Last week you had a chance to ask "Chairman Bruce" about the state of sci-fi, dystopian futures, and the modern surveillance state. Below you'll find his answers to those questions, including who would win if he fought William Gibson and Neal Stephenson in a no-holds-barred battle.
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eldavojohn writes "Although downloading songs without paying for them in Japan used to be a civil offense starting in 2010, it is now a crime with new penalties of up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen ($25,700). The lobbying group behind this push for more extreme penalties is none other than the RIAJ (the Japanese RIAA). The BBC notes this applies to both music and video downloads which may put anime studios in a particularly uncomfortable position."
MrSeb writes "It seems, as a culture, we have a deep-seated interest in robots and automatons, and if we can love an animal or other non-humanoid creature, what's to stop us from falling in love with a robot? Introducing Meka Robotics' S2 Humanoid Head: It has seven degrees of freedom, high-resolution FireWire cameras in each eye, zero-backlash Harmonic Drive gearing in the neck, and a ton of unnervingly-human movements and postures. She weighs 7.6kg (16.7lbs), has a pair of luminous, waggling doggy-like ears, and can be attached to a Meka torso and arm, if you prefer your robots to be slightly more corporeal. The girly, anime face is just a custom skin, incidentally: Meka will customize the shell to look like anything you desire. We're told that they value their client's confidentiality — and more importantly they don't judge. Powered by the open-source and extensible M3 control software, the S2 head (and body and arm) could be quite easily upgraded to use Hooman Samani's artificial endocrine and psychological models — and if you had the choice of falling in love with an amorphous, decidedly odd-looking furball, or a cute, perky anime girl, which would you choose?"
I suspect most of you are not aware that Slashdot has an editorially independent counterpart in Japan. After the recent Quake and Tsunami, I asked my counterpart over there, Shuji Sado, if he would share with us something from Slashdot.jp. What follows is a collection of translated reader comments from your parallel selves in Japan. I want to wish all the Slashdot JP employees and readers the best of luck. Know that you have friends here. Hit the link below to read what it's like there right now.
An anonymous reader writes "A new study seems to confirm what a lot of the Slashdot crowd thinks, and the opposite of what the **AAs say: 'A prestigious economics think-tank of the Japanese government has published a study which concludes that online piracy of anime shows actually increases sales of DVDs. The conclusion stands in sharp contrast with the entertainment industry's claims that "illicit" downloading is leading to billions of dollars in losses worldwide. It also puts the increased anti-piracy efforts of the anime industry in doubt.' More specifically, '(1) YouTube viewing does not negatively affect DVD rentals, and it appears to help raise DVD sales; and (2) although Winny [a popular P2P program in Japan] file sharing negatively affects DVD rentals, it does not affect DVD sales.'"
Straight from the plot of a dozen anime movies and at least 2 video games, Xiao Lin, and little sister Yin will stage a three day fighting festival to find men worth dating. Potential suitors must first show off their archery skills, then carry heavy weights over sharpened bamboo spears, and finally defeat one of the sisters in full contact combat. "They can chose open hand or any weapon they wish but we won't be holding back. If they can't beat us they aren't worthy," explained Lin. "We tried dating agencies but the men we met were all to weak. We could beat them easily," said Yin.
sv_libertarian writes "They've faced down humans time and time again, but Fred Phelps and his minions from the Westboro Baptist Church were not ready for the cosplay action that awaited them at Comic-Con. After all, who can win against a counter-protest that includes robots, magical anime girls, Trekkies, Jedi, and... kittens?"
JoshuaInNippon writes "Japan has gone life-size anime model crazy. Last year there was the robotic 1:1 Gundam model that guarded Tokyo for a few months in the summer to mark the series' 30th anniversary, and then there was the giant Gigantor moment that opened in Kobe in the fall in honor of the city's rejuvenation from the devastating 1995 earthquake. Now, an amusement park near Mt. Fuji named Fuji-Q Highland is building an Eva Unit 01 from the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion series, or at least a bust of it, in conjunction with the series' recent movies. The bust will sit in a replica hanger, and reportedly stand around 9 meters tall. Visitors will have the chance, for a little extra money, to have their photo taken in the unit's cockpit, where the series' protagonist-of-sorts Shinji Ikari normally sits. The attraction is set to a cost of over US$1.6 million to build, and open on July 23 of this year. It will also undoubtedly be swamped by crazed fans looking the opportunity to bring their anime dreams to life."
gmcmullen writes "The Canada Border Service Agency took its time getting documents on its policy for border searches of laptops to the BC Civil Liberties Association in response to an Access to Information request the BCCLA filed in October 2009. When the reply did come through, there wasn't much there. The documents were heavily redacted and whole sections of the Access to Information request were ignored, including requests for information on the number of laptops searched and policies for copying data from electronic devices. We did learn that the CBSA knows that 500 megabytes is roughly equivalent to 'a pickup truck full of books,' and use Windows-only software called ICWhatUC to scan for images. Documents also revealed that the CBSA understands that most 'Japanese Anime' is not child pornography, and that your family photos (even with kids in the tub) aren't child pornography either. We've made the documents we did receive available online so you can see for yourself."
FishRep writes with this excerpt from the BBC: "A new type of malware infects PCs using file-share sites and publishes the user's net history on a public website before demanding a fee for its removal. The Japanese trojan virus installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni, used by up to 200m people. It targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime. Website Yomiuri claims that 5,500 people have so far admitted to being infected. The virus, known as Kenzero, is being monitored by web security firm Trend Micro in Japan. Masquerading as a game installation screen, it requests the PC owner's personal details. It then takes screengrabs of the user's web history and publishes it online in their name, before sending an e-mail or pop-up screen demanding a credit card payment of 1,500 yen (£10) to 'settle your violation of copyright law' and remove the webpage."
Hugh Pickens writes "Nick Bilton has an interesting interview with Christopher Poole, known online as 'Moot,' founder 4chan, a jumble of content, hosting anything from pictures of cute kittens to wildly disturbing images and language. Poole, now 22, started 4chan when he was 15 after he discovered a Japanese image-board Web forum called 2chan dedicated to anime. 'The code for 2chan was publicly available and I took it and translated it from Japanese to English using tools online and I threw it up on the Web and sent it out to 20 people,' says Poole. 'I wanted to keep with the 2chan naming and the URL for 3chan was taken at the time so I just jumped to the next number.' Although 4chan gets 8.2 million unique visitors every month, 600 million page loads per month, and 800,000 new posts a day, Poole is working on a new project to reimagine what an image board should be today using the current technologies available."
andylim writes to share that according to a recent interview, Toei Animation, producers of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball z, think that mobile phones and tablets could help save the anime industry, which is being heavily damaged by piracy. Unfortunately the difficulty is getting all of the players to move in the same direction. "We think it's an incredibly exciting opportunity. Manufacturers and networks are going to need more than touchscreens and Twitter to shift phones in the future — content such as Toei's will hopefully add that extra value. Unfortunately, Ebato and Song haven't been inundated with requests for information. 'There's no convergence... the tech people and the content people aren't talking,' adds Song. In fact Song's last statement to us is much more than an anecdotal truth, it's the heart of the matter. It's not enough that Apple and Amazon are talking to content creators, everyone should be doing it. Of course, a good start would be to not hide people like Ebato and Song in distant exhibition halls, where only we can find them."
Hugh Pickens writes "Neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger have an interesting article in Discover Magazine about the Boskops, an extinct hominid that had big eyes, child-like faces, and forebrains roughly 50% larger than modern man indicating they may have had an average intelligence of around 150, making them geniuses among Homo sapiens. The combination of a large cranium and immature face would look decidedly unusual to modern eyes, but not entirely unfamiliar. Such faces peer out from the covers of countless science fiction books and are often attached to 'alien abductors' in movies. Naturalist Loren Eiseley wrote: 'Back there in the past, ten thousand years ago. The man of the future, with the big brain, the small teeth. He lived in Africa. His brain was bigger than your brain.' The history of evolutionary studies has been dogged by the almost irresistible idea that evolution leads to greater complexity, to animals that are more advanced than their predecessor, yet the existence of the Boskops argues otherwise — that humans with big brains, and perhaps great intelligence, occupied a substantial piece of southern Africa in the not very distant past, and that they eventually gave way to smaller-brained, possibly less advanced Homo sapiens — that is, ourselves. 'With 30 percent larger brains than ours now, we can readily calculate that a population with a mean brain size of 1,750 cc would be expected to have an average IQ of 149,' write Lynch and Granger. But why did they go extinct? 'Maybe all that thoughtfulness was of no particular survival value in 10,000 BC. Lacking the external hard drive of a literate society, the Boskops were unable to exploit the vast potential locked up in their expanded cortex,' write Lynch and Granger. 'They were born just a few millennia too soon.'"
shadowmage13 writes "After months of planning, I am happy to announce finally that the Ubuntu Massachusetts Local Community Team will be preparing a booth at the upcoming 2010 Anime Boston convention. We need support from the community to secure a booth and print materials, including copies of the Ubunchu! manga. I really believe the Anime fandom is a perfect match for Ubuntu, as they are by nature very much in line with open source and remix culture."
An anonymous reader writes 'The director of Flushed Away, David Bowers, discusses his new Japanese manga adaptation, shares his science fiction influences and relates Astro Boy's thematic relationship to Star Wars.' I recently was reading Astro Boy manga, and I'm very hopeful that the movie won't disappoint. It looks really fantastic, but visuals in trailers certainly can lie.
MajikJon writes "After strong sales of the straight-to-DVD Futurama movies, Fox is reportedly considering bringing back Futurama for a 6th season. This according to Billy West in a recent statement at the Anime Supercon in Florida. Here's me with my fingers crossed."
SailorSpork writes "Fans of furries and anime-style cat girls will be disappointed by the news that attempts to create human animal hybrids have failed. Experiments by British scientists to create embryonic stem cells by putting human DNA into cow or rabbit eggs had raised ethical concerns, but the question of how we would treat sub-humans will have to wait until we actually figure out how to make them."
It excites me incredibly to know that a Cowboy Bebop movie is happening. But it makes me scared to think that Keanu is getting the lead in what might be my single favorite Anime series of all time. I'm very skeptical that he can pull off this role. For now we'll have to wait and speculate who the rest of the cast will be. I'm mostly curious who will get Faye Valentine. And we can only cross our fingers and hope that the soundtrack remains intact.
stoolpigeon writes "Many manga titles that are popular in Japan are being translated into English and published in the United States. This trend continues with a book that puts a slightly different spin on manga. The Manga Guide to Statistics, part of a series already popular in Japan, seeks to entertain while it informs. There are many elements here that can be found in any manga; a young love-struck girl, giant eyes, small noses and exaggerated emotional responses. What many may not have seen in manga before are things like calculating the mean, median and deviation of bowling scores. And that is just the start." Read below for the rest of JR's review.
Adam Jenkins writes "This book seemed to have potential, particularly since the image of nerds has changed in recent times. Once objects of derision and schoolyard bullying, nerds are now acknowledged as having a place in society. The Lord of the Rings became a multi-million dollar movie trilogy, the internet is now used by an incredible number of people, and computer games are no longer seen as being 'just for kids.' Around the years of the dot-com boom, successful nerds were driving Ferraris and going to cool parties. So it's not so surprising that the definition of a nerd has changed over time, nor that a society which has generally become better at accepting people who are different, has accepted nerds." Read below for the rest of Adam's review.