Ethics of hacking !

Ok, let's start by asking yourself if hacking is ethical. No, don't continue reading, just take a minute to think about it..

Now let's describe the culture of hackers. Ι think the most classic description of this culture is the one that Sherry Turkle gives at the "The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit" where hackers are users who don't treat computers as tools, but they are guided by an enthusiasm for the process and not just for the result! Hackers in 1970 were somehow connected with the amateur hobbyists, who usually had a small professional experience by working as technicians or electrical engineers, but the element of experimentation with technology belonged more in the field of electronics than mechanics and of course that's why the announcement of the first personal computer was made in the magazine "Popular Electronics". So hackers wanted to use computers at their own space as they did at their jobs or univirsities for their own purposes, which include the understanding of the internal functions. 

One of the major points of the history of hackers is their belief about the "release of computer's power", something that would be achieved with free software. For a software is very important to understand the difference between "owing", "having" and "using". When IBM presented in 1953the first computer -the model 701, the term "software" hadn't been invented and the manufacturers of computers were not claiming copyrights for their programs, as these related only with artistic and literary works. Nevertheless when the first "software packages" arrived, they were available for every independent company, and that was the beggining for turning a software to a common product. 

When personal computers began to be used by amateurs, were created organized communities like "Homebrew Computer Club" at Alto of California, where the copying software started to be introduced as a popular practice among these users. A well-known incident was the publication of an article by David Bunnell at Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems( MITS) where the writer complained that some users copy the MITCH BASIC for resaling it to friends since there are no copyrights to protect the inventor.At this time hobbyists used to buy the Altair 8800 computer from MITS, and use the copies from Altair BASIC, avoiding the complete package offered by the company. However in 1965 the chairman of MITS refused the reader's request for free disposal of BASIC by declaring that anyone who use the stolen copy of MITS BASIC is a thief. Of course Bill Gates accused amateur users that they are stealing him with the same way.

So, if hacking is stealing, then is certainly not ethical. But what Bunnell and Gates said, represent a totally speculative opinion, which is trying in every way to protect many economic interests. To be honest if you were the inventor of a software, you definitely wouldn't like the idea of someone else making money with your own product. But that's exactly the key of the story. Hackers were not trying to make money by the copies they made. They were just interested to invest the various technical informations and share this knowledge for making something new, something even better.All these communities were created for only one reason: to learn. This whole trend for experimentation was based on an open software context, where there wasn't any law forbidding the hacking. Moreover, there are many times where hobbyist were doing the job of a programmer, and that's why they formed an important link in the production line of software.Having a software means that someone gave it to you, or you just bought it. On the other hand owing a software means that the program you are using has been updated from you by making technical interventions that noone else did in the past. So programming evolution would be nothing without the element of intervention. The percentage of those who were involved with hacking for clearly speculative purposes was so small that naturally outweighed the benefits offered by hackers in the field of programming. Besides, would programming has had this power today if hackers didn't exist? 

Can a machine be conscious?

After watching the movie "Her", which is about a man who falls in love with his operating system, and chatting with "Siri" Apple's intelligent personal assistant, i decided to write a post about how conscious a machine could be.

H.Caulfield at 'A general model of primitive consciousness' starts by explaining what we mean with the term "conscious". Specifically he underlines the subjective nature of the term, as each person use the external observation by a unique way through the senses. So since consciousness prerequιsite the cooperation of mind and body, how could a machine be conscious? For Caulfield the basic functions for the description of a behavior depend on the electrochemical structure of neurons, the anatomy of the mind and from their interaction with the environment.In this way the system works consciously as self-sustaining and gives a causal explanation for the internal operation of the mechanisms of consciousness. It looks like what Harnad was talking about at 'Forward and Reverse Engineering' relating to the distinction of heart and biological functions, but Caulfield highlights that biological function of a system is above the chemical one.Since the chemical composition of neurons is not the most important, we need to solve the Mind-Body problem. If we are unable to understand the dualistic character of our own nature, then how could we understand a machine? On the other hand even if we had solve the Mind-Body problem with specific scientific laws, these laws would have no power over the question of whether a machine is conscious, because as Descartes claimed there is always the possibility of an emperical risk.


In my opinion a machine is conscious since it is fully aware of the situation of its body and the way it should be controled. So  consciousness is not located in any part of the machine separately, but in how to control all of these sections. And i will use as an arguement the XCR-1 robot designed by P.Haikonen in 2012.  On the video below, the robot is presented to feel pain and even be able to relate this feeling with the color of the object it touched before being hit. Thus it is evident that the robot is fully aware of the its choices and its condition, and what gives to it the possibility of consciousness is not each part of the machine separately, but the software. About that Haikonen believes that only a hardware could have consciousness, because in the case of software all the emotions are geting lost by converting the informations to 1 and 0.


So what is the difference between Artificial Intelligenci(AI) and the way a human brain works? 
The answer for the second is still being investigated by the Human Brain Project(HBP), which aims to achieve a multi-level, integrated understanding of brain structure and function through the development and use of information and communication technologies.Although the challenge in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to design algorithms that can produce intelligent behaviour and to use them to build intelligent machines, in HBP the goal is to build data driven models that capture what we've learned about the brain experimentally: its deep mechanics (the bottom up approach) and the basic principles it uses in cognition (the top-down approach). So the technology will be based on what we know about the brain and its circuitry. Thus in HBP scientist will develop the same kind of intelligent behaviour-as happens to AI too, but the models will learn the same way the brain learns. In other words Siri, which is closer to an AI, is learning by her own software mistakes and choices, but a HBP model is learning and formed by the way a human brain and neuroscience would do.

New Horizons's closest approach to Pluto and Haron

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh -who declared that he had discovered Planet X, and was considered as a plante untill 2006. So what happened and Pluto is not a planet anymore?                                                                                                  

Pluto belongs to Kuiper Belt, a region of the Solar System beyond the Planets. When astronomers started to explore Kuiper Belt, they supposed that Pluto can't be the biggest planet, since according to their estimations Kuiper Belt has at least 70.000 icy objects with the same composition as Pluto. So it was a matter of time to be found such an object with the same size as Pluto. In 2003 this object finally made its appearance and named from UB313 to Eris. So at this time astronomers wondered: 'What is Eris? A Planet or an object in Kuiper Belt? What if we 'll discover more Planets in this size in few years?' The idea of a 9-Planet Solar Sustem began to fall apart, and thats why they reached to a redefinition of a "Planet".

In August 2006 International Astronomical Union decided that an object is a Planet if meets these three requirements:

  • It needs to be in orbit around the Sun – Yes, so Pluto might be a planet.
  • It needs to have enough gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape – Sure it is!
  • It needs to have “cleared the neighborhood” of its orbit – And here is the problem for Pluto.
    And that's how we get a "dwarf Planet".

    What about Pluto's details?
    Firsly, Pluto was named by an 11 years old girl from England-and on the photo below you can see once again the power of child's fiction.
    "Pluto is only 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. That's about half the width of the United States. Pluto is slightly smaller than Earth's moon. It takes Pluto 248 years to go around the sun. One day on Pluto is about 6 1/2 days on Earth.The dwarf planet has three moons. Its largest moon is named Charon (KER-ən). Charon is about half the size of Pluto.
    Pluto's two other moons are named Nix and Hydra. They were discovered in 2005. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took pictures of the two new moons. Nix and Hydra are very small. The moons are less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.

    In 2006, NASA launched the first mission to Pluto. It is called New Horizons. New Horizons is a spacecraft that is going to the edge of the solar system. The spacecraft is about the size of a piano. It will take nine years to reach Pluto.New Horizons has cameras that will take pictures of Pluto. The spacecraft also has science tools to gather information about Pluto. These pictures and information will help scientists learn more about the dwarf planet.

    On 14 July 2015 New Horizons gave us the closest photos of Pluto and the possibility to compare it with its moon Charon.
    “These images show that Pluto and Charon are truly complex worlds.  There's a whole lot going on here,” said New Horizons co-investigator Will Grundy, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona.  “Our surface composition team is working as fast as we can to identify the substances in different regions on Pluto and unravel the processes that put them where they are.”
    From the colour scientist understand the molecular make up of ices in the surface of Pluto and Charon, and the age of geologic features like craters. If Pluto disappeared, it certainly wouldn't have an effect on Earth. Gravity depends on mass, and the force it exerts decreases over distance. So Pluto is too tiny and too far to affect Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune."

    @ Nasa, 2015 - Wired

What's between CERN and U.S. Science?

We may all know about CERN -well most of us, but have you ever wonder how is possible for a Europoean Organization not only to become independent but also to overcome U.S. Science? Actually the answer is hidden behind the protagonists of the whole story, so lets take a closer look at them before examining the facts.

Isidor I. Rabi was an American, Nobel laureate physicist and the main actor in the story. On 7 June 1950 in consultation with the State Department  he suggested to UNESCO "to assist and encourage the formation and organization of regional research centers and laboratories.."and of course such a center could be located in Western Europe. Also in this consultation was made the first suggestion about the facilities of accelerator-based physics, only if Europe could collect the necessary resources.Europe suddenly seemed to be "up and in" scientifically.

Lee Kowarski as a member of CEA's Scientific Services approached Robert J. Oppenheimer who considered the European research center as something feasible.At this point it is worth mentioning that Oppenheimer was the chairman of the General Advisory Committee to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commision, and Rabi was one of its distinguished members.Oppenheimer suggested that US could help Europe by building an accelerator and providing Uranium metal for a reactor. Now despite the fact that all of them thought it might be possible to establish such a center, there is one common denominator in Rabi's, Kowarski's and Oppenheimer's past: they worked on the Manhattan Project and as it they fear the possibility of creating a reactor which could be used as a nucler weapon in the future. Little Boy and Fat Man were a good instance for them i guess...

Joliot F. Curie was another problem for CERN's erection. Since he was an outspoken pro-Soviet, the fact that in 1945 he became the head of CEA was something that US definitely didn't like. Specifically the United Stetes made clear that will not help France unless Curie leaves CEA. Of course in April 1950 French goverment relieved Curie of his office. In the meantime Rabi wanted West Germany to be included in the research center but the country was still not permitted to do "apllied nuclear research" after the WWII's facts. Rabi insisted in Germany's participation cause he believed that German science should be reconstructed and then will play a key role to European's scientific community. Moreover he thought that is impossible for Germans to reorient the project they would do in research center to military objectives because they would work as a team to an unclassified research.

So what was really Rabi trying to do? He knew very well from his past experience at Manhattan Project that United States use to follow an hegemonic policy and that's something that could be easily happen to CERN's establishment too.So he wanted to assist and ensure European initiative against USA by complement each other, and avoid the possibility of US to dominate EU. His strongest argument was that if America would help financially Europe, then automatically ensures that Europe would not fall under Soviet control. The true is that American hegemony is too strong to be controlled by a just smart diplomacy. As expected US dominated somehow to EU since America was the one who decided when to help France (by relieving Curie of CEA), and also was the one who gave the green light to German for being a CERN's member. Of course the fact that most of CERN's story protagonists were also participants of Manhattan's Project was a crucial factor and maybe the most important reason why CERN never used any research for military purposes. In conclusion, although America formed the basis of CERN's science policy, Europe was the one who developed the already existed institutions  of Basic Science and prepared the ground for a significant restructuring of Applied Science too.