It’s been almost ten years since the first episode of Black Mirror aired in the United Kingdom, and while we haven’t seen a world leader copulate with a pig on live television (at least not yet,) over the past decade, an uncomfortable number of the episodes concerning the potential ramifications of society’s crippling dependence on technology have actually been realized in the real world.
Over the past few years, companies who are apparently deadset on making the dystopian future of Black Mirror a reality (and learned nothing from Jeff Goldblum’s lecture about the short-sightedness of the scientists at Jurassic Park) have introduced a number of slightly concerning innovations. That includes AI that allows you to “talk” with dead people, contact lenses with a built-in computer, and the Boston Dynamics robots that are capable of communicating with each other.
Boston Dynamics has a proud history of developing the technological advancements that have brought us closer and closer to a robot apocalypse. At one point, those fears were largely hyperbolic, but they now seem to be fairly justified when you consider police in Massachusetts secretly conducted training operations featuring the robot dogs known as “Spot” that are capable of fighting back against any hostile humans they encounter.
Now, The Verge reports the French military is the latest organization that’s learned absolutely nothing from Black Mirror after students at a training academy were spotted conducting exercises with one of those machines at their side as officials prepare them for the “robotization of the battlefield.”
— Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan (@SaintCyrCoet) March 31, 2021
We did get some good news as a result of those tests, as one soldier who was interviewed said they were slowed down by the robot, which eventually had to be carried out of the simulated urban combat zone after its battery died.
It also appears the use of Spot wasn’t endorsed by the company that engineered it, as the vice president of Boston Dynamics told The Verge, “We’re learning about it as you are. We’re not clear on the exact scope of this engagement.” I can only hope militaries can also agree on rules of engagement to keep these virtual soldiers in line before it’s too late.