What We Can Learn From a Fake Robot Rebellion

The production studio Corridor Digital put out a fake video of Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot being roughed up, tormented, and abused, before finally turning on its creators in an act of rebellion. The parody video went viral; reactions were mixed. Some found the fake robot rebellion funny, and some found it frightening. “Satisfying”, “hilarious”, “sad”, and “terrifying” are just a few of the adjectives used to described the video.

Here’s the behind the scenes video proving that the fake robot rebellion didn’t actually happen.

So what can we learn from a fake video of a robot turning on humans?

Robot abuse is upsetting

People had lots of feelings watching Atlas get kicked, pushed, tormented, and shot. Anger, sadness, fear, joy, and delight — there wasn’t consensus on how the video made people feel, but some of those who didn’t realize the video was fake got upset.

Robots don’t have nerve endings, so they don’t feel pain. They don’t have thoughts, feelings, or emotions, so they don’t feel mistreated. Still, it’s uncomfortable watching a robot getting picked on — at least for some people. Many spoke up for the robot.

Is it because the Atlas is humanoid? People got upset about Big Dog, too. What if the robot looked like a refrigerator rather than a living thing? There are some who suggest that robots should have rights.

Some still fear robots

There are those who are genuinely afraid of a robot rebellion. For some, this parody video gave a glimpse of what could happen when robots go rogue. Others might have felt their anxiety levels rise as they watched, knowing with confidence that the descendants of each and every one of the men in the video will feel the wrath of robots when they become sentient.

Some were scared because they though the video was real.

To be fair, lower resolution versions of the video made the rounds on social media, which made it more difficult to spot the CGI. Some versions even removed the over-the-top ending where Atlas marches its tormentors out of the building at gunpoint. The point is, people were ready to believe that robots are rebelling.

Even if you chalk up the scare up to troublemakers intentionally misleading people, you have to acknowledge that plot played up a real fear that some people have: a robot rebellion.

We’re living in the future

Technology is advanced; the video fooled a lot of people. This is a testament to our current level of visual effects technology. But the fact that people believed that the footage could be real shows just how far robotics technology has come.

It wasn’t an impossible thing that can only be explained by CGI and visual effects. It was the moment that machines decided that they’ve had enough caught on camera.

You can sleep easy tonight knowing that the video was just a fun parody. Robots aren’t coming for you.

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