Line pattern background in barber colors

Inverse Daily

If your barber was a robot, it might mess with your head

Plus: Freightliner gave us free rein to drive a bunch of prototype trucks around an LA parking lot.

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I got my first haircut in something like 18 months a few weeks ago. It was glorious.

My friend, a barber based in St. Louis, did a really excellent job, and it was a rare opportunity to catch up IRL with the guy who was the best man at my wedding. We now live 1,000 miles away from each other and I’m happy to report he remains as funny as ever, and a true friend.

But if your barber wasn’t your best man, do you need to talk to him? What if that barber was a robot? That’s the sticky question at the center of the lead story in today’s Inverse Daily, the everyday dispatch of thought-provoking science, tech, and culture journalism. (For those interested in high-quality journalism on Elon Musk, see our Musk Reads+ newsletter.)

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. Our friends at Mic looked back on the impact that moment had on the world from a journalistic point of view. The result is a batch of stories that will unfurl in your brain like a Slinky. They will bring into focus the hazy thoughts you’ve had and help you zoom out to see the bigger picture. Dive in and read the stories here.

I’m glad you’re with us today. If you have any suggestions for how to improve this newsletter — stories you’d like to see, stuff you don’t find valuable, even your own barber stories — drop us a line at newsletter@inverse.com.

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Just a little off the top, BARBER-TRON 500.Shutterstock

Would you trust a robot hairdresser? If robots take over the service industry, should they do it with a smile? Business technology researchers explore the importance of emotion in working robots. Sarah Wells reports:

There’s a special bond that’s forged by the vulnerability of sitting, dripping wet, as a hairdresser snips and shears your wayward locks. A trusted hairdresser or barber has the power to make or break your day — even month — with a few flourishes, all while deftly discussing everything from politics to family gossip.

Service robots have already come for our grocery stores and construction sites, and now a new hair-brushing robot designed by engineers at MIT could be the first step toward automating hairdressers as well.

Keep reading Sarah’s story about our near-future life.

Related robot reporting:

From L to R; Freightliner eCascadia and eM2, Morgan-Olson/Freightliner Custom Chassis Company electric step van, and the Thomas Built “Jouley” electric school bus.Jordan Golson / Inverse

Wonders under the hood of an electric big rig Freightliner gave Jordan Golson free rein to drive a bunch of prototype trucks around an LA parking lot. He shares what he learned:

The most surprising thing about driving the giant electric trucks was the noise. Sure, the motors were mostly silent, just giving off the characteristic whirrrrrr-hummmmm that one expects from any EV. And the parking brakes did the standard, noisy truck pssssh blow off when the bright yellow Bendix air brake release was pushed in.

What I didn’t expect was the incessant rattling.

Keep on truckin’...

Go deeper:

Millicent Simmonds and Emily Blunt return in A Quiet Place Part II.Paramount Pictures

Quiet Place 2 is worth seeing in theaters A Quiet Place Part II isn't just a smart continuation of 2018's surprise hit; it's a better film now after the awful year we've lived through, writes senior staff writer Eric Francisco:

A Quiet Place Part II is full of artistic intention and technical prowess, but what makes it unique is the timing. The sequel was pulled from theaters days before its March 18, 2020, release. It’s a time capsule of sorts, made more potent after a year of our own quiet place.

Though the sequel was written, shot, and completed before the pandemic, its somber tone and apocalyptic setting reverberate even more loudly today, long after the disease that jumped to humans from animals shut down the planet.

A Quiet Place II claims a sturdy enough story about togetherness in the face of danger that offers an extremely satisfying continuation of the first movie’s imaginative concept — a concept that might’ve been one-and-done had it not been so successful.

Read the rest of Eric’s insightful review.

Go deeper:

Delicious! A man eats a fried cicada sushi roll prepared by Chef Bun Lai at Fort Totten Park in Washington, DC on May 23, 2021ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Brood X bon appétit! After 17 years, Brood X has crawled back to the surface to complete their lifecycle. Enjoy your cicada summer by plucking a love-struck bug to fry up. Sarah Wells has the story:

After a 17-year underground slumber, periodical cicada Brood X is finally making its way out to the light. It is also pretty tasty. These cicadas have suckled on tree root juices for years. Now they’re interested in one thing only: noisily mating and then dying immediately.

These rare cicada summers are not without human benefits, including an unexpected silver lining: the chance to dine on a rare delicacy. It’s easier than you might think...

Learn how to cook a cicada in five easy steps.

More cicada data:

Actress Pam Grier celebrates a birthday today. Here she is on May 20, 1977, in Los Angeles, California. Later in her career, she starred in Jackie Brown. You can read our recommendation of it here. Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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  • Before we go, happy birthday (🎂) to these folks: Helena Bonham Carter (55), Matt Stone (50), Lauryn Hill (46), Pam Grier (72), Stevie Nicks (73). (Source: AP.)
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