Tag Archives: Boston Dynamics

Our Future Robot Overlords Will Now Be Able To Dance (Thanks To Boston Dynamics)

As bad as last year was for so many people, there were some things that 2020 just couldn’t stop. When it comes to technology, a global crisis has a way of hindering certain processes while accelerating others. For many, that meant more telework and reliance on streaming media to stave off boredom.

However, it may very well end up being the case that 2020 proved just how frail human beings and their societies are. It only takes a tiny microscopic virus to send our entire society to a screeching halt. It’s sobering, but it’s probably going to be a source of humor for our future robot overlords.

I tend to be optimistic about the future and technological trends. I’m also somewhat of a pragmatist. I realize that we human beings have a lot of limits. Emerging technology, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, promises to help us transcend those limits.

Right now, it’s still mostly fodder for science fiction writers, futurists, and Elon Musk wannabes. We’re not quite there yet in terms of making a machine that’s as smart as a human. However, we’re probably going to get there faster than skeptics, naysayers, and the general public realize.

It won’t happen overnight. It probably won’t even happen in the span of a single year. When it does happen, though, hindsight will make it painfully obvious that the signs were there. This was bound to happen. We had ample time to prepare for it. Being fallible humans, we could only do so much.

In that sense, I suspect that years from now, we’ll look back on what Boston Dynamics did to close out 2020. This company, who has a history of making robots that look way too advanced to exist outside a Terminator movie, decided to do something with their robots that would leave an indellible mark on the year.

They succeeded by teaching their robots how to dance.

I know it already went viral, but it’s worth posting again. Remember this video and this moment. Chances are it’ll be a major indicator years from now that this is when robots began catching up to humanity in terms of capabilities. At this point, it’ sonly a matter of time before they exceed us.

When that time comes, will we be ready? Will we embrace them while they embrace us?

If they don’t, just know that they will now be able to dance on our graves.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, Current Events, futurism, technology

Our New Robot Overlords Are Coming And They’re Not That Sexy (Yet)

When it comes to the future, I like to think of myself as an optimist. I know that’s a radical position these days. In fact, I think it’s always been a radical position. When you consider how many times the end of the world has been predicted, it’s easy to see why any kind of optimism might as well be on par with Adam Sandler’s chances of winning an Oscar.

Radical or not, I am very hopeful about what the future will bring. I’ve highlighted some emerging technologies with huge social implications, as well as a few that may very well affect our sex lives. I think there will be more advancements down the line, some of which defy our expectations and dirty imaginations. I’m hoping some if it will inspire some more sexy novels for me.

However, I’m not immune to some of the concerns that come with emerging technology. There are some advances, like nuclear weapons, that are pretty damn scary. The fact that these weapons exist and aren’t exactly maintained very well, as John Oliver frighteningly explained, is real cause for concern.

Beyond nuclear weapons, though, there is one advancement that does have me worried at times. That involves robotics. Now when I say robotics, I’m also including artificial intelligence in that discussion. However, it’s one thing to have a simple box that has much greater intelligence than a human. It’s quite another to put that intelligence in a robot body and give it a gun.

Now I’m not among those who think “The Terminator” or “The Matrix” are legitimate scenarios. Many have pointed out the obvious flaws in these apocalyptic futures far better than I ever could. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some ominous hints that we may be taking one too many ideas from the imagination of James Cameron.

Enter Boston Dynamics, a company that’s the closest real-world equivalent to Cyberdyne. As a subsidiary to Google, with access to their insane piles of wealth, they specialize in creating advanced robots. However, some of the robots they create are a bit too advanced for comfort.

Recently, they introduced the world to their latest creation, which they call Handle. Granted, it’s not nearly as intimidating as the Terminator, but what it lacks in an Austrian accent, it more than makes up for in mobility. It’s actually even scarier than it sounds. See for yourself.

Are you done trembling? Are you ready to call John Conner? I’m not saying this robot will rise against us. I’m just saying that if someone were trying to run from this robot, they would have no chance. Hell, put a gun on this robot’s shoulders and we’re all fucked.

Okay, I’m turning off the sarcasm and doom-saying now. I’d like to get a bit more serious now because this trend is not going to stop. There are too many economic incentives for developing these robots. Automation is growing trend and one that is poised to increase because more automation means cheaper manufacturing. Cheaper manufacturing means more profits. It’s just basic economics.

Add artificial intelligence into the mix and the basics get real advanced. I’ve talked before about how people may come to see advanced AI the same way some people see a dominatrix. That wasn’t just to create some uncomfortably sexy thoughts, although I do concede it was part of it. I really do suspect that when it comes to powerful authority figures, these same sexy dynamics still apply.

With Boston Dynamics, however, those dynamics go a step further. While others, like Google and Microsoft, are working on the nuts and bolts of artificial intelligence, Boston Dynamics looks poised to give it a body. Once that kind of intelligence is in a body like that, then all bets are off.

Granted, that body doesn’t look very sexy now, but there’s already ongoing work in that department too. Just wait until it’s smarter, stronger, and more agile than any human being alive. That’ll change its sex appeal really fast. I just hope I live long enough to write a sexy story about it.


Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights