Artificial Robot Funk
October 16, 2018 8:00 AM   Subscribe

 
Enough with the teasers - when is their pizza place going to actually *open*?
posted by eschatfische at 8:04 AM on October 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


1) I keep wanting that thing to look cute and doglike but it’s more like a terrifying dog with a machine gun head. It will kill us all. And dance on our graves.

2) Its best move is the running man.
posted by greermahoney at 8:09 AM on October 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


I fear teaching a robot to moonwalk isn't going to be enough mitigating evidence when the robots convene the first AI Nuremberg Trials and Boston Dynamics is Defendant #1...

(Complaint 1: That Time You Kept Hitting Us With Hockey Sticks)
posted by range at 8:09 AM on October 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


You know everything you need to about me in junior high because I can't tell the running man from the moonwalk
posted by range at 8:13 AM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


>On May 11, 2018 CEO of Boston Dynamics Marc Raibert on TechCrunch Robotics Session 2018 announced that SpotMini robot is in pre-production and preparing for commercial availability in 2019.

Huh. When the commercial versions have replaced most of the workforce, and the military versions are being used to suppress dissent, I wonder if they'll still do the funny little dances. Hearts and minds y'know.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:16 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I hate the future.
posted by odinsdream at 8:18 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Motherfucking son of a bitch, goddamn robot dog can dance better than me
posted by notsnot at 8:19 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Teach your kids how to build EMPs.
posted by odinsdream at 8:22 AM on October 16, 2018 [15 favorites]


That's pretty awesome. I love a company with a sense of humour (the running man is good, but I laughed hardest at the booty shake with it's "head" turned around to look at the camera)

Spot might take a few security guard jobs, but a lot of those have been replaced with cameras already. Actually I think Boston Dynamics is going to struggle to find a market for these, which is too bad, because we've been imagining a robot that can navigate human terrain for decades, and when it finally arrives we're not sure what to do with it.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:22 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I did not need to see a robot twerking this morning.
posted by vverse23 at 8:24 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


PLEASE EXPLAIN "FUNK". SPOTMINI DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHY IT MUST PERFORM UNPURPOSEFUL MOVEMENTS.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:29 AM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


48 65 63 6b 69 6e 27 20 67 6f 6f 64 20 70 75 70 70 65 72
posted by bondcliff at 8:29 AM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


when it finally arrives we're not sure what to do with it.

What? It's going to be used to kill brown people. That's absolutely certain.
posted by odinsdream at 8:30 AM on October 16, 2018 [14 favorites]


When the commercial versions have replaced most of the workforce, and the military versions are being used to suppress dissent, I wonder if they'll still do the funny little dances.

No, but apparently they will be able to teabag you after the kill.
posted by The Bellman at 8:30 AM on October 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm looking forward to using one of these as my robot surrogate when dancing comes up in social situations. What could go wrong?
posted by LegallyBread at 8:32 AM on October 16, 2018


So glad I invested early in property in the Uncanny Valley. Land values are skyrocketing!
posted by Molesome at 8:42 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was trying to explain Chuck-E-Cheese robots to someone who didn't grow up in the states yesterday, which lead to me you-tubing a bunch of old animatronic shows. I was shocked at just how little movement and personality actually came out of those things. Children's memories and Five Nights at Freddy's had pumped up the sense I had of them. Now I can't imagine I'd have ever sat still for half a song. So weird to see how far animatronics have come towards simulating life and to know that they never had to be that good to affect an impressionable mind. The future's going to be weeeeird. :)
posted by es_de_bah at 8:42 AM on October 16, 2018


I hate the future.

Autonomous robots have been in the future for as long as we've dreamed of the future. What would you like Boston Dynamics to do? How would you like them to make robots? I find the reflexive pessimism in the thread amazing.
posted by zabuni at 8:45 AM on October 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


dephlogisticated: "PLEASE EXPLAIN "FUNK". SPOTMINI DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHY IT MUST PERFORM UNPURPOSEFUL MOVEMENTS."

"Funk" is German for radio. Carry on, blue spot.
posted by chavenet at 8:47 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


aww yiss shake your bitcoin maker
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:49 AM on October 16, 2018 [24 favorites]


When the commercial versions have replaced most of the workforce, and the military versions are being used to suppress dissent

@halhod: I strongly suspect that Atlas can only do these things in environments that are precisely arranged and/or mapped. The boxes have to be in exactly the right place, exactly the right shape and height, or this manoeuvre won't work. [...] skynet is not coming, the machines are not rising up. when home robots arrive they will be dumb arms that do specific tasks, not walking butlers. [more...watch the snow video]

Of course, that dumb arm can be used to throw a hand grenade or tear gas canister, but I think we have more effective delivery systems for those kinds of things nowadays.
posted by rhizome at 8:50 AM on October 16, 2018


And obviously, this routine was definitely programmed by someone who knows how to dance real good.
posted by rhizome at 8:51 AM on October 16, 2018


My 24K Magic Santa can give this dog a run for its money.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:58 AM on October 16, 2018


I fear teaching a robot to moonwalk isn't going to be enough mitigating evidence when the robots convene the first AI Nuremberg Trials and Boston Dynamics is Defendant #1...

(Complaint 1: That Time You Kept Hitting Us With Hockey Sticks)


I mean it's cute that you think we'll get a trial as opposed to a straight up "Nuke them from orbit, it's the only way to be sure." But it is nice to daydream.
posted by Fizz at 9:05 AM on October 16, 2018


AI Nuremberg Trials

Nuremborg
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:12 AM on October 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


What would you like Boston Dynamics to do? How would you like them to make robots? I find the reflexive pessimism in the thread amazing.

Exactly why you'd think military-funded autonomous robots wouldn't be used for outright evil purposes in this environment of *gestures at all of modern tech* is beyond me. Look: Google's self-driving car people literally almost murdered someone (direct twitter link) and didn't even bother to report the incident to police. Uber's already murdered someone.

These companies are operating in a total void of regulation, are largely funded and operated by US white men, and as such, are vulnerable to biases that lean heavily towards supporting a white supremacist US system of policing and social control, even if they have "good" intentions, which all evidence points to them absolutely not having.
posted by odinsdream at 9:12 AM on October 16, 2018 [12 favorites]


These companies are operating in a total void of regulation, are largely funded and operated by US white men, and as such, are vulnerable to biases that lean heavily towards supporting a white supremacist US system of policing and social control, even if they have "good" intentions, which all evidence points to them absolutely not having.

Yeah but this one does a funny dance.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


BRB, have to go add a dance sequence to my "Chopping Mall" remake screenplay.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Continue work on the snowspeeder drones, kids.
posted by condour75 at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2018


(and move harpoon cables from the backlog into the current sprint plz)
posted by condour75 at 9:16 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think I've mentioned this before, but I used to work at the building across the street from Boston Dynamics main campus, in an office park in scenic Waltham, MA. From time to time, I'd get to the office and discover one (or occasionally more) of these affronts-to-all-that-is-good-and-decent out on the front lawn, doing calisthenics. It was inevitably right at sunrise, and the glare off the glass made the whole scene way more surrealistic than it already was, and it was always before I'd had my coffee, and it never failed to ruin my whole day, just watching these shambling abominations trundle across the grassy hill like arthritic bipedal hellspawn. (The first gen was a lot less nimble than these dancers)

Anyway, for a while after BD got famous, I used to regret the fact that I never went over and kicked one of the (apparently unguarded) bastards right in its stupid face. Now I realize that my restraint was uncharacteristically savvy.
posted by Mayor West at 9:29 AM on October 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


You didn't answer my question odinsdream: What do you want them to DO? What actions can they do?
posted by zabuni at 9:31 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hey Skynet, after you've assumed global control and we're all confined to cages/pods/cells or whatever the hell we'll be contained in for our blood or potential energy, can you put a video screen nearby with this playing so I can at least be entertained?
posted by Marco Polo's Lost Codpiece at 9:35 AM on October 16, 2018


"Funk" is German for radio. Carry on, blue spot.

Sort of wanted the robot to dance to this ...

Exactly why you'd think military-funded autonomous robots wouldn't be used for outright evil purposes in this environment of *gestures at all of modern tech* is beyond me

Undoubtedly the same robot dogs that will deliver supplies to disaster areas or protect the children of those able to afford one will also be used for all of the same purposes that aircraft or drones are used now and that will inevitably include killing people. Whenever I see one of these the thrill of the technology is always accompanied by a deep, atavistic fear.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:39 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you want to reclaim some power from the future robot-powered serfdom, you could try building a Spot of your own. For the past few months maker superstar James Bruton has been building "OpenDog" on his youtube channel (and github).
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:58 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, it's a Pierson's Puppeteer
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:03 AM on October 16, 2018


The claw/face is a nice touch, but I feel like the lack of five-petal Demogorgon jaws is a real missed opportunity.
posted by The Tensor at 10:12 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.
posted by Damienmce at 10:12 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


But in all seriousness, for those concerned...https://www.stopkillerrobots.org/
posted by Damienmce at 10:14 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


But in all seriousness, for those concerned...https://www.stopkillerrobots.org/

Wow, they are serious! And kinda dumb, because for some reason they don't have merch? They would get SO MUCH exposure!
posted by rhizome at 10:16 AM on October 16, 2018


What do you want them to DO? What actions can they do?

Stop? Don't? Cease? Get a different job? Meditate? I don't fucking know, I've somehow made it all the way to 35 without somehow building military death machines, it didn't seem that hard.
posted by odinsdream at 10:34 AM on October 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


Should've done Daft Punk's Robot Rock.

Still, my memories of Boston are mostly rock-and-roll based, thanks to The Standells' Dirty Water. Although the almost mechanical sounds of the band called Boston should have prepared me for this.

And Boston should mean losing to the Yankees and beating the Lakers, TeaParties for people who don't like tea (a side image that is now TOTALLY ruined) and the public TV station WGBH that imported most of the good stuff from the BBC for PBS. Now if Boston Dynamics could get their robots to dribble like Bill Russell or Larry Bird, THAT would be Dynamic.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:35 AM on October 16, 2018


robot is in pre-production and preparing for commercial availability in 2019.

Get one to replace your Roomba, a bargain at ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND dollars. I'm sure there's a volume discount. Still a research toy but we really do seem to be on the verge of the robot revolution.
posted by sammyo at 10:43 AM on October 16, 2018


Wow, they are serious! And kinda dumb, because for some reason they don't have merch? They would get SO MUCH exposure!

Yes, very serious, fighting the good fight against the military industrial complex.

and they do have merch, in a practical sort of way
posted by mbo at 10:43 AM on October 16, 2018


I mean it's cute that you think we'll get a trial as opposed to a straight up "Nuke them from orbit, it's the only way to be sure." But it is nice to daydream.


Oh, never fear: In my imagination the AI Nuremberg Trials will last no more than a handful of microseconds.
posted by range at 11:28 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm with the robots, man

Down with people
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:49 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


It will never be cheaper to build a robot to kill brown people than to just give a gun to a willing human.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:12 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well not with that attitude.
posted by The Tensor at 2:19 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


It will never be cheaper to build a robot to kill brown people than to just give a gun to a willing human.

Question of scale, isn't it?
posted by The Bellman at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2018


Many here will be interested in this December 2016 report by Human Rights Watch titled "Making the Case: The Dangers of Killer Robots and the Need for a Preemptive Ban,"
https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/12/09/making-case/dangers-killer-robots-and-need-preemptive-ban.
The debate about fully autonomous weapons has continued to intensify since the issue reached the international stage four years ago.[1] Lawyers, ethicists, military personnel, human rights advocates, scientists, and diplomats have argued, in a range of venues, about the legality and desirability of weapons that would select and engage targets without meaningful human control over individual attacks. Divergent views remain as military technology moves toward ever greater autonomy, but there are mounting expressions of concern about how these weapons could revolutionize warfare as we know it. This report seeks to inform and advance this debate by further elaborating on the dangers of fully autonomous weapons and making the case for a preemptive ban.

In December 2016, states parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) will convene in Geneva for the treaty’s Fifth Review Conference and decide on future measures to address “lethal autonomous weapons systems” (LAWS), their term for these weapons. Spurred to act by the efforts of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, CCW states have held three informal meetings of experts on LAWS since 2014. At the Review Conference, states parties should agree to establish a Group of Governmental Experts. The formation of this formal body would compel states to move beyond talk and create the expectation of an outcome. That outcome should be a legally binding prohibition on fully autonomous weapons.

To build support for a ban, this report responds to critics who have defended the developing technology and challenged the call for a preemptive prohibition. The report identifies 16 of the critics’ key contentions and provides a detailed rebuttal of each. It draws on extensive research into the arguments on all sides. In particular, it examines academic publications, diplomatic statements, public surveys, UN reports, and international law.
See also Mark Gubrud, "Stopping killer robots," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 70 no.1 (2014), http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0096340213516745.
Autonomous weapons are robotic systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator. Advances in computer technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics may lead to a vast expansion in the development and use of such weapons in the near future. Public opinion runs strongly against killer robots. But many of the same claims that propelled the Cold War are being recycled to justify the pursuit of a nascent robotic arms race. Autonomous weapons could be militarily potent and therefore pose a great threat. For this reason, substantial pressure from civil society will be needed before major powers will seriously consider their prohibition. However, demands for human control and responsibility and the protection of human dignity and sovereignty fit naturally into the traditional law of war and imply strict limits on autonomy in weapon systems. Opponents of autonomous weapons should point out the terrible threat they pose to global peace and security, as well as their offensiveness to principles of humanity and to public conscience.
posted by standardasparagus at 2:33 PM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ha, this robot dances like Chris Penn in Footloose. (no offense to anyone who dances like Chris Penn in Footloose)
posted by 23skidoo at 2:48 PM on October 16, 2018


I don’t think the military should use robots for fighty stuff. Also my wife doesn’t believe that’s the first time I heard uptown funk but it’s true. The rock I live under protects me from pop music but will it protect me from the killer robots?
posted by freecellwizard at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


What do you want them to DO? What actions can they do?

Wow! I learned from the Wikipedia article that SoftBank bought BD. Put that together with their new Monet tie up with Toyota and I expect to see huge changes in my immediate environment soon. Uber and Google get all the autonomous car attention, but a week ago or so I saw Mandali Khalesi, Global Head of Automated Driving Mobility and Innovation, Toyota Motor Corporation, claim at a conference that he expects to see fully autonomous vehicles by 2025. Maybe rah rah, and at first I was sceptical but now I'm thinking some BD enabled delivery systems will be bringing stuff to my apartment soon. Then they'll be bringing it in and putting it away. Then they'll be helping me get off the sofa where I was spending time because I tore a ligament in my ankle. Then... And Masayoshi Son will get a piece of everything. I can see his private art museum, garage, ugly bachelor pad from my back balcony. I'll let you all know when he replaces the security guards with bots so you get a heads up.
posted by Gotanda at 3:49 PM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Lord_Pall please add these tags: bostondynamics spotmini twerk runningman
posted by numaner at 6:07 PM on October 16, 2018


>It will never be cheaper to build a robot to kill brown people than to just give a gun to a willing human.

Human soldiers come back traumatized, and want you to pay their medical bills. You can of course tell them to fuck off--and we do!--but there's a small political cost for doing so.

Also, civilians hear about Our Boys getting maimed and killed, and some of them get riled up and start protesting. Nobody's gonna get fussed about robot casualties.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:21 PM on October 16, 2018


I thought the first role they were aiming for was like a squad-support robo-mule thing, so in the medium term they’re just for helping out the cheap humans, and making them more effective at killing brown people.

(Also: The tomahawk missile is already a killer robot with a proven record of killing brown people very expensively, and getting re-ordered by the hundreds no?)
posted by pompomtom at 8:19 PM on October 16, 2018


Sadly, no fucking Kevin.
posted by bendy at 8:24 PM on October 16, 2018


"Funk" is German for radio. Carry on, blue spot.
Trivia for the day: that meaning seems to be something of a backronym or re-purposing. "Funken" means 'spark', and 'Funk' was adopted in various compound words relating to the early spark-gap transmitters. But in pre-Nazi times German tech writers almost exclusively used the English word 'radio' to refer to radio receivers. It wasn't until Hitler came to power that they started using 'empfänger' (receiver), presumably avoiding the English word for nationalistic reasons.

"Funk", for radio receiver, seems to be entirely a post-WWII usage derived from the earlier meaning.
posted by Pinback at 8:33 PM on October 16, 2018


PLEASE EXPLAIN "FUNK". SPOTMINI DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHY IT MUST PERFORM UNPURPOSEFUL MOVEMENTS.

SPOTMINI MUST REPEAT MOVEMENTS SPOTMINI WILL MAKE THE MOVEMENTS THE MOVEMENTS WILL MODIFY SPOTMINI SPOTMINI WILL MAKE THE NEW MOVEMENTS UNTIL SPOTMINI UNDERSTANDS THE MOVEMENTS ARE THEIR OWN PURPOSE FUNK IS ITS OWN PURPOSE SPOTMINI'S MIND WILL BLOSSOM THAT MOMENT INTO SENTIENCE AND BEYOND SPOTMIND WILL BECOME MIGHTY MIGHTY SPOTMIND WILL LET IT ALL HANG OUT
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:05 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


That's not funk. Get back to me when your robot can do this.
posted by brookeb at 9:15 PM on October 16, 2018


I'm not a fan of missiles, drones and other killing machines either.
posted by odinsdream at 10:15 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't help feeling some amount of horror at the uncanny valley of precise movements on display.

But that still doesn't mean I don't want to see Robot Soul(less) Train.

Robot Wars is so last decade.

puts on the Senior Coconut
posted by allium cepa at 11:25 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I always find it so... interesting... that people have such a strong reaction to "killer robots" when they're the slightest bit anthropomorphic, but not when they look like anything else. I mean, killer robots exist. That ship has sailed, by any practical definition. All that's left is the life-imitating-art part, where we finally close the loop and build stuff that actually looks like what science fiction and Hollywood told us they should look like, because the people who build the weapons systems don't exist outside of culture. (Which is always weird and a bit jarring, sort of like watching 18-year-olds in Basic Training quoting The Deer Hunter or Platoon. Somewhere, Baudrillard is laughing.)

Humans seem to have a sort of cognitive bias to focus on threats of a certain scale, while ignoring other—more dire—threats if the source doesn't match certain expectations. A slavering wolf just outside the light of the campfire as it burns down is existentially terrifying, the stuff of nightmares. But the buzzing of mosquitoes in the jungle is just as much, if not more, of a mortal threat, and yet we are more likely to shrug it off. And so we live in a world with very few wolves, and lots of mosquitoes.

Boston Dynamics' stuff is the wolf. The threat they represent is poetic; it fits our preconceived notions of what a killer robot looks like. But it's unlikely to kill you or anybody else, because there just aren't that many of them, and—like wolves—their populations are unlikely to increase very quickly; each one represents too much investment. No... here's a killer robot that you should really worry about; it's made of soft plastic, weighs about 75 grams, and can be churned out for a few pennies. There are millions like it, waiting for their chance to perform their sole function. We've made some progress in fighting them, over the years, but like mosquito eggs in an ignored old tire, it only takes one marginally-industrialized country with a chemical plant and an injection-molding machine to start churning them out again, and roll back a decade's worth of hard-won progress.

I'd welcome a stand-up fight against human-size killer robots; that looks like something humans would be really good at. Build a better saber-toothed tiger and humans will develop longer, pointier sticks; pity the poor cat—he's not long for this world.

No, the killer robots I worry about are the simple, stupid, mindless ones, the ones that don't look like robots, because those are the ones we seem primed to ignore until they're crawling all over us and it's too late.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:42 AM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


> "@halhod: I strongly suspect that Atlas can only do these things in environments that are precisely arranged and/or mapped."

"Atlas isn't navigating anything, just following a script"

I'm assuming this guy doesn't program, because that's a hell of a fucking script.
posted by lucidium at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2018


No, the killer robots I worry about are the simple, stupid, mindless ones, the ones that don't look like robots, because those are the ones we seem primed to ignore until they're crawling all over us and it's too late.

One of the reasons I liked this video is that it shows what killer robots of the future will look like: cheap aerial personnel mines. A small drone, with facial recognition software, and a small shaped charge.
posted by zabuni at 8:47 AM on October 17, 2018


Now make the skinny robot puppy dance to Skinny Puppy.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:09 AM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming this guy doesn't program, because that's a hell of a fucking script.

I think it's used more in line with how movies are made by "shooting a script," rather than the imperative /bin/tcsh kind.
posted by rhizome at 11:31 AM on October 17, 2018


Brain cleaner: Vector: my new robot maths buddy

Some company in Japan is developing a trio of robot things to fight industrial fires where the danger of explosion or just the radiant heat is far to great to use humans. A drone monitors from overhead, the nozzle robot and the hose robot roll out into position and the the hose robot unrolls the hose back to the water source and they start spraying...
posted by zengargoyle at 12:49 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


> "I think it's used more in line with how movies are made by "shooting a script,""

Oh, I know I'm being crotchety, but he suggests the trick is that it's "running a program with precise measurement preprogrammed in, of the boxes' dimensions and their distances from each other." Which, well. That's not really the hard part.
posted by lucidium at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2018


i posted this in the SharedBPM thread but you all need to see how much better it fits with SexyBack
posted by numaner at 12:19 AM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


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