Category Archives: technology

Evolutionary computing close to proving the superiority of the Zerg

Lee Graham has developed software which allows users to simulate Darwinian evolution on their home computers. He asks for a little use of your CPU in exchange for a download of the program.

The software generates virtual creatures in a 3D environment and tests them based on their locomotive capacities, or other user-controlled selection criteria. Generation after generation is spawned, with the “genes” of the more successful creatures propagating, and mutation allowing for new body structures to come into being. Youtube hosts numerous videos of creatures that users have submitted after running the software long enough to get interesting results.

Of course evolution, like geopolitics, isn’t fun without the competition getting violent! What would happen if you put all the most successful creatures in a single environment and ran the program allowing them to duke it out for as long as it takes in order for one species to convincingly establish itself as dominant? I think you would be left with a creature that looks kinda like this:

A sci-fi great

I don’t have time to blog this week so if you’re looking for something stimulating to read that you will not find anywhere else, I have just the thing.

The Great Assembly made waves in the literary world when it was first released in 2005. It is the critically acclaimed short story that tells a deep and profound message about love, and about life. Readers come away having learned something new about their own humanity. It was written by a friend of hydralisk’s with some help from hydralisk. (I came upstairs with a glass of water every hour, and I found a couple spelling mistakes, I think) Enjoy!

Every home will have a bionic cat!

Awwww. Akihabara News has the nerve to calls a thing this cute creepy?

It’s time for all you Luddites out there to embrace the future, and that future consists of cute robot pets and cute robot women. Like Actroid says, “The relationship between humans and robots is going to broaden.” Yeah, listen to Actroid.

Real Transformer

For being as hard-working a people as they are, the Japanese sure seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

Steampunk watches

Go to Akihabara News to see more.


If you don’t “get it” you’re trying too hard. Look, here’s the definition of steampunk. As for what kind of geeked-out society goes to such lengths to build authentic, usable, marketable objects from a time period that never existed, I can’t help you with that.

Virtual crime in virtual worlds

The following are excerpts from a recent Washington Post article by Alan Sipress, Does Virtual Reality Need a Sheriff?

  1. “Earlier this year, one animated character in Second Life, a popular online fantasy world, allegedly raped another character.”
  2. “Then last month, authorities in Germany announced that they were looking into a separate incident involving virtual abuse in Second Life after receiving pictures of an animated child character engaging in simulated sex with an animated adult figure.”
  3. “In World of Warcraft… Gangs of animated characters have repeatedly preyed upon lone travelers, killing them and making off with their virtual belongings.”
  4. “Two years ago, Japanese authorities arrested a man for carrying out a series of virtual muggings in another popular game, Lineage II, by using software to beat up and rob characters in the game and then sell the virtual loot for real money.”
  5. “A participant in LambdaMOO, a community of users who congregated in a virtual California house, had used a computer program called a ‘voodoo doll’ to force another player’s character to act out being raped.”

Which of the above incidents warrant attention from authorities in the real world? Which would you criminalize?

I’m gonna go with none of the above.

The way I see it, the legitimacy of #3 and #4 depends entirely on what the rules of the game are as established by the private company that runs it, and is therefore under that company’s ‘jurisdiction’. There is nothing that prevents a player unsatisfied with the rules of a particular game from going off and playing a different game instead. (I recommend Solitaire!) And if a game loses players because the company has either defined poor rules or cannot enforce the rules that it has, it is entirely the company’s own problem and not society’s, is it not? (Unless the company has made false guarantees or falsely advertised, etc)

The article speaks of emotional distress the real person behind a character that is victim of a #1 or #5 may suffer. For such a person, the solution is absurdly simple–quit the damn program. Every PC is shipped with this nifty shutdown feature we should all learn how to use.

#2 of course is a joke since no real children are harmed by any of that.

Please do not interpret my dismissal of claims that any of the above behavior should be worthy of criminalization to be denials that such behavior may be, in fact, unethical. The frontier of online gaming is wild and lawless indeed.

H/T to CAD Developement

Undersea tunnel projects

Last month, supporters of a proposal to build an undersea tunnel to link Alaska with Russia renewed their efforts. Such a tunnel, if completed, would be more than twice the length of the Channel Tunnel which links Britain to France.

Presently, debate ensues over a proposal to build an undersea tunnel to link Japan to Korea. Such a tunnel, if completed, would be more than four times the length of the Channel Tunnel.


The fact that the concerns over the practicability of these projects are all mainly economic in nature proves the technical feasibility to have ceased to be an issue. But those economic concerns aren’t small. Eurotunnel, the company which manages the Channel Tunnel, still operates in the red.

Let’s airily assume that all economic problems involved in undersea tunnel construction and management can be happily resolved. Would there then be anything preventing us from building a tunnel from California to Hawaii? A transatlantic tunnel? A transpacific tunnel? Actually, I would not expect to see any of those until something like so-called Vactrain technology can be realized. Who wouldn’t like to be able to travel from London to New York in less than an hour? (Hey, why is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed raising his hand?)

H/T to Japundit

Protein in T.Rex, Invisibility technology

From The New Zealand Herald:

Tiny bits of protein extracted from a 68-million-year-old dinosaur bone have given scientists the first genetic proof that the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex is a distant cousin to the modern chicken.

Ignoring for the moment how the author has not apparently learned the difference between the word ‘evidence’ and the word ‘proof’, this is an excellent example of what makes following the scientific research on evolution fascinating. I’d previously considered the birds<->dinosaurs theory to be, like many areas of evolutionary research, a problematic one. But the more the evidence of bird tissue in dinosaurs surfaces, the more it begins to look like the bird<->dinosaur link might be solid after all. The fascinating aspect of science I speak of is how the influx of evidence affects the probability that given theories may be true. Solid one day, shaky the next, then solid again.

Unless of course you’re a fundamentalist of one stripe or another. Then it’s “shaky all the time!” or “solid all the time!” depending on your prejurence.

(‘Prejurence’ is a word I invented on the spot to describe a preference that is also a prejudice. It sounds slightly better than ‘prefedice’, don’t you think? Let’s hope it catches on, because if there’s one thing the English language needs, it’s more words!)

H/T to GeekPress, where I never fail to find geeky news.

More exciting news (for geeks): Scientists discover how to make objects at close range invisible. They do it by splitting light in waves rather than in beams.

Scientists predict that invisibility will be possible for objects of any shape and size within the next decade.

But once we are able to make a land mine invisible (assuming we can’t already do this) we’ll have achieved the pinnacle of practical application of this technology.

A device that counts sheep for you

From Sky News:

Scientists have found a way to turn on deep sleep at will using a machine that magnetically stimulates the brain…

“Creating slow waves on demand could some day lead to treatments for insomnia,” said study leader Prof Giulio Tononi, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Man, after the night I just had this is the very best news I could have stumbled on. I doubt the technology is all that usable yet, but I’ll be watching for further developments.

“Theoretically, it could also lead to a magnetically stimulated `power nap’ which might confer the benefit of eight hours’ sleep in just a few hours.”

Now that would be sweet. I really hope we see consumer-level applications of this in the not too distant future because it’s not fair that there can be people like this.

What would I do with all that extra time in the day? Probably daydream. How about you?

H/T to Raw Feed

In case you may be planning a trip to the World of Warcraft in the near future

There you have it. A map of the internet by xkcd. (Heh, even 4chan has its little island)

Geek Purity Test #1: How many of these domains do you recognize?
Geek Purity Test #2: How many of these domains do you regularly visit?

map of internet

Some other maps (not as good) posted in this thread of the discussion board of another webcomic, Megatokyo. For serious cybergeography, try browsing An Atlas of Cyberspace.

H/T to Andrew Cory (Dean’s World)