Maybe The Human-Like Robots Aren’t So Bad?

human and robot hands reaching to touch

I remain fascinated by those Boston Dynamics robots. I can’t get enough of them. They had already cornered the market on creeping us out with their robots’ shenanigans via the dog-like creation they call “Spot.”

Now, they’ve added more person-like models.

“Boston Dynamics focuses on creating robots with advanced mobility, dexterity and intelligence. We have long held that mobility sufficient to access both the natural and the built world required legs. We began the pursuit of this dream over 30 years ago, first in academia and then as part of Boston Dynamics because it was an exciting technical challenge and because to build a highly mobile robot required it. We wanted to build a robot that could go where people go.”

By making these robots mimic recognizable anatomical forms, like dogs and people, we inevitably anthropomorphize – impose human impulses and emotions upon them. Then, we apply the sci-fi entertainment sub-genre of the killer robot that has slipped its digital shackles, developed a fearful disdain for humanity, and opted for self-preservation above all. Having seen too many horror films, I always imagine myself hunkering in terror on the other side of that closed door the Spots so meticulously cooperate to open.

Then, you see the Boston Dynamics folks testing the robot’s ability, which my sci-fi addled brain reads as ‘training them to hate humans.’

This is just mean. It’s what vicious siblings do to each other. I’m quite sure they’re making Spot very, very angry.

Oddly, I see the robots modeled after humans to be less immediately threatening. I imagine the possibility of befriending one and reasoning with it that not all humans need to be eliminated. Plus, they have some serious moves.

I’m sure a psychologist could tell me more about why I find Spot so unnerving and the probably-much-more-problematical human-like robot less so, especially considering a lifetime’s worth of knowledge of how dangerous humans can be. Oh well. I just hope the folks at Boston Dynamics stop working so hard to piss them off.

What are your thoughts on Spot and human-like robots? Send me a note at

Leonce Gaiter, Vice-President of Content & Strategy