Fictional hacker rating scale

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Bryan Bishop

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Jun 19, 2009, 4:10:42 PM6/19/09
to diybio, kan...@gmail.com
Hey all,

I have a quick question. This was spawned from some of the recent
discussions in #hplusroadmap. I'm not a big fan of IQ because I don't
know what 'intelligence' is, and likewise I am not at all serious when
I talk about a 'hacker rating scale'- but for the purposes of my
question, it will have to do, I'm asking everyone here about where
they would put a biohacker on a fictional hacker rating scale. Also,
as to what a 'hacker' is- I am talking about the traditional computer
hacker, programmer, tinkerer, builder, guru person dude with a long
beard- the one who smelled funny even from two seats over back in your
days of university classes, or something. Yeah, that guy (ok, maybe he
didn't have a long beard and maybe he didn't smell funny, but you know
what I mean).

I am wondering what people think of when they think of a typical "biohacker".

Do you think of a limited hacker or a more empowered hacker? In the
case of a more limited hacker, why is it necessarily limited? And if
more empowered, what tools help make a biohacker more empowered? What
tools help hackers become more empowered in the first place?

Is it someone who can't use her hacking skills for hacking on a
keyboard? Is there some reason the hacker mindset doesn't transfer
between the two domains? Is there a troll that hits her over the head
when the hacker tries to cross the chasm? And who holds that belief,
or why?

Is it someone who can't use her hacking skills for hacking microbes or DNA?

Is it someone who only modifies her own body? (like the body augmenteaurs)

So the concept is that there's this fictional hacker rating scale,
where we rate what we think of a biohacker. I'm not so sure how to
propose this scale actually: maybe zero would be "no relation to
hackers" and some higher number would be "most definitely related to
programmer-hackers".

Anyway, just fishing for a pulse.

- Bryan
http://heybryan.org/
1 512 203 0507

Daniel C.

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Jun 19, 2009, 4:31:21 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 2:10 PM, Bryan Bishop<kan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Do you think of a limited hacker or a more empowered hacker?

Neither, it's orthogonal to skill level. They may have chosen a more
difficult hacker career path, but that doesn't make them more or less
skilled, limited, empowered, whatever. However, I think it's safe to
say that a level 80 hacker with all his talent points in the
biohacking tree could easily take on two level 80 hackers in either
kernel hacking or the comparatively useless (for PvP) social
engineering skill trees. Even with a holy-specced paladin backing
them up. Biohackers are OP and will be getting the nerfbat soon.

> Is it someone who can't use her hacking skills for hacking on a
> keyboard? Is there some reason the hacker mindset doesn't transfer
> between the two domains? Is there a troll that hits her over the head
> when the hacker tries to cross the chasm? And who holds that belief,
> or why?

I honestly don't think that biohackers (who lack a strong computer
science hacking background) really grok hackerness yet. Honestly, try
telling them the magic/more magic story and see if they get it. Then
tell them the TV Typewriter story and see if they tell you about the
time they did the same kind of thing when they were in Jr. High.

But everyone wants to be a hacker, and the word has been corrupted so
many times that few people - even those who actually are hackers -
know what it means any more.

> Is it someone who only modifies her own body? (like the body augmenteaurs)

Probably not, but it would depend on the reason for the modification
and the skill with which it's pulled off.

> So the concept is that there's this fictional hacker rating scale,
> where we rate what we think of a biohacker. I'm not so sure how to
> propose this scale actually: maybe zero would be "no relation to
> hackers" and some higher number would be "most definitely related to
> programmer-hackers".

I'm picking up minimal activity from the DIYbio group on my
hackometer. Except from that one woman who posted a while ago, I
forget her name - she gave a description of how to make a gel box and
then asked about learning python and I don't think we've heard from
her since. Ellen something? I'll have to search my archives and see
how she's doing, she's got potential.

(Cue flames from biologists who think they're hackers.)

-Dan C.

Bryan Bishop

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Jun 19, 2009, 4:44:00 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com, kan...@gmail.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 3:31 PM, Daniel C. wrote:

> On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 2:10 PM, Bryan Bishop wrote:
>> Do you think of a limited hacker or a more empowered hacker?

Dan-- it's been exceedingly weird (and refreshing) to be replying to
somebody who knows how to post to a mailing list. If this keeps up for
a while longer, I fear something might get done. Anyway, on to the
goods--

> Neither, it's orthogonal to skill level.  They may have chosen a more
> difficult hacker career path, but that doesn't make them more or less
> skilled, limited, empowered, whatever.  However, I think it's safe to
> say that a level 80 hacker with all his talent points in the
> biohacking tree could easily take on two level 80 hackers in either
> kernel hacking or the comparatively useless (for PvP) social
> engineering skill trees.  Even with a holy-specced paladin backing

Right. I think that the skills that you learn hacking away at code, or
hacking away at a complicated chemistry experiment, are equally
applicable in each other's domains. The analogies are probably not
immediately obvious. But if you're sitting around at home doing
nothing otherwise, coding is probably something that would be a good
way to brush up on some skills of working through complicated, buggy
problems. Or just reading source code or something. I find that
reading code tends to be more useful than reading papers, for
instance.

I wonder when it will sink in that biohacking is harder than regular
hacking. Although I don't know what "harder" actually means. I guess
it means it's more time spent trying to resolve your own confusions,
or something.

> them up. Biohackers are OP and will be getting the nerfbat soon.

What? Nerfbat means an intentional crippling.. if that's what you
mean, could you explain?

>> Is it someone who can't use her hacking skills for hacking on a
>> keyboard? Is there some reason the hacker mindset doesn't transfer
>> between the two domains? Is there a troll that hits her over the head
>> when the hacker tries to cross the chasm? And who holds that belief,
>> or why?
>
> I honestly don't think that biohackers (who lack a strong computer
> science hacking background) really grok hackerness yet.  Honestly, try

But to outsiders, saying "it looks like they don't grok Cool yet"
isn't really helpful. I don't even know if anybody can grok
hackerness. I know that there are people that tend to do things (like
reading and working through the hard work, picking up a compiler, or
building a toolchain or something) tend to seem to grok hackerness,
which is a pretty good start I guess.

> telling them the magic/more magic story and see if they get it.  Then
> tell them the TV Typewriter story and see if they tell you about the
> time they did the same kind of thing when they were in Jr. High.

links please.

> But everyone wants to be a hacker, and the word has been corrupted so
> many times that few people - even those who actually are hackers -
> know what it means any more.

Maybe it means nothing. I guess I'm just desperately trying to tie a
fishline on to an old concept and get some thoughts on it in these new
contexts.

>> Is it someone who only modifies her own body? (like the body augmenteaurs)
>
> Probably not, but it would depend on the reason for the modification
> and the skill with which it's pulled off.
>
>> So the concept is that there's this fictional hacker rating scale,
>> where we rate what we think of a biohacker. I'm not so sure how to
>> propose this scale actually: maybe zero would be "no relation to
>> hackers" and some higher number would be "most definitely related to
>> programmer-hackers".
>
> I'm picking up minimal activity from the DIYbio group on my
> hackometer.  Except from that one woman who posted a while ago, I
> forget her name - she gave a description of how to make a gel box and
> then asked about learning python and I don't think we've heard from
> her since.  Ellen something?  I'll have to search my archives and see
> how she's doing, she's got potential.

How could "do it yourself" *not* attract the hacker types? What's gone wrong?

> (Cue flames from biologists who think they're hackers.)

rawr

Meredith L. Patterson

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Jun 19, 2009, 5:10:20 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM, Daniel C.<dcroo...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Biohackers are OP and will be getting the nerfbat soon.

*lawl*

> I honestly don't think that biohackers (who lack a strong computer
> science hacking background) really grok hackerness yet.

Well, I got my CS hacking background and my biology background at the
same time (started my internship at IDT the same time I started my CS
PhD), but I grokked hackerness when I was around, oh, five or six.
Weekends in my dad's workshop learning how to do carpentry and basic
electronics, fix cars, stuff like that.

I don't know how many people who like to fix cars end up in biology,
but the curiosity's the same.

> Honestly, try telling them the magic/more magic story and see if they get it.  Then
> tell them the TV Typewriter story and see if they tell you about the
> time they did the same kind of thing when they were in Jr. High.

I heard magic/more magic in grad school (for CS), but I don't think I
know the TV Typewriter thing.

>> Is it someone who only modifies her own body? (like the body augmenteaurs)
>
> Probably not, but it would depend on the reason for the modification
> and the skill with which it's pulled off.

I think the stuff Steve Mann (IIRC -- the cyborg-rights guy) is doing
counts as both biohacking and body modification. I'm building a
chording glove to use in place of a keyboard to try to stave off
incipient RSI, and using knowledge from kinesthesiology to inform the
design; that's non-intrusive, but it is sort of cyborg-y to use your
hand as a keyboard. It'll be different when I can get conductive
tattoos and do surface-mount implants.

> I'm picking up minimal activity from the DIYbio group on my
> hackometer.

I've been kind of busy and haven't finished anything interesting recently.

--mlp

Daniel C.

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Jun 19, 2009, 5:15:24 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 2:44 PM, Bryan Bishop<kan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> What? Nerfbat means an intentional crippling.. if that's what you
> mean, could you explain?

L2play, n00b.

(In other words, you haven't spent enough time on the WoW forums. Or
I've spent far, far too much.)

-Dan QQ.

Bryan Bishop

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Jun 19, 2009, 5:18:36 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com, kan...@gmail.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 4:10 PM, Meredith L.
Patterson<clon...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM, Daniel C.<dcroo...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Biohackers are OP and will be getting the nerfbat soon.
>
> *lawl*
>
>>> Is it someone who only modifies her own body? (like the body augmenteaurs)
>>
>> Probably not, but it would depend on the reason for the modification
>> and the skill with which it's pulled off.
>
> I think the stuff Steve Mann (IIRC -- the cyborg-rights guy) is doing
> counts as both biohacking and body modification. I'm building a
> chording glove to use in place of a keyboard to try to stave off
> incipient RSI, and using knowledge from kinesthesiology to inform the
> design; that's non-intrusive, but it is sort of cyborg-y to use your
> hand as a keyboard. It'll be different when I can get conductive
> tattoos and do surface-mount implants.

Just the other day I was going back over alternative keyboard
interfaces, actually, and I was talking with the bodyhacking group
here in Austin and the robotgroup people. Anyway, I went over the net
and found some inspiration for new designs of alternative keyboard
interfaces, including chording keyboards:

http://heybryan.org/~bbishop/docs/kb/

Anyway, instead of retyping the other emails, basically Hod Lipson
(or, rather, probably his undergrads) were at one point working on a
project to figure out all possible ranges of motion of a human hand
given the topology of muscles. From this, it would be possible to
inform a design process for the structure or layout of the keyboard.

I desperately want to figure out a better way to do a keyboard. I
don't like having this upper limit on typing, and stenography machines
aren't good for programming. My main requirements are that (1) it
gives me some wpm boost (something over 120 wpm or 150 wpm, at
minimum), and (2) all programming special symbols are easily
accessible without having to use ridiculous n-level deep key combos or
something.

Daniel C.

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Jun 19, 2009, 5:21:33 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 3:18 PM, Bryan Bishop<kan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I desperately want to figure out a better way to do a keyboard. I
> don't like having this upper limit on typing, and stenography machines
> aren't good for programming. My main requirements are that (1) it
> gives me some wpm boost (something over 120 wpm or 150 wpm, at
> minimum), and (2) all programming special symbols are easily
> accessible without having to use ridiculous n-level deep key combos or
> something.

You can optimize at the other end, too - learn Lisp and your programs
will be up to 20 times shorter.

-Dan C.

Bryan Bishop

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Jun 19, 2009, 5:27:32 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com, kan...@gmail.com

And simultaneously 400 times less legible. :-) I only jest. But
seriously, please comment your lisp, especially when you're doing
funky things. It's just not right to leave it hanging, and expect to
come back to in a decade, and make the poor undergrad trudge through
it and, .. oh, well, now I've said too much I guess.

Daniel C.

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Jun 19, 2009, 5:31:06 PM6/19/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 3:27 PM, Bryan Bishop<kan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> It's just not right to leave it hanging, and expect to
> come back to in a decade, and make the poor undergrad trudge through
> it and...

On the contrary! That is the second most common use for Lisp, after
writing programs with it.

The third most common use is telling everyone you meet online how much
better it is than whatever language they're using.

-Dan C.

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