The world's first space-faring humanoid robot has taken up residency on the International Space Station, and it turns out the little guy is feeling quite chatty.

The pint-sized 'droid is named Kirobo, developed by Toyota, the University of Tokyo and robotics-maker Robo Garage. He's been living in the space station since August, and was recently joined by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, along with two other human colleagues from the U.S. and Russia.

Footage filmed December 6 shows Kirobo and Wakata having a natural-sounding conversation in Japanese. "What will you ask for from Santa Claus, Kirobo?" the 'bot is asked. "I want a toy rocket," Kirobo replies. "Let's ask Santa Claus."

Although the video has some clear edit points, this is the first footage ever of a human and a robot communicating verbally in space.

It has taken decades of trying to get a machine communicating on this level, but not even tech giants Apple and Google, with their massive server farms and nearly unlimited processing power, have pulled off a verbal interface that functions so naturally.

Kirobo is expected to remain on the space station for about 18 months, during which time the astronauts will keep testing out his communications abilities. The team behind the Kirobo project explains that they aim to use the technology to address problems created by modern societies that seem to have driven people apart rather than bring them together.

"Nowadays, more and more people are living alone," their website's "vision" section says. "It's not just the elderly -- with today's changing lifestyles, it's people of all ages. With a new style of robot-human interface, perhaps a way to solve this problem could be found. This is the goal we have in mind for this project."

"What is your dream, Kirobo?" Wakata asks in the video below. "I want to help create a world where humans and robots can coexist," the robot replies.

With his friendly demeanor and snappy response time, it seems Kirobo has taken a real step toward doing just that. Given that all of his tech is housed inside Kirobo's little mechanical brain, it seems increasingly clear that we'll all be talking to our Internet-enabled devices in a similar fashion quite soon.




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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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