TIME Books

Quiz: Which Alice in Wonderland Character Are You?

The Dodo solemnly presents Alice with a thimble Illustration by John Tenniel from the book Alices's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll published 1891
Universal Images Group / Getty Images The Dodo solemnly presents Alice with a thimble Illustration by John Tenniel from the book Alices's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Let TIME determine your Wonderland soul mate

Precisely 150 years ago, a fantastic story written by an Oxford mathematician starting circulating around England—and breaking all the Victorians’ rules about children’s literature. This unpredictable tale didn’t have pious morals; it had talking animals and death jokes and buckets upon buckets of nonsense.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has enchanted artists, thinkers and readers in the last century and a half, partly because of its wonderful clash of characters, from the curious to the brave to the chronically decapitating. Take TIME’s quiz and find out which one is most like you.



TIME language

This Is What ‘Jiggery-Pokery’ Means

Antonin Scalia
Dave Tulis—AP U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2014.

The word used by Justice Antonin Scalia in Thursday's Supreme Court ruling comes to us from the Scots

In a blistering dissent, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wielded an insult on Thursday that has caught the Internet’s attention. Arguing against his colleagues’ reasoning in their decision to allow health care subsidies nationwide, Scalia accused them of “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, Jiggery-pokery dates back to at least the late 1800s, a rhythmic English phrase describing dishonest manipulation or nonsense, akin to hocus pocus, humbug, bambosh, baloney, berley (among the Australians), bunkum, hogwash (also known as eyewash), flapdoodle, flim-flam, flumadiddle, rubbish, galbanum (coming from a French word for empty representations), hooey, hot air, motormouthing, poppycock or malarkey, as Joe Biden is wont to say.

Editors at the Oxford English Dictionary traced this particular phrase back to the Scottish word jouk, which means to skillfully twist one’s body to avoid a blow—to manipulate oneself like an acrobat. Scalia, in this case, insinuates that his colleagues bend themselves and dissemble in order to work around the truth by misinterpreting words of the law.

Among the Scots, the word jouk led to the notion of joukery or jookery to describe underhanded dealing or trickery. Pawky is another Scottish word, meaning artfully shrewd. A pawk, on its own, is a trick. And by 1686, some inventive Scottish speakers had combined the words in the phrase joukery-pawkery, which they used to refer to clever trickery or slight of hand.

One might declare, as Sir Walter Scott did in his 19th century tale The Black Dwarf, that “There has been some jookery-paukery of Satan’s in a’ this!” From there, it was not a long linguistic path to becoming the jiggery-pokery that sent America running to their dictionaries this week.

Katherine Martin, the head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford, recalls that Scalia pulled a similar trick in 2013, when he used the “colorful reduplicative colloquialism” argle-bargle. Both she notes, are uncommon in American English, while jiggery-pokery is more commonly used among the Brits than argle-bargle, which describes a disputable bandying of words, a bit like bafflegab.

Just as when Sen. Ted Cruz used the word “squish” to insult his rivals, Scalia’s dissent is a reminder that a life in government needn’t be lived while only using serious sounding words. Politicians can, after all, be fairly called snollygosters and quockerwodgers who flip-flop and kick tires—or, as Scalia might say, flapdoodlers who deceive themselves and others with their jibber-jabber.

TIME language

Oxford Dictionary Adds ‘Fo’ Shizzle,’ ‘Masshole’ and ‘Hot Mess’

Some of the terms in Oxford's latest update are much older than you might think

The Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary, which means that when its editors add a phrase such as hot mess to their reference—as they did this week—they add every definition of the word they can find. The editors are like detectives, following phrases back to times when Anglo-Saxons were jabbering about peasants and overlords.

The quarterly update reveals that in the 1800s, for instance, a “hot mess” was a warm meal, particularly one served to a group like troops. In the 1900s, people used hot mess to refer to a difficult or uncomfortable situation. And in the 2000s, one used it to refer to Amy Schumer (or, as they put it, something or someone in extreme confusion or disorder).

Twerk, another new addition, might have been made famous by Miley Cyrus and a foam finger in 2013, but the editors traced its meaning back to 1820, when twirk referred to a twisting or jerking movement. The precise origin of the word is uncertain, the editors say, but it may be a blend of twist or twitch and jerk. Their definition: “To dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner, using thrusting movements of the bottom and hips while in a low, squatting stance.”

Here is a selection from the hundreds of words OED just added to its ranks, along with the earliest known usage and context provided by TIME.

autotune (v., 1997): to alter or correct the pitch of (a musical or vocal performance) using an auto-tune device, software, etc. The word has meant “to tune automatically” since 1958, when people were tuning radio transmitters rather than hilarious local news interviews.

backronym (n., 1983): a contrived explanation of an existing word’s origin, positing it as an acronym. When some guy tries to say that golf is an acronym of “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden,” that is a backronym (and clever nonsense). It more likely comes from the Dutch word kolf, which describes a stick used in sports.

boiler room (n., 1892): a place used as a center of operations for an election campaign, especially a room equipped for teams of volunteers to make telephone calls soliciting support for a party or candidate. This phrase has been used to describe an actual room that contains boilers, as on a steamship, since 1820.

bridge-and-tunnel (adj., 1977): of or designating a person from the outer boroughs or suburbs of a city, typically characterized as unsophisticated or unfashionable. The phrase was first used by Manhattanites to describe people they thought unworthy of their island.

cisgender (adj., 1999): designating someone whose sense of personal identity corresponds to the sex and gender assigned to him or her at birth. This word exists to serve as an equal and complement to transgender. You can read all about it here.

FLOTUS (n., 1983): the First Lady of the United States. This is a true acronym, which appears to have been first applied to Nancy Reagan.

fo’ shizzle (phr., 2001): in the language of rap and hip-hop this means “for sure.” Shizzle, as a euphemism for sh-t, dates back to the ’90s. One can also be “the shizzle,” which is the best or most popular thing.

half-ass (v., 1954): to perform (an action or task) poorly or incompetently; to do (something) in a desultory or half-hearted manner. One can also insult someone by calling them an “ass,” referring to the horse-like creature who has appeared in stories as the type who is clumsy or stupid since the time of the Greeks.

koozie (n., 1982): an insulating sleeve that fits over a beverage can or bottle to keep it cold. Fun fact: that little cardboard thing one slips around a cup of coffee to keep it from burning one’s hand is known as a zarf.

Masshole (n., 1989): term of contempt for a native or inhabitant of the state of Massachusetts. This is what is known as a blended word, which Lewis Carroll called portmanteaus, naming them after a suitcase that unfolds into two equal parts.

sext (n., 2001): a sexually explicit or suggestive message or image sent electronically, typically using a mobile phone. Back in the 1500s, when someone referred to a “sext,” they were talking about a Christian worship ritual that involved chanting around midday.

stanky (adj., 1972): having a strong (usually unpleasant) smell. The OED editors offer the comparison to skanky, which means unattractive or offensive, as well as janky, which refers to something that is untrustworthy or of poor quality.

TIME Transportation

How Uber and Lyft Are Trying to Solve America’s Carpooling Problem

These startups are finally starting to look like true ride-sharing services

First, the bad news: carpooling has been on the decline in America for nearly four decades. That practice could be helping the environment and America’s commuters, who are needlessly stuck for hours each day on packed highways. Multiple people sharing a single ride to a common destination is a simple act that has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions, ease traffic, lessen fossil fuel dependency, reduce stress on commuters, and even drive down rents in dense cities. Yet the practice fell out of favor after reaching a peak in the 1970s.

Now, the good news: popular tech companies Lyft and Uber are leading a wave of new services that have the potential to revive shared rides. “What fascinates me about these things is: can they move us closer toward a vision of an integrated public transit system?” asks Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “And can it move us closer to filling empty seats in vehicles?”

Despite referring to themselves as “ride-sharing” companies, Lyft and Uber have largely been in the business of what transportation experts call “ride-sourcing,” because they essentially provide the same service as taxis through their own platforms. “I’ve studied ride-sharing for a long time, and the definition of ride-sharing is really carpooling,” Shaheen says. “And a carpool is an incidental trip.” That is, it’s a trip that a driver was going to take regardless of whether anyone else was with them in that car.

The distinction isn’t just academic. When the thousands of drivers working for Uber and Lyft in San Francisco are picking up a single fare and taking them from Point A to Point B, it’s probable that they’re adding to unnecessary congestion, pollution and fuel consumption. But last summer, within hours of each other, the companies announced that they were rolling out UberPOOL and Lyft Line in San Francisco, passenger-pooling options that would give riders cheaper fares if they’d be willing to share their vehicle with strangers traveling a similar route.

The companies say customer interest has been high so far. Each company has since expanded the service to Austin, Los Angeles, and New York City, and Uber has launched POOL in Paris. Lyft says that 50% of rides in San Francisco are Lyft Line rides, and a little more than 20% of all Lyft rides in the city start or end within a quarter mile of commuter rail stops. “That’s notable,” says Shaheen. “It means people are taking this short trip in one of these vehicles and connecting it to a longer line-haul transit trip. It’s basically enabling somebody to not take a single-occupant vehicle for this long commute trip and to rethink how they commute.”

Uber crunched the numbers on their “matched trips” for one month in San Francisco, comparing them to the number of miles that vehicles would have traveled if all those rides had been taken individually. They estimated that UberPOOL rides taken between February and March amounted to 674,000 miles of saved driving. That’s the equivalent of 240 people driving round trip from L.A. to New York. “UberPOOL is really about trying to reinvent cities from a transportation perspective,” says product manager Brian Tolkin. “Part of that means making Uber so affordable that it’s really available to anyone and a better alternative to, say, owning a car.”

Of course, before these companies start patting themselves on the back for saving the environment, they have to offset the number of cars they’ve brought onto the road. They aren’t releasing data about that, and there is other crucial information missing. The most important piece, Shaheen says, is knowing what the people using these services were doing beforehand. If someone is now using a combination of Lyft Line and public rail rather that driving alone in a car from San Francisco to Cupertino, that represents a greater environmental offset than if that person was previously taking public rail and a public bus.

Carpooling took off in America during World War II, when the government asked people to start sharing rides to work so they could conserve rubber for the war effort. The practice gained popularity through the 1970s, spurred by volatile energy prices, employer-sponsored programs and the advent of HOV lanes. But as gas prices dropped, cars got cheaper and more people and companies decamped for far-out suburbs and exurbs, more workers began taking their own cars to the office. Carpooling became associated with the inconveniences of neighbors’ inflexible schedules, awkward reimbursements and a lack of privacy. Nearly one in four people shared a ride to work in the 1970s. By the time census workers asked about that practice in 2010, the number had dropped to about 10%.

It’s too early to tell if Lyft and Uber’s early efforts will reverse that trend. But it is clear that they are benefiting from a changed landscape. Smartphone ownership has exploded, allowing people to connect and share useful information about where they are. Familiarity with social networks can encourage strangers to trust each other. The algorithms matching riders and drivers—while keeping routes convenient—are constantly improving. And though car sales have continued to climb in recent years, younger urban residents say they’re less interested in driving and owning their own vehicle.

Perhaps the most promising trend line for these services is that Uber and Lyft are finally solving the problem that has derailed past attempts to solve America’s carpooling problem with technology. “When you have a new system with a really small number of people in it—which any system will when it’s new—there’s a very, very low probability that you’ll have a match between all the potential origins and destinations of a driver and a passenger,” says Emily Castor, Lyft’s director of transportation policy. “So those systems that had tried to do that have been pretty uniformly unsuccessful, because they have a high failure rate.”

That’s what happened to Zimride, an early incarnation of Lyft. Among the key lessons for Zimride’s founders when they rebranded as Lyft: always have drivers available, lest you deter potential customers. “We’ve been able to build up a network that has enough density that it actually is getting to the point now where we do have a ton of people using it,” says Castor. “So we’ve kind of overcome that chicken and egg problem and we now can start doing really interesting things.”

Those experiments include “Driver Destination,” which allows a driver to specify where they’re headed and signal that they’re available to pick someone up. The app will only link the driver to a passenger going the same way. This type of trip can help eliminate wasted space in cars and potentially keep superfluous cars off the road–an efficiency that experts like Shaheen call the holy grail. “The next phase for Lyft is to look at how we can increase that commuter carpooling activity and to expand on our vision to make it so any time any driver is on the road, [they] can be using the empty seats in their cars to give rides to other people,” Castor says.

The key to long-term success may be money. For these services to truly take hold, drivers will need to see the upside of bringing a few strangers along for the ride. Old-fashioned carpooling was set up for passengers to reimburse a driver for just gas and wear and tear, a piddling bit of change per mile. “That’s just not enough to make people notice and think about doing that,” Castor says. “But if you could earn $15 on your way to work and your way home, that would probably raise your eyebrows.”

TIME devices

These Companies Are Making Smartwatches for Grandma

Products images courtesy of Lively

They can replace ugly emergency call devices

Jean Anne Booth says when her mother reached her 80s, she refused to wear an “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” style necklace.

“They’re ugly,” Booth says. “And that big button is stigmatizing. The first thought is, ‘Oh, that poor dear, they’re old and they’re not in control of their lives anymore.'”

But a device that elderly people can use to contact someone in case of a fall or other crisis is an important safety net, one that helps give their loved ones peace of mind. So Booth, a seasoned tech entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas, decided it was time for a makeover.

Booth’s company, Unaliwear, and other startups are now peddling smartwatches designed for the 65-and-over crowd. And in age when we expect our devices to be Swiss Army knives, they’re giving the devices capabilities beyond calling for help. Products from companies like San Francisco-based Lively and Unaliwear (which is still in the prototype phase) can do things like give users medication reminders, track their activity, text updates to their kids and even give them step-by-step directions to get home if the watch detects they’ve ended up in an unfamiliar location.

Most important, experts in the aging space say, is that the products do all this while looking like a normal accessory (and in some cases, a hip new one). After all, a wristwatch is something many older adults have worn all their lives.

“It normalizes the experience of getting old and makes people comfortable with the ability to get help without having to telegraph it to everybody,” says Stephen Johnston, co-founder of Aging2.0, an organization focused on supporting innovations for older adults.

Lively, an alumni of Aging2.0’s accelerator program, started shipping its “safety watch” in January. The timepiece looks an awful lot like the Apple Watch, with a simple, square screen and nice, big print. It comes as part of a $50 hardware set with four activity sensors and a hub that all communicate using cellular and Bluetooth signals. One of those activity sensors typically goes on a pillbox, for instance, so if a user has taken their medication, the sensor will tell the smartwatch, which won’t bother to remind the person wearing it. But if the pillbox hasn’t moved, the user will get an alert.

Lively CEO Iggy Fanlo says the traditional medical-alert pendants are so detested in the senior community that only about 13% of the people who buy them actually wear them throughout the day, according to a 2010 study from the Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics, and that many often go unused for months at a time. Most of the time when older adults fall, they’re with someone and don’t require a team of firemen to remedy the situation, he says.

“It’s pretty clear that a medical alert product shouldn’t be a product,” says Fanlo. “It should be a feature.”

In the case of Lively’s watch, a user can press a button signaling that they need help. The watch pings the hub, which connects to a dispatcher who asks if they’re okay. The user can say they’re fine (if they pressed the button by accident or help has already wandered by), ask the dispatcher to contact a family member or neighbor on file, or request emergency responders. Users pay about $30 a month or more for access to this service.

Booth’s product, which costs $299 and generated $110,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, can detect a fall using an accelerometer, and will activate an emergency protocol if the user is non-responsive. The watch is a classic silver piece of (digital) jewelry which her company designed with discretion in mind. Before the watch makes any noises out loud—reminding a person to take their pills, for instance—the watch will vibrate. The user can tap the device to make sure it stays silent in the middle of a church service; it can also directly speak to a user’s hearing aid rather than out loud. It comes with both the ability to connect via Wi-Fi or cellular signal, which is important given that many older people do not have Wi-Fi in their homes. It took comes with a required monthly service fee starting around $30.

While few octogenarians own smartphones that could provide many of the same functions these watches do, Minda Aguhob, founder of an early-stage startup called Peakfoqus that is also building a senior-focused watch app, says that it’s wrong to think that older people won’t embrace technology.

“These features help them stay connected with their families,” Aguhob says. “Families who are supporting them living independently.”

Nearly 90% of those over age 65 say they want to remain at home as long as possible. Technology can help fill the gaps when kids or caretakers can’t always be available—or when older people don’t want their helpers constantly hovering around. “A lot of innovation is starting to come into the aging space,” says Johnston. At a recent Aging2.0 summit in San Francisco, for instance, startups showcased digital sign-in kiosks for nursing homes, rolling robots that encourage long walks and programs that simplify the Internet for late adopters.

Smartwatches, Johnston says, are just one product of many to come. “The aging space hasn’t necessarily been on the radar of these technology companies in the past,” he says. “It’s a really exciting time.”

TIME Labor

Why the California Ruling on Uber Should Frighten the Sharing Economy

The question at the center of several similar cases is likely worth billions

This week a ruling from the California Labor Commission was made public because popular ride-sourcing company Uber appealed it. A San Francisco-based driver named Barbara Ann Berwick brought a case alleging that she is an employee, not an independent contractor as Uber claims. It emerged that the commission ruled in her favor, saying the company owed her $4,152 in expenses. But this could lead to rulings worth much more.

Filed in March, the ruling is non-binding, has no legal bearing on any other drivers, and won’t force any money to change hands. But Uber’s decision to appeal will now move the fight to California’s court system where — along with several similar lawsuits pending in the state—it could set a binding precedent for a multi-billion-dollar question plaguing the booming on-demand economy: Do such companies have employer-employee relationships with tens of thousands of American workers?

That might sound like a mundane bureaucratic distinction, but it’s a concrete reality for the drivers, personal shoppers and lunch deliverers who enjoy the flexibility of setting their own hours but do not get standard employee benefits like overtime pay and worker’s compensation. In California, unlike most other states, employers are explicitly on the hook for reimbursing employees for all expenses necessary to do the job. And if the workers like Berwick win their cases, there are more than 15,000 other drivers in San Francisco alone who might want to be reimbursed too.

“Uber has essentially shifted to its workers all the costs of running a business, the costs of owning a car, maintaining a car, paying for gas,” says Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Boston-based attorney who has a class-action case pending against Uber in California federal court. “Uber has saved massive amounts …. It’s important that the labor laws be enforced so that the companies can’t take advantage of workers that way. Uber’s a $50-billion company and I think it can afford to bear the responsibilities of an employer.” She expects her trial will be underway by next year and will make arguments for class certification later this summer, saying this ruling “could be a lot of help.”

In a statement to TIME, an Uber spokeswoman said that its drivers embrace their status as independent contractors. “It’s important to remember that the number one reason drivers choose to use Uber is because they have complete flexibility and control,” she says. “The majority of them can and do choose to earn their living from multiple sources, including other ride sharing companies. We have appealed this ruling.”

Liss-Riordan has also filed a class-action case on behalf of workers for house-cleaning company Homejoy, as well as delivery service companies Postmates and Try Caviar, arguing that they have been misclassified as independent contractors when they should be treated like employees. Other cases are pending against ride-sourcing platform Lyft and grocery-delivery company Instacart. “Instacart does all it can to distance itself from the employer-employee relationship,” lawyer Bob Arns told TIME when that case was filed. “Why does a company want to do that? It’s to keep the bottom line lower, to unfairly compete against other companies. That’s the crux of our case.” Instacart did not respond to a request for comment for that story.

The growing independent-contractor workforce is a key reason that companies like Instacart and Uber have been able to grow so quickly, because the cost of organizing independent contractors is much less than hiring employees. There’s no requirement to pay unemployment tax or ensure that workers are making at least minimum wage. In many cases, the companies don’t have to pay for the smartphones or data plans workers use on the job. They don’t have to deal with the costly spools of red tape that come with federal and state withholdings and healthcare and anti-discrimination laws.

David Rosenfeld, a labor law expert and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, says a California superior court will likely set a trial date in a few months. If the judge agrees with driver Berwick, the rulings could be appealed back and forth all the way up to the California Supreme Court. That process could take years. But the California courts have been sympathetic to workers and Rosenfeld says its unlikely the state’s highest authority would overturn a ruling made in their favor. In the meantime, he says, lawyers like Liss-Riordan can “show the ruling around” as evidence that helps build their cases, if not a precedent to use in court.

“This is big, high stakes problem for them,” Rosenfeld says. While Uber emphasizes that the labor commission ruling is only about the status of a single driver, he notes that if Uber beats Berwick in court that doesn’t bar other drivers from bringing similar claims. Liss-Riordan says she has been contacted by more than 1,000 Uber drivers who believe they’ve been wronged. And her doors have been open to other “1099 economy” workers who want to file their own claims.

“A lot of companies are watching Uber and seeing whether it’s going to be allowed to get away with this,” she says. “These companies want to have it all. They want to have control over their workforce so they can provide this consistent quality service they sell to the public but at the same time deny it has any obligations to these workers that it is treating as their employees.”

How much control companies like Uber have over these workers will be central to the cases. Does their ability to kick drivers off the platform, their ability to set rates, their mandates to follow certain protocols amount to an employer-employee relationship? Uber has repeatedly argued that they are not a transportation company but merely a technology platform that helps willing drivers connect with passengers willing to pay for a ride.

But in denying a summary judgment in the class-action case earlier this year, District Judge Edward Chen wrote that Uber’s claim that it is not a “transportation company” is “fatally flawed.” In the March ruling, the labor commissioner wrote that Uber is “involved in every aspect of the operation.” A 2012 ruling from the labor commission, however, found that another Uber driver was, in fact, an independent contractor and describes Uber as a “technology company.” In the statement, Uber says similar commissions in five other states have come to the same conclusion.

These cases apply only to workers in California. So the endgame could look a few different ways if these on-demand companies lose their cases, all of which would require a change in business models. Operations could be shut down or take a different approach in California. Companies could start shouldering the costs of treating their armies of workers as legal employees. Or they could change the way they operate—giving up control over their workers and therefore control over the quality of their services—in order to keep treating them as independent contractors.

The latter, Rosenfeld says, is what FedEx recently decided to do after paying $228 million to settle claims from 2,000 pickup and delivery drivers in California who alleged that they were mislabeled as independent contractors. That high ticket price was directly related to California’s law requiring expense reimbursement. But making the decision to give up oversight is not an easy one. “You lose control of your brand,” he says. “And you lose control of your model.”

Uber v. Berwick California Labor Commission Ruling

TIME Gadgets

7 Ways These Rolling Robots With Screens Could Change Our Lives

Suitable Technologies
Suitable Technologies A Microsoft employee uses a Suitable Technologies BeamPro robot to remotely go to work.

They're not just a funny thing to feature on sitcoms

Most days, here are no actual humans manning the Suitable Technologies store on the main drag in Palo Alto, Calif. Instead, the salespeople remotely “beam in” from places like Hawaii and New York to operate the company’s roving BeamPro robots, five-foot tall rolling devices with speakers and screens on top. One of the robots has a leaf blower attached. Another one does a routine where the “pilot” drives it across the street to buy ice cream for potential buyers.

It’s a cute gimmick. But as these machines get more advanced, they could seriously change the way distance affects people’s lives. Here are seven ways how:

Helping families connect to each other and their homes. In a recent episode of Modern Family, Phil gets grounded by an ear infection and is unable to return home for his daughter Alex’s graduation party. So he sets up a robot (this $2,500 one made by Double Robotics) to act as his surrogate.

The subplot makes it clear that this early generation of wheeled machines has limitations—like not being great at going down stairs. But one can also see how much richer the connection is than handing a phone around from person to person. And you might notice that no one else has to sacrifice what they’re doing to take care of faux Phil, like what happens to the relative who gets stuck lugging a Skyping relative around on a laptop.

Today in the Suitable Technologies store is actual breathing human Tom Wyatt, a VP of sales at the company. He talks about how people have used the robots—both the $17,000 enterprise version and the $2,000 consumer version—to be virtual wedding guests and family reunion-ers. He has one in his house that his daughter, off at college, uses to have dinner with the family or sit around watching a San Francisco Giants baseball game with her brothers.

“We’re just hanging out,” he says. “Just like she’s here.”

Improving elder care. Other customers have bought the robots to stay better connected to aging parents. Because machines like the BeamPro can be controlled remotely, those aging parents never have to turn it on, control it or remember to charge it. Kids can check in to make sure they’re okay or that they’ve taken their medicine. Various robot manufacturers are making deals with assisted living facilities, who are touting these gadgets as an amenity that helps keep families connected once someone needs full-time care. There’s more potential for interaction than with a phone or computer screen, too — the robot can take a stroll down the hall with Nana, for instance. As people get older, they often get isolated. Social interactions that can really simulate having a human in the room could have serious health benefits.

Making the business world smaller. As these robots get cheaper, there will be more consumer usage. But the early adopters have been big businesses like Google who are using them to attract the best talent (“No need to move to Mountain View!”) and make collaboration better when all the key people can’t be in the room together. Though there are various companies making these roaming machines, Wyatt says he sees Suitable’s biggest competitor as traditional video conferencing. The situations where the robots thrive are ones where there needs to be movement or a greater sense of presence.

Rolling robots have given keynote speeches, moving around the stage like speakers would stroll. Convention centers have purchased them so they can rent them out by the hour to people who want to be at a conference for a half-day instead of shelling out for the plane ticket, hotel and so forth. Business owners who need to keep an eye on their factories in China have used them to check up on things so they have to make the trip half as often.

Giving recruiters an edge: The football coach at Stanford University, Wyatt says, uses robots for recruiting.

“You’re in a situation where you have a limited number of visits that each guy can do to each campus,” he says, alluding to NCAA regulations. “So this kid is in Iowa—or wherever—can beam in, drive around the athletic building, look at the weight facilities, plug in the 4G card, drive over to the practice facility, drive over to the stadium.”

Touring schools by robot could become standard practice for kids in the future, making the process of choosing a college far more economical. Tech companies and other businesses, meanwhile, can use the same scheme to lure future employees.

Making culture accessible. Institutions like the Smithsonian have used rolling robots to help bring the museum experience to disabled people. Rolling along viewing paintings and artifacts with a docent, people from all over the world can see exhibits up close. As machines get more rugged and have more robust connectivity, Yellowstone or Yosemite could have them on hand for visitors to explore national parks. Machines like the BeamPro come with technology similar to the type cars use to brake automatically when the vehicle detects something in front of it—like a kid running into the street—which can help make sure no one is driving these off cliffs.

Changing real estate. Real estate agents are using rolling robots to give people virtual tours of spaces they might want to purchase, like the couple from New York interested in a San Francisco apartment.

“People say, I’d love to buy that place, but what does my view look like? And what do the amenities look like?” says Wyatt. Right now, Suitable’s machines are being used mostly in static places—like a condo complex in Hawaii. But the robots could be popped in and out of an agent’s trunk and used all over the place, so long as they shelled out for a 4G connection or had listings with stable Wi-Fi.

Outsourcing jobs. At the Suitable Technologies store, the jobs are outsourced to make a point. But there are other human jobs that could be outsourced via rolling robots to save companies money, which could be unpopular with locals. Take the example of a security guard wandering around a parking lot on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park. A computer can’t do that job, but “there’s a guy in Nebraska that would probably be very willing to have that job and at a lower wage than anyone would around here,” Wyatt says.

Teachers could command a classroom remotely and wander down the hall to the faculty lounge. Specialist doctors could go up and down a hallway visiting bedridden patients, rather than being reliant on video equipment in every room. Wyatt has sold some robots to clinicians who want to be in more than one place.

“It’s that freedom and control piece that makes a difference,” he says. “It’s not that the traditional video conferencing system doesn’t work. It’s just limiting.”

TIME celebrities

Miley Cyrus: ‘You Can Just Be Whatever You Want to Be’

Tom Ford Presents His Autumn/Winter 2015 Womenswear Collection At Milk Studios In Los Angeles - Red Carpet
Charley Gallay—Getty Images Miley Cyrus attends the Tom Ford Autumn/Winter 2015 Womenswear Collection Presentation at Milk Studios in Los Angeles on Feb. 20, 2015.

In an interview with TIME, Cyrus talks about her past relationships, Instagram insecurities and her new role as an advocate for people across the gender spectrum

It doesn’t take much to summon a whirlwind of words from Miley Cyrus, who answers every question with a torrent. She darts from memories of football games in Nashville to pop star etiquette to how America is obsessed with sex—all so quickly that some words are hard to distinguish. (Except the profanity, which she uses at roughly the same rate teens use emoji.) Occasionally she slows, camping up her light Nashville drawl to mock the conservative politicians who are at odds with her new social-justice mission: teaching America that there’s more to gender than deciding someone is a girl or boy in the delivery room—and supporting people across the gender spectrum.

Cyrus counts herself among the people who don’t feel they fit in the traditional boxes, saying she doesn’t like the labels boy or girl or even gender fluid, though she’s settled on the latter for now. “I’m just equal. I’m just even. It has nothing to do with any parts of me or how I dress or how I look. It’s literally just how I feel,” Cyrus says during a break from taking pictures for Happy Hippie Presents #InstaPride in Los Angeles last month. The campaign is a collaboration between Happy Hippie—her non-profit dedicated to helping homeless and LGBT youth—and Instagram, aimed at spreading positive images of gender-nonconforming people and the families who love them.

Cyrus, wearing a yellow jumpsuit that hugs no curves and shows little skin, is talking about how she’s been sexually open for years and felt androgynous long before she heard the phrase gender fluid. She says she was the person other sexually curious teenage girls came to in Nashville: “They all wanted to experiment. I was always the one.” Now, when she does arrive somewhere wearing little but pasties and butterfly wings, she knows there will be critics who shame her for having her “tits out,” as she puts it. But she says she keeps doing it to challenge people: “I’m using it as a power stance,” she says. “It’s funny to see people try to look me in the eye.”

Like a college student exploring gender and sexuality in a very public seminar, Cyrus is combing back over the experiences of her youth in search of new kinds of understanding. Many of the people she’s photographing at the #InstaPride shoot have been on long journeys to find themselves, too. Greta Martela came out as a transgender woman late in life while living as a 44-year-old single dad. Tyler Ford, a close friend of Ariana Grande who grew up with the star in Boca Raton, came out as a transgender man before they (Ford’s preferred pronoun) stopped taking testosterone and started identifying as agender—meaning they feel they have no gender at all.

“People try to make everyone something,” Cyrus says. “You can just be whatever you want to be.”

She’s familiar with the feeling of people trying to make her something she’s not. Before she was smoking weed, dropping F-bombs and decorating her private parts with paint and ribbons for Paper magazine, she became famous as a child star on the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana. Back then, her fans were scandalized when Annie Leibovitz took a picture of her with her back exposed; Cyrus, then 15, said she was “embarrassed” by the picture and apologized. She was a young girl reporting to a bunch of old men in suits who told her how a budding pop star needed to look and act. Cyrus recalls coming back from one Hannah Montana summer hiatus with braces on. “I had to take them off immediately because of the way I looked,” she says. “If I was me now, I would have been like, ‘F— you. Normal 14-year-olds have braces. I’m going to have braces on the show, so kids who have braces in real life know that’s okay.’ But I didn’t have that in my mind then. I was coming from Nashville. My grandma’s a beauty queen. I didn’t know.”

Now 22, Cyrus isn’t worried about offending anyone. “Someone said the other day to me, ‘Should you ask your advisor?’” she says. “I’m like, ‘If I have an advisor, they should have been fired two years ago.’” And when Cyrus does offend someone, she doesn’t jump to apologize. Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and onetime Dancing With the Stars contestant, lashed out at Cyrus on her blog in a post titled, “Miley Cyrus Claims She’s ‘Least Judgmental Person Ever,’ Calls Christians ‘Insane Motherf—ers.'” Palin took issue with comments included in the Paper magazine interview, accusing Cyrus of being open-minded only toward people who think like her. But Cyrus says that isn’t true.

“Happy Hippie and what I’m about is all about acceptance. That isn’t what I meant at all,” she says. “You say what you say, and I meant it, but it wasn’t necessarily my full thought.” She says there will always be critics, giving the example of Caitlyn Jenner coming out as transgender. Though it was widely praised, a smaller contingency criticized how the Vanity Fair cover shoot perpetuated cisgender standards of beauty. “You can’t make every single person agree with what you say,” Cyrus says. “You got to just say your truth.”

That’s what Cyrus is doing now, in opening up about how she’s had past relationships with both men and women—and about having a future that could involve a husband or wife or perhaps being a single mom by choice. She’s also reflecting on how dissatisfied she felt in past romances, especially with the expectations for how men and women are supposed to act.

With guys, Cyrus says, there was an “overly macho energy” that she didn’t like. “That made me feel like I had to be a femme-bot, which I’m not. And then when I was with a girl, I felt like, ‘Oh s—, she’s going to need someone to protect her, so I’m going to need to have this macho energy.’ And that didn’t feel right either.” Cyrus says she sat in a restaurant with her male date last Valentine’s Day and started crying, looking at the older heterosexual couples around her. “All the women in the restaurant were with these older, fat men that had just let themselves go. They were just being drunk bastards. And then the women were sitting there, trying so hard just to look good. And they’re ignoring them the whole time. And I thought, ‘I’m not living like this,’” she says. “If I end up in a straight relationship, that’s fine—but I’m not going to be with f—ing slob guys who are watching porn, making all their girls feel ugly.”

She traces her fluid feelings about relationships and gender back to her own parents, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and producer Tish Cyrus. “I don’t associate men and protection necessarily,” Cyrus says. “I think that’s what’s given me the openness of sexuality. Not that my dad wasn’t an awesome protector, but I trust my mom to save me. She’s the prince. I never had that fairy tale.” She recalls crying before dates as a teenager, stressed about people noticing flaws like a pimple. Now she says she’s much less concerned with the superficial stuff. “F—ing is easy. You can find someone to f— in five seconds,” she says. “We want to find someone we can talk to. And be ourselves with. That’s fairly slim pickings.”

Social media can still make her cringe and doubt herself, a feeling with which most young women will likely identify. “Every time you post a new photo, you might get 3,000 amazing things and then you get one s—-y one and it damages you,” she says. “I’ll do the same thing. I’ll post my art and everyone can say it’s great. And then some motherf—er says one thing and you’re like, ‘Well, maybe I am s—-y.’ It sticks in your head.” Cyrus sees girls making duck-faces to get likes on social media and wants to put other examples out there, for an audience that includes her younger teenage sister. “It’s so bad. You look at Instagram and you think, ‘Oh, I don’t look that way.’ And it makes you feel like s—. You start scrolling and you see all these people you’ll never be like and they have so many followers and so many friends,” she says. Hence the #InstaPride campaign: “That’s why we want to do it through Instagram—enough of these pictures. Let’s get some likes on some real pictures.”

Cyrus is bent on helping other people be confident in themselves, sometimes reaching out to individual fans through Twitter. One girl who took a cue from Cyrus was reprimanded for wearing a “Legalize Gay” shirt to school, so Cyrus contacted the school and sent the girl that T-shirt in every available color. Still, she says she feels some uncertainty for telling young people to be themselves, because she knows it’s not as easy for everyone as it is for her now—that a transgender kid who comes out to their parents may well end up on the street. “I hope more kids don’t do what I did and sit in their room and cry, thinking ‘I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be,’” she says. “But when I tell kids sometimes, ‘Just be yourself,’ I feel like, ‘I hope you can do that. Can you really do that?’”

Cyrus seems drawn to the LGBT community in part of the solidarity that’s abundant there. She recently went to the finals of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but says she’s not particularly interested in attending award shows—even if they’re a good opportunity to send a once-homeless youth on stage to give A-listers a homily. She responds better to the unbridled, flamboyant support that RuPaul’s contestants gave one another as they performed. “Beyonce would never be down in the front row cheering on Katy Perry,” she says. Perhaps because unlike people who are in the throes of coming out, pop stars often have to pretend to be something they’re not. That’s not something Cyrus is willing to do anymore—even if she’s still figuring out who she is.

“Maybe if you’re finally getting to be yourself, it’s more of a celebration,” she says, surrounded by new gender-nonconforming friends at the shoot in Hollywood. “Like, you are living your f—ing life.”

Read next: Exclusive: Inside Miley Cyrus’ Photo Shoot With People Across the Gender Spectrum

TIME Family

This Dove Commercial Will Make You Cry Happy Tears

The spot is made from real-life footage of men getting happy news

To mark this Father’s Day on June 21, Dove is releasing an ad that wouldn’t have been possible without the foresight of some clever females.

The company cobbled together footage of men finding out that they were going to become fathers, news that their baby mamas (and one baby daddy) surprised them with in gift boxes and cards—with the camera rolling. All the footage was posted on public sites that Dove employees trawled through, contacting the parents to ask them to be part of the campaign.

Dove, whose “real beauty” campaign turned 10 years old in 2014, brought a similar approach to their men’s line, attempting to reflect dads as they are rather than as unrealistic archetypes. Jen Bremner, U.S. marketing director for Dove Men+Care, a line the company has been aligning with dads since it debuted in 2010, said that when the company was researching how to position the brand, they found that fathers felt falsely depicted in advertising, as either bumbling dolts or super-hot supermen.

“Actually becoming a dad is a very significant and transformative experience,” Bremner said. “It redefines their masculinity.” It also makes for some very good television.

For a weekly dose of smart parenting news, sign up for Time’s parenting newsletter here.

TIME celebrities

Exclusive: Inside Miley Cyrus’ Photo Shoot With People Across the Gender Spectrum

Miley Cyrus Happy Hippie
Miley Cyrus From left: A.J. Lehman, Kenzie Normandin, Brendan Jordan, Hailey Jordan, Alex Schmider, Mariana Marroquin, Leo Sheng, Nancy Barton and Laura Zeff pose for a portrait in Hollywood, Calif., on May 22, 2015.

The pop star is teaming up with Instagram for a new campaign to help raise awareness of issues facing the LGBT community

In a high-ceilinged photo studio in Hollywood, Calif., Miley Cyrus is running around in an androgynous yellow jumpsuit and bright white sneakers. But today, no one is taking photos of her—unless you count all the selfies that her new friends are asking for her to take with them, which she does with a smile, and sometimes with her tongue out. Today the 22-year-old pop star is the photographer, shooting portraits of people who identify as transgender, trans*, genderqueer and gender non-conforming.

They’re the stars of a new social justice campaign called Happy Hippie Presents #InstaPride, a collaboration between Cyrus and Instagram that launches June 15. In an effort to boost awareness and acceptance of people across the gender spectrum, Cyrus is using her platform to focus public attention on about a dozen subjects whose portraits will live on Instagram branded with the #InstaPride hashtag.

It’s an affirming day for people like Precious Davis, a biracial transgender woman who is sitting on a couch beneath giant silver balloons that spell out the word “LOVE” in capital letters. She’s next to her fiancé, a transgender man named Myles Brady who prefers to let Davis do the talking. As Cyrus instructs a shirtless transgender teenager to let off another confetti canon, Davis recalls her youth in Omaha, Neb., where she says she grew up listening to her family say, “‘No, no, no. You can’t be this.’” Soon she will be in a floor-length sequined gown, with Cyrus and everyone else fawning over how beautiful she looks.

“Anyone should be able to express how they feel, without question, and be able to live,” Cyrus says. “And use the f—ing public restrooms.”

Happy Hippie is a non-profit focused on helping homeless and LGBT youth that Cyrus launched earlier this year, partly in response to the death of Leelah Alcorn. Alcorn was a transgender girl from Ohio who killed herself by walking into traffic after, according to her suicide note, her parents put her through conversion therapy. (“I loved my son,” Alcorn’s mother told CNN in January. “People need to know that I loved him.”)

“People like Leelah are not living their lives because people are telling them what to be. And there are women miles away from me right now that are only allowed to show this much of their eyes. I can stand on a stage with my tits out,” Cyrus says. “It’s so unfair that I’m allowed to be like this and there are two men that can’t get married in f—ing Nashville right now.”

The portraits and the people in them are meant to serve as positive examples for young people who might be struggling to figure themselves out, as well as reference points for those who might not personally know anyone who doesn’t feel at home in their own body. Just 9% of Americans say they have a close friend or family member who is transgender—a population that experiences poverty, homelessness and harassment at dramatically higher rates than the general public.

The #InstaPride campaign comes at a time when the T-word is increasingly ubiquitous, courtesy of icons like Laverne Cox, projects like Amazon’s Transparent and political fights in state legislatures around the country over “bathroom bills.” In the bathroom at the studio where Cyrus is shooting, a television is playing CNN, where two anchors are discussing recent revelations about Bruce Jenner, who has not yet come out as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair.

The people Cyrus is putting in front of the lens aren’t likely to find themselves on the cover of a magazine. Many of them are in a giddy “Is this really happening?” daze. “For someone that famous to say, ‘Hey, I’m looking at you. I know who you are, and I celebrate you,’ that means the world,” says Mariana Marroquin, who fled Guatemala as a teenager because her family feared for her safety. Now, at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, she helps other immigrants who “cannot be themselves” in their home countries.

MORE: The Transgender Tipping Point

Her colleague Alex Schmider is here too. “As soon as I heard about this project, it resonated with me,” Schmider says as he watches Cyrus scoop up ticker tape with her spindly arms and drop it at one of her subject’s feet. The young transgender man thought he was a lesbian until finally hearing the term “gender identity disorder” while in a psychology class at age 22. “I’ve always thought, if I had images that I could have seen, if I had people to look up to—what a powerful thing that would have been,” he says.

Nearby is A.J. Lehman, a Boston-area high school student who proudly walks around without his shirt on, showing off a masculine chest that his family took out a loan to finance. Tyler Ford, who grew up with pop star Ariana Grande in Boca Raton, Fla., prefers the pronouns they, them and their and identifies as agender—meaning they feel they have no gender at all. They follow Cyrus’ instructions to stick their ass out as Cyrus takes their picture, wearing a leotard and five-o’clock stubble. Meanwhile, Brendan Jordan is walking around in high-heeled boots and a translucent raincoat he brought from home. The teenager has ridden here on a wave of celebrity that emerged after he stole a local Las Vegas newscast by vamping—for quite some time—during a live interview. If pressed, Jordan will say he goes by he. But when people ask whether he is a “he or a she,” he usually answers, “I’m Brendan.”

The walls of the studio are decorated with yellow streamers. There are yellow balloons and racks full of yellow hoodies and boas and dresses that the day’s stars are sorting through before their shoots. The color, Cyrus says, is happy and not sexualized: There is no pink or blue. Assistants dump glitter on the subjects, who blow bubbles and review their portraits on a screen with Cyrus after she produces each batch.

Many of them have brought members of their families along. Leo Sheng, a creative writing student at the University of Michigan, is in Hollywood with his two moms. Wearing yellow shirts, they say that accepting Leo’s coming out wasn’t any easier because they’re part of the LGBT acronym. “It’s very scary thinking about your child possibly being rejected. There are social stigmas,” says his mother, Nancy Barton. “If we could do it over, I think we would have embraced it more fully at the beginning and been more confident in trusting him and supporting him.”

Jordan, too, is there with his sister Hailey and his mom, Tracy. “The whole family has totally embraced Brendan because he’s so happy now,” Tracy says, taking photos and video for her son’s burgeoning YouTube following. “You could tell, the couple years before he came out, he would get angry. He was just really angry. And I never knew why.”

The campaign was born in a meeting between Instagram and Cyrus, who had offered to give them feedback on their product; they discussed potential features like allowing users to designate “word sensitivities,” which would allow them to ban certain words from appearing on their feeds.

Cyrus is a passionate ally, although with all the attention focused on transgender Americans right now, some in the community have wondered whether the celebrities taking up their cause are doing as much harm as good. Even the people being photographed had some skepticism about Cyrus’ attentions.

“You have all those fears that you would normally when somebody from outside the community tries to rush in and save us,” Martela says of as she sorts through the racks of yellow clothes. “So often that’s a disaster. But then seeing what she’s doing—she’s bringing in people from the community and really seems to have done her homework.” With Martela is her new wife, Nina Chaubal. The couple runs Trans Lifeline, the first crisis hotline for transgender people staffed solely by transgender people, 41% of whom have attempted to take their own lives. Of the reasons people call them, Martela says, family rejection “is the number one thing.”

Gigi Gorgeous is nearby getting her face powdered, with her publicist and manager hovering. She’s a YouTube sensation who has been uploading videos for the past six years—from a time when she was presenting as a boy to the present, where she has become a buxom icon with a Crest endorsement deal. She often wears Barbie-branded clothing and looks a bit like a giant doll, sitting in a chair with blue eyes and blonde hair getting her makeup done. But she’s also a 23-year-old whose mother died before Gorgeous ever got to be honest about her gender identity. “I still to this day regret not telling her I was trans,” she says. “She never knew. Maybe she knew. But we never talked about it or anything. That was kind of a deciding factor for me. Life is too short.”

The only hint of the celebrity who launched a thousand think pieces when she twerked on stage at the 2013 VMAs comes at the very end of the day, when Cyrus pumps up the music and everyone gathers for a dance session. Cyrus twirls a boa, does the robot and gyrates. Still, it seems more like an attempt to get everyone to loosen up than someone asking to be looked at.

“In places like Indianapolis, you can tell someone that if they’re trans or gay they can’t use your public bathroom,” Cyrus says, referencing the “religious freedom” law passed earlier this year that has since been rolled back. “No matter what I’d do, I’d probably be allowed to go in there. Because they’re starf—ers. And these people are real people. I don’t want to be anywhere they can’t be.”

Read next: Miley Cyrus: ‘You Can Just Be Whatever You Want to Be’

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com