I have been desperate to know for some time now, how Google has been getting on with their search for the perfect robotic assistant. Atlas has come a long way . . . and boy is he patient! If you didn’t think you could feel sorry for a machine, just have a look at the video on this post. It begins with some impressive demonstrations of balance, with Atlas walking (on two legs) over rough ground. Then we move on to see the robot working in a factory, moving boxes. A rather nasty human appears and begins to tease the robot. That is the point where I began to worry about the future.
Normally I don’t like the comments that appear beneath YouTube videos, but in this case there are some good ones. Here are a few examples:
“The pleasant music will in no way prevent me from having nightmares after watching this.”
“Well at least we know who the robot is gonna murder first when it gains self-awareness.”
“Say goodbye to your job.”
“Have fun with that hockey stick for now, meatbag, in 10 years YOU’LL be the one being toyed with!”
“I’ll be back…”
The robot looks a lot more human than, for example, Honda’s Asimo, and walks a lot more like a human too. I wonder if there is a reason that Atlas doesn’t have a face? Perhaps something to do with the ‘uncanny valley’ effect, or maybe because they wanted to keep it completely “raceless”.
My favourite part of the video, for some strange reason, was the part where the man and the robot were walking along side by side. Visions of Isaac Asimov’s robot detective sprang to mind, and I can see this happening in the police forces around the world, easily within the next ten years.
I’m excited by this, but do have reservations about the bullying!
26th February 2016: New video added below from the original source (Boston Dynamics) without the music, and with original live sound.