Stupid robot article of the week, inhuman edition

Everything I Need to Know About (Real) Robots I Learned From Transformers (Wired, via AAAI)

Transformers don’t care about people, period… With their blatant disregard for people, Transformers burned into my psyche the idea that robots didn’t have to depend on—or be limited in the same ways as—humans. That was the kind of robot I wanted to build.

It’s a subtle but important lesson: Ballsy independent robots designed to sense, think, and act according to their own, nonhuman rules can transcend human abilities rather than pathetically imitate them. Real-life examples of this abound today: In 2001, the Deep Space 1 smart probe used an AutoNav system to choose its own path to Comet Borrelly; the Seahorse autonomous underwater vehicle from the US Navy can search unmanned for submerged mines; and in recent military demonstrations, bullet trackers like iRobot’s RedOwl can pinpoint camouflaged snipers in milliseconds. None of these robots want to be a human, hurt a human, or even ask a human for directions.


  1. Dude when you watch the new Futurama movie record some audio commentary on it and send it to me as an mp3 and I’ll punch you in as a guest on our next podcast about robots. This would be apt since the movie is about Bender.

  2. But, but, but! Autobots care about humans… they do their best to protect them. In the very first episode of Generation 1, several Autobots almost die in the ocean trying to save humans from a burning oil refinery.

  3. And in the motion picture quite a few of the first stringers buy the big metal farm protecting Autobot city on Earth. It’s a tough one really. Did they die to protect the humans and their Earth OR to protect Autobot city?

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