24C3 is the 24th Chaos Communication Congress, a 4-day conference I got to know reading this post at the always awesome We make money not art. All sessions were videotaped and are available to download.
I absolutely recommend the presentation given by Drew Endy on DNA programming. In a nutshell, Drew views DNA as an evolved program in some poorly documented machine language and shares his experience reverse-engineering this program, synthesizing DNA and uploading it to a cell i.e. “hacking biology”.
The session Paparazzi – The free autopilot is about how anyone can build a cheap version of the $1M UAV/drones monitoring everyone of us 24/7. Quite interesting for anyone with an interest in aviation. The cool thing is that the drone is literally remotely controlled via an open source software you can find here. You can assign a flight plan to the drone and it will follow it. The platform is packed with sensors that allow remote control and capture of data (videos, pictures). I hope these guys talk with the OpenStreetMap people: how could would it be to use this platform to capture views from the sky at a much higher resolution than satellites can provide.
I also watched the session Hacking ideologies, part 2: Open Source, a capitalist movement. There were a few shocking comments in there, but I was glad to get a refresher on the nature of capitalism from the very sharp Dmytri Kleiner:
“Capitalism is not so much about creating money or wealth. What creates wealth is work. Capitalism is about making money from other’s people work. It isn’t about money creation but about money extraction. […] The kind of information that capitalism is interested about is information that increased productive capacity. More productivity is more money to extract. The kind of information that capitalism is not interested about is information that is not about increased productivity or information that questions the system or information about the nature of capitalism. […] P2P offers no point of mediation where value can be captured, but at the same time p2p has to be financed by some wealth accumulation.”
This last point particularly resonated with me since I’m a big believer of decentralized social networks. I’m curious to see how a promising project like the DiSo project will resolve this chicken/egg problem: to finance a decentralized system, you need accumulated wealth, but to attract accumulated wealth you need a point of mediation where you can extract value, which you don’t have in a decentralized system.
One way may simply be some form of public funding. After all, if we didn’t have ARPA, we would probably all be surfing AOLNet or MSNNet these days.
Anyway, this conference is clearly politically incorrect in many ways but is awesome and I recommend everyone to watch some of these sessions!