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