The first BigDog was built by Boston Dynamics in 2005, an awkward looking behemoth that was conceived to help carry supplies for the US military. Since then, it’s only grown bigger, stronger, faster, and better able to balance itself as the years have passed. But in recent days BigDog has shed a few pounds and acquired a new name, Spot. The smaller pup is far more agile than his older brothers, and it remains a mystery if Spot’s purpose is the same as BigDog’s.
While some might find Spot’s tiny frame and rhythmic trot adorable, others will find it terrifying, and who could blame them? The implications are hard to miss. We’re venturing into a world run by machines and machine intelligence, with few tasks requiring human hands.
A lot of people have likened Boston Dynamics to a real world Skynet, a comparison which implies the rise of the machines is upon us. And maybe it is. The company has been designing specialized robots like Spot since 1992, but most of us never took notice until their assimilation by Google in 2013 (sorry if such language makes you think of Star Trek’s “borg”).
Boston Dynamics’ robots have gone through a few changes over the years
Check out the evolution of Boston Dynamic’s original “BigDog” project:
As you can see, Boston Dynamics has made a lot of progress in only a decade! Now check out “Spot”, the newer model:
Although Spot can cross the same rough terrain as BigDog, Spot is especially adept at climbing stairs, allowing him to complete a set of tasks unfamiliar to robots of similar build.
And it’s not just robotic puppies making the news these days. If you think that machines will never be given the gift of creation, then think again: they’re already making scientific discoveries on their own. A robotic scientist named Eve has been autonomously searching for a cure to malaria – with promising results. How long before we leave our robotic puppies and autonomous, omniscient computer overlords to handle all of life’s menial tasks?
Oh well. That must be why they invented virtual reality video games!
So, what do you think of Boston Dynamics and their new toy?