The Emperor's New Exoskeleton
Recently there was extensive news coverage about Google acquiring Boston Dynamics. Boston Dynamics is a robotics company that specializes in military assistance robots that can walk, carry loads, and are able to recover from stumbles, etc. They are both amazing and frightening, even without any uncanny valley type features. Boston Dynamics has created machines that run faster than the fastest man, and have a strength and resilience that is simultaneously awesome and terrifying.
The news stories, blogs and Twitter feed all talked about Google's new robot overlord army and how it will be when they take over the world. I even chimed in, pondering the intersection of these capable robots combined with Google's extensive data libraries on just about everyone and everything, and their mapping and geolocative capabilities. That the combination and synthesis of these things would be a type of superpower, unbeknown to any human prior to this time. If we just kept it at this, it would be frightening enough.
Then, I realized why it is likely that Google made this move. Perhaps Google didn't acquire Boston Dynamics because it wants to dominate the world Cybermen style and take over. Perhaps there is another reason.
Google may have acquired Boston Dynamics to fulfill Ray Kurzweil's idea of "The Singularity." Raymond Kurzweil is now Director of Engineering at Google. Kurzweil has been in the press for years now talking about "The Singularlity," the idea that at some point humans will merge with machines. It seems that Kurzweil has devoted his life to strategies to perpetuate life. This is greatly simplified. The man takes at least 150 vitamins a day and writes books on the coming trend that we will merge with robots and our selves will be uploaded to the digital realm.
In planning for this future, though, Kurzweil will need a body. A robotic body. A body that can handle large uploads of his personal data as well as being able to merge with Google's rapidly developing Artificial Intelligence.
Google could have acquired Boston Dynamics to give Kurzweil a shot at a body for his Singularity afterlife.
If this is true, Google may be using future projects such as elderly assistants, factory floor robots, etc. as a learning curve or training ground for the prototypes. That said, given who is in charge, my guess is that the Emperor is working on his afterlife robotic exoskeleton.
Sally Applin December, 19 2013