WHEN HUMANS ARE finally ready to relocate civilization to Mars, they won’t be able to do it alone. They’ll need trusted specialists with encyclopedic knowledge, composure under pressure, and extreme endurance—droids like Justin. Built by the German space agency DLR, such humanoid bots are being groomed to build the first martian habitat for humans. Engineers have been refining Justin’s physical abilities for a decade; the mech can handle tools, shoot and upload photos, catch flying objects, and navigate obstacles. Now, thanks to new AI upgrades, Justin can think for itself. Unlike most robots, which have to be programmed in advance and given explicit instructions for nearly every movement, this bot can autonomously perform complex tasks—even those it hasn’t been programmed to do—on a planet’s surface while being supervised by astronauts in orbit. Object recognition software and computer vision let Justin survey its environment and undertake jobs such as cleaning and maintaining machinery, inspecting equipment, and carrying objects. In a recent test, Justin fixed a faulty solar panel in a Munich lab in minutes, directed via tablet by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. One small chore for Justin, one giant leap for future humankind.


Who: Justin—it was completed “just in” time for a 2006 trade show

Height: 6' 3''

Weight: 440 pounds

Lifting Strength: 31 pounds in each arm

Unexpected Talent: Making tea and coffee

Eyes: Hi-def cameras and sensors embedded in the head generate a 3-D view of Justin’s ­surroundings.

Probe: An R2D2-style data interface means Justin can sync up to computers and data collection stations. Eventually it will be able to charge its own battery by ­plugging into a solar power unit.

Hands: Eight jointed fingers allow the bot to deftly handle tools.

Base: Justin’s protocols are stored onboard, so it can complete tasks and save data even if communication links fail.

Wheels: DLR tested Justin’s future all-terrain robot wheels atop an active volcano.


IF THE WEB were an amusement park attraction, you’d have to be 10 feet tall to ride—it's terrifying enough for adults and a funhouse of horrors for kids, from inappropriate content to unkind comment sections to outright predators.


And yet! The internet also affords opportunities to learn, to socialize, to create. Besides, at this point trying to keep your kids off of it entirely would be like keeping them away from electricity or indoor plumbing. They’re going to get online. Your job is to help them make good choices when they get there.

Yes, there are parent-friendly routers you can buy, and software you can use, to limit your child’s access to the internet. But it's more important to create a mental framework that helps keep your kids safe—and teaches them to protect themselves.

Adjust as Needed

One reason it’s so hard to offer concrete rules governing kids and the internet is that no two kids are alike. It’s like keeping kids safe after homecoming. Some might just need a curfew, others a breathalyzer.

Think of sending your kids out into the internet, then, in the same way you think about sending them out into the world. Different age groups require different amounts of oversight; even within a specific age, different kids have different inclinations, and with them different needs.

As muddied a picture as it sounds, at least some legal guidelines exist. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, established in 1998, creates safeguards like keeping children off of social media under the age of 13. (Facebook has recently attempted to skirt that with a version of Messenger aimed at kids 6 and older.) Even so, millions of kids under 13 have found their way onto Facebook anyway, often with parental consent. Don't give in!





The holidays are upon us! And that means you've got gifts to buy and questions that need answers -- and the clock is ticking!

The CNET Holiday Buyer's Guide Live is back again to help, streaming live from our New York studios. We have gift-giving advice, tips on finding hot deals and answers to readers' questions -- live, with a cast of CNET experts!

Highlights include:

There will also be a a giveaway! During the first 40 minutes of the live show, 10 lucky viewers will get a chance to win* a Sphero Mini robot by tweeting using the hashtag #CNETHoliday. 

*Remember that you have to be following @CNET on Twitter. And if you're stuck for something to say, let us know what your most desired tech gift is this year. Due to the legal boundaries of sweepstakes, the giveaway is for residents of US and Canada only, and you do have to be 18 years or older. Please check the rules for more details.

Watch live right here (above) or on YouTube today, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.


Google has decided to share detailed information on how it protects service-to-service communications within its infrastructure at the application layer and the the system it uses for data protection.

Called Application Layer Transport Security (ALTS), the technology was designed to authenticate communication between Google services and keep data protected while in transit. When sent to Google, data is protected using secure communication protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security).

According to the Web search giant, it started development of ALTS in 2007, when TLS was bundled with support protocols that did not satisfy the company’s minimum security standards. Thus, the company found it more suitable to design its own security solution than patch an existing system.

More secure than older TLS, Google describes ALTS as “a highly reliable, trusted system that provides authentication and security for […] internal Remote Procedure Call (RPC) communications,” that ensures security within the company’s infrastructure.

The system, Google explains, requires minimal involvement from the services themselves, as data is protected by default. All RPCs issued or received by a production workload are protected by ALTS by default, as long as they stay within a physical boundary controlled by or on behalf of Google.

According to Google, the ALTS configuration is transparent to the application layer; all cryptographic primitives and protocols used by ALTS are up-to-date with current known attacks; ALTS performs authentication primarily by identity rather than host name; the system relies on each workload having an identity, which is expressed as a set of credentials; after an initial ALTS handshake, connections can be persisted for a longer time to improve overall system performance; ALTS is considerably simpler than TLS as Google controls both clients and servers, the company also says.