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S. Korea's Stress-Driven Online Gaming Addiction 231

Posted by Zonk
from the escape-via-mouse dept.
techsoldaten writes "The Washington Post is running an article about the ever-increasing problem of videogame addiction in South Korea. From the article: 'The situation has grown so acute that 10 South Koreans -- mostly teenagers and people in their twenties -- died in 2005 from game addiction-related causes, up from only two known deaths from 2001 to 2004, according to government officials.'"
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S. Korea's Stress-Driven Online Gaming Addiction

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  • by t0qer (230538) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:32AM (#15418973) Homepage Journal
    Or is it the constant smoke inhalation?
    • by Aglassis (10161) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:39AM (#15418993)
      It says in the article that most of the gamers die due to sitting in cramped positions for hours. Apparently it disrupts their blood circulation.

      It seems to me that if they went out for smokes, a lot fewer gamers would be dying. At least in the short term.

      We have a major lesson here: get up and take a walk every couple of hours.
      • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:40AM (#15419179) Journal
        I'm paralyzed from the waist down you insensitive clod!
      • It seems to me that if they went out for smokes, a lot fewer gamers would be dying. At least in the short term.

        They don't have to 'go out' for smokes they just smoke right there. It's not like the US where smoking is banned in virtually any enclosed structure. So they get to breath in the smoke AND get fatal blood clots from sitting in one position for hours.

    • Re:Is it the games? (Score:4, Informative)

      by timeOday (582209) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:56AM (#15419058)
      RTA:
      Most of the deaths were attributed to a disruption in blood circulation caused by sitting in a single, cramped position for too long -- a problem known as "economy class syndrome," a reference to sitting in an airplane's smallest seats on long flights.
      Apparently "economy class syndrome" is a popular name for deep vein thrombosis [economyclasssyndrome.net]... formation of a blod clot in your veins, which can travel to your heart and kill you.

      Maybe these PC baangs should put ReoPro [drugdigest.org] on the menu.

      • Re:Is it the games? (Score:4, Informative)

        by alexandrecc (970052) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @08:20AM (#15419973)
        Actually they probably died of massive pulmonary embolism secondary to a deep vein thrombosis in the legs that traveled into the right chambers of the heart and then to the lungs.

        Reopro is not a prophylactic (prevention) agent. Heparin or low molecular weight heparin is usually used in hospitals to prevent this to happen in the patients who stays in bed for many days or weeks. A filter in the lower vein cave to prevent the migration of the clots are something used. But honestly we can't seriously suggest all these options for these guys. These drugs all have potential secondary effects of bleeding anywhere (skin, GI tube, or even worse in the brain).

        Usually as some of you said, the best advice is to walk like 2-5 min every hour. This is even more true for the women, taking birth control pill, pregnancy, smoking, or obese.

        Deep vein thrombosis is a medical emergency. The symptoms are pain in the calf or leg, asymetric swollen leg, skin color change.

        I did a computer engineering degree from 1995-1999 playing about 40 hours a week Warcraft II online. I then did my M.D. from 1999-2004, playing probably 20 hours a week Warcraft III online. I am now a resident 2 in diagnostic radiology. I was for sure addicted (or at least at risk) to these highly competitive games. I am a competitive person. Japan, Korea and US are all very competitive countries where competition is inherent to the culture. Probably inconsciently, for me these games were a way to show to someone else I was better than him. Any competitive human being gets satisfaction from this. Evolution forced this to be in our genes.

        I disagree a little bit about the opinion saying it is a complete waste of time. Hand-eye coordination and speed is very useful in many works; complex decision about a multi-parameters real-time situation can also be useful in the life. If I had a software company or if I would be on the admission commitee of a medical school, I would hire any top 10 world players of a RTS game. At least if they can show they can be functionnal in the life.

        The only thing I was honestly surprised to see about that article was the main cause of death. Before reading it, I was almost sure the main cause would be suicide like in many others addictions. They didn't even talk about it. Maybe this is only a underreporting bias where the relation of suicides aren't that clear with the hardcore gaming like in the case of the deep vein thrombosis relation.

        • This is even more true for the women, taking birth control pill, pregnancy, smoking, or obese.

          In addition to the position-related troubles (aka "economy class syndrome"), we can also add :
          - Hardcore gamer are sedentary, and lack physical exercise, which makes them overwheighted.
          - Most will have bad eating habbits (more junk food than the WHO's recommended 5 fruits and vegetables per day), which also makes them overwheighted.
          - Along other health problems, this is another risk factor for deep vein thrombosis

        • A baby tablet of aspirin 81 mg taken once a day would have probably prevented the DVTs (blood clot in legs) in most of these people.

          My wife and I both take it starting 3 days before we fly now.

          Quick note of warning - DVTs in people younger than 18 years of age is almost unheard of. I bet that most of these people who died were probably older and smoked (many Koreans smoke from what I've read). Aspirin is not recommended for those less than 18 years of age, also because of Reyes syndrome.

          I'm an orthopaedi

    • This just in: Excessive amounts of ANYTHING is bad, mmkay?
  • by IAstudent (919232) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:35AM (#15418978)
    We require more LAN parties.
  • Beware MMORPGs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:35AM (#15418981)
    I hate the idea of regulating games, but smart adults should know what these games do to your health. I played WoW for a long time when stress in the real world shoved my ego the wrong way. I stopped fairly recently and resolved my real life problems. Then I realized that I had stopped exercising. I used to run 5 miles a day and lift weights 3 times a week. I'm now about 40 pounds heavier, my muscular strength is about 1/2 what it used to be, and my running endurance is greatly diminished - about 1/5th what it used to be. I'm not blaming WoW per se, but just warning everyone - when I was in the game I had no idea what I was doing to myself. Don't let it bite you in the ass too.
    • Parent has a point, mod up.
    • I hate the idea of regulating games, but smart adults should know what these games do to your health.

      They also know it about smoking, eating unhealthy (but tasty) food, drinking alcohol, watching TV - and they still do that as well. It's called life, or filling up the gaps between sleep intervals with something more enjoyable than the dullness of plain existence ;-).

    • you _Are_ blaming the video game though. you had a choice, spend zillions of hours gaming, or spend many hours doing healthy things. So you stopped working out because that uese to be a 'free time activity' you could have always made a personal choice to find a job where physical strength is a necesity of the job... there are a LOT of jobs where that is true... furthermore, you could have adjusted your diet to the sedentary lifestyle, without missing out on the basic needs of your body, allowing the body t
  • by 0racle (667029) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:37AM (#15418988)
    Is Jack Thompson not doing enough recently to demonize games?
  • hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by dghcasp (459766) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:41AM (#15419000)
    Is it wrong that I'm reading this topic while waiting to be respawned in Counter Strike?
  • by Ruff_ilb (769396) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:41AM (#15419001) Homepage
    Just TEN PEOPLE died?

    Sorry guys, not that significant. How many people die every year due to any sort of drug related addiction?

    A hell of a lot more.
    • the point is that while it is perhaps arguable that cocaine cartels, triads, yakuza, etc. may be very nearly as predatory, amoral and rapacious as video game companies, the latter are somewhat easier to sue.
      • I would love to see video game manufacturers being sued for "death due to overplaying". I mean they already have to put on rating stickers.
        Next sticker on the box: "Warning: Death or dismemberment may ensue if this product is used in excess"

        Wow. If only people acted like the "advanced species" we are supposed to be.
        • Manufacturers would love to put that sticker on some games. Come on, wouldn't you buy a game that said "Warning: This game is so addictive that you may die from it" and meant it?

          Just put some weights by the computer and lift when you're waiting for respawn. You'll either get buff or you'll get better at CS.
    • by reporter (666905) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:11AM (#15419111) Homepage
      The articles hints at two forms of addiction.

      1. One form is simply that a game player likes the computer game. The player might spend hours on playing the game. A good example of an absorbing game is Netrek of the early 1990s [netrek.org]. Many geeks at UC-Berkeley spent hours on playing this game instead of working on their Ph.D. dissertations.
      2. Another form is a means to escape an abusive household. The article at the "Washington Post" states, "'I can understand my son's suffering,' she said. ' He could never satisfy his father and was failing at school. But when he plays his games, he becomes an undefeatable warrior.'" When parents physically or emotionally brutalize their children, the victims try to flee to safety. In a Western nation, most people oppose child abuse and would offer to help the victims of abuse.

        In Korea, the story is quite different. In Korea, you would consider someone with different blood [adoptkorea.com] to be inferior and to be not worthy of your help. The overwhelming majority of adopted Korean orphans are adopted by Westerners. The typical Korean could not care less about orphans -- or abused children. In this kind of cold, brutal environment, an abused child has nowhere to run. So, the child escapes into on-line gaming: a fantasy world where the abused child can have the wonderful childhood that he cannot have in real life.

      The first form of addiction is probably acceptable, but the second form of addiction is not. The second form is a terrible cry for help.
      • Painful flashback (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:00AM (#15419470) Journal
        You know, that sounds like just what pushed me towards programming.

        For whatever other qualities my parents had, and much as they did give me some good education too, they had two problems:

        1. Between them and grandma, I had exactly zero privacy.

        It may sound like "wtf, he'll have privacy when he's on his own, not in _my_ house", but seriously, please don't do that to your kid. Even the most affectionate cat needs its moments when it's alone.

        It's not even just that _they_ were with me all the time (I couldn't even just go to a freaking summer camp, one of them had to come there to keep keeping an eye on me), the worst was that they told everyone every single detail I ever did. It's a freaking nightmare to live with your whole life posted on a public billboard, so to speak. Virtually _noone_ is _that_ extroverted. It gives everyone in town control over your life: e.g., you can't tell your friends "sorry, can't come now, I haven't finished homework" when you know they already know, or will find out, exactly at which hour you were already done with your homework. Or not without quickly losing every single friend you ever had.

        Or to give an example that's still traumatic to think about, I had a girlfriend at some point in high school (yes, I wasn't that nerdy) which pretty quickly got addicted to my computer. Well, fairy 'nuff, I'm not even opposed to sharing the computer, but let's at least try to do something else too. So I pull a "let's go out today, mom doesn't let me use the computer today." (Right, I'm losing all nerd credibility here;) Mom actually called her to tell her that's not true. That was one relationship that went down hill very fast thereafter.

        2. Their approach to "rewarding" any personal initiative was, well, best illustrated by Mac Hall Comics [machall.com]. (It's just a comic and safe for work.) Just about everything I did was most likely to be met with, literally, "*sigh* Who the hell told you to do that?" or "*sigh* Who the hell told you to do it like that?" It was as good as a slap in the face, let me tell you.

        You get the idea.

        Thing is, programming was something that side-stepped both issues and put _me_ in control. Finally. Bloody finally.

        Now they're both programmers and perfectly capable of understanding what I did there, but:

        A) Anyone they _could_ tell stuff like "our little Moraelin used a goto instead of a loop today" (and have any hope they'd understand that) was usually way outside the circle of people I was in. Which was as good as having some privacy for a change.

        B) They were actually pretty easy to satisfy in that domain. I suppose that when a kid writes machine code and it works, it's pretty hard to pull a "*sigh* Who the hell told you to do it like that?" (And I really mean machine code: the 1K RAM in a ZX-81 wasn't enough for an assembler, so I had to convert it to hex by hand.) If nothing else, it works.
      • I don't think it's so much that you consider someone of different blood "inferior" and not worthy of your help, but rather because in Confucian cultures you do not interfere with other families. It is not proper. If you interfere you will be "mocked by the world". "Family matters" remain strictly in the family.

        Take for example this extract from the Chinese classic "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" where Liu Qi is afraid his stepmother will kill him so that her son can inherit:

        The young man soon left, and
    • Take it in context. Gaming isn't an inherently dangerous activity, like say, mountain climbing, bungee-jumping, or even driving.

      The danger they are describing isn't a physical one (for the most part) but a social, personal and pyschological one primarily - the deaths simply highlight how extreme the problem is in some people.

      Replace the word gaming with internet, wouldn't you sit up and take notice if several people died from internet addiction?

      That said, I don't blame gaming, because it might as well be r
    • However (Score:2, Insightful)

      by porkThreeWays (895269)
      Looking at raw numbers, its not a lot of people. It's sad they died, but freak accidents happen all the time.

      However, they were very easily preventable. Online gaming communities should make time more aparent to players. If an account has been active for 4 of the past 5 hours, the account should be locked for an hour. It would take maybe 2 hours to write, test, and rollout. This doesn't need to be a law, or regulated, or any of that. Game companies should see this killed some people and as a courtasey to
      • Re:However (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:34AM (#15419286)
        Except that something like that is going to piss people off and make them go play another game. I don't play World of Warcraft all that often any more, maybe once every other week, but when I do, it's usually for a number of hours. Just how I like to do things. I'll spend a Saturday playing and can be logged in for 6 straight hours. Now I'm not always at the console, I'll get up to go to the bathroom, get food, or just to stretch a bit, but I'll stay logged in the whole time (it is inconvenient and unnecessary to log out). If you start kicking me off I'll just get mad and sign up with someone else. Never mind that I could just go and play another game.

        This whole nanny ideal where technology or the government needs to watch out for us in every little way is stupid. Yes, people are dumb, they do things to an excess. It is not the job of everyone else in the world to solve that problem via regulation because it doesn't do any good anyhow. You do not cure an addict through force, they can only cure themselves by choosing to.

        The real answer is to understand what leads to game addiction, what the signs are, and for people who care about the addicts to confront them with their problem and help them through it. It's no different than alcohol addiction. Most people don't get addicted to alcohol, some do. The answer is not to ban alcohol.
    • Look at it this way, using a stationary computer can kill without ingesting, injecting, smoking or any kind of violence. When people wise up and start ingesting, injecting or smoking computers then that will make what Kurt Cobain used look like girl scout cookies in comparison.

      Yes, I am kidding.
    • I mean how the hell do you game yourself to death? I play games, LOTS of games. It's my primary form of entertainment. I don't care to watch a lot of TV or movies, I don't drink, and I'm currently single. Means I've got plenty of time to spend playing games if I want to, and I do. However my health isn't suffering for it. I get plenty of food, water, sleep, excersize, and so on. It doesn't interfere with my work, my chores, and so on.

      So obviously to DIE from it you have to do it to an extreeme excess, to th
    • Just TEN PEOPLE died?

      Sorry guys, not that significant. How many people die every year due to any sort of drug related addiction?

      Well, that's about ten people more than die of marijuana overdose every year, and we send you to jail for selling that, don't we?
    • Just TEN PEOPLE died?

      Sorry guys, not that significant. How many people die every year due to any sort of drug related addiction?

      A hell of a lot more.


      It's of course not just about the deaths; these are just the tip of the iceberg of problems that can come along with it.
  • Survey (Score:5, Funny)

    by porkThreeWays (895269) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:42AM (#15419004)
    When American gamers were asked to comment about their South Korean counterparts, 86% responded "gogo = boot"

    The last 14% just said "no gooks ffa snipers r0xor teh n00bs kekeke k thx~~"
    • Re:Survey (Score:3, Funny)

      by IAstudent (919232)
      In my own survey, 75% of American gamers responded with a Zerg rush.

      The other 25% were too busy hax0ring Korean MMOs to respond.
    • Re:Survey (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Well, there's not much you can say in response to that, except, "1 more googgo googgo ggggoogoogooogogoooggoogoogogog kekekeke"
  • you know, that's unfortunate and all, but no one is putting a gone on their head and forcing anyone to do anything...unless if you live a bit up north I guess....but yes, to each his own, and if you die from it, what can i say you died while doing something you loved. i blame the parents... ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:43AM (#15419012)
    You need to get a job and a girlfriend and move out of my basement!!

    Signed,
    Mrs. Korea
    • In the grand tradition of Asian matchmakers I have a prospect for you. She's boundlessly perky, very intelligent, and participates in rhythmic gymnastics like nobody you've ever met. OK, so she's a little on the emaciated side, but you would be too if your primary food groups were revolutionary spirit and grass. She also is sort of sadistic, kidnaps little children for fun, and really hates your guts... but wants to get with you, TODAY, if its on her terms. If you're so hard up for a girlfiend that you
  • by iamcf13 (736250) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:44AM (#15419016) Homepage Journal
    This item appeared earlier here. I don't have the exact URL to it though....

    For those 'afflicted', they see it as the only means of escape from a stress-filled, dead end life into a world where they have the power to do just about anything. For a handfull of people, that is all they have to live for hence their marathon gaming sessions and (sometimes unfortunately) subsequent death.

    If society at large wasn't so materialistic and cash-driven (gotta make a buck no matter what the cost), the stress levels would go down dramatically so people wouldn't do marathon gaming anymore as a means of escape from their 'pitiful' lives. Perhaps they could do 'great things' that would benifit society worldwide as a whole without the relentless pressure to 'grab cash' along the way just to stay alive....
    • I know I'm flirting with trolling here, but...

      if it's as bad as you say, then my money's that the last thing some of these guys breathed was a sigh of relief.
  • in the meantime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Robocoastie (777066) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:46AM (#15419024) Homepage
    In the meantime far more people get injured playing or by fights or even killed over their constant passion for Monday Night Football and yet we see no articles about it because "oh that's normal..." It's just more of the "us vs. those weirdos" mentality.
  • by Somnus (46089) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:55AM (#15419057)
    Individuality and inspiration are grossly undervalued resources in many Asian cultures. So is reason, but it's not as obvious.
  • Fuzzy statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:59AM (#15419072) Homepage Journal
    I am sure that more than 2 people died from gaming related causes in that time period. The medical community just wasn't yet aware of the effects of non-stop gaming. I am an EMT, but if someone dies of a blood clot, the cause of death will not be listed as "LAN Party," it will be listed as "Pulmonary embolism."
  • At last. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LunarCrisis (966179) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:20AM (#15419132)
    At last, someone who knows what they're talking about.

    FTA:
    "Game addiction has become one of our newest societal ills," said Son Yeongi, president of the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity, which offers government-funded counseling. "Gaming itself is not the problem. Like anything, this is about excessive use."

    And later:
    "There is nothing wrong with kids relieving stress through games," Chin said. "But parents need to watch for the warning signs of addiction. If a child gets violent when told to stop playing a game, that's one of the first indications that there's a problem."

    It's refreshing to see a take on this which doesn't involve video games being the spawn of the devil.
  • Hm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Khaed (544779) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:37AM (#15419172)
    I'd hate for my last words to be:

    "kekekeke zerg rush ^___^"
  • I, personally, am astonished that people can FORCE themselves to SIT until they DIE.

    OK, serously, how the hell can you find something enjoyable for more then a few hours. I play games all the time; I even read Slashdot while flying in WoW, but I cannot play that game for more then 8 hours with out dying(in game) from lack of attention to my health bar. it just stops being fun after a while and becomes a chore. What do I do? I LOG OFF and DO SOMETHING ELSE! I can see being stuck longer then you want in a rai
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:29AM (#15419273) Journal
    Once you get a taste of Online gaming you want more, but you need harder and harder stuff to fit your bill or you get bored and aggitatted with the gaming industry. With drugs, you just take more and you get your high. Online gaming is so new that there isn't enough to satisfy a hardcore gamer's addiction, so they turn to things like walking outside which renders more FPS than the best video card. ITs the less than hardcore gamers that give addicts a bad name. They play and play without realizing the game they're can be broken down into imbalances, paper rock scissor decisions, repetitiveness, or level capping. These addicts without vision are the one's at true risk. A regular hardcore gamer just isn't satisfied anymore. Can I get a,"I can't get no satisfaction" from the hardcore gaming crowd?
  • and in the process, over four months, gained 10 pounds while surviving largely on one meal a day of instant noodles.

    You don't gain 10 pounds on "one meal a day of instant noodles". If that's the only solid food he had, he must have had sugary soft drinks for the calories.
  • Heroin vs RPGs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:38AM (#15419550)
    As I sit here I am in my 3rd treatment center for heroin. However, I also was an Everquest addict when I was in high school. In my personal experience, they have had some interesting parallels and interesting differences. I'm going to spell out some of the differences, as I feel that this problem isn't being taken seriously enough. This is just my personal experiences, and in no way does it describe everyone.

    -Isolation as a result of everquesting all day was even more severe than my worst run on heroin. Heroin alienated my friends, but when I was everquesting, I didn't have any friends to go back to because they were all online. Heroin could be combined with school, and even if it suffered, I was still making it to my classes mids and finals. Everquest/rpgs and school are mutually exclusive - You are either doing one or the other. If you are gaming all day, that is ALL you are doing.

    -Self delusional thoughts on heroin and while playing everquest seemed to be similar in ways. In both worlds you feel like you are the master of your universe. The problem is, that feeling gets so strong, both things seemed to be better than experiencing actual life. A fantasy world was way more enjoyable at the time in both cases.

    -Health - Now these two were almost exactly the same. Heroin doesn't "damage" your body (except in cases of overdose), so the health concerns are from personal neglect. In both cases, I would stop showering, brushing teeth, eating as little as I could to stay alive.

    I was an everquest addict before I ever tried drugs. I finally quit playing before college after seeing friends fail out because of everquest. When I finally tried hard drugs (ie opiates), it seemed like I feel right into it at once, I had a learned behavior with addiction. I used to joke when I started heroin that smack wasnt as bad as eversmack. I don't have the answers though, I just wanted to demonstrate any kind of addiction is bad.

    Hope this is insightful.
  • Trade schools (Score:2, Interesting)

    The world seems to lack them, they aren't politically correct. I went to a trade school (my original proffesion is a baker/pastry cheff) because I didn't have the patience to sit in schoolbanks and just take in 8 hours of theory.

    I have an above average intellige (nothing special, half the world has that) and was in the top classes at the trade schools (for dutch people, lts and then mts). Yet while still focusing on some theory it also had plenty of practice sessions. LTS first two years were "general" mea

  • I can quit whenever I want to. I haven't taken a shower in 3 days and have been playing the new super mario brothers while waiting to be re-spawned in counter strike and unreal tournament. I have both switch off by spectating each match. I use the DS also for map loading. I don't have a girlfriend or a car since I never try to get my drivers license either.
  • The fact of the matter is, games of statistical simulation (which is all these games are at their core) have been known to addict people for a LONG time (longer than computers). Gambling is one example. People have this need to want to improve the efficiency of any statistical system. Tweaking your character (kill monster...get better stats...kill monster quicker....get more gold...get better armour...so you can kill a bigger monster...ect..) and improving the numbers becomes the ends that justifies everyth
  • Computers are designed in part to suck the life-energy out of you.

    After playing a Star Wars RTS for half a day, I stood up and almost fell over. I felt disoriented and horrible, had a crazy head-ache and then surprised myself by actually vomiting.

    I figured it was food poisoning or something, as I'd never had that reaction to a game before, and I'd played thousands of hours worth.

    The next time it happened, however, I'd been eating well and only a couple of hours had passed. Same symptoms, same game.

    Then it
    • After playing a Star Wars RTS for half a day, I stood up and almost fell over. I felt disoriented and horrible, had a crazy head-ache and then surprised myself by actually vomiting.
      I figured it was food poisoning or something, as I'd never had that reaction to a game before, and I'd played thousands of hours worth.

      Yeah, Star Wars RTS does that to everyone.

  • (From TFA) 10 South Koreans -- mostly teenagers and people in their twenties -- died in 2005
    Hmmm. I suppose the older ones were too busy talking to robots?

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.

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