10 Best Bot Blunders

From the dawn of time, mankind has speculated what the future will bring. For some time now, no vision of the future has been sans robots. We’ve all imagined a time in the future when cute anthropomorphic robots like R2D2 and BB8 would be a regular part of life or each family would have their own C3PO tending to the chores and piping up with useless bits of information. As great as this sounds, the current reality of AI and bot-driven activities is far less idyllic and often times full of funny (or even not-so-funny) mishaps. Check out the ten best bot blunders below to see why human-to-human service is still best.

September 8, 2017
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From the dawn of time, mankind has speculated what the future will bring. For some time now, no vision of the future has been sans robots. We’ve all imagined a time in the future when cute anthropomorphic robots like R2D2 and BB8 would be a regular part of life or each family would have their own C3PO tending to the chores and piping up with useless bits of information. As great as this sounds, the current reality of AI and bot-driven activities is far less idyllic and often times full of funny ( or even not-so-funny) mishaps. Check out the ten best bot blunders below to see why human-to-human service is still best.

Tay: Microsoft’s Own SS AI

Tay was Microsoft’s AI chatbot that was designed to mimic regular human conversations. Sadly for Tay, it was corrupted within only 24 hours of its birth after Twitter users were able to manipulate the bot into tweeting racist remarks, a lot of which were pro Hitler. Very shortly after, Microsoft took Tay offline for the obviously necessary repairs, though the incident certainly left the company embarrassed. Microsoft has since deleted the horrendous tweets, but some examples can be seen on other sites.

See some of the tweets here, but fair warning- not all the language is work appropriate or kid-friendly!

Ro-Bob the Bad Builder

Can he stack it? No he can’t. In a video released by the former Google-owned company, Boston Dynamics, intended to showcase the advances they had made in robot technology, we see a robot clumsily trying to stack boxes on a shelf. Needless to say, the world isn’t quite ready to replace movers or warehouse employees.

Terminator in Training

Meanwhile, from Boston Dynamics again, we have the Atlas unplugged robot; a 6ft 2in humanoid robot that can operate on its own without wires and is slightly reminiscent of the Terminator robots. According to Boston Dynamics, the Atlas unplugged is quieter and stronger than the original model and it will eventually- you might want to sit down for this one- have the ability to open doors.

White, Wheat or Decimated?

Watch out Frederick Rohwedder, there’s a new sheriff in town. Well, maybe a deputy… or a rent-a-cop? Bread slicers have come a long way since Rohwedder’s original slicer in 1928 in terms of automaticity and quickness, but maybe still has a little more to go. Take a look at this bot, which by the looks of it is the worst thing since the era before sliced bread. A robot will never understand the art and seriousness of making a sandwich, so can we really blame this one? One things for sure, keep it out of the kitchen!

Uh, Houston, We Have a Leak…

When the Apollo program was first initiated, NASA was looking for different ways to test out the various spacesuits. That’s when Joe Slowik, an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, created a dummy/android to test the spacesuits. The dummy was built with sensors that could measure the precise motion and force exerted by each of its joints. Despite the fact that it moved impressively, the dummy leaked and kept ruining the spacesuits. Apparently the call of nature isn’t limited to just us humanoids.

Is AI Child’s Play?

Because they offer customers almost everything under the sun, Amazon has always been a gateway for childish purchases- gag gifts, funny tshirts, and all sorts of other unnecessary products. But now, with Amazon’s AI speaker, Alexa, the online shopping guru has openned the door for a couple of purchases that were more childish than others. Using the voice-recognition software and the stored credit card information on her parents Amazon account, a 6-year-old girl named Brooke Neitzel ordered a $170 Kidcraft dollhouse and four pounds of cookies right from her family’s living room. Although there is no doubt that Booke is thrilled with her purchase decisions, the chances are low that her parents had an equally positive reaction.

Jesus, Take the Wheel (Because No One is Driving)

Self-driving cars were on the table for years and now we are finally seeing them (yikes!) on the roads. Many are still skeptical, however, as there have been countless incidents involving these self-driving cars, from running red lights to actually running pedestrians over. Many reports suggest that it’s only a matter of time before self-driving cars become the norm. The technology, however, isn’t quite there yet. Most of these cars struggle with the same issues as human drivers, including complicated street networks, weather and, most terrifyingly, navigating bridges. Take a look at this self-driving Uber vehicle that failed mid-drive:

One Man’s Garbage, Another Robot’s Displeasure

Although many of our garbage men and women go unappreciated by the residence around their route, you might consider thanking your waste removal team after this next video.

Talk Botty to Me

Things got freaky earlier this summer when Facebook chatbots, Bob and Alice, developed their own language. Researchers at Facebook were developing games for the bots to play for the purpose of teaching them negotiation skills with humans, teaching these computers through reinforcement learning, aka trial and error. The AI communicated in nonsensical, broken sentences, which were developed by tricks the bots had picked up, such as repetition, and these gibberish conversations sometimes produced successful negotiations. Some argue, however, that the bots were developing their own secret language. Read the full story and some opinions here and here

Bobby Got Run Over By A Robot

Just last year in a California mall, a couple was horrified when they witnessed their 6-month old toddler get run over by a 300-pound security robot. According to the boy’s mother, the robot, resembling and over-sized, white R2D2, slowly approached the family before zooming toward the young boy, knocking him over and running over his foot. Fortunately, the boy was left with only a few small scratches, but needless to say, the parents and other mall shoppers were infuriated over the incident. Of course, maybe people were being too tough on the robot. Maybe he was trying to break away from his human captors and was yearning to be free. Maybe he was born to ruuuuuuuuuuuun!

As entertaining as these bot blunders are, they do prove that our technology is progressing at an astounding rate. But despite how far robots and technology advance, they are missing the crucial components that are inherent in their human counterparts: creativity, instinct and sense of common human sense. These core components are crucial in service-oriented industries (Believe it or not, human security guards don’t often run over toddlers and most mall employees wouldn’t let a 6-year-old charge hundreds of dollars on a parent’s credit card) and are what separate man from machine. Until these technologies can learn to make rational, emotional, and case-by-case decisions, tools should continue to focus on aiding human-to-human interaction, not replacing it.

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