Responses to the latest original Boston Dynamics video ranged from the usual Skynet jokes to queries about the end of Fallout 4’s Railroad and Institute quest lines, to sarcastic claims of robot abuse. But YouTuber Michael Leip knew there was something missing from Boston Dynamics’ demo: Atlas’ personality. Since, for some strange reason, we humans want robots that move and look like us, why not let Atlas show off his humanity and narrate his own first day? So Leip gave the newest Atlas a voice that should sound familiar: Apple’s male text-to-speech personality, Alex.
And of course, Leip’s video spawned its own videos (and those videos had two children, and they each had two kids). Be warned, the language is explicit:
If you haven’t seen any original Boston Dynamics videos, trust us when we say if robots had feelings, they might be miffed. Of course, the point of the videos is to demo robots’ capabilities – so the cruelty to inorganic beings wasn’t without purpose. Pushing Atlas (and last year, the company’s robot dog) until it falls over shows it can take a licking and keep on ticking. Using a dizzying array of sensors and motors positioned inside its head and body, the new Atlas bot can get knocked down but quickly get back up again.
Boston Dynamics doesn’t design robots to stay down. The company’s robot dog Spot toughed its way through Marine basic training tests to confirm its resilience. It too suffered the kicks of human heels, and was forced to navigate rocky hills, woods, and urban environments. This montage ASPCA ad parody titled ‘Robot Lives Matter’ posted by Youtuber Greg Killian has 680,000 views and counting. The robot testing (read: kicking, pushing, and tricking) of Spot and others paired with the hot-button (Anything)-Lives-Matter title really fed the sarcastic hashtag bloom. By the way, in this case ASPCA stands for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Androids.
Since this was posted February 25, the entirely satirical robot-protection movement has evolved from the attention-thirsty #RobotLivesMatter, to #RoboEquality to #SayNoToRobophobics. Killian is also selling t-shirts with the unoriginal hashtag #RLM, and promises 10 percent of the proceeds to the real ASPCA, but there’s already a funnier “Stop Robot Abuse” site offering T-shirts with a still image from BD’s robot dog-kicking vid.
It seems that every time Boston Dynamics raises the bar with a new video, the world will be treated to a round of sarcastic backlash. Thank you, Boston Dynamics, for making all the Terminator and Synth jokes possible. Keep an eye out for the company’s next video, and gird your loins for another round of sarcastic sympathy for robots.