I never knew true despair until this robot beat me at Scrabble

The first thing that caught my eye was the enormous robot. The second was an empty stool.

For four days, I had been walking the too-noisy floor of the Consumer Electronics Show, an annual convention of bad ideas in the middle of a city (Las Vegas) whose reputation is forged with the steel of bad ideas. After watching a parade of rolling iPads masquerading as robots, I had arrived at a booth for the vaguely named Industrial Technology Research Institute, a Taiwan-based research and consulting...

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