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A Japanese company has released song-identification software for karaoke machines. You hum a few bars and the machine displays the ten most similar songs. It keys off differences between notes rather than the note values themselves. [Japan Today. Mary Ann Finnerty ([email protected]),,neural-nets, 7/1/93.]

The National Enquirer reports that a robotic priest is in daily use at Yokohama Central Cemetery of the Sixth Dimension. It descends from the attic, kneels, and conducts a lip-synched Shinto, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant ceremony. The robot has performed 200 ceremonies, at up to $100K each. Tohru Sakurai is curator of the cemetery chapel. [7/6/93, p. 45. Bill Park.]

Things have a 95% likelihood of being in the middle 95% of their lifetimes. A Princeton astrophysicist has combined this with the "Copernican Principle" that we are likely to be in a non-special place and time, concluding with 95% certainty that the human species will cease to exist in 0.2M-8M years. [Nature, 5/27. Robert L. Park ([email protected]), WHAT'S NEW, 6/4/93.] ("Likelihood" implies unbiased random selection. Given that we've just evolved, that hardly seems to be the case. Then again, we've also just invented nuclear weapons, biological warfare, genetic tinkering, and global deforestation. And robot priests.)

-- Ken