This is a TNB Public Service Announcement. Don’t Assault Robots.
We at TNB were not aware this message needed to be provided. We were wrong. There have been a few such attacks in recent years.
There is an obvious addendum to this message: “…unless they’re attacking you.” The events in question, however, have had no indication of such aggression.
First, from Fox News, a story of a drunk man who decided to test a security robot in Mountain View, California:
A man in the Silicon Valley town has been arrested after allegedly attacking a Knightscope K5 security robot. He claimed he was trying to “test” the robot.
41-year-old Jason Sylvain is accused of knocking over the 300 lb.-robot after witnesses reported a prowler near Knightscope’s offices in Mountain View, California.
Luckily, the robot was unharmed and only suffered minor scratches and has since returned to work.
That’s fairly minor, however, compared to the assaults at the Arts Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria last year. From ZDNet:
(A)n engineer from Barcelona, Spain, was showing off a robotic doll he calls Samantha. The interactive robot is reportedly programmed to respond to “romance.”
“The people mounted Samantha’s breasts, her legs, and arms. Two fingers were broken. She was heavily soiled,” he told Britain’s Metro. “People can be bad. Because they did not understand the technology and did not have to pay for it, they treated the doll like barbarians.”
Note: this happened amidst a large electronics festival. The “drunk and the middle of the night” excuse of Mountain View wasn’t in play.
Still, that’s fairly foul. Certainly it’s the worst, right? No. Let’s move back two years, to 2015, and the story of HitchBOT. From the New York Times:
After an international adventure that included spending a week with a heavy metal band, cruising through the canals of Amsterdam and participating in a wave at a Boston Red Sox game, a hitchhiking robot met a brutal demise in a Philadelphia alley on Saturday. It was 1 year old.
With yellow boots, blue limbs and “San Francisco or Bust” written around its chin, the robot, a.k.a. hitchBOT, was left by its creators near a highway in Salem, Mass., on July 17, hoping the kindness of strangers would see it safely to its West Coast destination.
HitchBOT was capable of rudimentary conversation and would take photos every 20 minutes and upload them to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It was partly a tech experiment and partly a social one, incapable of personal transport but otherwise programmed to be cheerful and friendly. Its head and limbs were torn off, with the limbs dropped nearby and the head stolen, presumably as a trophy.
Call trees with automated responses that can never seem to understand a simple word pronounced clearly are annoying to everyone. That doesn’t mean that suddenly we have to ensure that Short Circuit’s Number Five is treated like the Terminator.
Be Best, folks.
Okay, don’t Be Best, that sounds as insipid as “Be Better” did a few years before. Be human.
Question of the night: what’s the best robot from television and movies?