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Big Revolution - Big Dogs of war

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Welcome to Friday's Big Revolution, brought to you from the supposedly stormy North of England, altho
 
October 12 · Issue #229 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution, brought to you from the supposedly stormy North of England, although it’s more like just a bit of rain and light wind in reality.
Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • Amazon is developing ‘picking’ robots that would replace some of the warehouse workers it’s just given a payrise to, The Information reports.
  • Many US weapons systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks, a new US Government Accountability Office report has found.
The big thought
Imagine this thing holding guns. Credit: Boston Dynamics
Big Dogs of war
Boston Dynamics likes to get us talking about how scary and impressive its robots are. Latest case in point: its humanoid ‘Atlas’ robot can now do parkour. Well, that’s what the company calls it. Sure, it’s fun to watch a bipedal robot hop over a log and then jump up some uneven steps, but until it can leap across buildings, I wouldn’t call it parkour.
Boston Dynamics keeps getting press for videos like this because they’re fun, easy content that get people clicking and sharing. But a big question remains: who is going to buy these robots?
US marines rejected Big Dog in 2015 as being too noisy for use in the field as a support unit. Even the forthcoming consumer offering, the SpotMini doesn’t really have any reason to exist. A few rich people might buy them to remote-control around their houses for a day or two until they get bored, and you just know they’ll be wandering the halls of tech conferences and showing up at corporate parties as a novelty for a year or so. But other than that? Meh.
Many people find Boston Dynamics’ robots so scary because whichever way you cut it, the most obvious use for these things is to strap guns onto them, apply some 'killer’ A.I. and send them into a combat zone. I’m sure there are some niche, non-novelty uses for them in peaceful contexts, but battle machines of the future seems the most likely large-scale use.
And then we’ll all be cursing that time we laughed at their Christmas video.
One big read
How Google Pixel 3's Camera Works Wonders With Just One Rear Lens How Google Pixel 3's Camera Works Wonders With Just One Rear Lens
A look at the computational photography in the Pixel 3. The hardware spec of a phone camera these days can mean nothing – what the camera software is doing can be far more important.
One big tweet
‘Quote retweet bullies’ are the worst.
Kate Bevan
Just seen a famous with an enormous following RT someone with a tiny following to tell them they're wrong. I mean, yes, the other person *is* wrong, but encouraging a pile-on like that is a really shitty thing to do. Quote-RTing like this is horrible.
10:56 PM - 11 Oct 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow for a weekend-format Big Revolution packed with good reads.
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