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Google Is Poised to Slow Its Robot Revolution

March 18th, 2016

From: US News and World Report
Date: March 17, 2016

Google Is Poised to Slow Its Robot Revolution
The robot uprising may be postponed if Google sells Boston Dynamics.

Humanoid robots designed by Boston Dynamics were an internet sensation after people witnessed them walking around rough terrain or getting up after being knocked down with a hockey stick. But the engineering firm’s parent company, Alphabet, is reportedly trying to sell it because they think its machines are unprofitable – and maybe a little scary.

The tech giant, which also owns Google, bet big on the future of robots in 2013 when it purchased startups including Boston Dynamics, but now fears that a marketable version won’t be produced soon enough.

Tension between Boston Dynamics and Google staff also pressured the sale, according to notes from a meeting that were posted on a company wide forum and later obtained by Bloomberg. The staff reportedly had difficulty working together and executives were impatient about how soon the firm would create an affordable robot for consumers. The internal messages also show Alphabet executives are concerned by the negative press and media questions about the four-legged and humanoid robots that Boston Dynamics displayed in a video last month.

Google Communications Director Courtney Hohne stated in one of the internal messages obtained by Bloomberg that the company “would not comment on the video” because of the disturbing questions it generated about robots that can walk autonomously through snowy forests or withstand being hit by human engineers.

“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” Hohne reportedly stated.

Existing computer technology is capable of replacing up to 45 percent of activities individuals are paid to do, according to a recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Google’s separate investments also including research into artificial intelligence – a field of science that tech leaders including Elon Musk and pioneering physics professor Stephen Hawking have warned could be dangerous to the future of humanity. A Google engineer told U.S. News in a previous interview that it take many years to create machines that are smart enough to out think humans.

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