When Harm Reduction is a Crime: Tobacco, E-Cigarettes, and the World’s Most Unnecessary Black Market

2-Part Longform Special Feature! (Part 2 here)- By Mark

This website is (loosely) themed around “Security and the 4th Industrial Revolution.” We write about mind-blowing things technology increasingly empowers people to build, make, and do for good or ill. We talk about post-industrial technology’s applications for terrorism, weapons, smuggling, drugs, war, crime, and all kinds of dark shit. We also cover beneficial stuff people are doing with the same technologies and freedoms to innovate. We cover these issues because they’re interesting, and because they force us to reconsider many traditional assumptions about how policy and government are supposed to work. We also cover them because they’re important: people live and die, and liberty is protected or undermined, by our decisions on new technologies.

But today let’s forget about guns, terrorism, masks that fool facial recognition, counterfeit art, fake drug-testing dongs, cartel tunnels, and narco-submarines. Let’s forget about those things because compared to today’s topic, they barely rate. That’s right. Almost everything we get worked up about as a society is, in pure scale of mortality, bullshit compared to this. Continue reading

The Whips of War: Hoopty Hacks in our Driverless Future

By Mark

“Nine-tenths of our crimes an’ calamities are made possible by th’ automobile. It has unleashed all th’ pent-up criminal tendencies o’ th’ ages.” -Kin Hubbard[i]

So we’ve talked about a few of the weird, wild, easy, and totally predictable ways cars can be physically weaponized. Pretty much anybody can slap a battering ram or some armor on a wheeled or tracked vehicle. This isn’t a problem that’s going to be solved by banning stuff because A) it’s ridiculously easy to do, and B) most of the materials can’t be banned.

Continue reading

The Urkel Hack: Facial Recognition and the Perturbed 10%

By Mark

Well folks, we’ve already talked a bit about some ways  various artisanal and digitally-printed masks and other costume stuff can fool facial recognition. (And even eyewitness recognition, if it’s done well enough…). Now, some intrepid tech researchers have demonstrated that you might not even need to get so fancy to beat some common state-of-the-art facial recognition software. Continue reading

Hacking the “Whiz Quiz”: The Saga of the Whizzinator

By Kerry

****Be advised that some links in this article go directly to the Whizzinator and its competitors. These links may involve graphic photos of fake dongs, thereby rendering them NSFW****

On December 2, 2013, Mike Tyson was interviewed by Chelsea Handler on her TV show ‘Chelsea Lately’ for his newly released novel “Undisputed Truth” where he discussed marijuana use during his fighting days, and his techniques for getting around drug testing. The interview included this exchange:

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Crime Unmasked: Security, Surveillance, and the Post-Industrial Face/Off

By Mark

Fezzik: Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?

Man in Black: Oh, no, it’s just they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future

The Princess Bride, William Goldman 1987

What’s in a face? These days, a lot.

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The Hunt for White Octubre: Narco-Submarines and the 4th Industrial Revolution

By Mark

It’s May 1944. An American submarine just sank several Japanese ships, and is now under a blistering counterattack. As a seemingly-endless barrage of depth charges explodes around the boat, one of the American submariners asks how much a depth charge costs. A crewmate guesses they cost about $600 each.

“Damn, we’re going to bankrupt these sonovabitches.”

And that’s about right. Except today we’re not bankrupting our adversaries. Our adversaries are bankrupting us. Continue reading

Why Guns Won Before 3D Printing: Industrialization, Post-Industrialization, and the Problem of Scale in Small Arms Control

By Mark

“It might take 10 years or 20 years. Hell, it might take 50 years. But if we make it illegal to own a handgun, eventually there will be no handguns.”  -Gerald Ensley[i]

 “Gun prohibition then, is not the same as banning DDT or leaded gasoline. It is more like banning fire.” –Nicholas Johnson[ii]

When people hear that I write about 3D printed and homemade guns (along with some of the other security implications of the “4th Industrial Revolution and democratization of manufacturing), sometimes they ask me-

“So, does this mean gun control is going to be pointless now?” Continue reading