Let’s just start off by saying that Boston Dynamics, the company behind Spot, Atlas, and a collection of other interesting robots, isn’t happy about this. A group calling themselves MSCHF (pronounced ‘mischief’) has acquired one of the company’s Spot robots and they’re about to use it to prove a point.
The point is about weapons, and police departments, and guns, and the way MSCHF is attempting to make that point is by letting the internet control Spot. Only Spot now has a paintball gun mounted on top of his head. This sounds like a fun time, until you consider the implications.
The Boston-based collective, on the website where the streaming/shooting event known as Spot’s Rampage is set to take place today, explains: “Spot is an empathy missile, shaped like man’s best friend and targeted straight at our fight or flight instinct. When killer robots come to America they will be wrapped in fur, carrying a ball.” Basically, claiming that police departments are almost certain to use these robots to shoot at people.
— Boston Dynamics (@BostonDynamics) February 20, 2021
Boston Dynamics, obviously, isn’t pleased with this state of events. The company released a statement decrying the use of this particular Spot, saying that it conflicts wholly with the company’s aims for the technology and what they intend it to be. The Spot’s Rampage event “…fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives.”
But that’s also kind of the point. Boston Dynamics can vet its customers as well as they’d like but customers can a) lie and b) sell on the hardware they have in their possession to another, unvetted party. The robotics maker will eventually lose control of their product and the uses they’re being put to. They’ve certainly lost control of this one. Thankfully, it’s only firing a paintball gun on the internet at this point.