By Shannon Frost Greenstein

Ok, so.  You may or may not be familiar with Boston Dynamics.  They are a robotics company which had a video go viral a few months back.  It featured their humanoid robot, Atlas, which can jump about four solid feet in the air.  Oh, it also does backflips.



Pretty cool, right?  We think so anyway.

But then, Boston Dynamics came out with their new specimen, a dog robot capable of opening doors named SpotMini.



This alarms us a bit.  Artificial Intelligence seems to be getting more and more intelligent, and now robots have even mastered tasks which require opposable thumbs.  That’s a little too close to human ability for comfort, but since the SpotMini has yet to pass a Turing Test, we’re not that concerned.

Then came yesterday.

Boston Dynamics put out a new video of SpotMini, this one entitled “Testing Robustness.”  And the video shows…no joke…the robot’s ability to fight off human interference when it is prevented from accomplishing it’s goal.

Let’s say that again.  Boston Dynamics has created a single-minded robot capable of fighting off a human.



Does this remind anyone else of the plot of “I, Robot?”

Like, let’s discuss this objectively.  Do we really want robots who are so autonomous, we literally can’t stop them once they have a set mission?  Does this not terrify anyone else?

Terror aside, of course, it is an amazing feat of science, and proof of how far robotics is coming with technological advances.  However, when a robot is programmed to open a door, and not even whacking it with a hockey stick can deter it, it makes us more than a little concerned about the eventual Artificial Intelligence takeover, wherein robots become our evil overlords and we have no power over their actions.

Ok, that might be a little extreme.  But we are nonetheless wary about SpotMini…far be it for us to be the ones to get in its way the next time it wants to open a door.

Science…all about coulda, not shoulda.


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