Almost a year ago, I wrote about the newly-launched Seasteading Institute, which promises to break the cozy cartel of world governments by developing the technology required to found affordable autonomous communities on the open oceans. It’s an audacious plan, and I expressed some skepticism about whether it can be made to work. But the Institute, led by Patri Friedman, has made an impressive amount of progress in the last year. They’ve done preliminary engineering work on a small seastead design. They hosted a conference that was by all accounts well-attended. And they’ve generated an impressive amount of press coverage.
So I’m excited to see that Friedman will be giving a talk at Cato about his project on April 7. If I lived in DC, I’d definitely be there. I’m still not convinced Seasteading is the wave of the future, but I’m glad there are people giving it their best shot.
The “Jefferson 1” – feted by TLF with a fundraiser some months ago – has sued the Park Police. She was arrested at the Jefferson Memorial in 2008 for dancing to celebrate Jefferson’s birthday.
TLF wishes well her effort to vindicate our First and Fourth Amendment rights.
Much ink is spilled over the expanding array of video marketplace choices that are competing for the attention of our eyeballs, but much less is usually written about the competition for our ears. As this excellent new Business Week article by Olga Kharif makes clear, competition and innovation in the audio marketplace has never been more vibrant. It’s something I’ve pointed out here before and here’s a chart I created for my Media Metrics report to highlight all the new competition for our ears. We’ve come a long way since the days of my youth, when transistor radios and vinyl records were the extent of audio competition!
“I have bought this wonderful machine — a computer … it seems to me to be an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy.”
- Joseph Campbell, trailblazing comparative mythologist, b. 1904 (Thanks to The Writer’s Almanac)
Fascinating article in the WSJ today: “To Sketch a Thief: Genes Draw Likeness of Suspects In the Field of DNA Forensics, Scientists Identify Genetic Markers for Traits Revealing Appearance and Ethnicity.”
Forensic experts are increasingly relying on DNA as “a genetic eyewitness,” says Jack Ballantyne, associate director for research at the National Center for Forensic Science at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, who is studying whether a DNA sample can reveal a person’s age. “We’d like to say if the DNA found on a bomb fragment comes from the young man who carried the bomb or from the wizened old mastermind who built it.”
The push to predict physical features from genetic material is known as DNA forensic phenotyping, and it’s already helped crack some difficult investigations. In 2004, police caught a Louisiana serial killer who eyewitnesses had suggested was white, but whose crime-scene DNA suggested — correctly — that he was black. Britain’s forensic service uses a similar “ethnic inference” test to trace murderers and rapists.
It goes almost without saying that the first impulse of many is to ban this evolving area of technology:
Worried about the ethical and social challenges, Germany doesn’t permit the forensic use of DNA to infer ethnicity or physical traits. Nor do a handful of U.S. states, including Indiana, Wyoming and Rhode Island. The U.K. and the Netherlands allow it.
The main downside I can see to the use of this technology in crime-fighting is that it would be disastrous for the genre of crime fiction. While it certainly sounds like something out of GATTACA (my favorite movie of all time), it would have killed the plot: The genetic-GESTAPO probably would have known that our genetically-defective hero Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was not in fact, the genetically-engineered-but-crippled superman Jerome Morrow (Jude Law) he claimed to be—and the whole plot would have gone up in smoke. How much fun would that have been?
Interestingly, it seems Hulu once made the entire film available online but no longer does so. Fie on them and their conspiracy to suppress the future! Damn it, Hulu, don’t you know that “There Is No Gene For The Human Spirit?”
I’ve been working closely with PFF Adjunct Fellow & former ICANN Board member Michael D. Palage on ICANN issues. Michael had this to say about the ongoing saga of ICANN’s attempt to create new gTLDs.
During the recent ICANN Board meeting in Mexico City, the Board authorized the creation and funding of an Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT). This team was to be comprised of “an internationally diverse group of persons with knowledge, expertise, and experience in the fields of trademark, consumer protection, or competition law, and the interplay of trademarks and the domain name system to develop and propose solutions to the overarching issue of trademark protection in connection with the introduction of new gTLDs.” This IRT is tasked to produce a report for consideration by the ICANN community at the Sydney meeting.
The IRT consists of 24 members:
- Chairwoman Caroline G. Chicoine; and
- Seventeen members; and
- Six ex officio members: Four IPC-elected officers and two-GNSO elected Board Directors (Bruce Tonkin and Rita Rodin Johnston).
I have a number of friends and colleagues serving on this team and I wish them well in their important endeavor.
I’ve previously proposed a number of rights-protection mechanisms that IRT should consider. Today, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will guide IRT as they embark on their important work tomorrow. In particular, I hope they’ll implement some of my suggestions intended to make the IRT process more transparent-so the rest of the global Internet can follow along with their important work and provide constructive input where possible.
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