Depending on what cheek you woke up on this morning, what you're about to see will either bum you out or else you'll think it's the most fantasstic thing you've ever seen.
Japanese scientists (who else?) have decoded the derriere and developed a mechanical butt that is truly asstonishing. It twitches, tenses up and even responds to touch just like a real rump.
It's called Shiri, which means "buttocks" in Japanese. Its creators say it "represents emotions with visual and tactual transformation of the muscles." Whatever you say, guys.
In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, Shiri was built by none other than Nobuhiro Takahashi and his team at the Tokyo University of Electro-Communications. If you recall, Takahashi was responsible for the equally creepy kiss transmitter device that lets people make out over the Internet.
I'm no mathematician, but I can put two and two together. Given that Takahashi's last two creations have shown us glimpses of his carnal appetites, it's no wonder a couple of Kiwis just published a paper about robot prostitutes.
Shiri's creators say the project has two main points, the first being the innovative use of robotics technology.
The second, according to their YouTube video, "is to raise the argument as to what perceptions will be manifested in the minds of people who communicate with Shiri."
Well then, allow me to start the conversation. While, yes, the mechanics are top notch, am I the only one who can't get over the fact that Shiri looks like something found on the bottom shelf of a serial killer's refrigerator?
"But it's in the name of science," I can hear defenders saying. Seriously, watch Takahashi as he "scientifically" protrudes (his word, not mine), slaps, caresses and plays the drums on his silicon slab and tell me you're not at least a little skeeved out.
And the fact that Shiri is a legless and trunkless chunk that looks like it came off the chopping block of a butcher shop is certainly not lost on me. Judging by his kiss transmitter and his current butt project, Takahashi seems to be writing himself a one-way ticket to a dehumanized destination. Sayonara, dude.
In fact, I kind of wish Eric Siu and his Touchy project would board a boat north, make their way to Tokyo and wander into Takahashi's laboratories, just to snap a photo. However, to do so, Takahashi would actually have to initiate human contact, if that even interests him.
I hate to bring up the rear on this subject, but it's kind of unavoidable.