Normally, when we talk about what advanced robots might do in the future, we worry that they might harm us. What if machines with artificial intelligence decide that we humans are getting it wrong, and supplant their judgment — and strength, and lack of feelings — for our own?
This video (below) of “Petman,” a robot being developed by Boston Dynamics for use in testing protective clothing for soldiers under fire from chemical weapons, will make you realise that there’s an alternative dystopian future for us and robots: One in which they become a vast underclass of mindless slaves, whom we humiliate with drudgery and danger.
I’m anthropomorphizing, of course. Robots are just machines like TVs and phones. Petman doesn’t know that he’s being chained by the neck, with a hood over his head like a terrorist suspect, as his humans test him on a treadmill.
And he’ll probably fall over if the chains are taken off, as TechCrunch points out.
But the image of this robot being forced to run, blind and in shackles, is depressing nonetheless because it says so much about what we humans might do with sophisticated, lifelike machines, given a chance (and a windowless room).
The humiliation continues in this video, where Petman is required to dance to “Stayin’ Alive”: