5 Intriguing Things: Wednesday, 12/4

Google dreams of electric workers, Xooglers, the inventor of the Doritos Locos Tacos, sixth-grade metalheads, and the Yelp reviews for Yelp.

1. Google has quietly acquired seven small robotics companies in an effort to do for humanoid robots what the company did for autonomous cars

"A realistic case, according to several specialists, would be automating portions of an existing supply chain that stretches from a factory floor to the companies that ship and deliver goods to a consumer’s doorstep.

'The opportunity is massive,' said Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at the M.I.T. Center for Digital Business. 'There are still people who walk around in factories and pick things up in distribution centers and work in the back rooms of grocery stores.'"


2. Ex-Googlers now dominate the top ranks of many Silicon Valley companies

"Xooglers are now COO Facebook, CEO Twitter, COO Square, COO Snapchat, CEO Instagram, COO Buzzfeed, CEO Yahoo, CEO AOL."


3. The man who thought of, and campaigned relentlessly for, the Doritos Locos Tacos died of cancer at 41.

"'Imagine this…taco shells made from Doritos,' he wrote to Frito-Lay, the company that makes Doritos, 'I know…It’s an amazing thing to ponder.' The two companies went on to cooperate in developing Locos Tacos. When Taco Bell’s test kitchen created the finished product, the company flew Mr. Mills and his wife to California to tour the test kitchen and taste the final result.

Taco Bell has sold more than a half-billion of the tacos since they were introduced, making it one of the company’s best-selling products. It has since introduced extra-spicy and cool ranch Dorito flavors.

In a statement the company called Mr. Mills a 'true friend of the Taco Bell family.'"


4. Delightful sixth-grade metalheads

"Now I'm writing a book. The book is about people who are being bullied in school and they joined a band and have become rich and famous and toured all over the world. The people that judged them have become homeless.

It's, like, based on a true story."


5. The Yelp reviews for Yelp

"I adore Yelp! Haters go home. Before Yelp, I wsihed I had a place to check out reviews of stuff other than printers. Well - there's Angie's List, only I was surprised to find they wanted my money to let me read reviews or contribute. Screw that. Plus, I figured they probably couln't give you enough of a breadth of reviews over a variery of bussinesses. 

So Yelp came along. Problem solved. It's not perfect. It's still confusing when the reveiws are so widely dsitributed. But mostly, you get the idea. This place is a 4/5 star place. This place is more of a middle of the road - 3 star place (which means you might consider it 2 stars). 

My favorite part of Yelp is the people, the connections and my oh-so Elite status!"

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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