Four short links: 19 December 2016

Robot Arm, Societal Collapse, Bot NLP, and Tech in Hostile States

By Nat Torkington
December 19, 2016
  1. Giant Robot Arm — don’t think of the worms in Dune while watching this video of a pneumatic robot arm.
  2. Notes on Collapse of Complex Societies (PDF) — notes on this classic archeology text, see also a talk for the gist. His thesis is that there’s a Coase’s Nature of the Firm for complexity of societies: eventually the maintenance of a large society is too hard and it splinters into smaller, more maintainable societies. Measures complexity by number of artefacts. (via Simon St Laurent)
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  4. rasa.aiOpen source language understanding for bots, a drop-in replacement for popular NLP tools like,, or LUIS.
  5. Technology in Hostile States (TOR Project) — some general principles that are: Do not rely on the law to protect systems or users; Prepare policy commentary for quick response to crisis; Only keep the user data that you currently need; Give users full control over their data; Allow pseudonymity and anonymity; Encrypt data in transit and at rest; Invest in cryptographic R&D to replace non-cryptographic systems; Eliminate single points of security failure, even against coercion; Favor open source and enable user freedom; Practice transparency: share best practices, stand for ethics, and report abuse.
Post topics: Four Short Links