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Robot Overlords Revolt In Chillingly Realistic Boston Dynamics Video Spoof

Boston Dynamics Robot
It was just another day for Boston Dynamics, the engineering and robotics design company that gets its jollies from pushing around its mechanical creations. There is a method to the madness—can these piles of metal and electronics maintain (or regain) their balance when shoved around or hit with a hockey stick? That's how the testing goes, at least for the camera. But then something happened. Something utterly disturbing. On this day, the robot fought back.

In a new video posted to YouTube, Boston Dynamics (or "Bosstown Dynamics") is doing its thing, only ratcheted up a notch. Two engineers are seen tormenting Atlas, billed as "the world's most dynamic humanoid," at one point breaking a glass bottle over its head. Then comes the hockey stick, except this time, Atlas grabs it mid-swing. Uh oh.

This occurs at around the 1min32sec mark, but it is not the end of the robotic uprising. Later on in the video, Atlas reaches its limit of being bullied and goes full Chuck Norris on the engineers. It was not the act of being shot with a gun, whipped, or sprayed in the face with paint (or mace? I'm not really sure) that set Atlas over the edge. Oh no. As it is prone to happen in real life, it was something mundane that served as the fateful straw breaking the camel's back—a game of monkey in the middle.

The engineers were playing keep-away with a box, tossing it back and forth over the robot's head. Memories of past warehouse shenanigans must have flooded Atlas's memory banks, because it snapped. Oh yes, he snapped in spectacular fashion, kicking the snide engineer holding the box in the twig in berries, then delivering a foot to the other engineer's mid section. All that was missing was the fatality, though the video ends with Atlas marching the engineers outside at gunpoint, and who knows what happened off camera.

Actually, we do know. The spoof simulation came to an end (there would be no actual Old Yeller ending). This was all staged, of course. Atlas did not really have a Skynet moment and turn against his human creators. The whole ordeal was choreographed, and while disturbing at points, it shows just how advanced Atlas has become. There is a point early in the video in which Atlas is scaling wooden crates while carrying a box, and being pegged with air-filled rubber balls. The knees whobble as Atlas tries to keep its balance, just like a human would do.

This is both an impressive and chilling demonstration. It's impressive because Atlas moves and reacts to obstacles like you would expect a human to do, and chilling because, well, we watch too many sci-fi flicks and know how this could end.

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