Mini Cheetah Robots Could Be Elon Musk’s Worst Artificial Intelligence Nightmare

MIT's Mini Cheetah robot is capable of running, walking, jumping and turning.
MIT’s Mini Cheetah robot is capable of running, walking, jumping and turning. MIT Biometric Robotics Lab

How many times can I say it—over and over again, until it becomes like mental nails against a mental chalkboard? We all know the quote from Elon Musk that says something to the effect that “artificial intelligence (AI) is far more dangerous than nukes.”

Well, welcome to the Tesla CEO’s worst nightmares courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

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The company has been making robots since 1992, and its astute credo is: “Changing your idea of what robots can do.” One of those ideas is to have a robot do parkour, jumping over logs and leaping steps without breaking pace.

Want a robot that can do a backflip? Boston Dynamics has got that covered as well.

Still, none of Boston Dynamics’ mechanical concoctions are more terrifying than the group of bipedal and doglike robots. There’s something very apocalyptic about watching these autonomous machines fall and gain composure—as if they will suddenly retaliate from the disruption by… wiping out the entire human race. This robotic AI paranoia is so pervasive that I was actually fooled into thinking that this parody video, produced by Corridor Digital, was legitimate.

Sure, this is nothing new; humanoid robots kicking human ass have long been on our fearful radar since the days of Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic, Metropolis.

But, Boston Dynamics is partially funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency of the United States Department of Defense, whose site touts the creation of “breakthrough technologies and capabilities for national security.” Boston Dynamics’ “BigDog” line of quadrupedal robots were first developed to serve as artificial pack animals as part of a military contract with DARPA.

So, why are they creating autonomous parkour jumping AI robots—if not to fuel Musk’s worst fears? Won’t wars be more easily fought, if it were AI robots against a bunch of humanoids? That should surely keep Musk up at night?

Boston Dynamics isn’t the only robotic company giving me the heebie-jeebies. MIT has cunningly created an army of “indestructible” (as claimed by researchers) Mini Cheetah robots that can not only do backflips… but also play soccer.

Think I’m blowing your mind? Well, just watch.

Holy hell! Just imagine what would happen if you pissed off some crazed MIT robot scientist and the wrath he could reap on you with a platoon of Mini Cheetah robots? The sound alone of these clanking metallic monstrosities is already enough to haunt my nightmares.

“A big part of why we built this robot is that it makes it so easy to experiment and just try crazy things, because the robot is super robust and doesn’t break easily,” Benjamin Katz of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering told MIT News.

Hmmm… that sounds vaguely familiar, like the main plot point of Black Mirror’s season 4 “Metalhead” episode, in which a doglike robot turns on humanity, who’s then hunted down by these ferocious devices.

Let’s just hope these AI robots don’t hack into our autonomous cars and try to plow us down—like the self-driving Uber hitting a pedestrian in Arizona.

As Musk knows, you can’t reason with AI killer robots; they will continue on until they’ve achieved their programming goal…

So good thing that these robots, partially funded by DARPA, are only here for our human amusement—and not harm. Funny little robots, dance.

Just don’t piss off the Mini Cheetahs.

Mini Cheetah Robots Could Be Elon Musk’s Worst Artificial Intelligence Nightmare