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Autonomous Cyber Weapons Are On the Attack

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While we fret over the future of killer commando-robots, cyber weapons pose a much greater threat to everyday life.

Worse than the viruses spreading through your computer, this malware is employed for military or intelligence purposes, able to identify and engage targets without human intervention.

“Contrary to popular belief, this ability doesn’t necessarily require advanced artificial intelligence,” Undark reported.

“In fact, militaries already use some semi-autonomous or human-supervised autonomous weapons,” the news blog said. “Though so far only in limited battlefield scenarios … such as automatically detecting and shooting down enemy missiles.”

Though the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons has been discussing autonomous weapon regulations since 2017, these high-tech howitzers have been in service for decades.

The first fully autonomous weapon—an anti-ship missile—was deployed by the U.S. Navy in the 1980s.

“Cyber systems have been autonomous since the first computer worm copied itself and spread across different computer drives,” Paul Scharre, director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., told Undark.

But while most folks are still carrying physical firearms, some advanced armies are dropping cyber cannons, which can cause damage well beyond combat zones.

“Malicious computer programs that could be described as ‘intelligent autonomous agents’ are what steal people’s data, build bot-nets, lock people out of their systems until they pay ransom, and do most of the other work of cyber criminals,” according to Scott Borg, director and chief economist of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit nonprofit research institute.

The Stuxnet virus, for example, emerged in 2010 as a cyber weapon jointly developed by U.S. and Israeli officials in an effort to shut down the development of Iran’s nuclear program.

Last year, North Korea allegedly unleashed the WannaCry ransomware on hundreds of thousands of PCs in what is considered the largest-ever cyber-extortion scheme.

“We’re mostly doing things like using cyber weapons of various kinds without an overview of where this is going, what the precedents are, and how we should be doing this,” Borg said. “We’re not having public discussions of the sort that would provide a foundation for consensus policies.”

This disconnect, as Undark pointed out, has led to widespread appeals Elon Musk calling for a global ban on “killer robots.” Described as the “third revolution in warfare,” such weapons include drones, tanks, and automated machine guns.

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Autonomous Sexbots Are the Future

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In a 2017 TEDx talk, University of London lecturer and writer Kate Devlin pointed out that “There are no actual sex robots in production yet—just dolls.”

What a difference a year makes.

Chinese robotics developer DS Doll is currently working on the world’s first autonomous sex robot.

According to Daily Star, the Dalian-based firm is 3D-printing component parts for its AI-powered humanoid. The advanced technology helps boost production speed and efficiency, allowing for the mass production of sexy cyborgs.

Able to move its eyes, mouth, head, shoulders, and arms, the first prototype is “almost complete,” DS Doll told the UK tabloid; engineers are putting the finishing touches on the mobile legs.

A slew of video clips shared via the company’s Twitter account highlight the unnamed android’s … talents: Watch her shake to life before fitfully stretching her arms and turning her silicone head.

Not exactly the smooth operator you’d hope to bed, the electronic skeleton is designed to mimic the human body. DS Doll uses 3D printing to develop and stamp out specific, uniform shapes. It can even scan full human bodies and prototype parts for replication.

The company constructs 400 custom models each month; its premium-range mannequins sell for around $5,000.

“We are still in the researching process,” DS Doll chief development officer Qiao Wu told the Daily Star.

“The full-body robot will have more physical expression to help with human communication,” he explained. “One day, we hope the robot can be used in etiquette, presentation, human companionship, front-desk services, and other areas.”

Sex dolls (because Devlin’s right—most of these devices are nothing more than life-sized hunks of plastic with no understanding of consent) have come a long way from the tacky, low-grade inflatable masturbation toys of yore.

They still have a long way to go, though.

The line between man and machine continues to blur. Which is why activists are calling for sex robot regulations. Learn everything you always wanted to know about sex robots (but were afraid to ask) and more here.

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SpaceX Signs First Private Passenger For Lunar Flight

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DIY a Desktop Arcade Cabinet With Retro Picade Kit

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This is the year of retro gaming: Classic titles are reappearing on modern consoles, and nostalgic appliances are reappearing as modern consoles.

So it’s no surprise that hobbyist electronic firm Pimoroni recently launched a redesigned version of its Raspberry Pi-powered mini arcade machine.

Unveiled in August, the build-it-yourself Picade features authentic controls, a high-res 4:3 display, and a “punchy speaker to hear those 8-bit game soundtracks at their best.”

The kit takes about two to three hours to build (according to the experts who created it). All you need is a Raspberry Pi, micro-SD card, power supply, and £150 ($198) to spare.

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The original Picade was introduced in 2012 as the UK’s first Kickstarter project, collecting more than £74,000 ($98,000) toward a £33,000 ($44,000) goal.

Six years later, Pimoroni has updated its “ultimate desktop retro arcade machine,” now more compact, with a better display, dedicated power button, and Picade X HAT “packed full of useful features.”

Fans may also notice splashier artwork and packaging. Each Picade comes with “a bunch of extra goodies,” like an enamel pin, sticker selection, poster, and assembly instructions.

In an effort to drum up interest in the new toy, Sheffield-based Pimoroni asked folks around the world to come up with a retro game concept that would suit the new Picade.

Entries from the UK, Europe, and US included hand-drawn posters, punny titles, and “screenshots.” Ultimately, the team behind Trolley Wars—a Supermarket Sweep-like game—won for its “simplicity and button-bashing of arcade favorites of old.”

New packaging for a new machine (via Pimoroni)

Everything old is new again, and arcade cabinets are no exception: British manufacturer STOA last year rolled out custom-built cupboards, each handcrafted from start to finish for one or two players.

In place of traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, STOA uses modern LCD screens, with the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the Picade. Every device comes with a curated selection of games (Ms. Pac-Man, Street Fighter II, Paperboy, Mortal Kombat, Space Invaders, etc.), tailored to the client’s preference and design.

You can do anything with a Raspberry Pi and a little imagination: DIY a Spotify speaker, upcycle a karaoke machine, track foosball scores. Check out our recent Geek Pick, the Retroflag SUPERPi case for Nintendo lovers. And stay up to date on all things Raspberry Pi here.

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