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Your Facebook friends are now potential informants.

US District Judge William Pauley III has ruled it constitutional for federal agencies to use a Facebook friend’s granted access to a suspect’s profile page to gather evidence for prosecution, making our online identities and avatars subject to similar methods of investigation federal agencies normally used offline, i.e. wire-tapping. GigOm has the full story: – – – In an order issued on Friday, US District Judge William Pauley III ruled that accused gangster Melvin Colon can’t rely on the Fourth Amendment to suppress Facebook evidence that led to his indictment. Colon had argued that federal investigators violated his privacy by…

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Here is a 3D map of the universe-four billion lightyears by four billion lightyears, roughly.

The Havard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysicists has released the largest-ever map of space, locating millions of galaxies, quasars, and black holes. The point of all this—besides tempting us to make a Katamari out of it—is to study the past six billion years of universal growth and find out where this whole thing is going. So much space, so little time. With that history, they can get better estimates for how much of the universe is made up of “dark matter” – matter that we can’t directly see because it doesn’t emit or absorb light – and “dark energy,” the even more…

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Disney can now clone your face, put it on a robot.

In the noble pursuit to inject verisimilitude into the virtual, photorealistic videogames have gone at length to perfect face-capturing technology. Now, Disney researches have taken the captured data out of the database and onto silicon, around a head, then onto a robotic body. Science, Space & Robots has more. The Zürich researchers have invented a computational method for automatically designing synthetic skin to match real individuals. The process starts by scanning 3D facial expressions from a human subject. Then, a novel optimization scheme determines the shape of the synthetic skin as well as control parameters for the robotic head that…

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Do games need harsher critics?

Critical discussions of videogames take place largely on the internet—much of the intellectual runoff filtering into Twitter and Facebook feeds, waiting to be shared. But does our desire to be ‘liked’ and ‘followed’—as critics or artists—come at the expense of honest critical thought? For the New York Times, book critic Dwight Garner riffs somewhat amiably on the crisis of critcism, warning that these platforms’ penchant for promotion is “intellectual suicide.” It’s an interesting time to be a critic. There aren’t so many of us left, and we’re being squeezed from all sides at the exact same moment that new mediums like Twitter…

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What we talk about when we talk about videogame addiction.

The payoff of sex, music, and drugs? The guaranteed satisfaction of more music, sex, and drugs. According to this animated video from AsapSCIENCE, this Epicurean triumvirate stimulates our brains’ supply of a neurochemical called dopamine, which always leaves you wanting more. In the same way that a drug-induced dopamine surge leaves you craving more, music becomes addictive — the dopamine tells your body it was rewarded and creates a desire to seek out more. And why not games? With all the purely positive reinforcement—leveling up, increasing you top score—isn’t “you’re doing great” nearly always predicated with, “but you could be…

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How schools need to stop fearing and love the web.

To many educators here and in the UK, consumable digital technology and social media are only distractions, pastimes, ways to escape the monolithic institution of education. But as schools build firewalls around their classrooms, are they depriving their students from learning how to graduate from user to creator? – – – To fill in the gaps, Emma Mulqueeny created Rewired State and the ancillary Young Rewired State, a massive, intercity conference where computer scientists teach kids how to code. Writing for the BBC, she cites Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed, outlining the crisis and offering her solution. Children will…

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"The world’s first intelligent textbook" comes with its own artificial teacher.

A new biology textbook called Inquire is being called “the world’s first intelligent textbook.” We’ll take that to mean that all the extra human cognition that goes into reading, interpreting, and teaching—like drawing larger parallels between abstract concepts, reading between the lines—will be spelled out for you in easier-to-answer questions. But Textbook Teacher, what does it mean to be human? Don’t worry, it won’t be on the test.

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Disney Research’s REVEL turns your whole body into a touch device.

In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 Brave New World, “Feelies” are augmented movie theaters equipped with technology that manipulates the audience’s sense of touch. A sex scene, for instance, can be felt as much as it can be watched—i.e. the sensation of silken fur on a bearskin rug as lovers copulate on it. Now 80 years later, with the newly revealed REVEL interface, Disney is beginning to flesh out this titillating dystopia, albeit without the titilation that recent augmented touch devices normally excite. Just wanted to get that out of the way, because the REVEL might not be so base. According to…

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Papo & Yo trailer details alcoholic abuse and escape in the favela for anticipated PSN launch.

Papo & Yo is the forthcoming magical-real, semi-autobiographical adventure puzzler by Vander Caballero, a former EA Montreal developer who broke off to form his own studio called Minority. Here, a cinematic splicing augments the game’s deeply personal narrative: how the young Vander coped with his father’s violent alcoholism and abuse—imagined in-game as a grotesque game hide-and-seek through a surreal favela. That’s just the surface—our interview with Caballero last spring guides us through the transference of his haunted childhood into a videogame.