I know a guy who works at Boston Dynamics. He spends all day fussing over how to get a robot leg to bend the right way. It's kind of boring, but he likes tinkering with things. And hey, it's a job. When he sees people freaking out about whatever new robot they've unleashed unto the world, he just laughs, because he knows how much time he's spent futzing with those stupid joints.
For the most part, he's got a point; we like to freak out about our Terminator future, but mostly it's pretty lame, like that dumb-looking Knightscope mall security guard. The surveillance components are creepy; but the thing itself is hardly threatening.
The state's bomb squad had Spot on loan from the Waltham-based Boston Dynamics for three months starting in August until November, according to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and reviewed by WBUR.
The documents do not reveal a lot of details on the robot dog's exact use, but a state police spokesman said Spot, like the department's other robots, was used as a "mobile remote observation device" to provide troopers with images of suspicious devices or potentially hazardous locations, like where an armed suspect might be hiding.
On one hand, this makes sense; cops have been using robots to take point in potentially dangerous scenarios for years. On the other hand, it's still kind of creepy, and not just because I personally skeptical of Staties in my home Commonwealth. Bomb-diffusing robots have already been used to assassinate mass shooters in the U.S. So I'm just waiting for the day when they send one of these things in for a warrantless raid on the home of some supposedly-suspicious minority. It's not that I don't trust my pal at Boston Dynamics; it's that I don't trust law enforcement.
Ryan Walsh of the Boston-based indie rock band Hallelujah the Hills (whose brand new album is fantastic, btw) had the only appropriate reaction to this news:
"When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?" – THE CLASH pic.twitter.com/kO2Ky41mzR
— Ryan H. Walsh (@JahHills) November 25, 2019
Image via Wikimedia Commons