On Tuesday, the New York Police Department reportedly unleashed Spot, the state-of-the-art robotic dog from Boston Dynamics, to do reconnaissance at a home invasion crime scene in the Bronx. Then yesterday (coincidentally?), art collective MSCHF launched their "Spot's Rampage" installation in which the robot dog was outfitted with a paintball gun that the public could control via this Web interface. Visitors to the Website used their mobile phones to control Spot and fire paintballs at statues and other targets within the white wall gallery.
Spot is an empathy missile, shaped like man's best friend and targeted straight at our fight or flight instinct. When killer robots come to America they will be wrapped in fur, carrying a ball[…]
Everyone in this world takes one look at cute little Spot and knows: this thing will definitely be used by police and the military to murder people.
Unsurprisingly, Boston Dynamics wasn't pleased:
"Provocative art can help push useful dialogue about the role of technology in our daily lives," the company wrote in a statement. "This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives."
All of this reminds me of machine performance group Survival Research Laboratory's pioneering 1995 experiment in which a lethal robotic projectile launcher in San Francisco was remotely controlled via the Web by operators in a Japan office building. The target? A massive photo of yours truly.