Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[jpnyazsw] Recovering the stolen Death Star plans

Suppose the Empire so desperately wanted to recover the stolen Death Star plans because they feared the Rebels would build their own.

Tell an alternate story justifying the Empire's extreme measures, a parable of nuclear proliferation.  Perhaps the New Republic ultimately fails not to abuse the stolen knowledge.  Perhaps everyone ends up using Death Stars on each other, resulting in the galactic equivalent of nuclear armageddon.

That the plans would be analyzed to find a vulnerability in the defense was the least of the Empire's worries.  Avoiding vulnerabilities was the responsibility of the engineers who designed and built the battle station, who certainly knew not to base their security on obscurity.  Arguably, they did design their defenses well; they were simply not expecting to face a Force-capable attacker, assuming the Jedi to be extinct.

[giexgppf] Adding and subtracting from a sphere

Inscribe a regular (-ish) polyhedron within a sphere, so the vertices lie on the sphere.  This represents material that must be added (padding) to the polyhedron to make it a sphere.

Inscribe a sphere within a polyhedron, so that the faces are tangent to the sphere.  This represents material that must be cut away from the polyhedron to make it a sphere.

(The inspiration was, by one of these metrics, the icosahedron is the most spherelike polyhedron, whereas by the other, the dodecahedron is.)

Consider a sphere that is tangent to the edges of a wireframe polyhedron.  Does this represent anything special?  Wildly speculating, suppose you are permitted both to add and cut away material from the polyhedron to make it a sphere.  What is the minimum total material that must be involved?

Monday, April 21, 2014

[meoavrgt] Uncensorship extension

Create a browser extension which, when you encounter a URL link that is dead, tries to find the old content elsewhere using the old URL as a key, perhaps on a censorship resistant medium like Freenet.  The motivation is to fight DMCA copyright takedowns.

The corresponding opposite tool is, when you encounter a site you would like to prevent from disappearing, you can insert a copy of it into the censorship resistant medium using the URL as a key.

This requires the censorship resistant medium to support search by key.

One way the insertion tool could work is, the URL is sent to a third site, along with a payment, perhaps Hashcash or Bitcoin, and that site downloads and inserts the content.  Another way it could work is you download the content yourself and send it off to be inserted.  Another way is you download and insert the content yourself.

We would like to avoid redundantly inserting the same content twice perhaps encoded in different ways.  Things could become arbitrarily difficult if the original site wants to thwart this kind of mirroring, for example sending different, digitally watermarked content to different downloaders.

There is also the difficulty of, if the search by key returns multiple results, which to trust.

[vkjbbsrh] Improving YouTube wrt DMCA

Two possible variants of a video sharing site like YouTube:

1. After taking down a video in the execution of a DMCA order, the description remains, and the comments remain open, because those were not infringing copyright.

2. Upon receiving a DMCA takedown request, the request is published at a central location, and the video remains up for a grace period.  Ostensibly, this allows supporters of the video beyond the uploader to gather and organize themselves to legally fight the DMCA order in court.

Either of these two mechanisms provide enough rope for creating and publicizing a link to an alternate site for the video, perhaps in a censorship resistant medium like Freenet, which I suspect is why YouTube does not allow them.  Are they forbidden by law?  The general idea is not to foil the Streisand Effect from combating censorship.

Currently, the URL with unique video key remains up. Perhaps this is enough rope already.

Friday, April 18, 2014

[zogxdyge] Straight line quadcopter

Shoot a gun shaped device at a target.  A toy quadcopter swoops in and travels in a straight line from the tip of muzzle to the target.

Not sure how the quadcopter automatically maintains its straight line path.  Inertial navigation?  Very precise geolocation, possibly indoors?

The goal is to safely capture the simple fun of a bullet which approximately travels in a straight line.  Low speed toys, e.g., Nerf, disc guns, quickly lose the linear projectile approximation.

[rlzmljth] Sex workers a protected class

Create legislation making people who have formerly been, or currently are, sex workers to be a legally protected class, protected from things like later employment discrimination and hate speech.

This seems within the realistic political possibility of a progressive society, perhaps under the umbrella of women's rights.

The immediate goal is to remove the idea that such people are inherently and permanently tainted and inferior, a concept a progressive society already tries to eliminate for race, religion, gender, physical and mental disabilities, and sexual orientation.  The larger goal is to reverse the social idea of shame in promiscuity.

The deep question is, would it work?  Can we legislate social change?  Pessimistically, legislation forbidding discrimination against those other things hasn't worked at all; society has found mechanisms to skirt the law to maintain the underlying biases in society.

[gwwbuaes] Censoring censorship

Among regimes that do censorship, how well known is it among the populace that the censorship is occurring?

On one hand, keeping the censorship itself concealed might prevent people from thinking about trying to circumvent it. Concealing censorship is also necessary if the intended purpose is to erase someone or something from history.

On the other hand, censorship policies must be announced so that people know what not to talk about or publish.

In each country that Google censors its search results, does the population realize what is bring censored?

[xqrjuuck] QR fairy chess

Fairy chess permits a very large number of possible piece types.  Instead of developing a new icon for every possibility, depict each piece with a QR code which directly encodes the piece's abilities.

A QR code is square.  So are squares on a chess board.

This is more a universal format intended for fairy chess position diagrams for machine processing rather than something directly readable by humans.  Humans should use a UI.

[ocfmrykg] Morphing piece

A fairy chess piece can change among several identities, each with different movement and attacking abilities.  Changing identity is done in the place of a normal move.

The motivation was to allow an anisotropic directional piece to turn directions.

[kyufnwgt] Fairy pawns

Generalize the idea of pawns for fairy chess.

A pawn is a piece that starts on the second rank and does not have infinite forward range.  That is, it must slowly advance toward the enemy.  The pawns block the first rank pieces from immediately attacking.

We could also add the restriction that a pawn cannot move backward. We could also add the restriction that a pawn cannot have infinite range in any direction: pawn structure must change slowly.

[zrppxpio] Promotion for fairy chess

Generalize the idea of promotion for fairy chess pieces.  If a piece reaches any edge of the board from which it cannot move away, it may promote to a different piece which can.

[yeptsqsd] Promotion move

Modify chess such that a pawn reaching the eighth rank remains a pawn, mostly useless, until one move is "spent" promoting it to a different piece.  This is in contrast to the current instant promotion.

[zjmbwvvn] Storage cost of surveillance

Speculate that mass surveillance by the NSA and friends, and more importantly, data storage of mass surveillance, became fiscally feasible only recently because of exactly one development in technology: the dramatic increase in hard drive storage density over the past decade or two.

Did anyone foresee this? The world became a different place when the storage capacity grew faster than our ability to produce information.

One vaguely imagines a tax on storage and maybe retrieval latency to regulate mass surveillance.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

[vkpyxqjb] Adapting game AI

The computer plays against you, say defending the rook side of a KQKR chess endgame.  Initially, it simply uses the most stubborn defense (probably Distance To Conversion), but when it detects you have learned how to play against that, it switches to a different defense designed to confuse your strategy.

How can the computer detect you have learned a certain strategy, when the space of possible strategies is infinite?  I think the saving grace is that the space of possible board positions, and board motifs, is not infinite, and the computer can detect you are steering toward or avoiding certain motifs.

[uujvobxu] Understanding hoaxes

A good hoax (on the internet) has some amount of believability plus something extra which induces people to virally share it with friends.  It evokes some powerful feeling, perhaps hope or anger.

A successful viral hoax may reveal things about society that weren't otherwise readily apparent.  Such acts therefore ought to be rewarded, despite being trollish.

Inspired by April Fool's Day. Many people hate AFD because it reveals things about themselves they wish they didn't know.

[qngkroau] Formalizing myths

Formalization of an idea lays bare the assumptions the idea rests on.

Formalization of a myth would reveal the lies the myth is based on, which is not in the interests of those benefitting from the myth remaining widely believed.  Is preventing formalization at the root of anti-intellectualism?

[wriwgecn] Tree-structured compression

Create a compression algorithm for tree structured data, for which one can access data in the middle of the tree, addressed by a path from the root, without having to uncompress the entire prefix.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[adjzstbk] Americans being offended

Foreigners point out that Americans spend an inordinate amount of mental time being offended.

Assuming true, what causes some societies to develop this way while others not?  Is the vast amount of "being offended" because of we have more offensive people, or more sensitive people?

The obvious possible explanations: A first-world society has the mental "free time" to expend on being offended, in contrast to all mental efforts being spent purely to survive.  A heterogenous, multicultural society has more possibilities of intercultural clashes.

However, I suspect there is something going on beyond these obvious, that "you should be offended" is getting virally spread as a meme in society as a "normal" mindset.

[tccerhet] Multiple ways of describing something

For a collaborative editing project like an open wiki textbook, there are often multiple valid ways of describing something which may be useful for different readers.  What a reader will understand well depends on the reader's previous context, which may be radically different from reader to reader.

Is there a good, principled, way of organizing and maintaining these multiple versions?  Perhaps cataloging the possible previous contexts.

[irjwxfxf] Reinserting someone else's content

In Freenet, is it possible to reinsert someone else's content so that the original CHK address works?  The scenario is, you've downloaded a file, keep both file and the address you accessed it at, later try downloading it again out of curiosity from the same address, and notice it is no longer available.  As a public service, you would like to reinsert the unmodified original file at the same address.

I suspect this is possible but am not aware of tools that make this easy. For larger content, I think we also need to match the original FEC settings.

Going slightly further, the client already has a default "downloads" folder.  Let the client always constantly reinsert content in your downloads folder.