One robot's quest to start an acting school - and get a date with Siri
November 30th, 2011
09:54 AM ET

One robot's quest to start an acting school - and get a date with Siri

By Heather Knight, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: In this post, roboticist Heather Knight imagines a conversation between a fictional member of the press and her celebrity robot, named Data. The following exchange is intended to be a parody of this celebrity robot's interactions with the media. If that's confusing, check out Knight's TED Talk to see her comedy routine with Data. It should clear things up. The CNN show The Next List is featuring Knight and Data this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Fictional member of the press: What are you most proud of?

Data the robot: The last year has been an exciting one. I quit my job in Paris, started performing on the streets of New York City and basically got discovered. Heather and I have since stormed stages across the country and even hit up some comedy festivals and conferences back in Europe. One of my favorite exploits was performing a tribal dance with Reggie Watts at our Robot Film Festival last July. It might not have been the most politically correct thing I’ve ever done, but it was fun exploring humanity’s animalistic roots and rituals in parody. FULL POST

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Filed under: Tech • The Next List
November 29th, 2011
06:40 PM ET

Harvard's new shape-shifting robot

By Thom Patterson, CNN

Not long ago, a pair of Harvard scientists hit on an "aha" moment in the most unexpected place: while waiting in line at a post office.

Robert Shepherd and Filip Ilievski were trying to help the rest of their research team create a new generation of bendable rubbery robots called soft robots.

They already had a design that allowed their bendy robot to undulate, or move in a wavy motion. But they were looking for a design that offered more movement.


Filed under: Innovation • Robots • Tech
November 29th, 2011
02:47 PM ET

Celebrate robot week with 'The Next List'

By The Next List staff

Editor's Note: The CNN show "The Next List" is featuring roboticist Heather Knight this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. We're celebrating by bringing you posts about robots all week! Check back on the "What's Next" blog for more, and follow the show on Twitter. We're @cnnthenextlist.

Meet Heather Knight. She’s a social roboticist - a fancy term that means she makes robots that can interact with humans.

She and her sidekick robot, Data, get into all kinds of shenanigans together: They have a standup comedy act; they take acting classes together; they dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”; and they generally overturn any notion a person might have of a roboticist - and a robot. Check out Data’s acting here. (He also does a mean Shakespeare!) FULL POST

November 29th, 2011
12:30 PM ET

Chef's 'miracle berries' turn sour foods sweet

By Homaro Cantu, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Chef Homaro Cantu is a molecular gastronomist and owner of Chicago restaurants Moto and iNG. CNN featured Cantu in the November 27 episode of "The Next List."

For generations, we have become accustomed to guilty pleasures that please our palates. From birth we are taught to consume sweet flavors beginning with mother’s milk. Children learn quickly that candy, chocolate and Christmas cookies are things of pleasure. Why not make the paradigm shift from these unhealthy guilty pleasures to truly guilt-free goodies?

How is this possible? Take the good-old-fashioned burger. Rather than reproducing the ubiquitous veggie burger, or flavorless cardboard, why not approach it with real innovation?  On my television show Future Food (on Discovery Network’s Planet Green) we actually attempted to shorten the food chain by creating a burger out of the ingredients that are found in livestock feed. Genius!


November 29th, 2011
09:13 AM ET

The perfume company that began with an unorthodox motto: 'I hate perfume'

By Christopher Brosius, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Christopher Brosius is a former NYC cab driver turned award-winning perfumer, entrepreneur and founder of CB I hate Perfume.  CNN featured Brosius in the November 20 episode of "The Next List."

A lot of people ask me why I call my company “I Hate Perfume." Isn’t that strange when I make perfume? Part of the answer is simple: There is a lot of perfume in the world I find perfectly revolting. It makes me sick.

But in 2004, when I started over again, I decided to name my new company after the manifesto that I’d originally written for myself in 1992 when I first began making perfume independently. It seemed the right thing to do.

My manifesto was a simple list of everything I disliked about what perfume is and another of everything I thought perfume could and should be. That list began with the simple statement “I hate perfume." It was my way of mapping a trip into the unknown and keeping myself on course. So for me, that name is the beginning of a journey, the exploration of an invisible country. The people who really get my perfume understand that. They’re traveling with me, so to speak. FULL POST

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Filed under: The Next List • Video
November 28th, 2011
10:50 AM ET

A photographic 'Street View' tour of America

By John D. Sutter, CNN

Part of me is surprised no one thought of this before.

Photographer Doug Rickard has created a beautiful collection of images of U.S. cities and towns pulled entirely from Street View - that project of Google Maps, started in 2007, which lets people "walk" the streets of the world through photographs taken from Google cars, tricycles and snowmobiles.

Called "A New American Picture," Rickard explains the project in the video interview above, which was filmed by a group called Pier 24 Photography. FULL POST

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Filed under: Art • Google • Innovation • Tech
November 28th, 2011
10:31 AM ET

LEGO + smartphone robot solves Rubik's cube in a flash

By John D. Sutter, CNN

File this in the "things machines do better than humans" category.

A robotic machine, controlled by an Android smartphone, claims it can solve a Rubik's cube faster than any human. Check out the video above for a proof of concept. It's pretty amazing to see.

More on how the contraption works from a post on YouTube: FULL POST

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Filed under: Tech • Video
November 25th, 2011
06:10 PM ET

The Michael Bolton Cookie

Chef Homaro Cantu's mind-blowing restaurant Moto is known for all sorts of off-the-wall dishes. But one of our favorites has to be the Michael Bolton cookie created by Pastry Chef Ben Roche.  Yes, let's say it again - a Michael Bolton cookie.

This 1991-styled dessert is served at the tail end of Moto's 15-course meal. Bolton's photo is printed on edible paper and topped off with chocolate mousse, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream.

A 'Second City' secret supper with Homaru Cantu

See much more of Homaro Cantu on Sunday 2 p.m. ET on CNN's "The Next List."


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Filed under: Food • Innovation • The Next List • Uncategorized
Lions who send text messages
November 25th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Lions who send text messages

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

Conservationists in Kenya are receiving SMS messages these days from an unlikely source: Lions roaming the savannah.

No, the lions haven't somehow morphed into thumb-happy adolescents, texting messages such as "Just 8 a gazelle. Yum. LOL." Instead the animals wear GPS-enabled collars that send automated messages via wireless networks to researchers who map their locations.

"GPS collars have fundamentally changed the way that lion research is done, in that we are able to study lion movements in great detail in areas where it is usually impossible to follow them," says a post on the website of Living with Lions, one of the conservation research groups behind the project.


The woman behind Apple's whimsical icons
Former Apple designer Susan Kare with one of her icons for the Macintosh.
November 24th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

The woman behind Apple's whimsical icons

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

You may not know her name, but you probably know her work, which still influences how we interact with our computers today.

She's Susan Kare, and she designed fonts and icons for Apple's original Macintosh, including the little trash can for discarding files and the computer with a smiling face. In that way, Kare helped people such as Steve Jobs pioneer the transition from controlling computers via text to the icon-based interfaces now common on touchscreen devices.

"You can find the myriad visual descendants of Kare’s sketches in desktops, laptops, tablets and phones today," writes Steve Silberman in a Public Library of Science blog post this week about Kare's work and legacy.


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Filed under: Art • Innovation • Tech • Thinkers
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