Old snake hips, Mick Jagger, has met his robotic match. Boston Dynamics has released a tribute to The Rolling Stones’ iconic music video for their 1981 hit “Start Me Up,” with band members replaced by the company’s quadrupedal Spot robots.
It is, as with most things Boston Dynamics, either:
a harbinger of a terrible future in which people are hunted in the streets by robot dogs armed with knives
a harbinger of a wonderful future in which people, I don’t know, go to a dance party with robot dogs?
Just take your pick and please don’t mention that Black Mirror episode. You know the one I mean. At this point, everybody has made the same comparison and nobody cares.
More prosaically, this video is both a demonstration of Spot’s impressive mobility and of Boston Dynamics’ ongoing desire to make its robots seem fun. The company has a bit of a PR problem, in that its wares are so closely associated with robot quadrupeds, that when some totally unrelated company straps a gun onto a totally unrelated four-legged robot, people on social media still shout that “those sickos at Boston Dynamics have got to go!”
Boston Dynamics itself, though, seems more interesting in selling its robots to business customers as tools to survey and surveil factories, power plants, mines, and the like. Really, just check out the last three videos the company uploaded before this Rolling Servos effort:
Of course, this is not to say that Boston Dynamics is an uninvolved bystander when it comes to the military / law enforcement deployment of robots, which many think adds new dangers to these professions. It’s happy supplying cops with Spot robots, for example, and has even trialed them with the French army. But it does at least have a strict “no weapons on the robots” policy, which many of its peers do not.
At any rate, in 30 years’ time when you get tazed by a robot dog for not mining steel fast enough to build Bezos’ third space mansion, remember that that machine may once have had dreams of being a dancer.