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Boston Dynamics Frowns Upon ‘Provocative’ Use Of ‘Spot’ The Robot Dog In Game
By Mikelle Leow, 23 Feb 2021
Image via Roman Korotkov / Shutterstock.com
‘Spot’ the robot dog is often being likened to the malevolent hounds in Black Mirror, pushing its maker Boston Dynamics to be especially protective over its image. So you can imagine the company’s disapproval when the robot—built specifically for industrial work and patrolling—had been utilized out of its intended purpose for the first time.
Boston Dynamics first made the robot dog available to purchase in late 2019, and to ensure that customers would use it for the right reasons, the company set Spot’s price at a lofty US$75,000 and required them to sign a contract promising to employ it for ethical industrial work. However, internet stunt group MSCHF decided to push those limits by purchasing a Spot and arming it with a paintball gun to create an online game it calls Spot’s Rampage.
According to Mashable’s Anna Iovine, who got to test the game before its launch on 24 February at 1pm ET, players get to maneuver the canine droid remotely from their phones for two minutes in an art gallery, controlling it to run, shoot at items and climb over them.
The event will be live-streamed, and MSCHF will pick players at random every two minutes. Participants who don’t respond in 10 seconds will have their turns forfeited to someone else.
The creators’ manifesto describes Spot as a “cute and approachable… empathy missile” who “will definitely be used by police and the military to murder people.”
MSCHF elaborated that when explaining this concept to Boston Dynamics, “they HATED this idea.” In hopes the group wouldn’t equip Spot with a paintball gun, the robotics firm apparently offered two robot dogs for free, which “just made us want to do this even more,” the stunt group shared.
MSCHF has been appalling internet users with its outrageous antics, such as designing Jesus-inspired Nikes, cooking Disney characters into recipes, and cutting up Birkin bags to turn them into ‘Birkinstocks’.
Realizing that Spot’s Rampage is going to happen anyway, Boston Dynamics released a statement to stress its contempt of the game. “Today we learned that an art group is planning a spectacle to draw attention to a provocative use of our industrial robot, Spot,” it addressed on Friday. “To be clear, we condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm, or intimidation.”
Boston Dynamics detailed that it observes strict policies to make sure customers use Spot the robot dog legally. “We cross-check every purchase request against the US Government’s denied persons and entitles lists, prior to authorizing a sale. In addition, all buyers must agree to our Terms and Conditions of Sale, which state that our products must be used in compliance with the law, and cannot be used to harm or intimidate people or animals,” the company noted.
Buyers who violate this agreement can lose their warranty and might no longer be able to update, repair, or replace the product, the firm added.
The robotics company emphasized that it does appreciate certain applications of “provocative art,” which “can help push useful dialogue about the role of technology in our daily lives.”
“This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives,” Boston Dynamics reaffirmed.
[via Mashable, cover image via Roman Korotkov / Shutterstock.com]
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