Greetings, humans of the internet. We are the editors of Motherboard, VICE's science and technology channel. When we're not putting out daily stories and feature documentaries on everything from drones to surveillance, from 3D-printed guns (and bongs) to cryptocurrency, the deep web and beyond, you can find us flying around our recently acquired mini drone and/or stressing over the fact that the future is absolutely terrifying, but also totally awesome.

We're here with our editorial team of Derek Mead, Alex Pasternack, and Brian Anderson, and some of Motherboard's writers should be popping through. Right now we're joined by Kelly Bourdet, who writes our Future Sex column, and Dan Stuckey. If you want to ask someone something in particular, we'll do our best to try to track them down for you.

So ask us anything, and let's have some fun.


Oh yeah, here's our proof.

By the way, we just published a video about Jerome LOL. Give 'er a peek.

Comments: 179 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

Warlizard12 karma

  1. What technology do you see emerging in the next 5-10 years that will make the biggest difference in our lives?

  2. What uses do you think the deep web will see as the government increases their monitoring of emails and web traffic?

  3. Last question, mostly because I'm curious. Why do you think Americans are willing to give up so much of their personal information to corporations like Facebook and other social media sites?

cosmicreggae8 karma

Hi, Derek here. (I guess I just outed myself on Reddit.) I'll answer #2 to start, because I spent a fair bit playing around in there looking for rhino horn.

I think Tor's place moving into the future will solidify more as a communication tool than anything else. Stuff like the Silk Road will probably always persist, but there's so much attention in that space now that law enforcement will be close behind, even with something like rhino horn.

But as people become more and more obsessed with privacy, giants like Google continue to dominate the web while being fairly friendly with law enforcement, and all three branches of the federal government not concerned in the least with treating the online space as it would treat physical space, I think more and more people are going to seek out secure ways to communicate. I don't know that Tor is the best answer, as it's pretty clunky by it's very nature, but more distributed and more secure online communication is going to become more popular in the future, assuming we can escape from the Goog's clutches.

Warlizard2 karma

Is there any such thing as secure communication?

cosmicreggae5 karma

Maybe quantum encryption will happen? Otherwise, no, but as long as you stay a step ahead of the snoopers, there's hope.

cosmicreggae4 karma

3: I think it's mostly that the average person online doesn't have any clue what they're giving up, nor do they realize how tied in they are to companies like Facebook. The old adage that "if you're not paying for it, you're the product" hasn't penetrated much of the general consciousness yet, but it's getting there. For the rest, many people are simply apathetic.

Warlizard3 karma

IMO, using your grocery store card is an even greater window into who you are than Facebook is.

I made that argument on Reddit a few years ago and was roundly downvoted... sigh.

cosmicreggae3 karma

That's a fair point, assuming you use Facebook with at least a modicum of caution. But plenty of people are just tweeting and sharing everything in their lives, and the ability of big players to put that data to use is far outstripping the pace of people thinking about how much data they're sharing in the first place.

postalex3 karma

  1. Hard to pick one, Warlizard. a) advances in battery efficiency will change our relationship with mobile technology and help extend the use of renewable energy tech (graphene will be important for this, and for new processors, right?
    b) novel human-computer interfaces (stay tuned to @motherboard for more on that). c) faster more ubiquitous internet (closing the digital divide, allowing us to do some awesome things over the web, and more and more and more and more and more data) d) drones drones drones (think face recognition surveillance, a big national privacy debate, and all kinds of fascinating, awesome applications: e) our strange nerd friends wearing computer glasses and other wearable tech to the bar, making the rest of us laugh and feel totally outmoded -- at least until we're all wearing them and dreaming of electric sheep or flying toasters. I could go on but [something about information overload].

  2. I think there's a lot more that can and will be done with an anonymous internet, and while Tor is great, there are all kinds of new interesting applications that rely on encryption to ensure (one hopes) anonymity -- dissidents will find more uses, as will mainstream users who grow increasingly frustrated with privacy violations. so will the underground, from conventional criminals to for-hire cyber warriors. See this interview with @colestryker:

  3. I don't know if it's just an American phenomenon, but I think of it as us dealing with a new kind of economy. These sites are "free" in the very basic sense, but of course nothing is free. We pay for them with our data but even if we spent hours pouring over these companies' terms of service, it's still very hard to what the ultimate terms of this exchange are. We don't really know what we're giving up, and it's unclear what we're getting, however awesome these sites can be. See Austin recently on the surveillance society:

This is even more of a problem given that we've become hooked on free stuff, from mp3s to articles to video (YouTube is considering a subscription service). There's a cost to this transition. Separate but related -- the problem that creative types (including journalists(!)) will have to deal with: we don't like to pay for stuff. Hence the rise of the paywalls.

That all said, it will be exciting to see what new models emerge in the next few years, taking up the torch of projects like diaspora:


brianMB2 karma

Brian here. Re: 1., gesture-control. It's actually already here.

grgg8 karma

Are you guys as annoyed with Google Reader shutting down?

cosmicreggae10 karma

Yeah, the announcement broke our hearts.

I wouldn't be too concerned though, as replacements are already popping up. It's a good reminder, however, that as the web becomes more static with major players dominating more areas, it's more at risk of upheaval.

scubacatt3 karma

Will America's usage of drone strikes set a global precedent?

brianMB5 karma

yes. In fact, it already has.

BadLeroyBrown3 karma


cosmicreggae4 karma

Are you a cop?

BadLeroyBrown1 karma


cosmicreggae2 karma

Fair enough. Most of what I've done in the dark web was through message boards and email, so pretty much anything you can access through the Hidden Wiki.

But if you're looking for something REALLY badass, check out

BadLeroyBrown3 karma


cosmicreggae11 karma

Aside from being paid to write and take pictures, probably using MS Paint to gussy up images for posts, like this dolphin w/ bazooka:

brickshot3 karma

While I can appreciate the coolness factor of drone technology I really can't support their use in warfare or domestic policing. What do you guys think about it?

brianMB3 karma

Hi there brickshot, Brian A. here. While I can't answer for the rest of the crew, I will say that the thought of weaponized (lethal) drones being used to fight shadow wars does give me a dash of the fear. However, keep in mind that the lion's share of "drone" activity is non-lethal and non-weaponized. Toys, essentially.

skrivitor1 karma

Maybe we can start using drones as antenna in a giant mesh communication network.

brianMB2 karma

Dig it. Check out Dronenet.

postalex2 karma

We'll need to keep talking about this as a country. The trick will be getting past drone fear and being realistic about what they can do, what we want to use them for, and what kinds of smart standards and laws we can craft that will address the risks of drones (and the specter they, along with other new technologies, represent of persistent surveillance).

Police want these machines as much as the military does, and they will get them. The question is how our laws manage to catch up to the technology, and manage to meet our expectations. Already dozens of states have proposed drone bans; Charlottesville, VA, has placed a moratorium on them for two years. Stay tuned to MB.

Warfare: many risks there obvs, but don't discount those cool drones:

montaosj3 karma

what will be the most innovative technological advancement in the next few years?

brianMB6 karma

gesture control! we all Jedis, now.

cosmicreggae2 karma

Better integration between devices and ourselves. I'm talking computer implants. Give it 5 years.

timchamberlain3 karma

Is Brian Anderson, in fact, a drone?

brianMB3 karma

I can neither confirm nor deny that question. Sry.

hankbaumbach2 karma

Yes! This MUST be answered! I've been wondering for a while now...

timchamberlain3 karma

Only a drone would dodge answering this question...

brianMB2 karma

"Dodge"? I call it "sense & avoid"

paulotis3 karma

Are you planning on making a mobile version of your website?

cosmicreggae4 karma

We have one in the works, yes, but it's been a slow process. Perhaps nudging from Reddit will hurry it up...

bobsagetfullhouse3 karma

Oh wow, I didn't even know you guys existed. I like vice on youtube and so I'm sure I'll like you.

postalex2 karma

sweet. our little youtube channel is at -- go subscribe please! just note that not all of our videos are up there yet. We also do some shows on Vice's YouTube channel. The video we produced on microscopic creatures that can survive the vacuum of space is, amazingly, the most watched on there. Our shows there are

Spaced Out

My Life Online

skrivitor2 karma

Thanks a lot for your post on Bitcoin Mining today, great article. What are your thoughts about the Virtex Exchange IPO selling out 10,000 shares (~$300,000 CDN) in less than 12 hours? And my second question...Canadian Club or Crown Royal?

sfnuop5 karma

Thanks skrivitor! Think that sounds about right, given the current frenzy. I'm fairly bullish on bitcoin so it doesn't seem too crazy to me. Most of the credible companies in the ecosystem, especially the exchanges and processing companies, are doing quite well for themselves. Of course, some kind of government regulation will always be an investment risk.

CC fosho.

skrivitor2 karma

I should have started by saying full disclosure: I am an investor and customer of Virtex and an amateur bitcoin advocate and miner. And I prefer Canadian Club, it is cheaper.

cosmicreggae2 karma

Black Velvet is the reason I'm a journalist.

cosmicreggae1 karma

FYI that's Alec Liu, who wrote the bitcoin mining story

walenga2 karma

Will we ever see a nationwide internet network? Possibly on the old analog TV network?

brianMB1 karma

Excellent question. If by this you mean a national internet that cuts out middle men by building up a truly peer-to-peer mesh network, then yes, I think something like that's inevitable. Don't think it won't be a long, long road to hoe. But Isaac Wilder and the rest of the Free Network Foundation, who before relocating to Kansas City (right smack in the middle of Google Fiber's testbed) were featured in our doc Free the Network, are well on their way.

roarandresponse2 karma

Do the see the web becoming more divided between corporate created content and the independent deep web, or do you see the future as a benign mixture of the two?

cosmicreggae6 karma

I think the web is increasingly being divided into social filter bubbles, and that those bubbles will likely become more increasingly corporate because that's where the eyes are, and thus is where the ad money will flow.

At the same time, the web will always be growing and growing in every direction. It's like the universe or some shit. The rift might not be apparent, because the social web does mix things up well, but remember the days when you'd actually surf through Web 1.0? Where sites actually linked out to other sites? That, I think, is being lost.

hatryd2 karma

What's your favorite segment from any channel on VICE?

cosmicreggae1 karma

This piece about Fermilab has bison and scientists rapping, so I'm partial:

Panentheist2 karma

Hello. I just asked Michael Moore on another AMA what his predictions were on the future, he said Mexico would invade the US (perhaps, immigrants? culture?..) technologically speaking, would it even be possible? Also I love VICE !

brianMB2 karma

I wouldn't be at all surprised if in the next decade Beijing uses a drone to track and kill a Chinese citizen on US soil.

postalex1 karma

Don't think Mexico will invade the US but I'm looking forward to more cross-border interaction (hopefully not just with border drones).

Kind of shocked at Brian's forecast, though it's an interesting prospect ( But I really can't imagine China flying a drone over US soil in the next decade. That would be a serious violation of national sovereignty, of course. Just ask Pakistan.

Hacking a drone over US soil, well that's another story...

fixedzero2 karma

How many writers do you have on staff? I'm consistently impressed at how many articles you guys post weekly.

cosmicreggae2 karma

Thanks! We currently have on staff three editors, a video editor, and a producer, but the bulk of our writing is done by our talented freelancers, of which we have about 10 regulars, and 30 total.

wwcd2 karma

Some are saying 3D printing will be "bigger than the internet" thoughts?

cosmicreggae2 karma

I do think everyone will have a 3D printer one day and that the possibilities for their use are essentially endless, but as the Internet has enabled 3D printing in the first place, I'm not sure if 3D printing could ever be bigger.

limeseltzer420692 karma

Hey all. This question's for Kelly. First off, just wanted to say it's great to have some female voices in the boys club that is the tech world. Do you find there's been added pressure to prove yourself as a woman writing about technology/any ideas on how to make the industry less homogeneous?

cosmicreggae3 karma

Hey, I'm posting for Kelly:

Hi there, Kelly Bourdet here. Thanks for the question!

You might call it an added pressure--I tend to think of it as an opportunity--but I do tend to feel the need to offer my thoughts on many gender-related issues in the tech world. For example my recent piece on Steubenville discussed not only the issue of sexual assault, but how our interaction with technology alters it. My stories discussing sexism in tech conferences and booth babes at CES highlighted important issues that women (the vast minority in the tech world) encounter. The more visible they are, the better our odds are of changing them.

In terms of changing gender homogeny, the industry needs more women editors controlling the vision of sites to really change the status quo.

hankbaumbach1 karma

Alex P. - Any progress being made on the Thorium front? That remains one of my favorite documentaries on MB, clear, succinct and very informative. Well done sir.

postalex1 karma

Thanks Hank -- lots of interesting things going on in the small modular reactor front -- not just thorium reactors but Bill Gates' traveling wave reactor and even new pressurized water reactors will hopefully bring the cost of nuclear down. Though I'm not sure that the costs (which include the seemingly unavoidable political costs/ public fear) could continue to be a serious roadblock here.

Also curious to see what happens with fusion in the next few.

That all said, China seems to be continuing to eat America's lunch on new nuclear (and making use of the technology that the US developed in the 60s) (but take ambitious Chinese government pledges with a large grain of molten-reactor salt)

The thorium documentary we did is:

EverythingHasRabies1 karma

Lately I've been hearing a lot about Minority Report and how it essentially destroyed any sense of practicality in user interfaces for the near-future. I blame Tom Cruise. In your opinion, what are some other examples of popular Hollywood films that set tech on the wrong track?

cosmicreggae2 karma

Here's a good chance to share the bone I've got to pick with Star Wars (which I love aside from this). The Star Wars universe offers the promise of a future in which star travel is totally feasible and energy is limitless.

That's fine for fiction, but the persistent idea that hyperdrives are the answer or that one day we'll be able to colonize planets other than Earth or even that we'll develop some sort of perfect energy source avoids the serious problems facing us now: our environment and our lack of space, resources, and energy. Those problems will become critical far before we figure out how to get to a second Earth, let alone cruise through the universe in a chill-ass Millenium Falcon.

walenga1 karma

Will we ever see a nationwide internet network? Possibly on the old analog TV network?

cosmicreggae1 karma

I think we will, but most likely it will be wireless. The FCC is laying the groundwork for it now.

walenga1 karma

Any advice for a broadcast student looking to break into the video/film/doc/media world?

brianMB2 karma

Don't stop, or get comfortable. Show, don't tell. Ask basic questions. Kill your darlings, even when it really hurts.

kree81 karma

Hi, my question is in context of education in the corporate information technology sector. Do you'll predict a future in serious gaming? I.e. using gaming technologies and practices to to help facilitate learning.

cosmicreggae1 karma

I think it's quite possible, but I'm not really sure it's desirable. Who's going to lead the "keep games fun" movement?

richardboase1 karma

Hi Alex, What happened to your documentary on Bitcoin? I shot these interviews for you and never heard back. Kinda annoyed that we never got further on that?

postalex3 karma

Hey Richard -- nice to hear from you, sorry the line went dead. We're in production on a larger video piece on bitcoin, into which your interviews may fit. I'll be in touch by email.

And if anyone wants to get in touch about bitcoin or other stories, you can reach me at alexp at motherboard dot tv. See some of the coverage Alec Liu's been doing in text:

SovietCastro1 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA! What's it like working for Vice? Any advice for a journalism major?

cosmicreggae3 karma

I'd say write as much as you can, even if it's on your own blog. Build a Twitter and Facebook presence. Learn how to work a camera, video or stills (both is better). Learn to code or design, make data pretty.

Basically journalism is fully multi-platform now, and budgets are strapped, which means finding a gig as a strict reporter or editor is tough. If we're looking to hire someone, we want someone who can wear a bunch of different hats. Oh, and ask people for edits! No one is a perfect writer, and criticism always helps.

brianMB3 karma

Good day, SovietCastro. It's me, Brian. Having slogged through a graduate J program, my advice would be to disregard literally everything your instructors are telling you. Go the opposite way. Fuck the doom 'n gloom.

postalex1 karma

VICE is always an adventure -- the brilliant and daring people here are what matter, above and beyond everything else.

related to that: read the writing and writers you know you love. steel your dignity as you find yourself applying for thankless writing jobs. think about new formats. and, um, good communication and keeping deadlines. :)

montaosj1 karma

will video games and other forms of digital media over-take traditional education practices?

brianMB1 karma

This from Colin Snyder, Motherboard's resident game designer and critic:

Yes. But very slowly. Alternative schools have already warmed up to games, for instance, there are programs to use the game Minecraft for a group of students. Organizations like Games for Change work with educators to make games that have meaningful and educational messages Public schools in America will not adapt videogames en masse anytime soon. Unfortunately, videogames still face a lot of stigma from older generations, especially in the wake of tragedies like Sandy Hook. Videogames will have to first overcome the book-burning adolescence faced by rock and roll and comic books before it.

_jubjub_1 karma

have any particular stories or features bled into your personal lives? anyone there have a diy drone factory in their garage, secret bitcoin stash, closets full of 3d printed guns/bongs/dildos?

cosmicreggae1 karma

3D-printed dildos did make an appearance in our office once...

I'd say that the thing I love most about working at MB is that we all pretty much have the flexibility to write about what we enjoy, rather than being stuck keeping up with the same news cycle. That means that yes, our stories do bleed into our lives a fair bit, but nothing too weird has happened yet.

brianMB1 karma

Kind of? I mean, right now I *am looking at our newly-acquired drone. I guess (?) that's proof positive of continued coverage bleeding over haunting my life.

But other than that, I've developed a crippling case of the fear. I have no warchest of crypto currency. I have no 3D-printed bongs. Hell, I don't even think I use a single app?


crashtheface1 karma

How do you guys feel about the CPU overclocking crowd? Any interest, or any trends lately that have caught your eye?

cosmicreggae1 karma

We think anyone doing DIY stuff with tech is awesome, straight up. I'm not super familiar with the overclocking crowd, but I've been stalking /r/buildapc for awhile now in preparation for my first build.

crashtheface1 karma

Great place to start looking and getting ideas for builds! If you have any questions about building etc hit me on the head

cosmicreggae1 karma


jamesmcbennett1 karma

I love digital to physical manufacturing - CNC, Laser, 3DPrint, Plasma, Waterjet and so on.... My favourite aspect of going digital is finding the mass bespoke of things (long tail). In furniture, I am working a downloadable files for CNC routing...

  • A hybrid desk/doghouse for those that work from home with their dog beside them.
  • The wardrobe that has more privacy than normal for the heavy airbnb user.
  • A bookshelf for someone who has lots of massive Phaidon art books.

What do you think are the best mass bespoke objects that never had their critical market size in the standardised industrial economy that will now come to life...

cosmicreggae1 karma

That's one hell of a question, thanks. I'm going with custom toilets. Think about it: It's one of the few things in our households that is rather expensive to manufacture, and thus don't come in as many flavors as people would like. Bling toilets are coming. I really like the desk/doghouse idea!

gwats0 karma


brianMB1 karma

Honestly? The sound of the word. It's a very clean looking word, with that sandwiched o. But its also got this onomatopoetic ring to it when you elongate the ooooo.

obsceneonetwo0 karma

I applied for an internship with you because I love your blog. You never contacted me. I was wondering why not? I have a decent resume, IMHO.

postalex1 karma

hey obsceneonetwo: sorry about that. we're looking for interns again soon. please just shoot us another note at editor at motherboard dot tv with 'Internship' in the subject line.

istigkeit0 karma

How does it feel working for a junk pop culture publication?

cosmicreggae2 karma

Are we still talking about Motherboard?

rebelbaserec-1 karma

Any truth to the rumors of a BroRock re-launch?

brianMB1 karma

I have no idea what you're talking about.

OopsCats-1 karma

Hook me up at next years VICE sxsw party?

Did..did you go to VICE's Lion Fest party?

I wanted to see Snoop Lion. The line was ridiculous.

Sorry that this has nothing to do really with your actual AMA :)

brianMB3 karma

No, I do not think the FAA will hit its deadlines in the knotty process of fully integrating unmanned aircraft into domestic airspace by 2015. Thanks for asking.

postalex1 karma

Personally, I think they won't have much choice otherwise given the political pressure. We'll see. In the meantime, look for lots of state laws... see my other response below about drone bans.

OopsCats-1 karma

Well, I did have a positive perspective of VICE. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I guess I misread the last part here:

So ask us anything, and let's have some fun. B-)

brianMB1 karma

cosmicreggae-1 karma

By the way how chill is this cat?