Extraordinary Humanoid Military Robot Can Climb Stairs, Operate in any Terrain

For anyone who was relying on being able to escape from a robot simply by climbing stairs, it could be a bone chilling sight.

[US researchers] have revealed astonishing footage of a human-like robot able to walk, jump and run over almost any obstacle in its path.

Eventually it is hoped the technology could be used to create a new breed of robotic soldiers able to operate in any terrain, and robots capable of being sent into dangerous disaster zones deemed impossible for humans to enter.

The amazing robot, called proto-pet, is expected to be one of those competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) which was announced today.

The US military funded challenge is for robots who can operate entirely by themselves. Read more from this story HERE.

Here’s a video of the amazing robot in action:

White House considers circumventing Congress again, leaves Internet takeover through exec. order a possibility

The White House has left open the possibility of enacting its Internet agenda via executive order after the failed effort to bring the Democrat-supported cybersecurity bill to a full vote in the Senate last week.

In response to a question from The Hill, a Washington, D.C. political newspaper, about whether President Obama was considering advancing his party’s cyber-plan through an executive order, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn’t rule out the possibility.

“In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed,” he said via email.

“Moving forward, the President is determined to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats and we will do that,” added Carney.

The failed cyber security bill, which could be revived by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid when the Senate comes back from recess in September, would have given federal agencies in charge of regulating critical infrastructure industries like power companies and utilities the ability to mandate cybersecurity recommendations.

Read more from this story HERE.


We must fight the emerging drone culture

Photo credit: An Honorable German

As instruments of war, pilotless aircraft have already become essential. The Washington Post reported last year that more than 50 countries had developed or purchased drones to use in surveillance — and that many of those nations were working to weaponize the aircraft. Deadly missiles fired from drones are among the most effective U.S. weapons against the Taliban and al Qaida.

There has been far too little discussion of the moral calculus involved in using flying robots as tools of assassination. At the very least, the whole thing should leave us uneasy. Collateral damage — the killing of innocents — can be minimized but not eliminated. And even if only “bad” people are killed, this isn’t war as we’ve traditionally understood it. Drone attacks are more like state-sponsored homicide.

But similar complaints were raised when tanks replaced horses on the battlefield, and nothing stopped the mechanization of war. Drones allow governments to achieve military objectives without putting the lives of soldiers, sailors and pilots at risk. Robots do not bleed and do not vote, so they will do much of the fighting for us.

The thing about drones, though, is that the technology required to deploy them is nowhere near as daunting as is needed, say, to develop nuclear weapons. As they become more commonplace in the arsenals of the world, we will surely begin seeing them used by “rogue” nations — or even by nonstate actors such as terrorists and drug smugglers.

If Colombian cartels are able to build dope-smuggling submarines, when will Mexican crime lords begin sending up surveillance drones to identify unpatrolled sectors of the U.S. border? Soon, I reckon, if it’s not already happening.

Read more from this story HERE.

Tea Party Republicans sketch out Internet policy

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the son of libertarian Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, visited the conservative Heritage Foundation on Thursday to sketch out his agenda for preserving Internet freedom. In Paul’s view, this means opposing warrantless government snooping of private networks—and also opposing regulations intended to protect privacy and network neutrality.

The event follows last month’s announcement of a new “Internet freedom” initiative by the Campaign for Liberty, an activist group founded by the elder Paul. It appears that father and son see eye to eye on Internet issues, and the younger Paul used the Heritage event as an opportunity to explain his views.

Sen. Paul began by referencing Gordon Crovitz’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal, questioning whether the government launched the Internet. We’ve pointed out that Crovitz’s column was factually challenged; Paul offered a more nuanced version of the argument.

“It may not be completely simple but it’s definitely not as simple as that the government invented it,” he said. “When you say stuff like, ‘Oh, the government invented the Internet,’ it sort of demeans the process of the individuals who were involved.”

For example, “There was Vinton Cerf. There was Tim Berners-Lee. There were individuals. But it wasn’t the faceless government that invented the Internet. It was individuals. Even if some of them did work for government, the mind of the individual is what should be extolled, not some faceless bureaucracy.”

Read more from this story HERE.

Co-founder of Apple warns that storing data, email on the “cloud” could be disastrous

Photo credit: kei51

Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs, predicted “horrible problems” in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold.

Wozniak, 61, was the star turn at the penultimate performance in Washington of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” monologist Mike Daisey’s controversial two-hour expose of Apple’s labor conditions in China.

In a post-performance dialogue with Daisey and audience members, Wozniak held forth on topics as varied as public education (he once did a stint as a school teacher) and reality TV (having appeared on “Dancing with the Stars”).

But the engineering wizard behind the progenitor of today’s personal computer, the Apple II, was most outspoken on the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into remote servers, known as cloud computing.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” he said. “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”

Read more from this story HERE.