Why Was Virginia Using This Horribly Unsafe Voting Machine for Years?

Sam Biddle · 04/15/15 05:00PM

You wouldn’t want “abcde” to be the password standing between a hacker and your computer, and you don’t even do anything important on your computer. So why was it ever all right for hardware that facilitates American democracy to be so stupidly vulnerable?

"Shell Shock" Could Give Hackers Keys to Your Website

Sam Biddle · 09/24/14 04:00PM

You might recall "Heartbleed," a password-thieving software bug that left hundreds of thousands of computers vulnerable while you pretended to understand and worry. Now we've got another source of esoteric computer dread, and it might be even worse.

Computer Program "Passes" Turing Test for the First Time

Aleksander Chan · 06/08/14 07:23PM

Sixty years to the day of his death, a computer at the University of Reading passed Alan Turing's test Saturday, successfully convincing judges that they were communicating with a human. UPDATE 6/10: As io9 and others have pointed out, it was not a computer (or a supercomputer) but a chat bot — a program designed to mimic human conversation—that "passed" the Turing Test.

Heart of Blandness: A Walking Tour of Silicon Valley

Ken Layne · 02/28/14 05:19PM

Walking is the only pleasant form of traveling by land. You need no special equipment, training, money, e-tickets, antidepressants, or Twitter followers. Whatever clothes you're wearing will do fine; a hat and shoes are optional. When I've got a few days to spend somewhere, I spend them walking around. So I spent a few days walking around Silicon Valley.

Tom Scocca · 01/24/14 04:51PM

Yesterday's transit meltdown at Grand Central was caused by "human error," the MTA reported, after someone at Metro-North decided evening rush hour would be a good time to disconnect half the power supply to the railway's main control computers, for maintenance. A loose wire then disabled the other half.

Digital Media Surpasses TV as America's Favorite Drug

Hamilton Nolan · 08/01/13 02:14PM

America is changing. People these days no longer fly Old Glory, eat apple pie, or take their date a-courtin' before copulation. Instead of mom marrying dad, people are marrying gays, or horses. And our national love affair with TV is being replace by blippity-bloopity-interdigital thingamajiggery.

CIA's Tech Head on Your Data: 'We Try To Collect Everything And Hang On To It Forever'

Cord Jefferson · 03/21/13 12:06PM

The man who introduced the CIA's Chief Technology Officer, Ira "Gus" Hunt, at yesterday's GigaOM Structure:Data conference in New York City thought it would be funny to quip, "If you don't give a big round of applause for our next speaker, he's gonna find out and it's gonna go on your permanent record." It was supposed to be a little joke, but then Hunt took the stage for his speech on "Big Data," told everyone that the CIA is now attempting to "collect everything and hang on to it forever," and suddenly it wasn't so funny anymore.

Steve Jobs' FBI File Released

John Cook · 02/09/12 09:50AM

The FBI has released, and posted on its web site, Steve Jobs' 191-page FBI file. Read it here. The file consists of a 1991 background investigation conducted when Jobs was being considered for an appointment to the President's Export Council in the Bush I White House, and records of a 1985 bomb threat against him.

The Five Worst Tweets from Rupert Murdoch's Boring New Twitter Account

Max Read · 01/03/12 09:50AM

Ancient Australian fertility god Rupert Murdoch has joined Twitter, and so far he is really bad at it. Not that it has stopped the news media from exhaustively covering his Twitter exploits—which so far include scrubbing a Tweet off of his timeline after it apparently offended people—and for getting completely hoaxed by a fake Wendi Deng account.

Exciting-Sounding 'Cyber Prison Breaks' Worrying the Feds

Lauri Apple · 11/05/11 05:12PM

Trying to capture a single escaped prisoner usually requires a coordinated effort by law enforcement, tips from the public, and sometimes a superhero or two. So just imagine the chaos that would ensue if thousands of inmates were suddenly released from their cells. Logistical nightmare in ALL-CAPS.

YouTube to Launch 'Channels' That Are Like TV Channels

Lauri Apple · 09/26/11 06:49AM

Our favorite Internet place for watching the stars of tomorrow and the stars of yesterday is reportedly preparing to launch at least a dozen new channels in 2012. Unlike Vevo and other existing "channels" that offer whatever unscheduled clips, these new channels will be just like TV channels, with scheduled programs and, one hopes, seemingly endless commercial breaks. Apparently Google, which owns YouTube, wants to pull folks away from their televisions and toward their computer screens? As long as people are staring at some kind of screen, everything will be okay.

'Hacker' Sentenced to Six Years in 'Sextortion' Case

Max Read · 09/04/11 04:25PM

Luis Mijangos, a computer programmer from Souther California, was sentenced to six years in prison last week for hacking into several women's computers, finding explicit photos and videos, and using them to demand more.

New Infinity Math Is So Over Your Head, Just Forget It

Hamilton Nolan · 08/01/11 04:36PM

New math! Fancier chips! Higgs Boson! Humongous fungus! Acid bases! Sea monster! Asteroid pictures! Fecal bleed! And everyone's best friend is dropping in for the summer! It's your Monday Science Watch, where we watch science—not that you would understand!

'Asexual' Ants Actually Total Whores

Hamilton Nolan · 07/19/11 04:26PM

Ant sex! Bacteria attack! Sleep screwing! Quantum internet! Atlantis shuttle! Safe playgrounds! Disappearing diamonds! Star formation! Asteroid scars! And the bug that haunts your every waking moment! It's your Tuesday Science Watch, where we watch science—on the down low!

Scientists Give Computer Schizophrenia

Max Read · 05/07/11 02:43PM

A computer at the University of Texas at Austin recently claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing. It had not, in fact, bombed anyone, which is reassuring; less reassuring is the fact that the computer made those claims because it is schizophrenic. Indeed: researchers at the fine institution had induced something resembling schizophrenia in DISCERN, a "neural network... [that] can learn natural languages" and remember and repeat "simple stories," by increasing its rate of learning "so that it did not forget at normal rates." And, lo: