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Comment Hi, I am the author of this article. (Score 1) 73

There's a few other things which are worth taking a look at on the topic at http://internetofagreements.co... - the HBR piece is short, and this is not a topic that is particularly easy to compress.

There are two things in particular that didn't come across well. Firstly, we expect this to be a five to ten year process. We're well aware how much there is to do, and how far this all has to come. We don't dream you can just digitize a body of law through natural language processing and then have an AI make legal rulings any time soon. But narrow areas - product labeling comes to mind - might be high value and tractable quite soon. And Internet of Agreements blockchain. Blockchain is a *how*, but IoA is a *why*.

Second thing is that IoA's intention is to get people with various pieces of this picture into direct contact with each other, with a rough sense of the goal state in a decade or so, to start building the bits that are currently financially possible to do real engineering on. As time passes, more and more of the vision should become manageable, and things will pick up speed and come together.

Hope that helps.

Comment Ah, the wikihouse - interesting but *so* expensive (Score 5, Interesting) 96

I should start this with a disclaimer: I'm the founder of the Hexayurt Project, a Free Hardware building system aimed at refugees and in widespread use at Burning Man. It's those silver pod things (http://hexayurt.com)

I think Wikihouse is exciting technically, but it's *incredibly* expensive to build - something like 7000 EUR of CNC cutting time for a single room. The parametric design aspects of the project are great, however, and I can see a future in which the components are mass produced at reasonable price and then assembled according to plans generated from the parametric design software. But without some kind of standardization, this kind of production is going to remain incurably expensive and therefore just another architectural demo. It's not a technology until costs are estimated. This has happened before: Architecture For Humanity's Open Architecture Network (http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/) rapidly filled with impractical technology demonstrators and student projects - 10000+ designs, but how many practically buildable?

Actually getting buildings that people can build is hard. Architects are trained to think about custom work, one-offs and impressing other architects. Mass producing housing at a price people can afford (hello, Mortage Crisis, goodbye Mortgage Crisis) requires a radical rethink of how we do construction: modularity, prefabrication, standardization - all the same things we did for every other technology we wanted to be cheap, easy and reliable.

It's often said that home building is the last truly-madly-deeply inefficient global industry. Imagine if they built cars by having people come to your garage to hand-assemble them! Whether the radical change is mass manufacture of entire houses Buckminster Fuller style, interchangable modular components (structural insualted panels) or something like 3D printing with insulated concrete, we can't keep buliding houses by hand in a world where everything else is efficiently mass produced with near-zero defects and not distort the shape of our societies.

Hexayurts are dirt cheap and designed for modular mass manufacture. But they look weird. Such is life :-)

Comment London June 1, we're having an event to fix it (Score 2) 79


"Evolution of Swarm Cooperatives" is about hackathons, unconferences, bar camps etc. - anything where you get a large, reasonably diverse group together in an informal setting to work together, solve problems or learn from each-other. Specific topics to address: more effective code reuse after hackathons, documenting unconferences, and scheduling when you have at lot of potential speakers.

If you're in London and have an opinion, come along - we're about 1/4m from the London Hackerspace on Hackney Road.

Comment It's a particular issue for the American military (Score 1) 159

The US military is working very hard on robots to assist in the kind of house-to-house combat they have been involved in during Iraq and Afghanistan. In that kind of conflict, there are a lot of casualties and that puts massive pressure on the politicians back home. The pressure is delayed, but very real.

However, once they get robots which can assist in that kind of conflict, it completely unbalances the US Constitution by essentially removing the Second Amendment: effective combat robots are equivalent to gun control. I think that has some very serious implications.


Comment My Kickstarter project was a year late - and great (Score 5, Interesting) 247

I ran a $2000 Kickstarter to fund a book called The Future We Deserve. The project was to collect 100 essays about the future from 100 people, and then write an analysis which drew out common threads and told a story about the future. The material that came in was so strong, individualistic and subtle that it was simply impossible, after a year of trying off-and-on to make an analysis so we simply accepted that the original task didn't make sense in the face of such strong material, and published it as-is.

We've had a few people be like "where's the book, man?" in that year, and we kept in pretty good touch ("it's in the oven, refusing to cook!")

The book is up on PediaPress now, and people are buying copies and are well pleased with the results, but it was an akward year!

Comment Moglen's tactics are dumb (Score 1) 236

Alienating reporters is a sure-fire way of getting your cause, no matter how good, totally disrespected. Even if they understand you, they never forgive.

In the long run, there are softer vectors to attack than social networking. A lot of these fears would apply equally well to private social platforms which were not encrypted, just the NSA etc. would have to scrape the data off the wires rather than having nice databases to mine. But the paydirt is still VISA and tax records and face recognition tied to passport databases. I bet social network data, when you get right down to it, is just a nice-to-have compared to the passport biometrics database combined with pen registers etc. for communications.

You might find http://guptaoption.com/cheapid interesting from this perspective: it's a proposed biometric ID card standard which blinds governments to the biometrics of their population except under special circumstances, and enforces this arrangement with strong cryptography. The passport and driving license databases are key, and this is one way to get rid of them.

Comment Don't forget about the Open Source alternatives (Score 1) 203

There's the Hexayurt Project, which is basically an updated geodesic dome and can be built up to 450 square feet for each module using only hand tools and a screw gun and the Wikihouse which is a fablab style design which relies on a router.

A typical deployment for a family home would be three hexayurts made out of polyiso foam and then sprayed with ferrocement. Cost is probably around $1500 for that approach, but that's first-world costs. With hand-plaster rather than sprayed ferrocement, I think a developing world unit could well hit $1000.

And, of course, a simple plywood hexayurt for disaster relief is $100 per family, half the price of a disaster relief tent.

Comment What you need is a stadiumsized evaporative cooler (Score 1) 259

http://www.port-a-cool.com/ is the commercial version, but it's basically some giant fans blowing through a constantly wet evaporation surface.

On second thoughts, I just checked the climate data and it looks like Cairo tends towards humid heat at this time of year, so that's actually not going to help very much at all.

Back to shade then.

Comment The Hexayurt and Simple Critical Infrastructr Maps (Score 1) 562

The hexayurt is an ultra-simple geodesic dome design ideal for mass production in an emergency - just straight cuts with a table saw across plywood, or hand cut insulation boards. They're all over Burning Man but ideal for serious work too

http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/17/hexayurt.html (public domain, too)

Simple Critical Infrastructure Maps
is a CC-licensed infrastructure mapping tool which has been partially adopted by the US .mil community for teaching disaster response. Can be really useful for understanding what you actually need to prepare *for*.

Submission + - Hexayurt Country: helping Haiti with Open Hardware (hexayurt.com)

vkg writes: The earthquake in Haiti has left a million people homeless. Hexayurt Country is a well-reviewed plan to use open hardware to provide water, sanitation and storm-resistant shelter in Haiti, transferring essential know-how during the process of reconstruction. It would cost about $60 per head to rebuild the basics for Haiti this way.

Submission + - Bruce Sterling reviews new Pirate Party manifesto (wired.com)

vkg writes: He's as terse as ever, but the Pirate's Platform is short, to the point, and quite interesting. What would happen if the pirate movement became more than a single issue party and moved in the direction outlined here?

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