Well, it’s was only a matter of time. There’s a gun atop a Boston Dynamics Spot robot, and naturally, MSCHF is behind it. Multiple outlets report the Brooklyn-based hypebeast art collective and chaotic think tank dropped nearly $75,000 on a Spot robot to affix a paintball gun (not a real one, thankfully) to its back. On Wednesday, February 24 you can remotely take control of it in a gallery space, starting at 1 p.m. E.T.
Spot’s Rampage — Wednesday’s event is a one-time spectacle, free of charge. The Verge reports that Spot’s drivers will change every two minutes and they will be sent a link where they can pilot the robot from their phone, but MSCHF won’t collect any user data from this process.
The event’s FAQ claims that the human race will lose when “dogs of war become commonplace."
"As these war dogs become fixtures of militaries and militarized police we will all learn a new meaning of fear: an oppressor who can pull the trigger without even needing to be physically present.”
Though the event is a nice counter to Boston Dynamics’ attempts at propaganda, it’s worth noting that there are deadly unmanned drones already in use by militaries around the world. Of course, those don’t have the same range of motion, and it’s worth continuing to push people to think critically about whether this technology should be weaponized as it becomes more accessible.
Now at the center of Hyundai’s robotics push, Boston Dynamics is on a track towards profitability, and mixing military tech with capitalist goals often doesn’t end well.
Boston Dynamics does not approve this message — Upon learning of the performance art piece, Boston Dynamics released a statement disavowing the use of one of its robots as a weapon.
“Provocative art can help push useful dialogue about the role of technology in our daily lives,” reads the statement. “This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives.”
Since the company literally has military roots and has partnered with the military and police departments, it’s been difficult to endear its robots to the general public. Spot has tried to be helpful during the pandemic, lending a paw in hospitals and barking social distancing guidelines in parks. On the even lighter side, Boston Dynamics connects its robots with music, from delivering limited edition Pharell kicks to having its machines bust a move.
“All the videos Boston Dynamics puts out with the robot are geared towards this pop-culture meme mindset,” MSCHF’s Daniel Greenberg told Digital Trends. “But when you start to think about it for a little bit, the way Boston Dynamics got its [work] off the ground was with funding from DARPA and the Navy. It’s sort of like, what was the actual intended use case for this robot? We’re not entirely sure.”