DARPA's million-dollar search for software that can defend itself

Each year in Las Vegas, Defcon holds a contest called Capture the Flag. It’s a hacking competition: you try to break into their system while they try to break into yours. Just like regular Capture the Flag, there’s offense and defense. If your offense is good, you might break through the enemy system before they know what you’re up to. If you’re a defensive player, you can stop the enemy intrusions early and learn from them, giving your offense a leg up. Of course, hackers are competitive — never more so than at Defcon — so the most important part is that by the end, you know who won and who lost.

Michael Walker has helped design those games, even joined in them a few times. In 2013, he came to DARPA with a challenge: teach computers…

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Author: Russell Brandom

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Jay Z’s music service has new apps, concert tickets, and a lot to prove

Jay Z called me.

It was just after 3PM on a Tuesday afternoon in mid-May — right after I’d attended his B-Sides concert in New York, and about a week into researching his Tidal music service. A few minutes before Jay called, I got a call from someone at Roc Nation telling me he wanted to have a chat. And I… tried to reschedule.

I told Jay Z’s people I couldn’t talk right now. And then hung up.

What Jay Z didn’t know is that I was running late to a haircut. I had just come off a flight, and my hair was looking rough. It was time to make a life decision: talk to Jay Z — rap legend, musical icon, one half of the closest thing we have to an American Royal Family  — and look busted, or get a fresh cut and risk passing up a conversation…

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Author: Micah Singleton

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The USB drive of the future is already here

Take a close look at this Dual USB Flash Drive from SanDisk. The company name doesn’t matter so much as the shape and function of the thing: we’re about to see every USB stick transform into such a dual-plug peripheral very soon indeed. USB-C, the thin connector on the right, is the hot new port standard that’s taking the tech world by storm this year. The big chunky guy on the other side is the ubiquitous but rapidly depreciating USB Type-A connector that we all know (and occasionally loathe when trying to plug it in the wrong way).

I spoke with SanDisk’s Jared Peck at Computex today and he told me about the challenge faced by the peripherals industry as we all transition from A to C in our usage of USB. SanDisk is one of the many…

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Author: Vlad Savov

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Find out your Fallout 4 character name

Bethesda has officially announced Fallout 4! The open-world role-playing game set in the post-apocalypse has been promoted from “A real thing that Bethesda would rather you not know existed” to “A real thing that Bethesda would like you to think about every day between now and its eventual release.”

For a significant portion of us who’ve obsessed over the series for almost two decades, sacrificing a portion of the day to fantasize about a virtual irradiated Boston won’t be so tough. Hell, if you’re like me you’ve already begun thinking about what awful name you will stick onto your character like a crumpled gold star. To help, I’ve created a Fallout 4 name generator. Each name is guaranteed to have a splash of Boston’s charm and a nip…

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Author: Chris Plante

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Watch NASA test the rocket engine that might one day take us to Mars

NASA’s heavy-lifting Space Launch System (SLS) is set to become the most powerful rocket ever constructed — ferrying humans to nearby asteroids and perhaps, one day, even Mars. Late last month, the space agency put the rocket’s RS-25 engine through its paces at the same site where the Apollo Program was tested. This particular firing was intended to try out a new computer controller used to monitor the engine (the RS-25 itself is an old-hand at space travel, and was first used on the Space Shuttle), with the steam in the footage created by the tens of thousands of gallons of water used as coolant.

The Space Launch System will be equipped with four of these rocket engines

The SLS will eventually be outfitted with four RS-25 rocket…

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Author: James Vincent

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The next Skylanders is coming this September with cars, planes, submarines, and more

Skylanders has long been the king of video game / toy hybrids; it’s a franchise worth billions and a genre that’s becoming increasingly popular (cf. Amiibo, Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions). Every iteration of the series adds one twist to its formula. For this year’s Skylanders: Superchargers, which is set for release September 20th for pretty much every console and iPad, it’s cars. And motorcycles. And boats. Also tanks, helicopters, jets, submarines, and more.

As with previous Skylanders titles, players “import” playable characters into the game by placing physical figurines on a plastic “Portal of Power” connected to the console. The game itself is very tongue-in-cheek action / platformer (the Big Evil Weapon here is called the…

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Author: Ross Miller

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The Large Hadron Collider is officially doing science again

Round two of Humanity vs Particle Physics has finally kicked off, with scientists at CERN announcing this morning that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is once again delivering data for the first time in 27 months. The world’s largest particle accelerator started running again last month after nearly two years of maintenance work, but at 10:40AM local time today, operators declared they had produced the “stable beams” necessary for experiments. Thanks to various upgrades, collisions can now be carried out at energy levels of up to 13 trillion electron volts (TeV) — almost double the 8 TeV achieved during its initial run from 2010 to 2013.

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Author: James Vincent

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The Selfie Swing is a real, terrible thing

Selfies are hard, aren’t they? You have to lift up your arm, wipe the ennui off your face, and press a button to make the selfie happen. Too much work, says Asus. What you need is the help of a Selfie Swing! It’s a simple swinging arm that attaches to the new ZenFone Selfie smartphone and can be flexed out to serve as a stand to hold the phone upright. To be fair, an integrated stand is not the worst idea in the world, but why Asus felt the need to tie it to self-portrait photography is beyond me.

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Author: Vlad Savov

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