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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.
Related robot reporting:
- Robotic augmentation can transform human bodies — but at a cost
- The emotional reason why you should let robots touch you
- 5 lines of code could change the way we think about A.I.
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.
- Ford F-150 Lightning price, range, specs, release date for the electric pickup truck
- See the electric pickup trucks that will give Tesla Cybertruck competition
- Freightliner customers have driven electric semis 700,000 miles
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.
- The monsters, from an evolutionary point of view (2018)
- A Quiet Place faces the apocalypse with daring realism (2018)
- The A Quiet Place monster looks nothing like the original (2018)
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...
More cicada data:
- Brood X: Cicada experts reveal the truth about eating bugs
- Brood IX: Why 2020's cicada visit was different than past arrivals (2020)
- “Zombie cicada” mystery solved by hallucinogenic fungus researchers (2019)
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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.)