The robotic tissue dispenser (or spy?)

Be careful--this smiling helper could be spying on you too

Pink Tentacle

If automation breeds laziness, this is a prime example. It's one thing for Japanese scientists to develop robots that can help their country's aging society for such reasons as health and safety , but is a tissue-dispensing bot really necessary?

InterRobot, maker of the ever-smiling "Mospeng-kun," also rents out its creation to the tune of 100,000 yen for five days (about $835). That seems pretty steep for an automated tissue box, but Mospeng might have a more sinister--and therefore more valuable--use as well: for "gathering information about the people it encounters on the job," according to Pink Tentacle. So the next time a robot offers a helping claw when you sneeze, be on guard.

About the author

    Mike Yamamoto is an executive editor for CNET News.com.

     

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