DIY Robots Make Brute-Force Security Hacks Possible

With enough patience, and enough robots, you can crack just about anything

2 min read
DIY Robots Make Brute-Force Security Hacks Possible

Many common types of software security systems only function because they assume that nobody has the time, interest, or energy to use brute force approaches to crack them. Take your phone, for example: it (probably) has a four digit number to unlock it. A human would likely not bother to try out all 10,000 combinations since it would be super boring, but robots don't get bored, so this sort of security doesn't dissuade them.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) often works the same way: by making it time consuming for people to copy things, the idea is that people just won't copy things. And it works. The two key words there, though, are "time consuming" and "people," and if you change "people" to "robots," time consuming ceases to be a factor. And so does the DRM, as this creative little LEGO robot shows.

We probably shouldn't say that this robot can "crack" the DRM on an eBook. Rather, it avoids it. The distinction is important, because while cracking might be illegal, avoiding doesn't seem like it should be. Designer Peter Purgathofer, an associate professor at Vienna University of Technology in Austria, doesn't really intend for this to be used, however. It's more of a statement:

[Peter] says he got the idea for using the Kindle and the Mindstorms kit for something neither were intended for. “It ended being a reflection on the loss of long-established rights when you buy an e-book. You make a copy of that book, but at eye-level, so that the result is not a stack of paper, but another e-book.”
 
It’s not intended as a statement against e-books, which he loves, he says, but rather what he considers a “dramatic loss of rights for the book owner. “The owner isn’t even an owner anymore but rather a licensee of the book,” he says.

I'm now kind of wondering whether it would be illegal to sell this robot  (or instructions how to build it) as an "eBook copying tool," or perhaps to be less inflammatory about it, as an "eBook backup creator." And even if it is illegal, is there anything that anyone could do to keep you from taking pictures of your own screen?

[ AllThingsD ] via [ BBG ]

Thanks Travis!

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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