the film drops on March 30th, 2018, you can get a copy here.

James Cameron Reviving Terminator Franchise Again, with New Cast

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER AND LINDA HAMILTON WITH DIRECTOR JAMES CAMERON ON THE SET OF TERMINATOR 2
SUPPLIED BY GLOBE PHOTOS INC

James Cameron and Tim Miller of Deadpool fame are uniting to bring a new trilogy of Terminator films to us, and if the rumor is correct, they will be about a new batch of characters in the same world. If Arnold Schwarzenegger is in them at all, it most likely to only be a cameo, according to Cameron. New faces, without the baggage of the past characters, may be a great way to revitalize this cornerstone cyberpunk franchise. At this stage, there is no rumbling of an expected release.

Super Intelligence, Buddy Comedy Set Against the Singularity

Photo by Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock (8538658ej)

Super Intelligence is a coming film that will be an “unconventional” buddy comedy set against the coming Singularity. The movie is being produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone and written by Steve Mallory, who previously wrote The Boss. We’ll have to wait and see how cyberpunk this film actually is, but certainly, it will be at the very least post-cyberpunk adjacent.

Marjorie Prime is a Movie in the Tradition of Black Mirror

Marjorie Prime is an upcoming film in the tradition of Her and Black Mirror that explores the future of relationships with dead loved ones that are simulated from our memories of them. The official synopsis is:

“Marjorie Prime” is a Black Mirror-esque, sci-fi-tinged peek into the future, where technological advances have allowed humans to reconnect with computerized versions of their departed loved ones.

The film premieres on August 8th in New York and Los Angeles, and elsewhere soon after.


Cyberpunk Television

Westworld Returns in 2018

Westworld premiered its second season trailer at Comic-Con and it shows the Delos theme park is disarray. It looks like the season is going to pick up right where the last season left off, with all of the same character threads, possibly minus that of park founder Robert Ford played by Anthony Hopkins. The new season will premiere in 2018.

Future Man the Tale of a Time-Traveling Janitor

Future Man is a science fiction comedy from Seth Rogan about a time-traveling janitor, and the reason that we are mentioning this here, is like Ready Player One (and many recent films) the series is heavily inspired by many 80s movies, thus there is a high likely-hood that the series will have many cyberpunk elements. All of the first season will be available on Hulu on November 14th.


Cyberpunk Books

New Ghost in the Shell Anthology

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

In Spring 2018, Kondasha in collaboration with many western artists will be releasing a new anthology of stories set in the world of Ghost in the Shell called Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network including the newly announced artists Alex de Campi and Max Gladstone. The anthology is slated to be released in 2018.


What are you most excited about this week? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!

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