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Paralyzed Man Walks Again Using Exoskeleton

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the somewhere-there-is-a-crime-happening dept.

Robotics 192

dominique_cimafranca notes a story up at the Daily Mail in the UK about a partially paralyzed man who is able to walk again using an exoskeleton frame. The article goes a bit far in comparing the device to Robocop, but it does show pictures of the man, paralyzed for the last 20 years, regaining some use of his legs. Quoting: "The device, called ReWalk, is the brainchild of engineer Amit Goffer, founder of Argo Medical Technologies, a small Israeli high-tech company. Something of a mix between the exoskeleton of a crustacean and the suit worn by Robocop, ReWalk helps paraplegics — people paralyzed below the waist — to stand, walk and climb stairs. The system, which requires crutches to help with balance, consists of motorized leg supports, body sensors and a back pack containing a computerized control box and rechargeable batteries."

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omg Robocop (5, Funny)

to_throw_shapes (1351111) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755551)

WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY

Re:omg Robocop (4, Funny)

syrinx (106469) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755591)

I'd buy that for a dollar!

Re:omg Robocop (5, Funny)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755705)

I think it would be closer to six million dollars, man.

Re:omg Robocop (4, Informative)

ParanoidJanitor (959839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755739)

Probably even closer to M.A.N.T.I.S [imdb.com]

Re:omg Robocop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755735)

But it wasn't a suit. The cruel corporate goon makes a point of this during the re-build process - "I thought we agreed on total body prosthesis?!" At which point the doc's saw off Murphy's left arm.

Re:omg Robocop (3, Funny)

camg188 (932324) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755989)

Now they just have to re-animate Nixon's head.

Re:omg Robocop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755743)

omg Robocop... sweet!!!!

or is that ponies. meh.

Re:omg Robocop (3, Funny)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755749)

Here's a picture [theonion.com] of the new prototype they are working on with a top British scientist.

Re:omg Robocop (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756675)

Bah! You stole my go-to story for anything involving robotic exoskeletons. Glad somebody else found humor in that one too. :-)

Re:omg Robocop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755761)

You're thinking of the Six Million Dollar Man.

yep... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755553)

I for one, welcome our new cyborg overlords.

Take that, stem cells! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755589)

This technology doesn't sound kosher.

Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (4, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755607)

What a fantastic device. I would note that the success of cochlear implants is attributable to the ability of the brain to recognise and interpret any pattern stream. That's why the next device they are working on is the eye. They will not attempt to recreate all the hardware in the eye. Instead, they will look to supply a pattern stream [cue Jeff Hawkins of "On Intelligence" fame] to the brain.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (4, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755809)

I think they should work on batteries first. The day they figure out how to safely power personal electronics via the bloodstream is the day we solve obesity.

Why motors and batteries? (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756693)

The man is paralyzed, not an amputee. His legs and muscles are perfectly functional, they just lack control. Instead of powering motors with batteries, the computer should be using his leg muscles as actuators.

Re:Why motors and batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756883)

His legs and muscles are perfectly functional

And horribly atrophied.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (2, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756809)

And the day we figure out how to safely power cars with blood, we solve the problems of dependence on foreign energy AND overpopulation!

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756891)

Unfortunately if you want to harvest the power generated by the blood moving in our veins, it's minuscule at best. And if you want to harvest the energy of our bodies, we'd have to invent some way of the mechanism knowing we're running low on energy. That's no little feat, considering even we ourselves can't tell that except for some vague "I'm hungry." or "I'm getting dizzy of hunger." which won't necessarily occur.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756995)

And instead trigger a wave of diabetes and/or liver failure when idiots start putting too many of these things on themselves. Or they just break down and go nuts.

For small, low drain devices, it's a much better idea to go with something similar to a self-winding watch. As you move, a dynamo in both provides power to the watch and recharges a small cell, which maintains power after you stop moving. If the battery dies out completely, it's because you've left it on the window sill or stopped moving for a week. If it's the latter, you've got bigger problems than running out of juice. :)

If the device draws more power than that, powering it from the blood stream is probably a bad idea anyway.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (4, Interesting)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756063)

Well, they've got something like 64 pixels for an artificial retina already, and several research projects are underway to improve this.

Here [doheny.org] is a good list of articles about the University of Southern California Doheny Eye Institute's retinal implants.
There are also projects based on external cameras, new cameras [sciencedaily.com] being developed for artificial retina use, and so on.

Now imagine WoW with 20 years of hardware and software progress, as well as a direct neural interface ;-)

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756527)

64px is much better than nothing, but it's damned hard to see anything at that low resolution.

For a quick demo, shell into a tty and run 'mplayer [some video] -vo caca' ... now imagine using that data to navigate the world. Sure, you probably won't bump into any walls, but depth perception and the like are going to be difficult.

BTW, my captcha was 'unaided'... coincidence? I don't think so!

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756669)

Wow 64 pixels. That's a 1978 space invader blown up to full screen.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756735)

64 pixels should be enough for anyone.

Too easy, I know.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (4, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756221)

I would note that the success of cochlear implants is attributable to the ability of the brain to recognise and interpret any pattern stream.

Actually, this is a bit misleading. Cochlear implants break the sound up into different frequencies using a fast fourier transform, and sending signals based on the various frequencies to the appropriate nerves. While the cochlea doesn't do math, obviously, the hairs of the cochlea perform more or less the same function with different hairs resonating at different frequencies and depending on which hairs resonate, the appropriate nerves are stimulated.

So really, a cochlear implant performs virtually the same function as the cochlea sending pretty much the same patterns to the brain.

I agree that the brain is very flexible, but if a cochlear implant didn't provide virtually the same signal that the cohclea does, the people using them would have to learn to recognize speech and other sounds from scratch, which isn't the case. This is why people who have lost their hearing for only a short period of time tend to find them more useful than people who have been deaf for life.

The brain is quite adaptive, but to say it can "recognize and interpret any pattern stream" is a great exaggeration. Additionally, most of the brains adaptability comes at an early age. By the early 20s after most of the synaptic pruning has happened (young children have roughly 10 times as many synapses as adults), the ability of the brain to learn new things, particularly the generalized pattern recognition type abilities, becomes greatly diminished.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (4, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756383)

So obviously you haven't heard of the experiment where they created a device with a grid pattern of dull pins. The pins formed a grid pattern that was placed on the tongue. When the pins were raised in the manner of a object that was seen by a video device, the wearer could learn to interpret the pattern of raised pins just as if they had seen the pattern coming in from the eye. In the experiement, wearers could learn to see obstacles and avoid them in walking and also to "see" things like a drinking glass and reach out and grab it. So, I stand by my statement. We have yet to reach the limit of the various patterns a brain can interpret.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (2, Informative)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756701)

Newsclip [youtube.com] about seeing with your tongue.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (1)

rrkap (634128) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756997)

That's hardly a big stretch from our partly hardwired, partly learned ability to determine something's shape by touch. If you can tell the difference between a cube, a sphere and a coffee cup by touch then you are already doing a nearly equivalent task.

Re:Next, Effort to Duplicate the EYE. (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756429)

Actually, that thinking is starting to change. It is true that the young and especially the very young learn faster and tend to be more flexible. However, it turns out that older minds are more flexible than you give them credit for. Google up neuroplasticity.

The following is an article about a prototype prosthetic for people who have lost all or most of their inner ear function. Accelerometers in a helmet measure sway forces and convey that information to an electrode strip placed on the tongue. The sensation is of fizzing bubbles moving back and forth across the tongue.

http://www.medigraphic.com/pdfs/plasticidad/prn-2005/prn051_2f.pdf [medigraphic.com]

For some patients, the results were quite dramatic and this makes sense if you think about it. In the real world, you do have old people who learn to cope with trauma both mental and physical and with a world largely changed from where they grew up. Others successfully assimilate into foreign culture and language. We can do this because we are intelligent adaptable beings and we need not be utterly ruled by what we learned as young people.

Neat, but... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755615)

Does it run Linux?

Re:Neat, but... (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755695)

Does it run?

Re:Neat, but... (2, Funny)

carlmenezes (204187) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756411)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of...

omg! Attack of the clones!

Re:Neat, but... (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756785)

Get with the times, it's cybermen now.

Re:Neat, but... (4, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755873)

Yes it runs...

And my name isn't Linux.

Re:Neat, but... (4, Funny)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756795)

Forest then?

Re:Neat, but... (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755983)

Does it run Linux?

Considering that he didn't have to type furiously at each step, I imagine not.

Re:Neat, but... (1)

danwat1234 (942579) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756447)

That's what scripts are for, MobileTatsu.

Re:Neat, but... (2, Funny)

rrkap (634128) | more than 6 years ago | (#24757003)

Ah, yes, for the ability to type furiously for a moment followed by a headlong rush into a wall.

Re:Neat, but... (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756903)

That's what python is for!

Re:Neat, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756311)

...will it blend?

In popular culture: (4, Interesting)

Zygfryd (856098) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755619)

In the TV series Dark Angel [imdb.com] the paraplegic character Logan is able to walk using a leg exoskeleton.

It's nice seeing how science catches up to science fiction.

Re:In popular culture: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755745)

In the TV series Dark Angel [imdb.com] the paraplegic character Logan is able to walk using a leg exoskeleton.

Don't you have a Wikipedia article to edit?

Re:In popular culture: (1)

cronot (530669) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756073)

Yeah, but I think the idea first came from M.A.N.T.I.S. [imdb.com] Captcha: amplify

Re:In popular culture: (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756165)

What DA needed was a prosthetic for Jessica Alba's acting!

Re:In popular culture: (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756563)

It's nice seeing how science catches up to science fiction.

I suspect in this case, it is closer to 'necessity being the mother of invention'....

Goffer himself was paralysed in an accident in 1997 but he cannot use his own invention because he does not have full function of his arms.

The system, which requires crutches to help with balance, consists of motorized leg supports, body sensors and a back pack containing a computerized control box and rechargeable batteries.

Now here is technology that may help in that: Big Dog Robot Walker [bostondynamics.com] If you haven't seen this you won't believe the video. And yes, it's real...it's not a hoax.

This has been built to carry heavy loads for military purposes. But what great things it will be able to do for civilians if they can have legs or an exoskeleton that helps them keep their balance!

First John Varley Reference (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755623)

His novella, "Blue Champagne." One of his better stories.

Pricetag? (1)

whtmarker (1060730) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755647)

I imagine at least $20,000 for this. Which is easily affordable if they are paying for it with settlement money.

But... not everyone would have settlement money. For some people its still going to be the wheelchair though. I think you can pick them up for $30 still.

Re:Pricetag? (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755849)

£10,000 according to the article, so your $20k estimate was pretty much bang on. I'd hate to think that a technology like this wouldn't be provided by the state health service/health insurance (delete per country), assuming that it works as advertised, though.

Re:Pricetag? (2, Insightful)

ajdecon (233641) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756867)

Health provider? Probably not for a while. "Experimental treatment", after all.

Re:Pricetag? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756263)

The army wants to have stuff like that so soldiers can have more power.

Re:Pricetag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756483)

This tech is for people on disability. For invalids. So yeah... maybe former soldiers trying to get out of their wheelchairs.

Here's a pic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755657)


Here's a picture of him suited up and battling the Alien queen on the Sulaco. [blogger.com]

Re:Here's a pic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756703)

Get away from her you BITCH!!!!

Now if they made it (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755661)

sounds like a terminator unit when it walks, we ahve a winner.

Re:Now if they made it (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755765)

sounds like a terminator unit when it walks, we ahve a winner.

And the speech ad-on that says, "Fuck you asshull."

Re:Now if they made it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755769)

The walking sound is irrelevant. You will comply.

Video... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755669)

Watch the video...
http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=89631&newsChannel=scienceNews

Stairs? (3, Interesting)

TehCable (1351775) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755687)

I'm skeptical until I see a video of how it handles stairs. I can't imagine that is very graceful or dignified (or safe for that matter).

Re:Stairs? (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755711)

People said that about the Daleks too.

Re:Stairs? (1)

Khisanth Magus (1090101) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755779)

I certainly hope this thing doesn't make you want to exterminate everyone they see. That could get inconvenient.

Re:Stairs? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755793)

Do you mean that exoskeleton comes with building-leveling lasers too?

Re:Stairs? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755717)

You mean compared to being in a wheel chair?

Re:Stairs? (4, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755777)

I'm sure it's more graceful and dignified than trying to roll a wheelchair up them.

Seriously, even if it can't yet go up stairs elegantly (and you don't know if that's the case), it's giving some serious advantages, not least of which is a sense of normalcy, without any drawbacks over a wheelchair - I don't really see the basis of your criticism.

Re:Stairs? (1)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756247)

Heh. No drawbacks over a wheelchair? Speed for one.
Ability to stop and relax anywhere.
And have you ever seen a "pro" wheelchair user go down stairs? Those people give the skateboarder and rollerblader people a run for their money :p
Up is a bit harder, but I've seen them do some amazing stuff there as well.

My point is: Wheelchair users are not a homogeneous group. This will definitively be an improvement for some users/situations, but not a generic wheelchair replacement.

Re:Stairs? (1)

Pugwash69 (1134259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756351)

What about queues? Who's going to let a man wearing metal trousers push to the front?

Re:Stairs? (0, Flamebait)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756595)

Yeah, god damn those queers, always pushing from behind... wait, queues... nevermind...

Re:Stairs? (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756939)

How about airports? Ever tried getting an electrically powered metal exoskeleton through a metal detector?

Sir, would you please remove any metal you have on your person? ... Sir, why are you sitting on the floor?

Re:Stairs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756183)

Who cares? What's he gonna do, break both his legs?

Re:Stairs? (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756407)

I guess you didn't see the video then. The man walks up stairs with it.

Yeah, but (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755699)

can he do the robot?

Stupid stupid stupid stupid (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755723)

Don't they know that giving an angry paraplegic a super powered robot exoskeleton is just a recipe for a murderous cyborg rampage?

Fucking idiots!

Re:Stupid stupid stupid stupid (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755843)

Don't they know that giving an angry paraplegic a super powered robot exoskeleton is just a recipe for a murderous cyborg rampage?

Fucking idiots!

Awesome idea! The first one to sell the script of that movie (The Rise of the Crips?) to Hollywood studios wins!

It would suck if... (1)

imstanny (722685) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755767)

It would suck if the batteries are the same ones used in Dell laptops. If they explode, its users would have a tough time trying to get away.

Re:It would suck if... (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756949)

What's the worst that could happen, they get paralyzed?

~ducks~

the Mantis (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24755771)

Does he run around at night, fighting crime and going by the name of Mantis? I know those were my first thoughts after seeing the heading.

Relief for my hand ahead!!! (4, Funny)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755847)

I dream of the day I can cut off this buggy tired right arm of mine and replace it with a bionic one. So long, RSI! Hell, even throw in a USB cable for easier input and flash storage. Then I shall return to EMACS!!!!

Re:Relief for my hand ahead!!! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755889)

I dream of the day I can cut off this buggy tired right arm of mine and replace it with a bionic one.

Or you could just duct tape a Fleshlight to your arm..

Re:Relief for my hand ahead!!! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756099)

It would be quite the pisser if you ended up with phantom RSI (I'm not ripping on RSI here, I'm pointing out that cutting it off might not make the hurting stop).

Re:Relief for my hand ahead!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756175)

Hell, even throw in a USB cable for easier input and flash storage

Hmm.. If you stored some pirated music files in your bionic arm and the RIAA found out about it, I wonder if they would petition the court to have your arm removed and entered into evidence when they sue you for copyright infringement?

Pfft, who am I kidding? Of course, they would...

Now the real question is whether in the future artificial limbs might resemble true cybernetic extensions of our bodies loaded with all kinds of technology that we currently use now in discreet devices like a smart phone. (Think the humans in the Ghost in the Shell that didn't have full body replacements, but just had cybernetic enhancements.) What would happen to you if you flew into the US and the customs agents wanted to confiscate your cybernetic limb to analyze as they can do now with your laptops and other electronic devices? What recourse would you have to prevent such thing?

mp3 player installed on that one (1)

extirpater (132500) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755857)

now playing black sabbath - iron man

Just the beginning (4, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755915)

This is excellent, in 20 years paraplegics should be able to walk just like people with two functional legs.

I can't believe it will remain as bulky or clumsy. An $20K is nothing compared to what it provides.

Interesting observation (3, Funny)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24755971)


Anybody else notice the pictures of the person in the exo-suit (save robocop) are taken at wheelchair-height?

Hmm

Re:Interesting observation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756181)

Better than trying to make it a marketing scheme by stating how much taller and better he is?

Better...stronger....FASTER.... (3, Informative)

Danathar (267989) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756009)

This is awesome for those who are wheel chair bound. Keep in mind this will only get better and better. He may only be able to walk slowly and with arm supports NOW, but I'm fairly certain that there will come a time when he'll be able to walk and run faster and better than non-assisted people.

Not anytime soon of course, but within 20 years? I'd say yes.

Re:Better...stronger....FASTER.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756203)

I think the first priority would be to remove the need for arm supports for balance. Maybe the manufacturer might be able to work with Dean Kamen for some technology transfer to improve the balance of the exo-suit with some software-controlled gyroscopes (although that's a lot easier closer to the ground with something like the Segway). Hopefully Kamen wouldn't see this as a competing product.

Bluetooth Controls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756101)

Since crutches are used for balance they should put the controls on one of the hand grips.

Ref. Exo Man, 1977 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756107)

We have a way to go until we get to the vision of the 1977 made-for-tv Exo Man, but it's encouraging.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076008/

you wouldn't want to park in his space (1)

nih (411096) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756243)

you have twenty seconds to comply!

Angry of Milton Keynes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24756361)

Hey this is the Daily Mail !

If it wasn't for Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, and all of the immigrants we wouldn't need exoskeletons.

It's because they've run down the NHS that people are paralysed in the first place. Where would we be without Bupa ?

In my day we didn't need Robocops; a clip round the ear and fractured skull from the village bobby's truncheon was enough to send most illegals packing.

Bring back hanging I say !!

Have you seen this chicken? (5, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756373)

They're the wrong trousers Gromit!

Add the segway code.... (3, Insightful)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756529)

Why did they not add the capability of the segway to balance things and do away with the crutches?

Re:Add the segway code.... (2, Informative)

iamkion132 (1309521) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756643)

Why did they not add the capability of the segway to balance things and do away with the crutches?

It might have to do with battery life and the potential bulk of the system. Having a stabilizer might be a big drain on the batteries.

Re:Add the segway code.... (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756831)

Because adding a third support is a cheaper solution. (And it would have been cheaper for the Segway too :-P ) Putting on the SHT balancing functionality will mean later, more expensive relief for the wheelchair-bound.

No space for Auto-9 (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756791)

What? No space to hide a big automatic gun inside the leg? That's a deal braker for me.

Oblig. (1)

flattop100 (624647) | more than 6 years ago | (#24756967)

I, for one, welcome our paralyzed, robotic overlords.
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