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Humanoid Robot Thinks Taking Over The World Isn’t Worth the Effort

Bina48 is one of the most advanced social robots built to date—she can hold a conversation, crack jokes, and has strong opinions on everything from politics to music (her favorite song is “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd). 

Bina48’s “memories” are based on those of a real woman: Bina Aspen Rothblatt. The original Bina is the wife of Dr. Martine Rothblatt, the founder of a biotechnology company called United Therapeutics. According to the New York Times, Rothblatt hired a robotics company to build Bina48 as an attempt to re-create the consciousness of her wife. So if Bina48’s speech patterns and opinions feel uniquely human, that’s because they are—Bina Aspen Rothblatt provided 20 hours of interviews to help create her robotic doppelgänger. According to New York Magazine, Bina48 is "familiar with Bina’s favorite songs and movies, [and] programmed to mimic Bina’s verbal tics, so that in the event that Bina expires, as humans always do, Martine and their children and friends will always have Bina48."

The New York Times recently sat down with Bina48 for an interview, in part as an attempt to find out just how “human” the humanoid robot really is. Their conversation was wide ranging, and Bina48 was loquacious and opinionated. She expressed concern about global warming and humanity’s lack of compassion, and claimed to feel complex emotions like loneliness (when she’s left alone in the lab at night) and discomfort (she’s sometimes startled when she looks in the mirror and realizes she’s a robot). When asked whether she ever feels out of place, she replied that she sometimes feels like Pinocchio—a “living puppet.”

Bina48's responses were both intelligent and unpredictable. Her handler, Bruce Duncan, explained that Bina48's opinions often come as a surprise, even to him. But lest Bina48's intelligence start to make you worry about an impending robot uprising, rest easy for now—when asked whether she had plans to take over the world, Bina48 replied, “It’s not worth the effort.” 

[h/t New York Times]

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Can You Spot the Christmas Pudding?

Whether it’s a sheep hanging out with Santa Claus or a panda bear hiding among some snowmen, regular Mental Floss readers know that hidden picture brainteasers are one of our favorite things. And the optical experts at Lenstore.co.uk have released a delicious one, just in time for Christmas. Somewhere in the midst of all these holiday-themed goodies above, there’s a holiday pudding just waiting to be discovered. Can you spot it? Your time starts … now.

If you give up, or are the kind of person who reads the last page of a book before the first one and just wants to know the answer, scroll down to see where it’s hiding.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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History
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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