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Who killed the robot dog?


George Jetson did He doesn’t want his family to adopt a dog. For the future family patriarch in the 1960s animation The Jetsons, the apartment living in the era of flying cars and cities in the sky was incompatible with an animal in need of regular walks and care, so he bought instead an electronic dog called ‘Lectronimo’, which does not require feeding and even attacks thieves. In a competition between Astro – essentially the future Scooby-Doo – and a robot dog, Lectronimo did all the classic dog tasks best, but without personality. The machine ended up being a comic set of equipment, a streak of laughter for both the Jetsons and the audience. Bots are not threats, they are silly.

This is how we imagined robot dogs, and animals in general, for most of the 20th century, according to Jay Tilott, professor emeritus in the School of Literature, Media and Communication at Georgia Tech. A 1927 Disney cartoon called “Mechanical Cow” imagines a cow robot on wheels with a broom for a tail that skates around delivering milk to animal friends. The worst that could happen is that your mechanical farm could falter, as in the 1930s “Technoracket” cartoon, but until then robotic animals weren’t really a threat to their biological counterparts. In fact, many ‘animal’ visions have been in movies and TV over the years in cartoons and comics, where ‘the laughter they generate usually assures us they’re not really dangerous,’ says Tilot. and countless in popular culture over the years, from Dynomutt, the Dog Wonder, to the cyborg dog series called K9 in Dr. Who.

However, our nearly 100-year romance with the robot dog came to a miserable end. It seems like every month Boston Dynamics releases another dance video of its SPOT robot and the media responds with first awe, then fear, and finally with night-horror editorials about our future under the brutal rule of the ruling robots. While Boston Dynamics explicitly prohibits turning their dogs into weapons, Ghost Robotics’ SPUR is currently being tested at various air bases (with an impressive variety of potential weapon attachments), and Chinese company Xiaomi is hoping to undermine SPOT more cheaply and in some way. The scariest Cyberdog. All this means is that the robot dog as before – a symbol of a fun high-tech future full of amazing social and artificial life – is dead. How did we get here? Who killed the robot dog?

quadrilateral we Usually called robots dogs are the offspring of a long line of mechanical life, historically called machines. One of the earliest examples of such autonomous machines was the “defecating duck,” devised nearly 300 years ago by French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson, in 1739. This mechanical duck – which seemed to eat small bits of grain, then stopped, Then immediately excrete the digested grains on the other end—along with many other machines of the age, they were “philosophical experiments, and attempts to discern which aspects of living beings can be reproduced in machines, to what degree, and what these copies might reveal about their subjects.” natural,” wrote Stanford historian Jessica Rissen.

Duck defecation was, of course, a very strange and gross scam, pre-loaded with a fecal-like substance. But nevertheless, the preoccupation with identifying aspects of life that were purely mechanical was a dominant intellectual preoccupation at the time, and even inspired the use of soft, lightweight materials such as leather in the construction of another type of biological model: prosthetic hands, which were previously built of metal. Even today, biologists are building robotic models of their animal subjects to better understand how they move. As with many of its mechanical siblings, a large part of a robot dog’s life has been an exercise in recreating the lovable pet, perhaps even subconsciously, to learn which aspects of the organisms are mechanical and which are organic. A robotic dog should look and act like a dog enough, but what actually makes a dog a dog?

American manufacturing company Westinghouse introduced perhaps the first electric dog, the Sparko, at the 1940 New York World’s Fair. The 65-pound metal dog served as a companion to the company’s electric man, Electro. (the term Robot It didn’t come into common use until about the middle of the 20th century.) What was most interesting about both of these promotional robots was their apparent autonomy: light stimuli triggered their motion sequences, quite effectively, in fact, it’s clear that Sparco’s sensors responded to the lights of a car transient, which causes it to speed up in oncoming traffic. Sparko and Elektro, as part of a campaign to help sell washing machines, represent Westinghouse’s engineering prowess, but they were also among the first attempts to bring science fiction to reality and lay the foundation for an imagined future filled with robotic companionship. The idea that robots could be interesting companions persisted throughout the 20th century.

When AIBO – the archetypal robot dog created by Sony – debuted in the early 2000s, it was its artificial intelligence that made it extraordinary. The advertisements for the second generation of AIBO promised “intelligent entertainment” that simulated free will with individual characters. AIBO’s learning abilities have made each dog at least somewhat unique, making it easier to be considered special and easier to love. It was their AI that made them look like dogs: playful, curious, sometimes disobedient. When I was 10 years old, I walked into the Food and Agriculture Organization of Schwartz in New York in 2001 and watched AIBOs at the helm of a display of tiny pink balls, something about these little creations ripped my heart out — despite the insurmountable rift between me and the machine, I still He wanted to try to get to know him and understand him. I wanted to love a robot dog.

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