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Showing content with the highest reputation since 12/28/2019 in all areas

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    Designed by a supercomputer, the “biological machines” could live inside the human body. Scientists have created a new life form that's something between a frog and a robot. Using stem cells scraped from frog embryos, researchers from the University of Vermont (UVM) and Tufts University assembled "xenobots." The millimeter-wide blobs act like living, self-healing robots. They can walk, swim and work cooperatively. Refined, they could be used inside the human body to reprogram tumors, deliver drugs or scrape plaque out of arteries. "These are novel living machines," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at UVM who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism." To determine the best design for this new life form, researchers from UVM ran an evolutionary algorithm through a supercomputer. Then, the Tufts team assembled and tested the design using stem cells from the African frog species Xenopus laevis -- the xenobot name comes from this frog, not the Greek prefix meaning other or stranger. What the team created is a body form never seen in nature. The cells work together, allowing the robots to move on their own in watery environments. They even spontaneously cooperated to move around in circles, pushing pellets into a central location. The researchers point to the advantages of these "biological machines." Unlike robots made with steel or plastic, these would simply decompose after use. When sliced, they are able to regenerate and stitch themselves back together, something few other robots can do, and in addition to medical purposes, they could be put to use cleaning up radioactive waste or microplastics. If you're starting to panic at the idea of supercomputers designing living robots, you're not alone. "That fear is not unreasonable," Levin says. "When we start to mess around with complex systems that we don't understand, we're going to get unintended consequences." The researchers hope that the more we understand this technology and capability, the better off we'll be. Plus, the xenobots come preloaded with their own food source, which should run out in about a week, unless they're in a nutrient-rich environment. Don't worry though, these little guys can't reproduce or evolve -- at least not yet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQRBCCjaYGE&feature=emb_title
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    The car once most synonymous with gas-guzzling excess could soon get a second lease on life as an eco-friendly electric vehicle (EV). According to the Wall Street Journal, General Motors plans to bring back the Hummer as a battery-powered pickup truck in early 2022. What's more, we could get our first look at the reimagined Hummer as soon as next month when the company airs a Super Bowl ad with LeBron James to promote the car. At the moment, the automaker reportedly plans to reinvent the Hummer as a single pickup truck model aimed at off-road enthusiasts. The WSJ says the new model will fall under the company's GMC brand. Additionally, the car will reportedly be the first among several other electric SUVs and pickup trucks GM plans to bring to market over the next few years. While it's something of a surreal surprise that GM is bringing back the hummer, it makes sense. If Tesla proved anything with the Cybertruck, it's that there's a lot of interest in electric pickup trucks. However, beyond the Cybertruck, the Hummer will have to compete in a crowded field that will soon include the Ford F-150 and Rivian R1T.
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    Red flags when choosing a VPN

    These are the warning signs that a VPN isn't all it's cracked up to be Shoddy virtual private network (VPN) companies often scatter hints of their dubiousness everywhere they go. Learning to identify a few of these red flags can save you hours of research, and a hefty annual subscription cost for supposedly connecting you to the internet more securely. Is the price too good to be true? Has the company been caught keeping logs? How are your connection speeds? To save you time, here are a few of the biggest red flags to watch out for when taking your new VPN out for a test drive. Free VPNs There's no such thing as a free lunch. Maintaining the hardware and expertise needed for large VPN networks isn't cheap. As a VPN customer, you either pay for a premium service with your dollars, or you pay for free services with your usage data when it's collected by the free VPN and bargained away to advertisers or malicious actors. As recently as August 2019, 90% of apps flagged as potentially unsafe in Top10VPN's investigation into free VPN ownership still posed a privacy risk to users. Free VPNs can also leave you open to quiet malware installation, pop-up ad barrages and brutally slow internet speeds. Snitching If a VPN is caught keeping or sharing user activity logs, I won't recommend it. While most VPN services claim they don't track or keep logs of user activity, that claim can sometimes be impossible to verify. In other instances, the claim falls apart publicly when a VPN company hands over internet records to law enforcement. The latter has happened in a few cases. EarthVPN, Hide My Ass VPN, and PureVPN have all been clocked by privacy advocates for handing over logs to authorities, along with IPVanish and VyprVPN. To be clear, it is entirely possible to be grateful for the arrest of reprehensible scumbags while ardently advocating for consumer privacy interests. My beef isn't with any VPN company helping cops catch a child abuser via usage logs; it's with any VPN company that lies to its customers about doing so. The lie that helps law enforcement in the US catch a legitimate criminal is the same lie that helps law enforcement in China arrest a person watching footage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Ideally, the VPN you choose should have undergone -- and published the results of -- an independent third party audit of their operations, including their use of activity logs. Weak encryption Another red flag to watch for when choosing a VPN is shoddy encryption standards. Users should expect AES-256 encryption or better from VPN services. Often touted as "military-grade" encryption, nearly every web browser and app already uses AES, after it was adopted by the US government in 2002. If your VPN only offers PPTP and L2TP encryption, look elsewhere. While you're snooping around for encryption details, keep an eye out for one of our favorite phrases, "Perfect Forward Secrecy." Those three little words can have a hefty impact on your privacy: If one of your VPN's servers is ever breached, Perfect Forward Secrecy ensures that any keys used to decrypt private internet traffic quickly become useless -- giving you more security. Extremely slow speeds With just a little bit of elbow grease, any moderately-skilled internet jerk can throw together a service that looks like a VPN but is actually little more than a proxy service re-selling your internet bandwidth. Not only can that slow your internet speed down, it could potentially leave you on the legal hook for whatever they do with that re-sold bandwidth. Hola's case was the most famous. The company was caught in 2015 quietly stealing users' bandwidth and re-selling it to whatever group wanted to deploy its user base as a botnet. Hola CEO Ofer Vilenski admitted they'd been had, but contended this harvesting of bandwidth was typical for this type of technology. "We assumed that by stating that Hola is a (peer-to-peer) network, it was clear that people were sharing their bandwidth with the community network in return for their free service," he wrote. Nearly all VPNs slow your browsing speed down, some by as much as half. But a brutal crawl can be a sign of something worse than a simple lack of servers. So if being pressed into service as part of a botnet isn't your cup of tea, double check those suspiciously slow speeds and the reputation of the VPN you're paying for.
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    Technologists have long speculated on the privacy implications of largely ungoverned, camera-enabled vehicle fleets roaming the roads of America. Now we’ve finally bumped up against the tip of that particularly worrying iceberg. With the help of a judge-signed search warrant, police in Chandler, Arizona, obtained footage from one of Google’s Waymo-branded autonomous vehicles in the course of investigating the hit-and-run of a cyclist. Footage from these types of vehicles has, of course, become evidence when self-driving cars are involved in crashes and other accidents—the highest profile example being the autonomous Uber SUV which struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in March of 2018. Footage from both inside and outside the vehicle later formed part of the case that somehow exonerated Uber from criminal liability. A Waymo vehicle, however, was not responsible for maiming a 32-year-old biker, which makes this, to the best of our knowledge, one of the first instances of self-driving vehicle footage being obtained by police in a crime in which the autonomous vehicle was not involved. In this instance, it did nothing to assist in catching whoever injured the cyclist: “Waymo’s footage was not clear enough to reveal any of the hit-run car’s identifying markers,” the East Valley Tribune reports. Police suspected a Waymo car was passing by the vehicle responsible at Ray Road, according to the Tribune. (No cross street was specified, though at minimum Ray Road is approximately half a mile from the site of the incident.) It’s unclear if police were merely wrong in this assumption—which calls to mind the alarming and sometimes indiscriminate police use of location data requests—or if the failure was on the part of Waymo’s cameras, itself a worrying proposition as those same cameras presumably form part of its arsenal against operating in a dangerous manner. Google has not responded to a request for comment. At present, the contiguous Chandler and Tempe are some of the few places these sorts of vehicles are greenlit for operations on public roads. With greater ubiquity, it’s hard to imagine law enforcement wouldn’t leverage a fleet of roving surveillance cameras.
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    unoccupied???, next will be robocop, eh
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    Party Poppers

    Ingredients 12 medium jalapeno chiles 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 12 hickory-smoked bacon slices, cut in half 24 wooden picks Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut each chile in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes. 2. Stir together cream cheese, chicken, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Spoon 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons chicken mixture into each chile half, spreading to fill cavity. Wrap each half with a bacon piece, and secure with a wooden pick. Place poppers on a lightly greased wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. 3. Bake in preheated oven until bacon begins to crisp and chiles are softened, about 25 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil, and broil until bacon is crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.