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Panasonic made a farting cat robot!

Panasonic made a farting cat robot!


It farts

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I am so tired, and there are so many things happening. Days like today have become the norm over this last, lost year; there is a tragedy happening every second of every day, and if you’re lucky enough to be outside of the blast radius you’re only able to perceive what’s happening through a screen. Just last night, Texas Senator Ted Cruz decided to take a family trip to Cancún as large swaths of his state are without power or potable drinking water in the midst of a historic deep freeze. He’s now on his way back, after being shamed online for his bafflingly cruel choice.

That was the first thing I saw this morning. This was the second.

This funky little robot’s name is Nicobo, and it was created by Panasonic for companionship. It’s loosely catlike; it farts. It cannot do more than wiggle its head and its tail and blink its unnervingly digital eyes. It can sort of talk. And no, if you’re interested, you cannot buy it.

As Gizmodo reports, Panasonic is only planning to make a few hundred Nicobo units; it made them available for preorder via its own crowdfunding platform, and they have all been claimed as of six hours after the campaign launch. (Nicobo costs about $360.) If you managed to get your hands on one, you’re expected to pay around $10 a month to get things like software updates.

I am not sure why I’m telling you this. It’s not like you can buy this robot, which is cute in its way. It’s also not like learning about a small Japanese robot will change your life or even fend off existential despair for more than the time it takes you to get to this paragraph in this article.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here, nestled between the juxtaposition of the logic of production and the reality of widespread human suffering. Nicobo was created by Panasonic in partnership with robotics researchers from Toyohashi University of Technology as a companion — as a technological salve for atomization, capitalist alienation, and good old-fashioned loneliness. After a year of drastically less human touch, we’ve yet another robotic Band-Aid for a gaping psychic wound. I guess it’s cuter than a Zoom call?

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed An hour ago Striking out

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Emma RothAn hour ago
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

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Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

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If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

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Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.