A classically trained iconographer, Lynette Hull, draws fascinating parallels between contemporary and ancient icons in a tech-obsessed age.
Thousands of users around the world are likely to lose internet access on Monday thanks to a virus called DNS Changer – how bad could things?
Find out here.
The Catholic Herald reports:
The Vatican’s official website was attacked by computer hackers yesterday, cutting off access by users for several hours.
Italian media reported that the website, vatican.va, became unresponsive around mid-afternoon, just as several other websites carried messages taking credit for the disruption in the name of the hacking group Anonymous. Email to and from the vatican.va domain was reportedly also blocked for at least part of the time.
A posting on one Italian site claimed that the attack was an act of revenge for an array of outrages, including the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the historic practice of selling indulgences for sins.
Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed that vatican.va had been the “object of an attack”, but said in a statement that he had no other information or comment to offer.
The incident occurred one day after US federal prosecutors in New York announced criminal charges against four people affiliated with several hacking groups, including Anonymous. The four were charged with disrupting internet service and breaching the privacy of computer systems belonging to Fox Broadcasting Co and the Public Broadcasting System, among others.
The same day those indictments were announced, hackers identifying themselves as members of an Anonymous splinter group, LulzSec, reportedly took over the website of a Spanish firm, Panda Labs, after one of its executives posted a blog post praising the arrests.
It was not clear if the hackers who targeted the Vatican’s site were responding to the previous day’s arrests or if the timing of the attack was merely coincidental…
Silicon Valley in the 1990s. Excitement filled the air. Hopeful entrepreneurs drove fast cars to their shiny workplaces, where they discussed the boundless possibilities arising from the technological explosion unfolding before their eyes. They progressed in leaps and bounds towards their utopia: a self-stabilising network of human beings who could be free of state control and country borders.
Whence came that dream? And whither did it lead? In his new series, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, British documentarian Adam Curtis, famed for his incisive and sometimes controversial socio-political works, marries his indisputable knowledge of economic and political history with insights into the way that computers have shaped not only our world, but our world view…
Read the rest here.
Time Magazine’s cover story:
… Computers are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting faster faster — that is, the rate at which they’re getting faster is increasing.
So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness — not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.
If you can swallow that idea, and Kurzweil and a lot of other very smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there’s no reason to think computers would stop getting more powerful. They would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than we are. Their rate of development would also continue to increase, because they would take over their own development from their slower-thinking human creators. Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn’t even take breaks to play Farmville.
Probably. It’s impossible to predict the behavior of these smarter-than-human intelligences with which (with whom?) we might one day share the planet, because if you could, you’d be as smart as they would be. But there are a lot of theories about it. Maybe we’ll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities. Maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old age and prolong our life spans indefinitely. Maybe we’ll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually. Maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us. The one thing all these theories have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity…
Read more here.