Category: technology

The Battle for the ‘Net Continues

The Battle for the ‘Net Continues

Yep, here’s another post about the FCC push against net neutrality. I’ve written about other topics and will post them in the following weeks. Promise. It’s just that, as a writer who needs access to a wide range of websites for research and a US citizen who as witness the deepening class system in my country, this is important enough to me to repeat.

More than two months ago, I blogged about the Day of Action for Net Neutrality (see my “Message to Americans: The Future of the Net“) and how that battle for fair access to the Internet is part of what makes our current world feel like a part of dystopian science fiction (in “Cyberpunk Net Neutrality“).

A request I made to Americans in both posts was to officially comment on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Docket 17-108 to help protect net neutrality.


On August 1, several long-standing organizations filed a motion requesting an eight-week extension of the FCC’s deadline for replies. These organizations included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), international Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Consumers Union, National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) “on behalf of its low-income clients”, World Wide Web Foundation, and Writers Guide of America West (Movants).

The FCC considered the motion for ten days later before extending the deadline for comments until August 30. (You can read the FCC’s response on their website or see Engadget‘s summary.)

On the day of the extended deadline, over 500 small businesses signed an open letter to the FCC and US Congress, urging them to preserve Title II net neutrality protections.

Without making any publicized response I can find, the FCC continues to accept comments on the issue. Perhaps until September 30, 2017? That’s unclear.

Much of this issue is clouded by government misdirection. However, despite Chairman Ajit Pai’s reluctance to consider legitimate feedback, the comments to the FCC matter. They are a public record that are and will continue to be read. Your voice matters.

To reply to Docket 17-108 while the option remains, visit the proceeding’s page and click on “+ Express” for a brief comment or “+ New Filing” to upload supporting documents.

Another option is to tell your representatives in the US Congress to fight for net neutrality. An free, easy tool for cellphone users to contact the appropriate members of Congress is Resistbot.

Additional Reading:

The FCC’s Myths vs. Facts Sheet, Annotated by TechCrunch

Part of the timeline: “House Net Neutrality Meeting Cancelled” by Engadget on August 31, 2017

Fight for the Future (for news updates)

Cyberpunk Net Neutrality

Cyberpunk Net Neutrality

I’ve learned in the last week I’m not only one thinking we’re living in a cyberpunk dystopia.

Fans of cyberpunk have been discussing if attacks on net neutrality are a sign of this. Apparently, the possibility has taken one of the biggest online groups by surprise. The most recent push by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to favor the old cable companies over preservation of Internet freedom is causing “a bit of an existential crisis” for r/cyberpunk on reddit.

We’re not all flying around in our personal cars under neon lights, but politically, we are living within a cyberpunk world. Private IT and government agencies are catching up to threats instead of troubleshooting well in advance.

One of the risks is that people can die from malware. Everyone who’s paying attention is worried about governments giving apathetic corporations power over who lives and dies.

Like Ciemnika wrote,

Our world is becoming increasingly digital, and I doubt that’s a trend that’s going to reverse any time soon without a calamity. It’s well past time for us to wrest control of our destiny before its entirely bought and sold out from under us. It’s not too late.

The message concluding on this post is great, so I’m pasting it here.

Winning the fight to preserve net neutrality is very possible, but people have to get involved. You can’t assume someone else will do it. You have to roll up your sleeves and do the work. We can push back against the tide of overreaching government and corporate influence, and this is a great place to start. I’m not saying we can swing the pendulum from the seeds of Blade Runner to a utopia in a week, but the opportunity for humanity’s future to be the best part of its history is still very real.

American readers, all you need is a moment to give Chairman Pai your opinion directly on the FCC filing site (see how), or use the Battle for the Net form for your representatives in Congress to also receive your comment. Don’t wait for heroes straight out of fiction to save our world for you.

The FCC is accepting comments through today, July 17. (Sept. 22, 2017: See my update, The Battle for the ‘Net Continues.)

If the net neutrality in the US will impact you, please go comment. Right now. Thanks.


Message for Americans: The Future of the Net

Message for Americans: The Future of the Net

This is an issue you need to know about today.

Maybe you like spending money on whatever corporations tell you to. You wouldn’t mind paying to access all of the Internet at high speeds.

But I’m going to assume you don’t believe that people deserve more freedom online based on where they live within the United States or how wealthy they are. In my mind, a child in a poor, rural home deserves to visit the same websites as a child with access to more municipal or household resources.


Right now, new FCC [Federal Communications Commission] Chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai has a plan to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies immense control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, the FCC will give companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T control over what we can see and do on the Internet, with the power to slow down or block websites and charge apps and sites extra fees to reach an audience.

If we lose net neutrality, we could soon face an Internet where some of your favorite websites are forced into a slow lane online, while deep-pocketed companies who can afford expensive new “prioritization” fees have special fast lane access to Internet users – tilting the playing field in their favor.

Today, Internet users are coming together to stop them. Websites and online communities are sounding the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality. We all have until July 17 to tell the FCC and Congress how we feel about this issue.

Learn more and join the action here:

Near Future Tech: Home Printing in a Day’s Work

The big news last month in home construction was of the 400 square-foot (38 m²) house built by a 3D printer in Russia. The companies Apis Cor and PIK say the house was meant “to demonstrate the flexibility of equipment and diversity of available forms”.

What this means is that it could help not only the typical builder but also builders off-planet and the tiny house movement.

Surprisingly (to me), using 3D printers to quickly construct buildings is years old. Yingchuang New Materials Inc in China printed ten buildings in a single day, and they used recycled materials, inspiring an extra boost of optimism that our descendants won’t all live within giant trash heaps.

I totally missed that news in 2014.

That same year, a British company was in the news talking about 3D printing concrete buildings. The Russian house is concrete. This is how fast developments happen.

People: Loved to Pieces

People: Loved to Pieces

The lines between human and machine continue to blur, perhaps at a faster rate than during any time in the evolution of Homo sapiens. While technological developments make androids and algorithms more humanlike, they’re also bringing more artificial parts into humans.

Here’s an intimate look at some recent developments.

What do you notice about someone close to you?

Their smile?

F.A.C.E. is an expressive android, used as”an emotion conveying system” with a perfect smile.

Their eyes?

Not everyone can return your gaze (if you’re able-sighted), but that might change in the near future with the help of bionic eyes.

The feel of their skin?

Soft, robotic skin developed by Georgia Tech gives “a sense of touch that is at least somewhat analogous to” what healthy human skin feels. (There are those who might still prefer bioprinted skin for replacements.)

Is it the reassuring sound of their heart?

Whether they have an artificial heart, one needing the assistance of a robot, or one that has pumped in time to emotions since birth, does the heartbeat remind you that they live?

What about their mind?

Would it bother you to discover that they had once changed their mind–really, changed their mind’s home–with a mind transfer into an artificial brain?

We are going to be embracing a future when the game of “Would You Still Love Me If” steps up to another level, don’t you think?


Futuristic Fashion

Futuristic Fashion

It started with a shirt.

In one of the first passages I wrote for my current novel-in-progress, Aaron Stallard surprises Lexington Amis with a new outfit.

The shirt unfolded into a collaboration of silky red strips held together by straps of matching black leather. Was it actually a shirt? Lexi flipped the pieces around several times until they resembled one. Someone had confidence in his intelligence. This garment was a puzzle.

Why did Aaron choose this shirt? Where did he get it? These questions immediately birthed a new character, a fashion designer who shows up a few times later in the story.

That got me wondering more about what high-end fashion might look like 70 years in our future. What will it look like seven years from now?

Fashion designers are already incorporating what looks like futuristic technology into their designs.

Spider Dress by Anouk Wipprecht
Spider Dress by fashion-tech creator Anouk Wipprecht. Designed with 3D printing and microcontrollers, this dress reaches out when approached. There’s no need for bustles or brass knuckles to remind creeps to keep their distance.

Creator Anouk Wipprecht is “Rethinking Fashion in the Age of Digitalisation” with designs that include the skeletal Spider Dress (featured here), the Smoke Dress that surrounds its wearer in fog, and Living Pods, interactive flowery bots.

The sisters Ezra and Tuba Çetin created an “intelligent dress” that sets artificial butterflies aflight. You can see the design in motion in Intel’s video.

Using eye-tracking technology, designer Ying Gao has created a pair of dresses that light up and contort when stared at directly.

Other recent developments in wearable technology include cloth that blocks radio frequencies, unique uses of light and shadow as decoration, and couture that reacts to social media.

What we can look forward to, apparently, are clothing and accessories that interact with us and our environment for entertainment, decoration, and protection.

By the way, I wasn’t the first to imagine puzzling garments that serve more than one purpose. My fictional fashion designer was kinder on Lexi’s post-partying head than the incredibly imaginative Hussein Chalayan might have been. presented nine more designs for you to enjoy in “Technology is taking over our dresses, and the results are amazing” (2014).