Artists outfitted robot dog Spot with a paintball gun in commentary on futuristic killer robots, just as NYDP deploys the same robot

Originally published at: Artists outfitted robot dog Spot with a paintball gun in commentary on futuristic killer robots, just as NYDP deploys the same robot | Boing Boing


Just think, we’ll have amazing things in the future!



“This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives.”

OK, so please tell us how you have engineered this “modern marvel” to ensure that it can never be abused.

Otherwise, STFU.


Hunter-killer robots are inevitable. I just think they’ll look more like drones than like Spot.


if you’re so worried about your robot being associated with violence maybe don’t sell them to the cops? Not really surprised boston dynamics is evil but it makes everything they do that much more worrying


I don’t believe you.


What happens when instead of a paintball gun someone gives Spot a pressurized water tank? It could be used to put out fires in locations in a building that would be too difficult or dangerous for human firefighters to reach (thus satisfying Boston Dynamics) or could be used against protestors like a fire hose (maybe with a connection to a tank on a truck, since a tank that would fit on Spot would need to be small) to disperse a crowd.


If you can fit a tank and hose to it, the next step is one of these (UN Convention be damned)


Mmm hmmm…

ETA: I wish these companies would just own it instead of pretending their inventions will only be used for peaceful applications. Wasn’t Spot’s progenitor created by DARPA? And where does BD get most of its funding now?


The NYPD wasting $75K on a robot you could easily knock over and disable in multiple ways is more emblematic of wasteful police spending than it is of “futuristic killer robots”. But I guess since Black Mirror made that one episode, robots are not allowed to exist in real life or do anything whatsoever.

They’re already being developed and it’s straight up called SkyBorg. But robot dogs with a wide array of weak points are truly going to be the end of us. /s


That’s true. And to give a non-violent rationale for having Spot carry tanks to gas or other flammable fuel, call that configuration ELFS – Emergency Liquid Fuel Supplier, something that can go out to vehicles that have run out of fuel in remote regions to refuel them like a robotic version of the stereotypical St. Bernard.


Cover them with fake fur and tack on a head with big anime eyes and they will squee us to extinction.


Great. Give them ideas.




As always, there’s an XKCD for that…

xkcd: More Accurate

I think I need to write a sentance here…


My guess is that it’ll be presented to the public as a “search and rescue drone”, but who are they kidding?


“This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives.” “Please ignore all the uses to which it will immediately be put,” they failed to add.

Yeah, it’s a pretty fucking disingenuous statement from Boston Dynamics. They known damn well that discussing a technology’s impact means talking about how it could/will be used, not just how it had been used (I mean, if you look only on how a technology was used, that’s history not a “useful dialogue about the role of technology”), and they also know damn well how this technology will, inevitably, be used. It’s not like they weren’t explicitly developing this technology for the military, from the beginning.

Well, note how they’re carefully using the present tense there. To describe a product that’s only recently been put on general sale and before that was only being selectively sold to “early adopters,” and currently has been put to extremely limited uses by a small number of users (many of which were hand-picked by the company).

Taking advantage of that limitation, you could sell an actual weapon and talk about it that way - for a while, anyways…

But the fact that the police are already using them indicates that’s where “misuse” is likely to occur. You make a drone designed to kill people, there’s going to be opposition to its adoption by the police and even the military; you make a “harmless,” “helpful” robot ubiquitous, there’s a lot of opportunities to use it in ways that it wasn’t designed (or even suited) for. Which is why US police have already killed (one might argue murdered) a man with a bomb disposal robot, after all (and actually beat the military - and foreign dictators - to such a use). It doesn’t matter how easily it’s knocked over/disabled if it shoots you while you’re hiding in a closet, for example. I’m willing to bet money that “Spot” (or something like it) will kill someone (in the US, especially) before “SkyBorg” does.

Oh, they already have that idea.


I actually do think that Spot without anything added to it is pretty cute on its own.

For real though, I just get frustrated with the way that the endless stream of pop culture references to post-apocalyptic/dystopian media is the default response to Spot showing up in any capacity at all and it drowns out any ability for discussions of useful applications of Spot or robotics in general.

The man who they killed with the bomb disposal robot was an active shooter who was holed up in a parking garage. This was not murder in cold blood. It was a clusterfuck of a situation where more solutions could have likely been found, but it was not cold-blooded murder.

I’m going into the field of GIS. Robots with LiDAR devices strapped to them will be a massive boon to the field that I’m going into, as they can gather data in tough-to-reach areas. Spot in particular can gather data useful for maps in places that are under cover of trees, be it rainforests, orchards, national parks, and so forth, or elsewhere that map data can be gathered but an aerial drone isn’t viable.

I don’t want “This can be abused and we’ll have death robots” to lead to situations where tech that has peaceful applications winds up never getting used in those applications because apparently Black Mirror and Terminator are the only things that have informed people’s views on what robots and technology can do for them or to them.

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It seems to me that killer robots will be something that will be attainable for the DIY crowd in the general population. It’s not like an atomic weapon, where the materials are one of the bigger obstacles to making one. Autonomous murder machines may one day run off a raspberry pi.