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Five ways Google could help start an apocalypse

A decade ago, we used to hear a lot more about Google's informal motto: "Don't be evil." It doesn't come up as much anymore, but those three words still lead off Google's corporate code of conduct. And given some of the company's recent acquisitions that are heavy on robotics and artificial intelligence companies, that's probably a good thing.

But still, with an Internet giant also buying up the know-how to make killer robots, it's not too hard to imagine something like the classic science-fiction conceits of SkyNet turning on its creators taking root at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. "Don't be evil" is a great startup motto, but what's the old truism about power corrupting? Sometimes, it seems like Google is heading toward absolute power in some areas.… Read more

The 404 1,414: Where a podcast is just a story we tell ourselves (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Google reportedly acquires AI company DeepMind for $400M.

- Here's how you can vastly increase the number of shows and movies viewable to you on Netflix.

- And who says eSports competitions aren't heated?

- The velociraptor cage from "Jurassic Park" is for sale on eBay.… Read more

Watch the first public Macintosh demo in newly released video

We all know that Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh at Apple's annual shareholder meeting on January 24, 1984, but he also gave an encore performance of sorts a few days later for a meeting of the Boston Computer Society.

The video of that January 30, 1984, meeting can be seen below. It was released for the first time Saturday since it was shot that day and ran over at Time.com with lots of the great context surrounding that meeting. While the scripted presentation is much the same as the original unveiling six days earlier, the video quality is significantly better at the Boston event, and Jobs seems more polished.… Read more

Google adopts Boston Dynamics' animal robots

CNET Update is doing the robot:

In this episode of CNET Update:

- Check out the impressive animal-like robots created by Boston Dynamics, now owned by Google.

- Wait and see if Sprint decides to buy T-Mobile. In the meantime, Sprint is expanding it's 4G LTE to more cities. It also has a new wireless technology called Spark, which is faster than LTE.

- Pay for an Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet in four installments over nine months.

CNET Update delivers the tech news you need in under three minutes. Watch Bridget Carey every afternoon for a breakdown of … Read more

Google acquires Boston Dynamics, maker of animal-inspired robots

Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, maker of Cheetah, BigDog, WildCat and other nature-inspired robots.

Google confirmed the acquisition in a Saturday New York Times report, which also broke the story earlier in December about former Android chief Andy Rubin leading a robotics push at Google.

Boston Dynamics gained Internet fame through YouTube videos of its agile, often gas-powered robots dealing with ice, snow, and other obstacles. It's easy to see why the Defense Department -- specifically the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- is interested.

Boston Dynamics has a lot of experience with quadrupedal robots, but more recently, … Read more

NASA unveils 6-foot 'superhero robot' Valkyrie

What if NASA's Robonaut grew legs and indulged in steroids? The result might be close to what NASA has unveiled: Valkyrie is a humanoid machine billed as a "superhero robot."

Developed at the Johnson Space Center, Valkyrie is a 6.2-foot, 275-pound hulk designed to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC).

It will go toe to toe with the Terminator-like Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics in what's shaping up to be an amazing modern-day duel. … Read more

'Anchorman' news team recounts year in Yahoo searches

Yahoo on Monday evening released its Year in Review report for the top searches of 2013, and to celebrate, the company turned to San Diego's finest faux newsman: Ron Burgundy.

In the video, Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner reprise their roles from 2005's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," as well as its upcoming sequel "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." Ferrell and crew recount the most popular Yahoo searches of the year, and it leads to an explanation of the royal baby's super powers, a new Justin Bieber nickname, and a … Read more

Can you outrun it? DARPA's WildCat robot gallops at 16 mph

Boston Dynamics seems like a company full of friendly, intelligent folks. One wonders why these good people seem dedicated to creating terrifying robots.

Their latest mechanized hellspawn is WildCat, a military quadruped machine that can chase you at speeds up to 16 mph.

OK, it isn't chasing people yet. But it seems designed to scare the wits out of us poor meatsacks. … Read more

Mysterious Apple office in Boston linked to voice tech

The story behind a rather mysterious Apple office that appeared in Boston's Kendall Square late last year has gotten a little more interesting.

According to a new report from Xconomy, Apple is using the office space there to bolster its speech technologies, primarily Siri -- the voice assistant software it's built into its portable devices since 2011.

Citing sources, the site says Apple has pulled together "a small team of notable names in speech technology," many of whom formerly worked for VoiceSignal Technologies. That company was acquired by voice-tech giant Nuance back in 2007. Apple relies … Read more

Apple hit by patent suit from Boston University

Apple is on the receiving end of a patent lawsuit from one of the country's top universities.

In a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, Boston University claims that a part used in the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air was patented by computer engineering professor Theodore Moustakas in 1997, the Boston Herald has reported.

The patent known as "Highly insulating monocrystalline gallium nitride thin films" refers to a semiconductor component invented by the professor.

"Defendant's acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause substantial and irreparable damage to the … Read more