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Curious Times 

IS IT A ROBOT OR A TRASH CAN THAT BEEPS?

Yes, finally, after three decades of waiting you can now buy yourself the first-generation robot servant. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it can serve you in any useful way. The three-foot-tall Wakamaru robot can recognize ten human faces and 10,000 words, but that's about all it can do... The company's sales pitch boasts that owners will be able to program the robot for wake up calls or to remind you of important events, which basically means that this robot is nothing more than a glorified alarm clock. They also claim that the robot will react if someone falls down or becomes ill. However, they don't explain how the robot will "react" or if it's reaction will be helpful in any way whatsoever. Nevertheless, you can buy one of 100 available for about $14,000. (Associated Press)

JUST LIKE HUMANS, THIS

ROBOT PRETENDs TO CARE

Japanese robotics nerds last week announced the creation of the first robot which will be able to pretend to feel emotions and frown or smile according to its artificial consciousness. The humanoid robot named Kansei (Japanese for "sensibility" and "emotion") is powered by state-of-the-art speech recognition software which will enable the robot to recognize when humans are happy or sad and respond appropriately. After analyzing human speech and deciding on a response, the robot is then able to contort the artificial skin on its face in order to convey expressions. "Kansei is a comprehensive concept useful for the design of human interface. It includes sensibility, sensitivity, feeling and emotion," said professor Shigeki Sugano of Waseda University in Tokyo. In the future, they hope this type of robot will be able to care for the elderly, clean your home or greet people at a reception desk. (Discovery News)

THERE'S A DEAD GUY INSIDE YOUR BEAUTIFUL NEW LIPS

An investigation by The Guardian newspaper in the UK has discovered that a Chinese cosmetics company is using the skin of executed prisoners in the production of beauty products for sale in Europe. While British politicians are expressing various bursts of outrage, a Chinese agent for the company said simply that this is the traditional way of doing things in China so chill out. "In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that western countries can make such a big fuss about this," shrugged the agent. The Chinese are also being accused of harvesting organs and limbs from executed prisoners for transplants to fee-paying foreigners. Amnesty International estimates that 3,400 prisoners were executed last year, and about 6,000 more are currently on death row. (The Guardian)

AND THE MINDLESS COUCH POTATO AWARD GOES TO...

If you had listened to me last year when the world record for marathon TV watching was a mere 47 hours, you could have had your name in the record books by now. Instead, you're now going to have to watch over 69 hours and 48 minutes of utter crap in order to beat the world's only record which you break while sitting on your fat ass. Yes, a man named Suresh Joachim has successfully melted his brain and simultaneously gained worldwide infamy (but probably no hot chicks) by watching almost 70 hours of television in a row. According to the rules laid down by Guinness, a 5-minute break is allowed every hour plus a 15-minute break every eight hours. Joachim now holds 16 world records, including longest duration balancing on one foot (76 hours, 40 minutes) and bowling for 100 hours. (MSNBC)

NO KITTY BLOOD FOR OIL

A German inventor has denied newspaper reports that he uses dead cats in the creation of a cheap bio-diesel fuel he has created. Under a headline reading "German inventor can turn cats into fuel--for a tank he needs 20 pussies," the original Bild Newspaper story reported that Dr. Christian Koch, 55, used a combination of old trash and dead animal carcasses to create the fuel for his vehicle. The story even claimed that Koch told them that one fully grown cat cadaver could produce 2.5 litres of fuel, so around 20 cats were needed for a full tank. Of course, it turns out the newspaper was full of crap and was probably paid off by the big oil companies to discredit the inventor of an alternative fuel. After Koch went to the media to expose the lies, a spokesman for Bild claimed that the story meant to explain that cat remains could be used "in theory" with Koch's patented method. The good news is that the fuel really does exist, using waste products such as paper, plastic and organic materials to create a fuel which only costs about 15 cents per litre. (Reuters)

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