Luis von Ahn critically injured after attack…

Luis von Ahn, one of the directors of the Transhumanist Collective and considered by many to be the father of the human computation movement, is currently in hospital in a critical but stable condition following the attack by a member of the ‘Freedom Club’. Doctors remain optimistic about Prof. von Ahn’s recovery and progress but still warn that it is too early to know the full extent of the injuries sustained.

Protesters had gathered outside the Transhumanist Collective’s head offices in San Francisco on Thursday, staging what started out as peaceful protest following the recent revelation that human computation algorithms have secretly been distributed through the so-called “Tower Of Babel”, or iBrain network.

The algorithms, distributed to individuals without their knowledge or consent, are capable of leveraging existing thought patterns silently and in the background unlike current mainstream algorithms, which require active engagement from the individual. Dream, the trans-national media corporation, have been identified as the source of the algorithms and are allegedly responsible for their distribution in the iBrain network.

The protesters, numbering into the hundreds, congregated outside the Transhumanist Collective’s offices to voice their opposition to Dream’s violation of personal cognitive liberties. Demonstrators cheered, shouted, sounded horns and banged drums, waving signs with slogans ‘My thoughts are my own’, ‘You’re not welcome here’, and ‘So, you’re the voice in my head!’.

The protest took a tragic turn however, when a member of the so-called Freedom Club, carrying a sign which read ‘Human Race At A Crossroads’, hurled a home made bomb at Prof. von Ahn as he was being led out of the building under armed escort. The explosion seriously injured him and two members of his security escort along with many others, including several of the protesters.

Freedom Club
The Freedom Club have long held Prof. von Ahn personally responsible for the creation of the iBrain network. They have adopted a more more radical stance than the more widely known Individualists, who campaign for preservation and protection of the individual in society while acknowledging the benefits supported by the pro-hivemind supporters, known generally as The Collective.

The Freedom club, on the other hand, see Prof. von Ahn’s work as seeding the death of the individual and ultimately the destruction of all personal freedoms. They have been known to use strong arm tactics and intimidation on researchers and business in the human computation field, much like animal-rights activism in the early 21st century. This attack is the first incidence of serious terrorist violence committed by the group.

The member responsible for the attack (who’s name has been withheld for legal reasons) is due stand trail soon. An investigation into the activities of the group is also currently underway.

Article 19
The creation of the iBrain ‘neural network’ in 2032 has long been considered a major leap for society. The network, which first connected scientists, researchers and business men, has since been widely adopted by the general populous. Man has since enjoyed unprecedented leaps in science and innovation and the network has done much to promote global peace.

It has however, not been without controversy. The creation of what some see as a global ‘hivemind’ has led to a tension dividing world opinion into two groups: The Individualists, supporting the traditional notions of individuality, and The Collective, who view the hivemind as part of the next stage in human evolution. Both groups have amassed large support bases, although recently there has been more popular support in favour of The Collective following the continued spread of the iBrain network and its benefits.

By 2036 the increased tensions lead to the United Allied Nations (UAN) to adopt Article 19 of the UAN Convention on Human Rights. The Article provides the right for each individual to to be the absolute sovereign of their own consciousness, to freely alter the state of their consciousness using any method they choose, and protects every person from being forced to change their consciousness against their will, providing the right of respect for the individual’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence”.

The Dream-distributed algorithm scandal has been seen as a direct breach of those fundamental human rights, with many of the Individualists blaming Prof. von Ahn’s most recent work in allowing such a thing to happen.

The Distributed Human Computation Algorithm
Luis von Ahn’s work on human computation began in 2005 and he has remained an influence on the discipline ever since. He first demonstrated the technology in an online game called ESP Game, a simple game through which the players would provide detailed metadata for images. The technology was licensed to Google who went on to use in their Image Labeler software to improve image search results.

Prof. von Ahn later went on to create Verbosity, which collected ‘common sense facts’. This game ultimately succeeded in the realization of the Semantic Web, laying the groundwork for the Net as we know it today and the creation of the iBrain network. The Semantic Web allowed for truly intelligent searches, unlocking the massive databases of knowledge buried in the infrastructure of the internet and making it accessible to humans in unprecedented ways. This in turn lead to the creation if intelligent software agents and, most significantly, the neuro-software core to the iBrain.

Prof. von Ahn’s on-going contribution to, and leadership in, the the field of human computation has constantly made him a target and subject of much criticism. His recently published paper entitled, Automated Problem Classification and Intergrated, Distributed Solution Processing sparked a breakthrough that enabled processing on computation tasks to be dynamically distributed.

Where individuals would previously actively participate in solving problems by playing games and solving puzzles, Prof. von Ahn’s work proved it would be possible for individuals to participate simply by going about their everyday activities, much like screensavers used to be used to take advantage of idle computer power. The new algorithm would, for example, embed problem solving into simple processes, such as just reading email or using music discovery services, by leveraging their existing neuroapplication interfaces.

Dream, through it’s connections to the Tower of Babel iBrain research institutions, was able to obtain and patent much of the technology used in the iBrain’s creation, as well as most of Prof. von Ahn’s recent work. It has now been alleged that Dream used their technologies it in a number of market research campaigns without any user’s consent or knowledge, integrating the algorithms directly into each individual’s passive decision-making systems.

The full extent of the breach is yet to be determined, and is currently under investigation by the UAN’s Human Rights investigators.


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  1. Comment by FTLNewsFeed @ 7:05 pm

    My best wishes for the speedy recovery of the Professor and my heartfelt condolences for his family in the wake of this outrageous attack. I only hope that a swift resolution and rehabilitation for the offender will bring the Professor and his family some closure.

  2. Pingback by thehumansarecoming @ 1:18 pm

    […] only ever wrote one story for the site. It was newspaper article about the attempted assasination of Luis von Ahn and a scandal surrounding his technology. Think EMT meets the Extraordinaries meets the Unabomber […]

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December 15, 2006
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