Have you ever seen Boston Dynamics’ robots? If you haven´t, I recommend you to visit YouTube to watch some of their videos where you can see the type of robots this company is developing.
You will understand the reasons why Google bought the company in 2013 and regretted selling it on 2017 to SoftBank, a leading technology and telecommunications Japanese multinational enterprise. I am a person supporting innovation and technological development almost without any hesitation, however when I watch Boston Dynamics´ videos, my primary survival instinct kicks in above my curiosity. I feel more fearful than astonished.
If you have the chance to watch the parodies produced by the social network users, do it! I can only say:internet please never die! It seems like the same occurred to Google's executives. Against all business common sense, they decided to disinvest in the robot enterprise.
Although, if we dig enough, we can understand the decision made by Google´s executives. It was not only a consequence of the videos from YouTube and Facebook. Some people say that childhood, in this case business childhood, is fate and Boston Dynamics was not the exemption.
The robotics enterprise was born in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) which is a private university focused, mainly, on high technology research. The MIT arisen as part of a project for the American System Corporation which at the same time, had a military contract with the main objective of developing 3D interactive training through characters. This is what we now know as augmented reality and in some cases virtual reality.
What mattered the most for Google, despite Boston Dynamics advanced technology, was public's opinion on those robots; people referred to them as terrifying, making inevitable to sell the company. But Google tried to fools us with their press release. It explained the reason for separation was incompatibility on work methodologies. On the other side, those who elaborate conspiracy theories, are almost certain that the pressure came from the military agency DARPA.
Apparently the military agency didn´t like the fact that Google did not want to produce more military robots, when they were the ones providing initial funds for their development and growth. Although if we put ourselves in SoftBank´s shoes, the agreement was not too bad considering all the government contracts they might have access to after the purchase.
But Google is not alone on this. A few months ago, the same company presented a video with the latest version of Atlas, showing a robot capable of doing a backward jump. immediately,the video went viral on social networks causing reactions from common users and also super users like Elon Musk; he tweeted: “This is nothing. In a few years time, that robot will move so quickly that you might need strobes to look at it. Sweet dreams…” Closing his warning ironically.
When he was asked to clarify what he meant with the strobes, he said: “Otherwise it would look blurry before your eyes”. On top of these series of warnings from the (next) Mars citizen, Elon Musk also mentioned talking to Mark Zuckerberg about this subject, regarding the dangers of artificial intelligence; “His understanding on this subject I limited”. ¡Boom Bitch!.
It seems to be the armament´s war race on artificial intelligence enabled robots is going to behave similarly to the nuclear war. Only the most resourceful countries will be capable of paying the price for developing and buying weapons to count on that technological advantage on the battlefield. Those same countries will try to set up a barriers to keep the rest of the world away from this kind of power, At least, this will be the case before artificial intelligence gets out of their hands and robots overcome its human master.
Javier Murillo Acuña
Founder and Council Chairman of Metrics
Las expresiones aquí vertidas son responsabilidad de quien firma esta columna de opinión y no necesariamente reflejan la postura editorial de El Financiero.