This is the latest battery powered robot from Boston Dynamics. It's named Handle and right now it goes about 15 miles on a charge with a top speed of 9mph. It is just a little disconcerting to watch.
This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare inducing robot, if you're anything like me.
One fear that Handle often instils in people is that automation will take away all the jobs and everyone will become poor and unemployed serfs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Automation has been with us from the very beginning. We used to dig ditches with shovels. Now a single backhoe can do the work of 100 men. Are we better or worse off for it? The answer is we are always better off.
There is only a certain amount of work that needs to be done to meet our basic needs. We need food, shelter, entertainment, raw building materials, etc. When robots make this work smaller, humans have more leisure time. You spend 30 hours a week building a robot instead of 50 hunting for food and gathering firewood. Not that living will ever be free, don't fall into that trap. Everything costs money and in a just world every able bodied person will still need to contribute.
But automation is always a good thing. Don't fear the robots.
A lot of people can also be found speculating on what life will be like when robots like this are used instead of human police to patrol our cities and neighborhoods. And that is a legitimate concern.
Why is it reasonable to assume these robots will eventually replace police? Let's look at government and police behavior thus far:
1) In several states of the USA, the police have instituted maximum IQ ceilings on all new recruits. That right, if you're too intelligent, they don't want you. Unfortunately in some cases the maximum IQ is frightfully low. In the state of Missouri for example, the maximum IQ permitted is 60. This is only marginally higher than that of a person with down-syndrome. While the governments haven't all agreed on what excuse to use, one of them is that less intelligent people will do less independent thinking and more following orders. This is exactly where a robot will have maximum appeal. No compassion, strict adherence.
2) In recent years there has been a trend of militarizing the police. Police are commonly seen wearing helmets and masks and camouflage, carrying automatic weapons and riding in military style mine-resistant armored vehicles. They even use LRADs. Their quick adoption of powerful and overbearing technology makes robots an obvious next choice.
So we know the robots are coming to our streets. But it's not the robots or the technology that is the problem. The fundamental problem is government power. There are very logical reasons why government power will always result in corruption and abuse. But I don't want to write a paper on government, I want to focus on the robots.
The point here is don't fear the robots; fear the government. The only true safety is in keeping the government small.