‘Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.’
So, maybe Google isn’t working on building a remorseless killing machine that has arrived from the future and aims to obliterate one woman in particular. At least I hope the good folk over at Google aren’t up to this kind of mischief, and if they are, I really, really hope they don’t give said robot a strong Austria-German accent! Now I’m sure at least one of you wonderful readers is a bit of a sharp witted-smart ass who’s thinking ‘they already have a robot - android. teehee!’ already thought of that, and no, I mean a real robot. Think C-3PO and R2-D2, Sonny from ‘I, Robot’, and of course, The Terminator.
Maybe not quite so dramatic and Hollywood like, but judging by the kind of companies they’ve been acquiring of late, it does seem like quite a distinct possibility. Google has been known to look for quirky and innovate technology and develop them as a one off, but this is something different, they aren’t just dipping a small toe into robotics, it looks more like a full-fledged dive into the deep end. Don’t believe me? In 2013 alone, Google has purchased a staggering 8 robotics companies, here’s some details on what they’re all about.
The reasons why Google appears to be building a robot
- Acquired company: Boston Dynamics
What its working on: BigDog and others like it
BigDog is the name for a robot developed by Boston Dynamics that is 10 levels of cool above anything you’ve ever seen, and also kind of creepy if you ask me. IT can run (gallop?) at speeds of up to 5 miles per hour, climb up hills and slopes, and can even retain its balance when kicked or pushed around. Some of these robots are even shaped, or rather built to resemble humans, so conceivably, Google has the body structure and the movement for a humanoid robot in the bag, along with vital components such as speed and balance.
- Acquired company: Redwood Robotics
What its working on: Robotic arms
Not much is known about Redwood Robotics, except that it develops user-friendly and cheap robotic arms that can function in a factory like space and make life easier for us puny humans. What is interesting, even though it is quite tongue in cheek, is what the Redwood Robotics website reads when you visit it. Take a look and see for yourself. This takes care of the important bits, the upper limbs, arms and whatnot. The robot has been already half-way there!
- Acquired Company: DeepMind Technologies
What its working on: Artificial Intelligence
Yup, that’s right, DeepMind is an AI firm based out of London that Google recently acquired for a staggering $400 Million recently. It is described as one of the foremost non-government affiliated companies that works on AI technologies, and looks like it will provide the brain for Google’s all conquering robot.
- Acquired Company: Bot and Dolly
What its working on: Robotic (camera) vision
Bot and Dolly specializes in robotic cameras that can go places that you can’t and pick things up that you are incapable of. Currently used to help shoot movies and make glamour Hollywood ‘money shots’ Bot and Dolly does look like it could go on to provide the eyes for our friendly neighborhood Google bot, or is that the purview of Google Glass?
So there you have it, the brain, the eyes, the legs, the hands, everything you need to make the perfect little (or big, beefy, muscular looking) robot. The best part is, these robots will even be able to mobilize with ease because Google is also working on Self-Driving Car! Now, I don’t know what the deal is with this whole Google robotics obsession, but it does throw up some interesting scenarios right?
Just picture this happening a few decades down the line:
A guy is walking down the street, when suddenly he’s accosted by a Google bot wielding a laptop. The bot says ‘you, why is Google.com not your homepage?’ the guy says the worst thing he could possibly say ‘I like Bing better’ Next thing you know, he’s been pummeled by the Google bot! What?! It could totally happen! It probably won’t, but it could it’s a slight possibility, teeny-tiny, no? Okay.
Imagine if it did though! (I know, sigh, just play a long) then this conversation would take place. Guy calling someone.
‘Good Evening, this is Cathy from The Hartford how may I be of assistance?’
‘Hi catchy, I umm, just got pummeled by a robot, and umm, I was wondering if that was covered in my health insurance plan.’
On a serious note, if Google does build robots to help humanity and make life easier or whatever, it will change the dynamic of the world we live in, and everything, including insurance will have to change with it. Let’s be honest for a minute though, I don’t particularly care if Google do build a robot, as long as it doesn’t sign off with the words ‘Hasta la vista, baby’ or ‘I’ll be back.