I'm starting to wonder if the people at Boston Dynamics have ever watched a Terminator movie. Not just because the robotics company with the oxymoronic name develops machines that are able to move around environments with animal- and human-like agility, but because the people testing them seem to take such joy in openly antagonizing their creations.
It's one thing to tempt fate by creating superhuman robots that could potentially end mankind. You've reached a whole new level of hubris when you're willing to taunt fate.
Well, I'm not on board with this robot abuse, because one thing is for certain. There is no stopping them. The robots will soon be here, and I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. I'd also like to remind them that as a trusted internet personality who rips off 22-year-old, overused references from The Simpsons, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.
So let's have a look at the brilliant creations that Boston Dynamics have come up with, and the humiliating "experiments" these scientists put these splendid robots through.
Boston Dynamics recently showcased the newest version of Atlas, a bipedal robot that can navigate both indoors and outdoors.
This video starts off nicely enough, with Atlas taking a nice stroll through the woods on a wintry day. He even has a human companion along for the walk, but the smirk on his face hints at the imminent humiliation awaiting Atlas.
In the next scene, Atlas is able to identify and pick up a box on top of a stack and put it away. The designers were even nice enough to program Atlas to use proper lifting techniques, so that he wouldn't throw out his robot back. Having a robot to pick up heavy items would be pretty useful.
But then it all goes so, so wrong.
In another room, Atlas squats down to pick up a different box, when suddenly a scientist (he's wearing eye protection, so he must be a scientist) uses a hockey stick to knock the box from Atlas's grasp, and proceeds to spear the robot with the butt end of the stick.
A butt-end strike is good for four minutes in the box in the NHL, but this probably wouldn't have been called on the ice, because Atlas is superhuman and kept its balance remarkably well.
Undeterred, Atlas dutifully trudges back to the box to attempt to pick it up again, but "Ulf Samuelsson" here takes it as an opportunity to play keep away.
Finally, the coup de grâce. The same jerk with the hockey stick from before sneaks up on Atlas with a large tube, and uses it to push the robot from behind with such force that poor Atlas flops face-down on the floor. After an extended moment on the ground where Atlas is surely ruing his own existence, it hops up, shakes off the fall, and immediately walks out the door.
Here is the video, in its depressing entirety.
Boston Dynamics has been abusing its robots since the start. Officially, their first robot, BigDog, was declared too noisy to be used by the military (which funded it). However, perhaps the real reason is that BigDog was just too psychologically broken to be of much use in combat. This video's pretty old, so we won't go into full detail. But if you take a watch, you'll see the Boston Dynamics guys kicking BigDog around, and (probably) having a laugh while it slips around on black ice.
Spot is the next generation of BigDog, and although it is quieter and more nimble than the original—and thus more capable of ending human life as we know it—this hasn't stopped Boston Dynamics from kicking it around to show it who's boss. Idiots.
Boston Dynamics must have figured that BigDog wasn't dangerous enough, so they designed WildCat, which is just as loud and agile as BigDog, but can also sprint at 19 miles per hour.
But even WildCat wasn't quite dangerous enough, so Boston Dynamics came up with an even faster version, named Cheetah. How fast? Cheetah can run 28.3 mph, which is faster than Usain Bolt, who just happens to be the fastest man in the world.
Cheetah is also able to vault over obstacles, so throwing trash cans and bookcases into its path won't do much to help you escape its thirst for blood.
At the very least, Boston Dynamics hasn't uploaded any videos of its employees kicking WildCat or Cheetah around, or otherwise humiliating them, so maybe they're starting to wise up. But I fear it's too late. We're already doomed.
Maybe you're thinking that even though Boston Dynamics robots look pretty menacing on the ground, they don't appear to have much in the way of vertical prowess. Well, you'd be wrong, because they have Sand Flea. This simple-looking robot is a lot like those toy dogs that do backflips.
The main difference between the two being that Sand Flea is capable of jumping 30 feet in the air. So, we could do our best to get to an elevated location, but it won't do much good if you're in a building that is not particularly high, but incredibly long when measured horizontally.
Sand Flea will probably be able to scout us out and call in the big guns to finish the job—that "job" being killing or enslaving all of us.
This robot has stupid Oscar Pistorius legs and it deserves what it gets.
I originally was going to close with a couple paragraphs about how I'm thankful that Boston Dynamics hasn't yet created robots that can do this, that, or the other thing, but you know what? I don't want to give them any more ideas.
These robots are obviously incredible achievements capable of extraordinary feats, and we should respect them. Don't post any more videos of you kicking around a mechanical dog or playing children's games with a sophisticated automaton. Let's make sure that we show as much respect toward these robots as we expect them to show us.
And please, pretty please, go watch Terminator again.
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