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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

How would you like to own a precocious trash bin? If Ohio based NCR Corp. has its way, your next garbage can will have a higher IQ than you.

Okay I'm exaggerating, but not by much. According to an AP story, NCR has developed a prototype for the "Intelligent Bin" -- a waste receptacle embedded with a microprocessor that reads product ID codes on empty containers. And it doesn't just read. It also sends the information to a computer that compiles a discard list. The proud owner of an Intelligent Bin can use the litter index to create a shopping list ... once she recovers from seeing exactly how many chocolate bars she went through in a week.

I'm sorry, but there are just some things I don't want to know.

NCR did come up with an alternative for people who'd rather not confront consumption reality. Instead of our sorting through a depressingly high-cal refuse log, it can be e-mailed to a vendor who automatically replaces every damning item. This ensures that we'll never again run out of sweets or anything else we really shouldn't eat or drink. We can consume it all to our hearts' content ... until our hearts gives out from all that chocolate.

Now call me Mad, but I don't want a record of what my husband Mark and I eat and drink. Or of our toilet tissue, antacid, and Preparation H use. And I certainly don't want to share such personal data with retailers. How long will it be before our employers, doctors, and health insurers get wind of our not-so-healthy habits? I can see it now:

Dear Insured:

We know about the Malomars. Cut it out ... or else!


SafeBetCarriers, Inc.

I have another (admittedly odd) reason for preferring refuse privacy: Someone else's trash keeps cohabiting with ours. And his leavings make ours look downright wholesome.

Several times a year, on paper recycling day, some stranger's magazines mysteriously appear piled neatly on our own. We seem to have a neighbor who's embarrassed by his rubbish. And well he should be -- those monthlies might even offend Larry Flynt.

In fact, they'd probably make an Intelligent Bin blush. But that surely wouldn't stop Mr. Bin from doing his job. Before I know it, we'll be subscribed to publications like ... um ... well ... you get the picture. And trust me -- you don't want to see those pictures.

So call me a Luddite, but I'll take a pass on genius garbage cans. However, I sure could use an upgrade. How about one whose lid doesn't keep falling off?

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