After calling for new restrictions on DJI drone sales in the US, Brendan Carr, a senior Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), now wants to ban Spot – the robotic dog developed by Boston Dynamics. His argument? “I’ve seen Terminator, I’ve seen I, Robot. I know how this ends.”
On Wednesday night, Carr took to Twitter to rant about the robot apocalypse. Carr declared that he was going to propose a new rule that would put a ban on any robotic dog that was “too large to kick over” in case of an emergency.
When people started pointing out that perhaps a high-ranking official could do better than to let science fiction influence policymaking, Carr not only tried to defend his credentials as an avid Hollywood fan, but he also accused a Twitter user of running a “burner account for a robot dog that has gone sentient.”
There also came a point when Carr took offense over suggestions that he should read up more about robotics. Arguing that people weren’t giving Hollywood researchers due credit, Carr insisted, “You’re essentially digesting encyclopedias worth of robotics knowledge by watching [movies].”
Why FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wants to ban Spot the robot dog
Here’s Carr with his arguments:
Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and government relations at Boston Dynamics, obviously felt compelled to join the conversation. Explaining that Spot’s top speed was limited to 3.6 miles per hour – meaning anyone could easily outwalk it – Schulman pointed to a failsafe mechanism Boston Dynamics had put in place to instantly disable the robotic dog.
“I would welcome an informative discussion about any concerns,” Schulman said.
In reply to this, Carr decided to reference another Hollywood flick, The Walking Dead. Speed wasn’t the problem, the commissioner argued, persistence was.
The zombies don’t move very fast either. They walk; it’s right there in the title.
But notice how they’re always right on your heels, nonetheless? The speed limit is cold comfort.
It’s worth pointing out that Boston Dynamics has a standing policy not to allow the weaponization of its robotics systems. On the other hand, there are companies that have already created a rifle-toting robot dog and even showcased it at the annual convention of the Association of the US Army earlier this month.
Let’s just hope no one tells Carr about the Metalhead episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror.
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