Tuesday, May 10, 2005


An interesting story in the Corriere della Sera
It seems that the (Japanese, obviously...) manufacturers of Bowlingual (a device which translates your dog's barks) have come up with a device to interpret the sounds made by babies. As this English version of the story explains:
"We aim to develop a device to read babies' feelings," says Kazuyuki Shinohara, a neurobiology professor at the state-run Nagasaki University who leads the research team.
The gadget could be a godsend in a country where a growing number of young people find child-rearing too burdensome, although some experts are cautious about an almost science-fiction world where babies are understood with machines before they learn to talk.
Shinohara's group has been conducting experiments involving mothers and their babies by monitoring the infants' cries, facial expressions and body temperature changes in a project backed by the government-subsidized Japan Science and Technology Agency.
I'm particularly amused by the following (not even I'm this clueless with babies):
But Mio Okada, a 21-year-old student, says "it's good" to develop a translator.
"I have taken care of babies of relatives but sometimes got confused about what they wanted. When they cried violently, I asked them 'What? Can you be a bit clearer about what you want -- do you want to change diapers or have milk?'," she says.

On a more sublime level, Zorak's reflection on motherhood is about the finest thing I've read all week.

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