22 Mar 2008
BigDog Quadruped Robot

BigDog is a quadruped robot being developed by Boston Dynamics (funded by DARPA). You can read more about BigDog at Think Artificial.

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.

Category: Sci-Tech
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  1.  Raven (1 comments)
    Posted 2008-03-22 at 15:26:01 | Permalink

    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”.

    Definitely agree with the first point (although it swings both ways, people often think AI is dead-end research).

    Disagree with the second. The media is not to blame for feelings towards lifelike beings, but biology.

    Thanks for the hat-tip :)

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