The Null Device


Lycos has scrapped a screensaver which launched denial-of-service attacks against spammers, after apparently rendering some spam-advertised sites unreachable. I'm in two minds about this: on one hand, as spammers have no respect for propriety, one could argue it's a case of live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword. On the other hand, vigilante action can turn into mob rule, with unpopularity standing in for guilt. What's to stop, for example, a right-wing warblog distributing a screensaver that does a DDOS on the Guardian Online, thousands of PCs in the Red States launching attacks on Planned Parenthood (in fact, I suspect the anti-abortion movement will adopt this tactic sooner or later, given that, to them, it's about saving lives), or radical-left groups using similar tactics to silence those they deem ideologically unsound? Indeed, if such tactics become mainstream, we could look forward to a future where people install cause-affiliated DDOS software on their computers as they once wore badges or ribbons, and debating one's opponents taking a back seat to the far less taxing and more fulfilling activity of shutting them down.

ddos spam 0

French-American relations have suffered another blow, thanks to Paris being inundated with tourists looking for scenes from the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's repackaging of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail in thriller form. When told that the places depicted in the book don't hide the secrets of the Holy Grail and the Merovingian bloodline of Jesus, many tourists become abusive and accuse their guides of covering up the truth for the Catholic Church. Or just steal the signs pointing out that the Da Vinci Code is fiction.

In other news, the EFF is not actually an anarchist terrorist group. (No, that'd be the Cypherpunks mailing list.)

france the da vinci code tourism usa 1

Nokia have made available VST plugins simulating their mobile phones; the Nokia Audio Suite contains a softsynth which can simulate a number of phone sound chips, and an effect which can simulate the tinny little piezo speakers of those phones. They're ostensibly for ringtone composers, but there's nothing stopping musicians from using them. Unless, of course, the musicians in question don't use Windows.

computer music nokia softsynths 0

Cambridge geneticist Aubrey de Grey believes that, with modern medicine, people alive today may live to be 1,000; and the people include some who are currently in their 60s.

If it happens, because of the resources that masses of people not dying would consume, I imagine that life extension will end up being rationed; perhaps not by a totalitarian regulatory framework, but merely by being so prohibitively expensive to allow only the ultra-rich to afford it. Of course, there could be life-extension grants by governments or private foundations, allowing society's living treasures to remain living, though the politics involved in those could well result in venal, corrupt or superficially popular people winning life extension whilst politically unpopular visionaries are left to go the way of all flesh. Perhaps, ultimately, it will be automated into a reality-TV-style format, with audiences across the world getting to choose, through the internet and mobile phone voting, who gets to live forever.

aubrey de grey life extension science 5