Robot thinks people taste like “bacon”

So, apparently the guys at NEC thought it would be cool to make a wine-tasting robot. The robot — pictured above — fires a beam of light into the wine, and then uses an infrared spectrometer to analyze the reflection. It studies the chemical composition of the wine and delivers an instant verdict about how good it is. It’s a neat trick, and it has other health-related skills: It can determine whether an apple is sweet or sour, or could even warn its owner if a food is too salty or fatty.

But the NEC guys decided to show off the robot to the media, and that’s when it revealed its morbid secret. As the Associated Press reports:

When a reporter’s hand was placed against the robot’s taste sensor, it was identified as prosciutto. A cameraman was mistaken for bacon.

Yeah, we’re screwed. The robots think we taste like crispy breakfast treats.

(Thanks to for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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