Sunday
Jun142015

"Machines for Training: Military Performance and Embodied Knowledge" on KCET's Artbound

In his 1923 manifesto "Vers une architecture" (Toward an Architecture) Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier famously described houses as "machines for living." By comparing houses -- or any buildings -- to machines, he gave us a new way to consider and understand buildings and, at the same time, also posed an implicit question. A machine -- a tool -- only realizes its fullest potential in performing work. Machines require use to be fully understood, because there is tacit knowledge -- what philosophers of knowledge distinguish as "know how" as opposed to "know of" -- that can only be known through performing the work itself. So if houses -- if buildings -- are machines, must we in fact be in them and "operate" them in order to fully understand them?

I had this question in mind in January 2015 when I was preparing for a visit to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. I joined a group of creative thinkers that included artists, designers, filmmakers, historians, geographers, and computer scientists on a trip to view Range 220, the largest urban combat simulation training facility in the United States and one of the largest in the world, and also to talk with Marines about terrain visualization, drawing, and training for these activities.

Read the full post at KCET's Artbound.

Friday
Oct312014

"Of Course Facebook Wants to Control Your Feelings" on The Daily Beast

By now, if you have a Facebook account or if you’ve just been on the internet in the past week, you are probably aware that Facebook conducted a study to see if it could construct users’ news feeds in order to affect their emotions. You’ve probably also see the range of responses, from shocked—shocked, to outraged, to apologetic (and more apologetic, and even more apologetic) and everything in between.

But for all of the explaining and hand-wringing, there has been little discussion of why Facebook conducted this research—or where this work is going. No matter how much furor this incident kicks up, it won’t be the last time an experiment like this happens. For Facebook to survive, it has to continue to find more and more ways to do what it has always done: change how we behave, and make money when we do. And Facebook isn’t alone. Google, data aggregators, and a zillion other tech and not-so-tech companies need to do it, too. Non-profits and governments may even need to get on the bandwagon.

Why?

Read the full post at The Daily Beast.

Wednesday
Aug012012

"Turn Left Here? Why Problems with GPS Show our Cyber Weaknesses" on the Truman National Security Project

It turns out that the problems with GPS are bigger than any of us knew about — and that has serious implications about not just GPS, but about the larger cybersecurity debate that is playing out in the Senate this week with the final debate over the revised Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

Last month news broke that a team of researchers from the University of Texas had hijacked a drone by spoofing the GPS used in it’s navigation system. “Spoofing” is a hacking technique that involves fooling a computer into believing that the hacker’s computer is a trusted computer. In this case, the U of T team fooled the drone by sending a signal that pretended to be from satellites in the GPS constellation but contained inaccurate location information — information that would have caused the drone to crash if not for pilot intervention.

Which should worry you not just because GPS helps fly drones but also because none of us know how to get anywhere without it any more.

Read the full post on the Truman National Security Project blog.

Friday
Jul132012

"GPS, a Weak Link in Cybersecurity?" on the Truman National Security Project

The news last month that LightSquared, a company attempting to deliver broadband internet via satellite, had filed for bankruptcy, settled a long-simmering but little noticed debate with far-reaching impacts on militaries, governments, businesses—and plain old folks like you and me.

Why? Because the global positioning system—better known as GPS—industry feared that LightSquared’s technology would interfere with the GPS signal, a service on which the world has become increasingly dependent but which it also takes almost completely taken for granted. The LightSquared decision a pretty big deal in and of itself—but it also opens a window into the larger debate on cyber security which is now being argued both inside the Beltway and around the world.

Read the full post on the Truman National Security Project blog.

Monday
Jun252012

"Climate Studies Show: Somali Pirates Take Summer Vacations, Too" on Wired's Danger Room

It’s the first full week of summer, and most of us are probably thinking about how to get away to escape the heat, relax, and maybe hit a wave or two. Well, it turns out that Somali pirates take a summer break, too — but for different reasons.

A recent report produced by researchers of the New Zealand Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy (Climatic controls on piracy in the Horn of Africa region, 2010–2011) proposes a new spin on the observed temporal pattern of attacks by Somali pirates based on weather, or more specifically the monsoons that occur in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea during the summer and winter.

Read the full post at Danger Room.