On Tuesday, Boston Dynamics – a Google-owned engineering and robotics company – released a holiday video illustrating Spot the robotic dog pulling a sleigh, sparking people’s curiosity.
The U.S. Marines have recently conducted training exercises with Spot – a quadruped robot that is hydraulic-powered. This robot can help the military as it is fast-moving and suitable for various difficult terrains.
People’s reactions to Boston Dynamics’ video of Spot pulling Santa’s sleigh sparks a number of different reactions. However, most of them tended to be rather dystopian and paranoid, and fewer had heartwarming reactions when they saw Spot the quadruped robotic dog pull Santa’ sleigh, according to Boston Dynamics officials. Scientists call that ‘uncanny valley’ – a phenomenon in which people feel very fearful and uneasy about robots that are a lot more advanced, or those that resemble humans.
It is still unclear why some people find this new technology so terrifying. In 2013, Mark O’Connell, a Slate books columnist and a staff writer for the Millions, stated that the strange and, at the same time, familiar features of these robots may be what makes people feel uneasy about them. It is deeply unnerving how something that is 100 percent artificial can appear to be alive, O’Connell added.
Reporter Rachel Feltman stated that Boston Dynamics’ quadruped robot is evidence of the latest innovations in technology even though some people may find Spot quite scary and intimidating. This is our future – one in which robots will stop being a novelty, Feltman added. We should also applaud the efforts of the Boston Dynamics team on creating the Christmas-inspired video, she said.
Individuals seem to have different takes on robotics. For instance, one writer described Google’s self-driving car prototypes as ‘cutesy’. On the end of the spectrum, the Henn-na Hotel or ‘Weird Hotel’ (its name says it all) located at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki, Japan, has multiple robot staff members, including a dinosaur. The Henn-na Hotel is Japan’s first robot-staffed hotel. One of the spokespersons stated that if the hotel is a success, another may be opened sometime in 2016.
Whether people will always feel uneasy around robots is a question that we still do not have an answer for, but one day people may look back in time and wonder why Spot pulling Santa’s sleigh was such an odd image.
Image Source: images.mentalfloss