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Crazy-strong robotic dogs gear up for moon mission

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Crazy-strong robotic dogs gear up for moon mission

In the shadow of Oregon’s majestic Mount Hood, a team of researchers from a consortium of universities and NASA’s Johnson Space Center have embarked on a groundbreaking project. Their mission? To prepare a dog-like robot named Spirit for the daunting task of navigating the moon’s unpredictable terrain.

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Spirit robot (LASSIE Project) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Spirit’s rigorous training regime

During a rigorous five-day testing period in the summer of 2023, Spirit faced a gauntlet of challenges. The quadruped robot, equipped with spindly metal legs, traversed shifting earth, mushy snow and rocky obstacles.

“A legged robot needs to be able to detect what is happening when it interacts with the ground underneath and rapidly adjust its locomotion strategies accordingly,” explains Feifei Qian, the project lead from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

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Crazy-strong robotic dogs gear up for rescue moon mission

Spirit robot (LASSIE Project) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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The LASSIE Project: A leap toward planetary exploration

Spirit’s trials are part of the LASSIE Project (Legged Autonomous Surface Science in Analog Environments), a multidisciplinary effort that includes engineers, cognitive scientists, geoscientists and planetary scientists. The team’s goal is to understand the characteristics of different substrates and enhance the robot’s ability to walk on these challenging surfaces.

Crazy-strong robotic dogs gear up for rescue moon mission

Spirit robot (LASSIE Project) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

HOW THE DREAM CHASER SPACEPLANE PLANS TO SHAKE UP SPACE TRAVEL IN THE FUTURE

From Earth to moon: Preparing for the unknown

The footage captured at Mount Hood offers a glimpse into surreal environments that closely resemble other planets. These earthly trials provide Spirit with valuable learning experiences, preparing it for future explorations beyond our world.

Crazy-strong robotic dogs gear up for rescue moon mission

Spirit robot (LASSIE Project) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Collaborative robotics: The future of space exploration

Looking ahead, Qian’s team plans to develop more quadrupeds to advance their mission. With a $2 million grant from NASA, the TRUSSES Project (Temporarily, Robots Unite to Surmount Sandy Entrapments, Then Separate) aims to deploy groups of robots to the moon. These robots will share knowledge and form a map of locomotion risk estimation to aid in their planetary explorations.

Spirit robot (LASSIE Project)

Spirit robot (LASSIE Project) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Kurt’s key takeaways

The Palmer Glacier on Oregon’s Mount Hood isn’t the moon, but it’s an excellent place for practice. Here, Spirit and its future robotic companions learn to navigate extreme terrain, transforming into structures like bridges or pyramids to overcome obstacles. This research not only pushes the boundaries of technology but also inspires us to reimagine the possibilities of teamwork in the face of adversity.

What potential scientific discoveries do you believe legged robots could enable on celestial bodies that are currently inaccessible to wheeled rovers? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

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Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

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Google is putting more Android in ChromeOS

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Google is putting more Android in ChromeOS

ChromeOS will “soon be developed on large portions of the Android stack” so that it can roll out AI features at a faster pace, Google announced on Wednesday. The company says it will be embracing things like the Android Linux kernel and Android frameworks “as part of the foundation of ChromeOS.”

The changes won’t just mean more AI features, according to Google. The company also noted that they will help “simplify engineering efforts” and “help different devices like phones and accessories work better together with Chromebooks,” as detailed in a blog post.

Google surely wants to have Chromebook users trying as many AI-powered features as possible, so these changes will probably accelerate that. But the company cautions that while the changes to the tech stack are “starting now,” they “won’t be ready for consumers for quite some time.”

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How much is your personal information worth on dark web?

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How much is your personal information worth on dark web?

While privacy is priceless for most individuals, it sells for pretty cheap on the dark web. 

According to Whizcase, years of curating your social media page for your close network could be up for sale for as cheap as $14 for your Facebook log-in in 2023.

And that’s just the beginning. Every access point from Reddit to LinkedIn can be purchased for a price, $6 and $45, respectively.

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Person on the dark web (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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How does your info end up on the dark web?

Creating unique and complex passwords for all your online accounts is not just a kitschy tactic to get you to spring for a password manager. Passwords that are simple can be cracked or guessed by diligent hackers, and if you repeat that password across multiple accounts, then all those accounts are also in jeopardy. 

Infuriatingly enough, you can make the concerted effort to create a complex and unique password for all your accounts and even use a password manager, but you will still have your information leaked if the company you are logging onto gets infiltrated. Unfortunately, being notified of having your information compromised in a data breach is more common than not. 

In addition to having your information unwittingly floating around the dark web to the highest bidder, if your device gets hacked and malware or viruses are installed on it, then your log-ins and passwords can be stolen and sold, too.

MORE: WAS YOUR PRIVATE DATA BEING SOLD ON THIS DARK WEB MARKETPLACE?

dark web data

Data on the dark web (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What should I do if my information ends up on the dark web?

When you get the inevitable notification or letter stating that your information has been compromised, there are action steps you can take to minimize damage and maximize the prevention of future problems.

1. Log out of all devices

Instagram is an example of a social media account that lets you see where and what devices your account is currently open on. They also provide you with the option of logging out of all devices so that your account is not accessible by third parties or on devices that aren’t yours. This is especially helpful if your account is open on a device that might be yours but might also have malware or a virus.

How to view your account’s recent log-in activity on Instagram 

You can view a list of devices that have recently logged into your Instagram account at any time. If you don’t recognize a recent log-in, you can log out of that location or device and let us know that the log-in wasn’t you. Here’s how to do it. 

  • Click the profile icon on the bottom right of the screen
  • Click the three horizontal lines in the upper right
  • Tap Accounts Center
  • Scroll down and tap Password and security
  • Tap Where you’re logged in to view your recent log-in activity for accounts in this Accounts Center
  • To log out of devices you’re currently logged into, tap on one of your accounts, then scroll down and tap Select devices to log out.
  • Select the devices you’d like to log out, then tap Log out.

2. Change your password

If you manage your passwords or have them saved to autofill on browsers like Safari and Chrome, you will get updated if your password has been compromised, weak, or reused. Because having complex, unique passwords for each online account is critical to keeping your information online safe, password managers can help with generating those as well as managing them for you. Get more details about my best expert-reviewed password managers of 2024 here.

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3. Turn on two-factor authentication

This step can be annoying when you just want to quickly check an update or post a quick video, but it can be your saving grace when someone has figured out your log-in and is trying to guess your password. If your two-factor authentication is on, you have the opportunity to get alerted of any log-ins or password reset requests. It gives you the opportunity to secure your account. 

4. Install strong antivirus software

While you can’t control what companies do with your information, you can control what information gets out from your personal devices by installing good antivirus software. It can “catch” malware or virus before it gets unleashed on your device and siphon your password and other private information. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

5. Remove yourself from the internet

While no service promises to remove all your data from the internet, having a removal service is great if you want to constantly monitor and automate the process of removing your information from hundreds of sites continuously over a longer period of time. Check out my top picks for removal services here.

6. Get identity theft protection

Many identity theft protection services provide dark web monitoring services. They continually monitor the dark web to see if any crucial pieces of personal information like your email addresses or social security number end up compromised or up for sale on the dark web. Getting those alerts immediately gives you the opportunity to act faster and take the other steps listed above. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

DARK web data 2

Data on the dark web (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Kurt’s key takeaways

In the digital age, where our personal data can be as fleeting as a password, it’s a stark reminder that what we hold dear isn’t always locked down tight. It’s unsettling to think that years of personal posts and connections could be reduced to a mere transaction on the dark web. But knowledge is power, and being informed is the first step in strengthening our digital defenses. So, let’s keep those passwords complex, our log-ins secure and our vigilance high.

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What role do you think tech companies should play in protecting your data, and how does this shape your expectations of online services? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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Fired SpaceX workers sue Elon Musk for sexual harassment and retaliation

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Fired SpaceX workers sue Elon Musk for sexual harassment and retaliation

Eight former SpaceX engineers filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk on Wednesday alleging sexual harassment and retaliation.

Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, “knowingly and purposefully created an unwelcome hostile work environment based upon his conduct of interjecting into the workplace vile sexual photographs, memes, and commentary that demeaned women and/or the LGBTQ+ community,” says the employees’ complaint, which was earlier reported by Bloomberg.

The complaint — which cites many of Musk’s Twitter posts making sexually explicit jokes — claims that Musk fostered “a perversely sexist culture at SpaceX.” Several of the plaintiffs say they “experienced direct harassment that mimicked Musk’s posts.” According to the suit, senior engineers often used phallic language during technical meetings, referring to mechanical parts as “chodes” and “schlongs.”

Engineers allegedly used sexual jokes as product names

“It was also common for engineers to apply crude and demeaning names to products in an attempt at humor, often at the expense of women and LGBTQ+ individuals. For example, the name ‘Upskirt Camera’ was used for a camera on the first stage of the Falcon rocket that views the bottom of the second stage.” The complaint also cites a video “starring SpaceX’s upper management, including Vice President of Human Resources (HR) Brian Bjelde, President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell, and Elon Musk that mocks and makes light of sexual misconduct and banter.” 

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The former employees, who are also pursuing a National Labor Relations Board complaint against SpaceX, collaborated on an open letter in 2022 that raised concerns about Musk’s behavior and the broader company culture at SpaceX. The employees were subsequently fired — and their lawsuit alleges the order to terminate them came from Musk himself. Per Bloomberg, after a human resources official suggested SpaceX conduct an investigation, Musk replied, “I don’t care, fire them.”

After the letter was published, Shotwell emailed two of the letter writers telling them to “stop flooding employees [sic] communications channels immediately,” the complaint claims. Shotwell later sent a companywide email “with the subject line ‘Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission,’ in which she called the Open Letter ‘overreaching activism’ and stated that ‘[w]e performed an investigation and have terminated a number of employees involved,’” according to the suit.

The complaint targets both Musk and SpaceX. “Musk thinks he’s above the law. Our eight brave clients stood up to him and were fired for doing so. We look forward to holding Musk accountable for his actions at trial,” Laurie Burgess, an attorney representing the former engineers, said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report that Musk had sexual relationships with two SpaceX employees, including a former intern he later hired onto his executive team. A third woman who spoke to the Journal said Musk asked her several times to have his children and complained about her work performance after she said no. The woman said she was also denied a raise. 

Shotwell accused one of the women of having an affair with her husband, according to the Journal. After the woman reported this to HR, Shotwell reportedly “told the HR department at SpaceX that she wanted the woman removed from the office of the chief executive,” the Journal’s article says. In a statement to the Journal, Shotwell said the report paints “a completely misleading narrative” of SpaceX’s company culture.

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Some former SpaceX employees disagree. In 2021, after a former SpaceX employee published an essay detailing multiple instances in which she was groped by her male colleagues, five former employees claimed there was a culture of sexual harassment at the company. The employees said HR handled complaints poorly. In 2022, Business Insider reported that a flight attendant on Musk’s private jet claimed he exposed himself to her.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

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