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Emiliano Kargieman - Hackeando el espacio

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Emiliano Kargieman: Hacking outer-space This is a public phone. For those of you who are the youngest in the room, this is what we used to comunicate before SMS existed. We went to this metal boxes and dialed the little numbers and we spoke on the phone. Some 20 years ago, I was dedicated to breaking them. Not with hammers or grafitti, but breaking into them in a logical way. Trying to understand how they worked. Getting to know what we could change through these phones. We tried to understand how technology worked, what they did what components they had inside. And see what was possible to do with those things, that the phones were not designed to do from the beginning. I remember we got a key that opened these phones, a maintenance key, and with it we could open them and look inside, and see what their components were. We used what we knew of these components to try to understand what the phone did. And with this, for example, we discovered a little chip the phone had inside. We downloaded the code. We started to explore it, we changed it and we made it instruct the phone to do things that it usually did not, not naturally at least. I remember one time this story: there was a conference at the Centro Cultural Recoleta here in Buenos Aires. And we switched the phone that was right by the door to make it repeat a hacker's manifest when someone tried to make a call. It was very idealistic. After that, the next 17 or 20 years of my life I dedicated myself to abuse of computers that were more complex, each time with more integrated circuits. And I also worked on creating technology companies. To build technology, but moreover, to try to get that technology to the market, to try to take it to the world. And after working to create several companies in the software industry, information security in particular, I spent a small season investing in technology projects. Looking for young guys that had interesting ideas. Trying to support their projects so that they built technology companies. Until I got to a transition phase of my life, last year I stumbled upon this place. This place is the NASA's Research Center in California, one of the two NASA's centers in California. I went there last year to make a summer course, to spend two months analyzing ideas that had to do with exponential growth technologies. But one of the most important things that happened to me there was that for the first time in my life I was exposed to the outer-space industry. For the first time I could see what was what people who did things that went into space do. In my head, outer-space was this. It was Star Trek, it was Siberiada. But when I began to look into the things they really did in the outer-space industry, I realized that instead of this, outer-space looked more like this. And this is not bad. This is the view from a space shuttle's cabin. This is not bad if you are looking at the spectacular view. But if you close the windows a bit and squint, one begins to wonder: Are we flying on green phosphorous monitors in the space shuttle? This is technology from 20 years ago, maybe 25. And even, if you squint further and start looking what is inside of those boxes there, it isn't a lot different from this. We are flying on old technology, very old, for tons of reasons. Above all, because this was built with a mindset that is very averse to risk. Even so, I began to wonder what had happened. What had happened that all that the space industry had to offer was this. The outer-space industry and the informatics industry started almost at the same time and almost for the same reasons. They are both post-war creations, that were exclusively for military use at the beginning. This is the Sputnik. The Sputnik was the first artificial satellite that was launched in 1957. In 1958 the first integrated circuit was built. It is around the same time. In the next ten years, we went from launching the Sputnik to this. To getting a man on the moon. In ten years, we went from the first artificial satellite to a man on the moon, ok? And in the same ten years, we went from the first integrated circuit to connecting four nodes to a network for the first time, a network called Arpa Net, between four cities in the U.S., and which is now the Internet. Had the space industry followed the path of the informatics industry, if we now had to draw the equivalent of the Internet against these four nodes in the space industry, we would have had to conquer, at least the Solar System and probably some nearby galaxies. But this is not the case and I began to wonder why. Why isn't this the case? Why didn't it happen? What happened in the space industry that made it not grow compared to the growth that the informatics industry experienced? Coming from the informatics side, it occurred to me that the main answer to this question was about the appropriation of technology. I remember a famous quote by a president from IBM around this time. He thought that in the world there was a potential market for 4 or 5 computers. And in some way, he was not that mistaken, from his point of view. The things they were doing had a potential market for four or five computers, but those were not the computers that we got to know, and those which made it to our hands, right? And what happened in between was that the users began to appropriate the technology. This is the Altair 8800, one of the first computers that came as a kit that you could buy and build up your own computer. From Altair 8800 forward, there were lots of people, amateurs, people who didn't have a formal education in most cases, who started working on these things and began wondering whether they could try new things, unique things, that this technology that was just a toy for the big ones -the Altair 8800 manufacturers surely thought of it as a toy- it could transform the world. This is Alan Kay, the father of many of the ideas that got implemented afterwards in the computers we use and the first person to whom we can attribute the line "the best way to predict the future is to invent it." After Alan Kay came others, who also had this vision of taking technology to the hands and tables of everyone, some by following beauty ideals, others by building a hideous software that would, all the same, transform the world. These hackers, these entrepreneurs, these hackers, were the ones who took technology from a very limited use in very few enterprises, governments and military offices into something we now all have in our pockets. What I want to discuss with you today is that the space industry in ready to undergo the same process. It is ready for a group of people that can take space technology space technology to everybody's hands, that is why my talk "Hacking the outer-space". How can we take outer-space to everyone's hands? This is a photograph that is very similar to what you would see from the Shuttle's window, you see the Earth's curvature and the blackness of outer-space. This picture was taken by a $50 camera that some amateurs from Canada launched with a hot air balloon, that went 35 kilometers up. This same project can be done by you, and you wouldn't spend more than $200 or $250 doing it. This same kind of balloons are being used today to try these things. This is a complete satellite, a 10 x 10 x 10 cm cube called Phonesat. This satellite can be run from a cellular phone. Inside it, you can barely see it diagonally, there is a Nexus 1 that controls this satellite. It has its batteries, it has its communication plates. The thing that you can see there, similar to a measuring tape, the yellow part, is in fact a measuring tape. That's what it uses as an antenna and this is the kind of technology that we're building today. This satellite is based on an open standard known as CubeSat, and you can download the structure plans and the plate's designs. It's an open standard that a group of universities invented when they realized they were trying to train aerospace engineers, but could not make them build a satellite. They have no way to make aerospace engineers do something useful. Of course, building a satellite in a traditional way, from the idea to making it, would take some 10 years or so and there aren't 10 years in a semester to teach a person how to build a satellite. So they designed this standard to be able to teach students during a semester. From the idea to the finished satellite. More than 2000 were made. This is a CubeSat flying. More that 2000 of these were built in universities. Only 40, less than 50 were able to fly. But anyway, this kind of technology, to put this in student's hand, in the public's hands is changing people's way of thinking regarding space. And it is taking many to think things that seemed ridiculous before. This is a project that I found a couple of weeks ago, it is a complete satellite. It has its solar cells, its capacitors that work as batteries, a micro controller and a radio. This that you see there is essentially the Sputnik. These guys' project is to launch this for $300. Yes. This kind of technology is the one that started exploding in my head when last year I began to look into the space industry and wonder about these things. And I started to work on a series of ideas. How could I take advantage of this kind of technology, everyday technology, the technology we develop for cellular phones, which is so powerful. Today each one of us has in their pocket more computing capacity than, probably, all the satellites orbiting around the earth or close to, altogether. In this room there is surely more computing capacity than in all the satellites around the Earth combined or in those never launched. Each one of you probably has in their pocket more computing capacity than the Mars Rovers, I'm sure! By far: 750mhz run in Mars Rovers' computer. I started to wonder how we could use this technology to make useful things. These objects that the space industry consider as toys, how we could use them for important matters. And this is how I got to the project I am working on now, which is based on the idea of being able to build a satellite platform that is a thousand times cheaper than those built today. And that would be useful to anyone providing services from space. Launching a start-up in the outer-space industry should not be more complicated than doing so in any other industry. It is mainly a intellectual work at the beginning. You bathe in ideas everything that surrounds you, and you bounce them against the people you know. Then you start building the first prototypes that can be raw or stone baked. And then you try to find people that want to be part, if you are lucky enough, they are smarter than you! That is the key to success. And I am trying to gather people around me. Among those who work with me, many have no experience in the space industry. Because what you need to make things a thousand times cheaper, that is to say, to make them radically different, is people who aren't contaminated in their way of thinking with limits and possibilities, who simply do things without wondering if it can be done. The prototypes become more and more complex. A little more. And now we are... Yes, there are calculations to be done, models to build, we need to raise money, lots of things. But today we are, only a year after I started thinking about the space industry, we are building a couple of prototypes that we will launch next year: the first satellite in July or August and the second one by the end of the year, if we manage to find someone to lend us room on a rocket. This technology, the technology of small satellites, has an enormous potential to change our relationship with space. Not only by putting satellites around the Earth, but also by doing other kinds of things. There's a project by Google, a prize by Google actually. This is the Google Lunar X PRIZE, the award Google gives to the first company that can send a small robot to the Moon, make it move 500 meters, take some pictures, and send them back to Earth. There are many other projects, more that 20 groups working on projects to send things to the Moon. And it is probable that they will be able to send robots to the Moon for a fraction of the price any government would have spent in doing it. And that is essentially with the same kind of technology, with commercial technology, with technology that we can buy at a hardware store, that we can find inside our cell phones. This is something you can do in your back yard. And we don't have to stick to the Moon. The same kind of technology, once you make a spaceship, is a spaceship. The hardest part is getting off the Earth, the rest is relatively easy. Once you build a spaceship you can send it to travel around the Solar System, to make a prospective of the minerals present in asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, for example! This is the kind of technology I am building today and that I would like to invite you all to build with me. I'd like to close up by showing you a part of that manifesto the one we wrote on the public telephone standing outside the Centro Cultural Recoleta. Because 20 years passed and we are no longer young and idealistic, because we're not that young any more. But we continue to think essentially the same, which is: if we can turn technology around, think of technology as a tool and understand the things that are possible beyond the label they put to it, and if you can look at that technology and start using it to explore its whole potential there are really very few problems that we are incapable of solving. This is a photograph of the Earth. This is a photograph of the Earth taken from the Voyager 1 at a distance of 6000 million kilometers from Costa Salguero. This is the Earth, in case those of you at the back cannot see it. This picture was taken by the Voyager at Carl Sagan's request. Carl Sagan demanded that the Voyager was turned to be able to take this picture. And he said that when he looked at this photograph it made him think of the things that happen to us, all of the big problems of our lives, all the kings and empires, and the invincible armies and the ones that then got beaten, and all the people who loved and was loved, the mother who kisses her child. All those things happen in this dot hanging from a ray of sunshine in the middle of nowhere. And he said - and I have always been touched by this - that this made him take perspective, of course, about the importance of the things that affected him everyday. I like to think that with this perspective we could think about the things we do, that we could think about the direction we want to follow in our life. And I also like to think that this perspective is the one that our children are going to have, or our children's children, when they look back and see the planet where their parents came from the day they sleep in the stars. Thank you. [Applause]

Video Details

Duration: 17 minutes and 51 seconds
Country: Argentina
Language: Spanish (Spain)
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxRíodelaPlata
Director: TEDxRíodelaPlata
Views: 78
Posted by: tedxriodelaplata on Dec 27, 2011


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