A robotics company claims a robot that 'remembers and learns' has escaped their lab twice. Come on now.

A robotics company claims a robot that 'remembers and learns' has escaped their lab twice. Come on now.
Advertising

According to both The Mirror and Metro UK, a robot that "remembers and learns" has remembered and learned how to escape the confines of its lab in Perm (a city in central Russia), not just once, but twice. The implication is that somehow the robot, a Promobot IR77, has achieved sentience and now Short Circuit is real.

Here's video of the robot's purported second "escape."

Upon hearing this, you might be thinking, "Oh no, robot revolution, the end is nigh!" or maybe even, "HOORAY! THE SINGULARITY!" (ahem, guilty) but once initial excitement fades, perhaps you must admit that there's no way this can be real. Look at the facts:

• Here is a video from nine-months-ago of Oleg Kivokurtsev, co-founder of the research center (Skolkovo Robotics Center) that engineered Promobot, talking about what the robot was designed to do.

Advertising

Okay, so it's meant to assist in navigation, "broadcast promotional information," and collect customer contacts. It's no HAL 9000 (RIP, HAL). So there's probably no need to worry about imminent machine apocalypse. YET.

• Promobot claims that the first escape occurred when an engineer testing the robot in the courtyard left a gate ajar, allowing the robot to "escape," only to run out of battery in the middle of a crosswalk (ugh, typical, right?). The robot was missing for 45 minutes, during which time it was ogled by passerby in cars and on foot. If one were designing a publicity stunt, that sounds like a pretty good plan.

Advertising

• The company has the "escape" posted on its own website, with the headline "A robot fled the test site." Additionally, local news coverage of the robot's escape has been uploaded to Promobot's official YouTube page. If this robot's inexplicable sentience were actually a problem, it seems unlikely that the company would be broadcasting their design error. "Hey, buy our robots, there's a chance they might form an uprising and kill you, but theoretically they'll be able to give you directions to the nearest restroom until then."

Advertising

• This is not a robot designed to get around. It moves very slowly and there doesn't appear to be any obvious means for righting itself (like, for example, these guys) when it inevitably falls off a curb. Mechanically speaking, it's not a whole lot more advanced than Rosie from The Jetsons. So how did it even get to the street during its "escape"? Answer: it didn't. No proof, just a hunch.

Advertising

• Kivokurtsev has said that they're considering "scrapping" this second version of the model, due to the minor problem where one of them seems to be alive and looking to flee captivity. However, he claims they're still proceeding with the release of the third version, scheduled for the fall. Hmm. If they were really so concerned with the "becoming conscious" problem, would they really still be on schedule to release the third version? Because that seems…unwise. Have these people ever heard of movies?

Advertising

• Promobot has said that the other robots are "well-behaved" and this is the only one who's tried to escape. Kivokurtsev said: "We have changed the AI system twice, so now I think we might have to dismantle it." According to the Metro, the plan to dismantle the robot has upset a "group of rights activists who say the free-thinking robot has earned the right to remain alive." Okay, NO, IT HAS NOT. There cannot be any ROBOT RIGHTS ACTIVISTS protesting the scrapping of the robot. Nor is the robot itself worried about being "scrapped." ("NO DISASSEMBLE!")

Advertising

So while it's terrifying/fun to think that this artificial intelligence has led to robot consciousness, it seems highly unlikely. Rest assured that if someone does design/achieve the singularity, it will not be by accident, and it will probably not be designed to get tourists to the correct airplane gate.

Advertising