Over the weekend, another of those freaky videos showing humans putting a human-esque robot through its paces began to explode in popularity, for reasons that — in case you haven’t seen the video above yet — only reveal themselves slowly, the closer you get to the end of the video.
Before we dive in, let’s back up for just a second. The clip above was meant to be reminiscent of the Boston Dynamics videos that regularly go viral when the robotics company releases a new clip showing its machines doing everything from climbing stairs to walking, opening doors and the like.
Your first indication the clip above is a parody is the “Bosstown Dynamics” marker in the bottom right corner. Other than that, the clip plays things straight for a few minutes. The legitimate Boston Dynamics videos often show the humans put impediments and various obstacles in the robot’s way to teach it to overcome them and to compensate for them, and that starts off being the case here. The humans play keep-away from the bot, try to trip hit, hit it while it’s down and the like.
The robot’s movements are a bit exaggerated, almost like what a child would be like when they’re first learning to walk. Watching it, you almost feel sorry for it. The action continues ramping up. Wait a minute, what’s this. Now the humans are actually shooting a freaking gun at the robot as it tries to pick up a package from the floor.
Fast forward to around the 2-minute, 33-second mark. In the midst of playing keep-away with the bot, the poor guy apparently decides he’s had enough and … kicks one of the mean humans squarely in his most sensitive area. He turns and drop-kicks the other, and in the same fluid motion, the robot spins and grabs the package on the floor to fling it at the camera that’s filming all the action.
As things end, we see the robot marching both humans away at gunpoint.
As of the time of this writing, the clip above has been viewed on YouTube more than 4.6 million times and blew up on social media in recent days.
— Rory Preddy🥑 (@rorypreddy) June 15, 2019
If you started off by feeling bad for the robot as you watched that video, an MIT researcher and robot ethicist, Kate Darling, explained why that’s the case in an interview with The Verge:
“We’re biologically hardwired to project intent and life onto any movement in our physical space that seems autonomous to us. So people will treat all sorts of robots like they’re alive.” Let’s just hope more of us start to do that, so that we don’t hasten the day the robots decide that they’ve had enough, like the angry bot in this video.