bunnie huang

bunnie huang.png

intro’d to bunnie via this mit talk

nov 2015 – bunnie huang and Nadya Peek (bits and atoms lab)


bunnie huang will discuss manufacturing and scaling in Shenzhen and his experience working with Media Lab students this summer to create a hybrid tech platform/supply chain solution.

shenzhen (doc)

bunnie huang is best known for his work hacking the Microsoft Xbox, as well as for his efforts in designing and manufacturing open source hardware, including the chumby (app-playing alarm clock), chibitronics (peel-and-stick electronics for craft), and Novena (DIY laptop). He received his PhD in electrical engineering from MIT in 2002. He currently lives in Singapore, where he runs a private product design studio, Kosagi, and he actively mentors several startups and students of the MIT Media Lab.

Nadya Peek develops unconventional digital fabrication tools, small scale automation, networked controls, and advanced manufacturing systems in the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms. She builds pop-up fabrication machines and reconfigurable automation tools, and develops open infrastructure for others to do the same. She taught the MIT class MAS.865 “How to make something that makes (almost) anything” on rapid prototyping of rapid prototyping machines last spring, and is helping organise the upcoming global fab lab meeting in Shenzhen this coming summer. Find her at http://infosyncratic.nl


8 min – how rid rapid experimentation from roadblocks

16 min – slide on: deployable by design

28 min – on baking tests into the design itself – Nadia – which we haven’t done yet

on how to make tools more smart/automated/digital… the supply chain is really just made out of people – figuring out how do we create more clear instructions for all these people – bunnie

30 min – better to have the concept in your mind via code.. to communicate ie: what to look for – bunnie

low volume manufacturing in a distributive fashion.. how to make this invisible knowledge explicit.. – Nadia

self-talk as data..

31 min – knowing the messiness exists.. allows you to build – joi

32 min – the best person to ask about how to run the machine.. is the guy who runs the machine.. not the manual – bunnie

on how to do these best practices… – nadia

39 min – on not having to trust packaging – because you can buy the tester from the factory that makes cameras. can get the mechanism to verify trust. – i’ve had to take acid to digest off the top to make sure the chips are what they say they are (cards are just black boxes and easy to replace top) – it’s a hard problem – trying to figure out how to trust these things.. so if you got code that told you how to verify hardware behind it – bunnie

want something that enacts expertise that you as a consumer could see quality – nadia

how to turn into something consumers can use regularly to get more trust… – bunnie

we’re talking scams for cost .. but also security – joi

trust is quality.. but not evil.. and not incompetent – nadia

security even harder problem – bunnie

ps in the open – deep enough.. to make much of this irrelevant…

43 min – thinking of bitcoin.. can you think of way to bypass or get to  trust ness – joi

verfiability is same for hardware and software – nadia

44 min – cryptography works great.. but no one knows how to install it – nadia

if you build it assuming someone will read it.. you make it more useable/readable – joi

even if you get it right.. you still got it wrong for someone else – bunnie

and its expensive… if you open it up – to all geniuses on internet.. maybe some are geniuses – nadia

47 min – important message – you’re not just subject to black boxes.. there’s a different way to do it.. – bunnie

lawyers will talk you out of it in a heartbeat.. because of our sue obsession… liability of a chip maker is very high – bunnie

maybe the world’s bigger than this legal system – bunnie

50 min – if we all spend our time on ie: facebook and apple – we might not get there – nadia

a nother way

for (blank)’s sake

52 min – the reason i’ve outsourced myself to china – bunnie

53 min – how do you timeshare on things that are too expensive to buy – nadia

55 min – on safety – i worry more about car accidents and stuff like that – bunnie

if it’s cheaper to do by hand we’ll do by hand.. if more complex… need to automate – nadia

amazing how quickly automation comes when it’s necessary … they don’t automate because no one wants to do it – bunnie

57 min – starts q&a

59 min – if want to build one – go downstairs to fab lab.. if 100s..  shenzen ness – bunnie – also flexible surface boards.. because volume markets there driving these tech’s

1:01 – on w/shenzen – shipping easy stuff to u.s. – opposite of what people think – joi

1:02 – it’s great to be in a place.. where value aligns with what you need to do – not looking for the accolades.. – bunnie

1:04 – on it (shenzhen) being a place you could easily get distracted by other things that would teach you new stuff – nadia

1:04 – q: on having this systemic idea of the right questions.. as ed model for how we teach at media lab.. are we teaching ourselves about how to ask the right question…  a: joi is director – so obviously he has the vision.. but even if doing something you don’t think valuable – (ie: watching lazer cutter for hours) .. you can’t replace experience with knowledge .. – nadia

1:06 – i always have to take pause when i’m soldering for an escape – and also – if i don’t know how to solder – don’t know what’s going on below – so need both – bunnie

1:09 – on broader questions missing – joi – on why i keep bringing bunnie back in – how do we scale what we just saw…

1:10 – in a fantasy world.. how to make this accessible to everybody.. – bunnie

let’s do this first: free art-ists.

trouble is you have to make super system

1:12 – trying to take venn diagram intersection –  cut out little piece and use that to focus people.. people don’t even have templates – if i have to drag everyone to shenzhen.. but if begin process assumptions  built in – may not get them..but curiosity comes- bunnie

io dance ness

1:12 – problem – to solve scalability …instead of one thing, make a system, then systems of systems… at end of day – scarcity of that person that makes that one thing.. need to be something more distributed in answer of how to scale… not envisioning everything possible and design for that.. we don’t have enough imagination.. – nadia

deep/simple/open enough

1:13 –  …we need more people fully empowered – good news.. see that.. – bunnie.. my knowledge obsolete soon…

huang job security law

ultimate job is to engineer themselves out of job.. if i figure out way to give myself job security.. i’m doing a bad job.. i’m not solving problem i’m creating a problem that only i can solve. if i managed to solve the problem right i will be irrelevant in 1o years.. – bunnie

perpetuate ness – perhaps why we have not yet.. no one wants to let go.. of their mission..

systemic ness

1:16 – when you go to shenzhen – they never say no – joi

1:18 – on letting people know that they can go there – the problem is that people don’t even know that they can go there at this point in time.. – bunnie

1:20 – on design rules – exposing people to it not being a rule but a process limit.. – bunnie

1:24 – hardest thing – are you doing the right thing.. is your research question correct.. then .. series of difficult things.. ie: resources..; dealing systems of people that regulate distribution of these things..  – bunnie


jan 2015 – Leading-edge Technologies Session「Synthesis of Matter, Information and Life」

1 min – my bib concern lately: crossing teh gap. distance between first prototype made in lab to a reasonable scale.. to involve larger convo with larger audience… turn closer to a product w/few 1000 so many people can get involved in research

common wisdom – in order to make hardware and make money on hardware. .. need millions of dollars and need so sell mass product..

3 min – ie: phone – with four buttons so not to distract kids in school.. a niche market.. risky to produce. if did this in u.s. would have to raise/sell many… in shenzhen – can cross the gap – for a strange idea.. and make economical….


so i’ve been trying to answer.. what ecosystem makes this possible...

perhaps radical econ.. transition into leapfrog to a nother way..

area – pearl river delta – 2007 – 40 mill people gdp 1/2 trillion dollars

8 min – capability vs inventory

9 min – the answer is not no anymore.. when you have an ecosystem of people who can make things..

when so far from point of production.. seems impossible to contact factory to change, ie: length of wire… in shenzhen – answer goes from no to yes

10 min – key ingredient to ecosystem: efficient discovery

12 min – on one reason – so competitive.. so many who want to get noticed.. ie: will do whatever you ask for..

imagining we can do this sans competition.. – thinking of bunnie’s comment at mit talk – on the elbow grease of the people there.. that it’s just what they do… stay late go in early.. they’re happy about it.. then he said.. it’s their duty..

imagining we can do this via eudaimoniative surplus.. if it’s all of us. has to be all of us or it won’t work. one ness matters for the dance to dance.

16 min – on making stuff and making sure you sell enough et al

imagining people not having to worry about money ness et al

18 min – shenzhen as self-organizing chaos…

self-organizing ness

19 min – once at critical density – so that selling capability rather than parts.. until at this point.. have layer – in between – grey market risk

20 min – then explaining – (communal living ness) – so that people spend more energy on making

23 min – in a dense ecosystem.. a lot of expertise..

again –  one ness

24 min – on wanting to kickstart critical mass…


find/follow bunnie:

link twitter


wikipedia small

Andrew “bunnie” Huang (born 1975) is an American hacker, who holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering from MITand is the author of the freely available 2003 book Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering. Huang is also a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. As of 2012 he resides in Singapore.


He also created the open hardware Safecast Geiger Counter Reference Design, as a volunteer effort in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi.

The open source hardware laptop motherboard, Novena.

In 2013, bunnie announced that he, in collaboration with Sean ‘xobs’ Cross, was at work on a laptop called Novena. The laptop is expected to be the first of its kind. The hardware and software for the Novena are entirely open …


No Starch Press and I have decided to release this free ebook version of Hacking the Xbox in honor of Aaron Swartz. As you read this book, I hope that you’ll be reminded of how important freedom is to the hacking community and that you’ll be inclined to support the causes that Aaron believed in.


I agreed to release this book for free in part because Aaron’s treatment by MIT is not unfamiliar to me. In this book, you will find the story of when I was an MIT graduate student, extracting security keys from the original Microsoft Xbox.


A few years ago, I started rebuilding my life overseas, and I find a quantum of solace in the thought that my residence abroad makes it a little more difficult to be served.

While the US legal system strives for justice, the rules of the system create an asymmetric war that favors those with resources.


The US government is far and away the best-funded and fearsome enemy in the world, and copyright law has some unusually large, if not cruel, penalties associated with it. I never knew Aaron, but I feel that the magnitude of the bullying he was subjected to is reflected in his decision to end his life.


As people, as individuals, as hackers, we need to oppose this trend and continue to do what we feel deep down in our hearts is right. While Aaron’s story came to a tragic end, I hope that in this book you will find an encouraging story with a happy ending. Without the right to tinker and explore, we risk becoming enslaved by technology; and the more we exercise the right to hack, the harder it will be to take that right away.

Singapore, March 2013

notes/highlights from hacking the xbox:

p 4

this is a book about hacking in the traditional sense: about the process and methods of exploration. ….. in the beginning, a hacker was someone who worked passionately for the sake of curiosity and exploration.

p 5

hackers would share their findings or results (hacks) with each other freely, as their rewards were not financial, but came from satisfying heir intellectual curiosity and from the enthusiasm of their peers. as a result, hackers tended to form into meritocratic groups where membership and advancement were base entirely upon a person’s ability to hack.

as tech evolved… hackers found that the effort involved in hardware hacking was not worth the benefits…… by the 80s, the term hacker had grown to imply someone who could write volumes of c code in their sleep…old hardware hackers… converting to software hackers, or retreating to uni labs and corps that could afford their expensive hobbies.


hollywood helping w/stereotype of: teens bringing world to brink of annihilation.. toward.. dark impression of hackers.. dominant…. to crackers..

p 6

it is very difficult today to convince people that i hacked the xbox solely because it was there to be hacked: it was challenging, and it was new. likewise, it is difficult for people to understand why i haven’t worked on the xbox since. after hacking the security on the xbox, all that is left is a standard pc – which, to me, i snot that interesting to work on, and definitely not worth the risk of a lawsuit from microsoft

p 7

the most alarming aspect of the cmca for hackers in that it embodies the fallacy that the only sources of innovation of benefit to society like within the halls of research institutions and corporations. suddenly it is a crime to explore..

p 8

freedom of speech should not require a lawyer, and free thought should not involve letters of authorization for research.

p 13

persistence and thoroughness come naturally if you love what you are doing.

p 15

ch 1 – voiding the warranty

hacking x box

p 31

ch 2 – thinking inside the box

tools of reverse engineering: intuition; pattern recognition; experimentation

p 101

ch 7 – brief primer on security


on security, cryptography, trust, man in the middle….. a single packaged silicon chip is probably good enough, as it is typically easier to intercept and spoof the measurement data going past on a printed circuit board than it is to penetrate the epoxy package of a chip and modify the chip’s circuitry.

p 134

hacking the xbox was less challenging technically that it was socially and legally.

p 144

(andy) profile


my final thought (andy profile) is to encourage people, especially young people, to listen to their brain when it comes to things that interest. them. don’t be afraid to dig around and try to learn about things that snag your attention. that feeling you get when you wish you understood something, a kind of yearning, is your brain’s way of telling you that it thinks the knowledge might be useful later. if you listen to it enough, you stand a good chance of knowing the right thing at the right time to make some small difference.


forbidden research


shenzhen (doc)


little brother:

p 133

bunnie: autoimmune disease….. where an organism’s defense system goes into overdrive so much that it fails to recognize itself and attacks its own cells.. right now america is on verge of going into anaphylactic shock over its own freedoms…. we don’t win freedom thru security systems, cryptography, interrogations and spot searches. we win freedom by having the courage and the conviction to live every day freely and to act as a free society, no matter how great the threats are on the horizon..

a nother way