Boston Dynamics is a cutting-edge robotics company that’s spent decades behind closed doors making robots that move in ways we’ve only seen in science fiction films. They occasionally release videos on YouTube of their life-like machines spinning, somersaulting or sprinting, which are greeted with fascination and fear. We’ve been trying, without any luck, to get into Boston Dynamics’ workshop for years, and a few weeks ago they finally agreed to let us in. After working out strict COVID protocols, we went to Massachusetts to see how they make robots do the unimaginable.
From the outside, Boston Dynamics headquarters looks pretty normal. Inside, however. it’s anything but. If Willy Wonka made robots, his workshop might look something like this. There are robots in corridors, offices and kennels. They trot and dance and whirl and the 200-or-so human roboticists, who build and often break them, barely bat an eye.Anderson Cooper “Boston Dynamics: Inside the workshop where robots of the future are being built” at CBS (March 28, 2021)
Note at 7:40 min, robots could be the most practical way to hunt for life on Mars.
See at 9:00 min the robot weed killer that chops the weeds daily until they run out of energy (you don’t have time to do it that way).
At 9:50 min, the claim that robots reduce loneliness in old age homes should be treated with extreme skepticism. If people don’t care, they don’t care. Distracting old people with toys is beside the point.
By 12:00 min, unfortunately, the short film trails off into moonshine, with Elon Musk. We are assured, for example, that autonomous cars will make car ownership unnecessary.
Well, first, complete autonomy may be unachievable. And before you hand over your driver’s licence to AI, remember that that wasn’t what AI was supposed to be about. It would be a good way for governments to control the movement of the public though.
By about 13:50 min, the film has trailed off into aimless pieties about meaning in life. The first ten minutes are definitely worth seeing.
Not all of Boston Dynamics’ robots will likely work out but this short film makes clear that future jobs for humans will largely depend on harnessing creativity, not doing repetitive work.
See also: Technology kills jobs, creates new ones On this week’s podcast, Jay Richards looks at the way new jobs have historically grown from the turmoil around the deaths of obsolete ones.