Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ruby Command line for

I got bored of clicking links on dhingana and thought there should be an easy way to listen to songs. Being a command line freak, it was very natural for me to think of writing a command line tool. So i wrote a small ruby utility for downloading songs from dhingana.

The tool can be found here. Please read the disclaimer before using the tool and feel free to drop me a line.

PS: The website is work in progress and will be fully functional in 2-3 weeks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Surfing in a hostile world !

To get a hostile view of the world we surf in, here are a few statistics about all the current day malware forms coexisting with us.

A few highlights (as of today)
  1. There are around 3000 botnet command and control servers active at any time in the day.
  2. There are around 100K bot machines (using a 30-day age value of each bot).
  3. US has around 4500 bot C&C's (the largest in the world ). Interesting to see that China is way down the list with only 115.
  4. There were around 3.5 Million unique malware binaries seen in October 2007 with the number of unique binaries being atleast 1 Million every month ever since.
  5. The 0-day detection stats for Antivirus vendors is very interesting. Out of the 68000 samples of new malware that were tested against wellknown vendors in the last 24 hours, the really well known ones like Kaspersky, McAfee etc. were able to detect only 70% of them while AntiVir detected around 98% of them. Curiosly, Symantec is not on the list.

These statistics are from ShadowServer. Shadowserver's statistics are generally considered very reliable in the security community.It is not clear to me as to what percentage of the address range they monitor but the stats are nevertheless very revealing.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Technological Singularity: Warning in disguise? - [Part 1]

I was recently reading about technological singularity that a lot of who's-who in the field of AI/Robotics (Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Vernor Vinge etc.) are talking about. The June'08 IEEE Spectrum runs a special feature on this called "Rapture of the Geeks". Reading through the articles (and also having read Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is near) i have a few questions on some of the predictions that futurists are making. I am trying to get feedback on these issues from some well known folks in the field and will post them as and when they become available.
  • One popular view of technological singularity predicts that machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence in the next few decades and we will have machines building more intelligent machines presumably not under human control. This means that humans would have succeeded in building something which can replace us at the top of the intelligent species list. If this is indeed true, then wouldnt it make human existence meaningless and eventually result in our extinction? Or worse, we may end up being pets to a superior intelligent species :) . My point
    is, if humans are smart, why would they let this happen?
  • Ray Kurzweil predicts that singularity is just 3-4 decades away. He builds up his arguments based on the technological revolutions in Genetics, Nanotechnology and robotics. Innovations in these areas may help us build machines smarter than ourselves but they all would lack the consciousness that sets humans apart. Thus they can all be efficient than us but presumably not "street smarter" than us. Some scientists also predict that we will be eventually able to give our consciousness to these machines. But what would that help us achieve? Will it will help us better our own lives or extinct us?
  • Assume that the singularity does eventually happen, what makes us feel that we will be able to build a set of guiding principles under which our intelligent innovations will work? And why would those conscious intelligent beings follow our guidelines instead of inventing their own efficient guidelines? Isn't this similar to humans having children, children growing up and then deciding themselves on whats right and wrong? The only difference here being that these android offsprings would be far more capable (and lethal) than human children.
  • The final question is, if our technological progress is indeed pointing towards a singularity, then should we take it as a sign of progress or a warning for our future?