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Fans of theUncanny Valley will be delighted to know that roboticists in Japan have taken another giant leap toward creeping us right the fuck out, with two new female-appearing androids that will be interacting with guests at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. They look pretty darn lifelike in still photos, and considerably less so in video. The goal for these bots is to simulate some human movements smoothly, especially facial expressions; hand and arm movements still look considerably more machine-driven.


For now, hu-mons. For now.

One of the bots, Kodomoroid, is designed to deliver a daily news report at the museum, presenting as naturally as possible whatever is typed into it -- and by god, they don't get gender pronouns until they're sentient, although by then we may be too busy screaming to worry about distinctions between "she" and "it." The other, Otonaroid, sits in a chair and does something like conversation. Creepiest of all is "the minimally designed Telenoid, a mannequin head with pointed arms that serves as a cuddly companion." You know, if you're trying to induce dreams about H.R. Giger paintings that come to life and cuddle you. Until they crush your skull and assimilate your personality.

And look, video!

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, an Osaka University robotics expert, said that the new bots will be useful in research on how people interact with robots:

"Making androids is about exploring what it means to be human," he told reporters Tuesday, "examining the question of what is emotion, what is awareness, what is thinking."

It is not known whether the two humanoid robots have yet been asked if they would trade all their superior computing power for the ability to feel love.

Ishiguro also said that Japan's emphasis in robotics is less missile-shooty than America's:

Reflecting widespread opinion, Ishiguro said Japan leads the world in playful companion robots. But he acknowledged the nation was behind the U.S. in military robots.

Developing robots for more than 20 years, Ishiguro has made a point of creating robots that approximate the human appearance, including creatures that look like him. He has sent them to give overseas lectures.

The increasingly realistic bots are not about to replace real women anytime soon; as a stopgap point in the research, Yr Wonkette would suggest that Ishiguro Sensei look into funding future research by setting up a kickstarter to develop robotic companions for Men's Rights Advocates, who may be far more satisfied with an approximation of a woman, which might also be a huge relief to real women around the world.

[TPM]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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FINALLY. Of course, we say "finally," because we haven't been behind the scenes in the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees to witness the negotiating and wrangling firsthand, so we don't know what it's taken to make this happen, but clear your calendars for July 17, because Bobby Mueller is goin' to Congress!

Committee chairs Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler sent the letter late yesterday, accompanied by a subpoena, for Mueller to testify at 9 a.m. Eastern on July 17, which is a Wednesday, so you will presumably not be busy with brunch. The hearings for each committee will be back to back, after which members of Mueller's staff will meet with committee staff behind closed doors.

Schiff told Rachel Maddow last night that it should not be viewed as a friendly subpoena, because as we all know, Mueller has been very reluctant to become the star of the political circus this will surely create. However, he's gonna have to suck it up, because as we all saw after what happened when Mueller addressed the nation for 10 whole minutes, there is great value in actually having Mueller breathe life into his own work, for an American audience that hasn't read his 448-page report. (And we don't blame them/you! We probably wouldn't have read it all if it wasn't our job. It would probably be on our "list," like "someday I am going to watch 'The Sopranos' start to finish finally. And then I will read the Mueller Report!")

Point is, it needs to happen on live TV, where people can gather around at work and on the train and in the Fantastic Sams while they gets their hair did, and let this highly respected public servant tell the story of how America's most hostile enemy attacked the 2016 election in order to help Donald Trump, how the Trump campaign was positively orgasmic over that reacharound, and how Trump criminally obstructed the investigation into that hostile foreign attack at every turn.

And because Robert Mueller is a patriotic American who respects the rule of law and our institutions, he will be complying with the subpoena, because of fucking course he will.

Right off the bat, we have a couple of questions:

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Beds at the 'temporary' shelter in Homestead, Florida. US HHS photo.

The House of Representatives passed a $4.5 billion emergency bill to fund detention of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers yesterday, but the bill's demands that government meet minimal standards of humane treatment led Donald Trump to threaten a veto, because no one puts cruelty in a corner. The bill passed largely along party lines, 230-195, with four progressive Democratic first-term representatives opposing it because they believed the machinery of the New Cruelty shouldn't get a single dollar more. Trump prefers a bill already passed by the Senate, which would provide a similar level of funding $4.6 billion), but lacks the House bill's crazy radical requirements that migrants be held in less horrifying conditions than have been reported in the last week.

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