Humanoid Robots

Or how foolish scientists will open the doors to Skynet and a future in which we run from robots trying to kill us. Perhaps literally so. Boston Dynamics, who brought you the infamous "Big Dog" robot (here's a video) have been in the news this past month for the DARPA funding of their new cheetah robot. Supposedly the thing is designed to chase down human prey. Luckily in CAD form it looks less menacing so far.

I have been thinking about the Uncanny Valley in robot design lately. I like Disney's Wall-E and of course I'm waiting for this KeepOn robot to go on sale so I can purchase him and have more moments of squee in my day. But then robots go past the divide. There are plenty of scary looking singing Japanese robots out there. Even a German company has gotten into the race with their "fembot" that can lift things and do factory work. [As an aside, I hate how we have to sexualize all our robots. "Dude-bots" are not called "man-bots" or whatever, if it looks male it is male and the difficult and that doesn't need to be mentioned. In this case I'm not even sure why the AILA was given some approximation of plastic human female hair and vaguely human female curves. Reminds me of the exec in 30Rock complimenting Liz Lemon on being "a good businessman." "You mean businesswoman?" "I'm pretty sure that's not a word."]

While Boston Dynamics was busy making a robot that would hunt down human prey (I'm not sure what kind, or why...terrorists? illegal aliens? Convicts when we finally implement a "running man" or "the gamer" type of future where falsely convicted hero-types must compete for their freedom and lives on a gladiator-like gameshow that bloodthirsty Americans just eat up?). You might have missed their introduction of a bi-pedal robot, ATLAS.

Boston Dynamics already has a two-legged robot, and the video is seriously creepy. It doesn't help ATLAS looks like a freaking Terminator but imagine it walking around non-chalantly like their existing robot Petman and you'll see what I mean with uncanny divide. When the operator shoves him to the side (see me using masculine pronouns for this thing? dammit) I really expected the robot to finally go psycho after being pushed around one too many times and kill the guy.

It's only missing a nice big HAL light on the front of it. So sure Boston Dynamics I'm impressed. But I'm also creeped out. I'm going to go back to watching your snake robot and this weird climbing robot that looks like a lizard. I bet audiences in the 1980s seeing the movie Terminator for the first time wondered how stupid humanity could be that it created the thing that became self aware and destroyed us. But now I see it! We'll make them for coolness factor! Coolness factor is going to be humanity's downfall. Good thing my fallout shelter doubles as robot defense shelter.

1 comment:

  1. Someone made a snake bot into a fighting version for Robot Combat back in the day.

    Linky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVyMzo-D97A