November 26th, 2003

Crazy technology.

Shades of Macross Plus! Yamaha has announced their Vocaloid technology for synthesizing a singing voice. The sample of their Japanese male lead singer has a remarkably convincing voice. There's also an English female lead singer sample, slightly less convincing, and a demonstration showing how the software can generate backing vocals. Most of the sample recordings are lush with reverb and music; a plain recording of the singer alone is more revealing.

In other news, Applied Digital Solutions has started selling their Verichip, an RFID transceiver designed for implantation into your upper arm. A family in Florida has already ordered them. I must say my confidence in their judgement is diminished by the fact that it was their young son's idea: "Derek isn't the least bit concerned about the VeriChip. After all, he's something of a computer genius, certified as a Microsoft systems engineer at age 12. In fact, it was his idea for the whole family to get 'chipped'."

More on voting. Diebold capitulates?

Earlier i wrote that there are two fronts in which we have to make progress to achieve reliable voting: audit trails and open software.

The quest for reliable voting took a huge step forward last week with Kevin Shelley's announcement that all electronic voting machines in California would have to produce a voter-verifiable audit trail. But stiff opposition from election officials, who are calling his decision "a major defeat for the disabled community". I think voter-verified paper audit trails have a good chance of being deployed, though the fight may be long and messy.

On the other front, i just heard about a project to develop open source voting software that looks promising.

David Chaum has just released a design for a secure and verifiable voting system based on visual cryptography. At the poll station, the voting machine prints out a two-layered receipt for you. When the two layers are stuck together, you can read the candidates you voted for. Then you get to choose which layer you will take home with you, and the other layer is destroyed. The layer you take home cannot be used to sell your vote, because either layer alone is unreadable. But you can go online to find your vote, compare it against your receipt, and verify that your vote was counted.

In the most recent development to the Diebold case, a telephone conference has been scheduled on the morning of December 1 for Diebold and the EFF to discuss the case. Diebold has filed a statement declaring that it has "decided not to take the additional step of suing for copyright infringement" and "decided to withdraw its existing DMCA notifications and not to issue any further ones" for the posted Diebold e-mail archives. The Stanford Center for Internet and Society has a collection of the case documents online.
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