Boston Dynamics Robot Dog Will Now Yell at You to Social Distance


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Eric Reads The News is a daily humor column which skewers politics, pop culture, celebrity, shade, and schadenfreude.

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Today in Signs of the Apocalypse: the terrifying Boston Dynamics robot dogs that can unlock doors like a velociraptor are being helpfully dispatched to parks to menace us about social distancing. Like a person on the internet commenting on a photo of a bunch of strangers, the robot dogs have strong opinions about what people should be doing in public and they’re ready to share. According to the Strait Times, the dogs were deployed to a park in Singapore for a two-week trial starting May 8. (And presumably ending whenever humanity surrenders.) The dogs “patrol” the parks, broadcasting a message about responsible social distancing and filming to estimate the number of people in the park.

So, to catch you up on the month’s news: last week the hornets pivoted to murder and this week surveillance dogs with the horsepower of a Prius are joining your run club. Coming next week: a plague of frogs that also have the ability to steal your identity and ruin your credit.

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Sorry to this man.

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The bracing sight of a headless robot dog trotting at a brisk pace through a public park notwithstanding, the initiative does have some good points. Reminders of and education on best practices for social distancing continue to be vital to maintaining public health and also peace between me and the people whose primary ambitions in life seem to be standing too close to me at the supermarket. (I know you’re annoyed by my pointed glares and loud harumphing, sir; you wouldn’t be able to see or hear them as well if you were six feet back. Something to think about!) Guidance is especially handy in outdoor situations where opinions seem to vary greatly about proper behavior. People are more confused about what to do when out and about in public parks than they are on who the real villain is in The Devil Wears Prada. We could argue amongst ourselves about whether joggers need to wear masks, but when a robot dog with adamantium claws backflips out of a bush like Suraya Bonali and growls “cover your face!” debate seems to a moot point.

For this reason alone, I welcome our new canine mechanical overlords. People can do whatever they want, but every time somebody gets within dueling distance of me, maskless and aspirating, I turn into Miss Piggy in the scene when her purse gets stolen in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

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pAh, the good old days where when someone wronged you in public, a pig puppet chased them down and attacked them. Now even Muppet jobs are going to machines. 2020 amiright?

Look, I’m not saying the terrifying robot murder dogs are bad, per se. I’m just saying look at the material.

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My dude tried to fight the robot dog with a hockey stick! The robot dog was like “Okay, what you’re not going to do is engage with me in hand-to-paw combat using props from The Mighty Ducks, my dude.” Has anyone checked on hockey stick guy? I am concerned. Old boy yanked on the robot dogs tail like he was ripping off a wig in a Drag Race reveal and that is literally the last we saw of him. The dog was like “Henchbots! Dispose!” Is this the friendly presence we want prowling our parks, scanning our faces for masks, and eventually running our government?

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“When I see no mask, I floor it.”

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Authorities say that although the dogs are fitted with cameras, they will not be able to identify or track individuals. Or at least that’s what the dogs are making them say. But we live in a world where all I have to do is think about a product for it to start showing up in my Instagram ads, so the assertion that the camera-equipped, bloodthirsty Hound of the Multi-taskervilles is just going to turn a blind-eye to me like he’s Bill Barr watching Trump do crime seems a little far-fetched.

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There’s currently no plan to unleash the hounds in American parks, but presumably if Jared Kushner can find a way to profit off it, there will be soon. Perhaps the whole administration can get into it. Maybe the White House will replace the daily coronavirus task force briefings with a stern message from a robot pup. A headless four-legged machine screeching at you like the 56k modem sound is more enjoyable and educational than anything the president has to say. So, I say, bring on the robot dogs and the murder hornets and the healing llamas and the identity theft frogs. Let’s fill up this dystopian Noah’s Ark!



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