Opinion

Are the Robots Taking Over?

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While the internet mourns the passing of one of its many fads, more sinister robots are coming to life in its wake. Recently, Boston Dynamics released video of two terrifying robots that will one day rule us can help with difficult tasks unfit for human beings.

Atlas, an “Agile Anthropomorphic Robot” is no science fiction story, as this video no doubt makes clear. It’s a real walking, stomping machine, as they describe on their site:

“Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces.”

And in case you weren’t scared enough, they’ve also released video of the WildCat, a free running beast from hell quadriped that gallops at 16 mph (better get those running shoes ready). As Engadget confirmed, it can only operate for 5 minutes, as it “runs on a 2-stroke go-kart engine, directly coupled to a hydraulic pump.”

Okay, so these might seem like pipe dreams for now, but then we learned recently about the Jellyfish Terminator Elimination RObotic Warm (Jeros for short). Created by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science, the Jeros can dive into areas overpopulated with jellyfish and slice them up with its rotors, at the tune of 400kg per hour. There’s some concern that this robot might actually lead to more jellyfish, because it doesn’t effectively destroy the eggs and sperm.

Okay, this is all a little tongue in cheek, but it’s also serious business. As science fiction author Daniel Suarez has been arguing, we need regulation of robotics technology to prevent “killer robots” from taking over. We can giggle at self-aware Roombas and talking horses, and we can even contemplate the possibility of sex with robots, but as science fiction comes closer to reality, maybe we should pause to make sure it’s the reality we want.

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