BigDog’s behavior is fascinating, eerie, creepy — there’s a certain dissonance, knowing that it’s just a machine, yet its behavior induces that reptile-brain gut feeling that this is a living, very alien, creature. Such a delightful feeling.
Unlike some, however, I wasn’t the least bit disquieted seeing BigDog kicked to demonstrate its ability to recover its balance — rather, my first thought was wow, I’d like to see that software.
I think that the proliferation of over-anthropomorphized robotic characters in popular media has both led us to overestimate the capabilities of current robotics and to endow automation with too much, urm, “being-ness”. I won’t speculate here what AI/robotics will eventually produce — I’m just saying we aren’t there now. You may want to read the Wikipedia article about the (sometimes criticized) Uncanny Valley theory.