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Up Is Down, Black Is White: Google Starts Work on Car Service While Uber Has Plans For Self-Driving Cars

Meanwhile, I still want nothing to do with Uber or self-driving vehicles of any kind.

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A.I. Mario Figures out How to Destroy His Enemies; Now You’re Playing God With Power

"If I talk to the humans, they certainly learn to trust me."

Researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany have given Mario the ultimate power up: he can learn about his environment and enemies. They gave him rudimentary "feelings," too, but apparently forgot empathy, because he sure is obsessed with how to kill things. So, par for the course for artificial intelligence.

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Your Videos Are Boring. This Algorithm Can Help By Automatically Trimming the Boring Parts

Sadly, there's not a real world analog version.

So your dog does this really cute thing, and you want to get a video and throw it up on YouTube. You get your camera and dog ready and start rolling, but he just won't do the cute thing. Finally, he does it! Yeah! Most of what you just shot is boring, and a new algorithm can automatically edit it leaving only the best bits.

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Snake Robot Teams With Dog For Search and Rescue Operations

Carnegie Mellon University's unnerving snake robot is back in the news today, and not for its unnerving auto-strangle function, which we've talked about here previously. The snake-bot -- which was designed to be a maneuverable set of eyes and ears in disaster situations, delving into collapsed buildings and other areas that first responders may not be able to reach. Over the weekend, the team behind the project released footage of some of it's latest tests, where it's paired with a rescue dog that carries it into the building.

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Robot Snake Comes With Auto-Strangle Feature, Because What Could Go Wrong?

Look, I'm a pretty lazy guy, and as such, I'm as in favor of teaching robots to do pretty much anything. If a robot can wash my dishes, great. If a robot can hang out with my friends for me while I play video games, honestly, that's awesome. But when you teach a snake robot to automatically constrict around whatever it comes in contact with -- a tree branch, say, or your neck -- you've gone too far. That way madness lies.

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CHIMP Humanoid Rescue Robot Can Also Turn Into a Tank

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have given robotic life to every child's dream, building a rescue robot that can take on both humanoid and tank forms as the situation demands. The real life Transformer known as CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform) can work like a human when it needs to climb a ladder or operate a valve. But when terrain gets rough, it can drop onto it's four treads, entering a tank-like mode that makes it easier to maneuver and seek out survivors disaster survivors.

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The Latest Oreo Separating Machine is Actually a Very Polite Robot Named HERB

Meet HERB, Carnegie Mellon's sophisticated butler robot. He was built to help mankind by performing household tasks, so of course when Oreo put the call out for machines to separate cookie from creme, the roboticists at Carnegie Mellon reprogrammed HERB for the job. They also -- for reasons -- programmed HERB to prefer the creme to the cookie, even though he's a robot and can't actually consume either. Watch HERB take some Oreos to task in the latest Oreo Separator video.

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Firmware Updates Could Cut Game Console Energy Usage By More Than Half

Game consoles use electricity; that's just a fact of life. If I had to choose between playing lots of video games or saving on my electric bill, I think I'd choose the video games. It may not come down to that, however. As it turns out, in 2010 the lion's share of energy used by consoles was when the consoles were in idle states, a whopping 68% of it. That being the case, saving energy and playing video games might not be mutually exclusive. In fact, something as simple as a firmware update could cut these energy costs right down to size.

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Carnegie Mellon Professor Mirrors Geohot’s PS3 Hack, Challenges “Breathtakingly Stupid” Sony

Yesterday, we reported that Sony has taken legal action against hacker Geohot, a.k.a. George Hotz, for releasing hacks for the PlayStation 3 which allow anyone to run unsigned code through the system, potentially (though not necessarily) allowing PS3 owners to play pirated games. Sony's hardball legal tactics inspired immediate controversy on the web because it wasn't entirely clear that Hotz had violated any law: In July, the Library of Congress ruled that jailbreaking electronic devices to run software unauthorized by the companies that made them is not a criminal act. Sony argues, however, that Hotz's release of the hack violates the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Now, Hotz has a defender in the form of David Touretzky, a Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science. Touretzky is no stranger to controversy: An outspoken critic of Scientology, he has outraged the Church of Scientology by publishing information about the upper levels of the belief system and refusing to take it down despite legal threats. This time around, Touretzky is hosting a mirror of Geohot's PS3 jailbreak in its entirety on his Carnegie Mellon webpage, and he challenges Sony to do anything about it.

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Patriotic Robot Snake Climbs Trees, is Creepy

A team of students at Carnegie Mellon's Biorobotics Lab built a robotic snake, which they named "Uncle Sam," that is able to climb trees and, most of all, be creepy. Check out the video below.

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