Everyone used to think that the arrival of everyday-use robots would turn our world into something out of a super exciting sci-fi novel. Now, in 2020, the machines are here and doing all sorts of stuff—killing viruses, working in warehouses, fucking with gorillas, and becoming superheroes—but everything else about daily life is either kind of boring or terrifying in ways that have plenty of historic precedent.
Still, we must continue to document the robot’s continued rise around the world not because we expect them to usher in an era of flying cars and commuter jetpacks, but because it’s our duty to monitor them always to make sure they don’t develop any of that pesky “agency” that could spell the end of our species. And so, in constant vigilance, we present some incredibly stupid-looking robot cheerleaders dancing and singing for our amusement.
Unlike in the future, when they’ll be used to hunt down the last surviving humans huddled in underground caves decades after the robopocalypse, these machines have been deployed for a friendlier purpose: Cheering on the Softbank Hawks as they play baseball for the currently empty stands of Fukuoka, Japan’s Paypal Dome. Aside from the everyday cyberpunk reality of sports teams and stadiums being named after giant corporations, the robots are mostly just too goofy to seem threatening. But don’t let your guard down.
They come from manufacturing lines called “Spot,” which consists of our old robo-dog friend from Boston Dynamics, and the “Pepper” model, a series of humanoid freaks from Softbank Robotics, and have been outfitted with goofy little team hats and jerseys to wear as they dance rigidly choreographed dances. Watch the Peppers’ stubby arms perform enthusiastic motions as their giant cartoon eyes stare out toward some unknowable horizon. Take in the weirdly suggestive hip swivels of the Spot units as they perform their programmed moves in uncanny unison.
At some point while seeing all of this, it’s hard not to wonder: Are the robots helping provide some excitement for a bunch of humans playing baseball in an empty park? Or is the opposite true, and the players have actually been secretly contracted to their Softbank mechanical overlords, performing athletic feats on command for the cold, analytical amusement of soulless dancing machines and their bizarre metal pets?
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