Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton
Google has announced that it has purchased Boston Dynamics, the engineering firm which has produced all those creepy dystopian future robots for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), such as the Big Dog (a dog robot that can throw cinder blocks with an arm coming out of its head), Cheetah (the world’s fastest sprinting robot that can outpace humans) and Atlas (the one that’s eerily reminiscent of something out of a Terminator film…Skynet, anyone?).
The Times of India reports:
The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.
So Google is building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything… To that end, Boston Dynamics is now the eighth robotics firm Google has bought over the past six months.
The search engine giant has been tight-lipped so far about what exactly it plans to do with all of these robots, but it is clear that Boston Dynamics is spearheading a revolution — a robotic revolution.
According to the Google exec who lead the Android effort Andy Rubin, the company’s robotics push is a “moonshot” — alluding to a grand scale project that could transform the landscape — but he has declined to comment any further. For Rubin, Boston Dynamics’ climbing, jumping and running array of machines are part of an emerging wave of autonomous machines, commenting that, “computers are starting to sprout legs and move around in the environment.”
Should Google’s latest purchase be a tad more than a little disconcerting to the average person? Multiple reasons why it should immediately come to mind:
1. Google is totally in bed with DARPA and the U.S. government.
Google, a company with a CEO quoted as saying things like “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about,” and “The Internet of things will augment your brain,” has strong ties to the U.S. government, particularly the CIA and NSA. The Corbett Report noted that, “In 2006, ex-CIA officer Robert David Steele told Homeland Security Today that Google “has been taking money and direction for elements of the US Intelligence Community, including the Office of Research and Development at the Central Intelligence Agency, In-Q-Tel, and in all probability, both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command.”
DARPA is the Department of Defense’s research arm, complete with creepy projects that run the gamut from mind controlling a squid to change its colors to genetically engineering humans by adding a 47th chromosome. The two are already quite familiar with each other. In fact, former DARPA Director Regina Dugan left her post to take an executive position leading Google subsidiary Motorola’s special projects, and she has since made appearances to show off the new smart tattoos they’ve developed that can authenticate a person’s body like an Internet password.
In addition, Google has announced it will continue all current government contracts at Boston Dynamics.
2. Ray Kurzweil. Just Ray Kurzweil.
Kurzweil, the leading proponent of the singularity and transhumanism and someone who is all about reverse-engineering the human brain to create artificial intelligence, took a position as Director on Engineering with Google in December 2012. Guess what Kurzweil will be focusing on at Google. Just take a wild guess. If you picked artificial intelligence, you win a gold star.
Kurzweil has openly admitted he is all about ushering in a transhumanist future where AI computer entities are given bodies, where the minds of humans are transplanted into mechanical vessels and more. (See the Global Future 2045 project and Kurzweil discussing how we’ll all be immortal by 2045 for more on that.)
A firm like Boston Dynamics would obviously be part of Kurzweil’s future vision dream team (and all come from the common wellspring of MIT.)
3. Terminator: Will Google become the real-life sentient evil computer network Skynet?
Here’s some food for thought on this cleverly illustrated by Dejan SEO (even though we’ve all been thinking it for years now):
…And we haven’t even fully explored the part where the robots turn against the humans in a bloody futuristic war.
While we’re on the topic of supposedly fictional movie plots coming true, it bears repeating that Google has already purchased seven other robotics firms just in the last six months alone.
If Google’s track record and current actions don’t sound like the perfect recipe for an exquisite and terrifying cybernetic revolt disaster, we’re not sure what is. See also the plot of The Matrix Trilogy.
Another film that comes to mind is Avatar, where robotic bodies are used by the military as a force multiplier. DARPA even currently has a $7 million project creatively codenamed “Avatar” with a goal of… wait for it… building robot surrogates for humans.
And those are just the three things that immediately came to our minds when we read the Google Boston Dynamics buyout headline…
(Let’s not even get started on the fact that ubiquitous smarter, faster and cheaper robots will ultimately mean less human jobs; that’s a whole other article entirely. Dystopic future here we come!)