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"Cybernetic immortality": How to live forever as a robot

June 20, 2013 3:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Could humanity achieve immortality this century? A Russian multimillionaire thinks so and is pouring a fortune into his ambitious plan “to eliminate aging and even death and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body.”

How I learned to stop worrying and love “killer robots”

June 20, 2013 1:19 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Unmanned weapons systems (aka, "killer robots") have the power to reduce collateral damage and save lives, and we should support and encourage their development, not preemptively ban them and set disproportionately high ethical standards as a function of their deployment.

Top 10 must-read posts from May

June 4, 2013 12:04 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com....

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10 MUST READ posts from April

May 1, 2013 2:44 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

Computers are sorcery! Kill them with fire!

April 25, 2013 4:13 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

It's hard to believe we were ever this dumb. And it's hard to believe the '90s ever happened. This wacky decade — when we were all still finding our digital bearings — spawned gems like "Komputer Tutor", a VHS series from "America's Digital Goddess", Kim Komando, that takes simple computer concepts and dumbs them down even further ... and further and further. It's comedy gold.

DoD cancels “participation trophy” for drone pilots

April 16, 2013 4:03 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The DoD has finally backed down. And I applaud their decision. Following months of negative feedback, the DoD has officially scuttled the Distinguished Warfare Medal. The DWM — intended for drone operators — would’ve ranked ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart (two combat decorations) in the order of precedence.

Iran invents “time machine,” beats Doc Brown to the punch

April 12, 2013 10:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

From the same folks who brought you the flying clown car comes this: An Iranian scientist claims to have invented a time machine. No, really. I cannot make this stuff up. Ali Razeghi registered "The Aryayek Time Traveling Machine" with the state-run Center for Strategic Inventions. He claims it can "predict five to eight years of the future life of any individual, with 98 percent accuracy"....

The nanny state should loosen its grip on cell phones

April 11, 2013 3:24 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

We’ve written a lot on ECN about automotive safety and its intersection with cutting-edge technology. Texting, Facebooking, and web surfing pose an existential concern for distracted drivers (not to mention pilots, train conductors, and boat captains), but the nanny state has really overreached on this one: A California court recently found a motorist guilty of distracted driving for checking a map on his iPhone.

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Star Wars on the high seas: Navy plans to deploy shipboard laser by 2014

April 9, 2013 3:35 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Some bad news for Sci-Fi fans: The Navy’s new shipboard laser system, Laser Weapon System (LaWS), won't shoot spiffy beams of light of the sort used to kill stormtroopers, Cylons, and Klingons. But it will fire a focused infrared laser that can down drones, disable small boats, and — in the future — engage missiles and enemy jets.

Should a computer grade your essay?

April 8, 2013 10:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

One should never swap quality for instant gratification. Yet that’s exactly what EdX, a nonprofit educational organization founded by Harvard and MIT, is doing with their automated grading software that promises “instant feedback” on students’ essays. Creativity need not apply.

My wish list for the next iPhone

April 4, 2013 10:32 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

A new iPhone is imminent! Man the ramparts! Sound the trumpets! A new coronation is upon us! OK, that’s a tad hyperbolic, but the prospect of a new iPhone has me a little giddy — especially since the iPhone 5 was a huge disappointment and reinforced my decision to snag an early 4S (and not hold out for the inevitable sequel).

Top 10 must-read posts from March

April 3, 2013 10:47 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

Internet sales tax will only benefit the state

March 25, 2013 3:34 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Get ready to pony up more dollars for online purchases. On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed the innocuously-titled "Marketplace Fairness Act" through the upper chamber on a 75-24 vote. The bill would require e-tailers to collect and remit sales tax on interstate commerce, even when the business has no physical presence in the state.

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Mourning the death of Google Reader (and finding a suitable replacement)

March 18, 2013 3:40 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Like many of you, I was shocked, dismayed, and several other adjectives upon learning that Google Reader will soon go kaput. As a journalist, I sift through copious amounts of content daily, and it would be no exaggeration to say that Google Reader makes my job exponentially simpler, so I took its demise rather hard.

Drone pilots don’t need a “participation trophy”

March 12, 2013 4:31 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sometimes — and I stress sometimes — the government does work for the people. Case in point: The new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has halted production of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal — awarded to drone operators — in response to veterans' complaints that the "participation trophy" ranks above combat medals like the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Robotic bartender uses Raspberry Pi to dispense perfect drinks

March 7, 2013 4:08 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

"Let our bot get you drunk!" If there’s a better sales pitch for the seamless integration of consumer robotics into our everyday lives, I don’t know it. "Bartendro" is a godsend for those who enjoy a good cocktail but don’t like to fiddle with precise measurements (or obscene bar tabs).

USA claims dubious honor: World's top spammer

March 5, 2013 5:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

That slick email from the Nigerian prince promising fabulous riches just might originate from Peoria, USA. According to research from SophosLabs, the United States of America – home of baseball, apple pie, and spam, apparently – sent 18.3% of the world’s junk mail.

Agita over 3D printed guns is absurd

March 1, 2013 4:26 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Hobbyists, tinkers, and DIYers are the unsung heroes of our industry — "hackers" in the original sense of the word. But conflating "hobbyists" with "guns" causes fits of hysteria. And it’s entirely unwarranted. The handwringing over the imagined capability to print 3D guns and the associated moral implications is absolutely absurd and betrays a basic misunderstanding of firearms and physics.

Do drone pilots deserve higher medal than combat vets?

February 20, 2013 3:32 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Since when did waggling a joystick become more valorous than pulling a trigger? It hasn’t, you say? The newly-minted Distinguished Warfare Medal — created to honor cyberwarriors and drone pilots — would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and the military community is incensed.

Paint Your Pizza turns MS Paint scribbles into ugly-looking pizzas

February 15, 2013 10:34 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m nauseated by pizza – this after taking a gander at Paint Your Pizza, a crowdsourcing site that allows you to turn amateur artwork into quasi-edible Neapolitan creations. I stress quasi-edible because I don’t think I could stomach any of these custom-designed "pizzas."

Iranian clown car flies ... with the help of Photoshop

February 14, 2013 11:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Take that, free world! For all you naysayers out there who thought Iran’s clown car, er ... stealth fighter ... smelled a bit fishy, the Islamic Republic has the ultimate retort: a badly-Photoshopped image of the Qaher-313 set against stock photo #3.

Iranian "stealth fighter" looks like a clown car

February 7, 2013 11:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

So it turns out that the new Iranian stealth fighter may be as genuine as the Islamic Republic’s concern for human rights. The regime unveiled the jet, 'Qaher 313', on Saturday, and the blogosphere immediately went to work debunking what could be one of the laziest forgeries of all time.

Online sales tax is immoral, runs contrary to the free markets

February 5, 2013 2:54 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The central fallacy with crony capitalism is that it ignores the invisible hand of the free marketplace. This is precisely what the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is doing with their support for "e-fairness" legislation (i.e., an Internet sales tax).

Top 10 posts for January

February 1, 2013 12:41 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

We had a record-breaking January here at ECN online with our most trafficked month in the history of the website. So, without further delay, here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments.

Enfeebled F-35 could impede military readiness

January 31, 2013 3:15 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Picture a Swiss Army Knife with a blunted knife, rusty screwdriver, and a broken can opener. That’s what the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has become — a jack of all trades and master of none. The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has — over the course of a highly tumultuous development period that personifies the phrase "requirements creep" — become the poster child for bloated government programs.

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