uh oh

These Robot Dogs Are Absolutely the Beginning of the End

Robots can open doors now. The next logical progression is killing us, awfully.

Joel Golby

Joel Golby

Image via Boston Dynamics

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Hey! This is bad!

This is bad, isn’t it! I think we can all agree this is bad! And it’s not like I was living a life like, I'll be fine from the eventual robot uprising: I’ll just close the door on them, and that will confound them and their primitive hands. No. I've always assumed robots, when they choose to murder me, will just burst through doors, exploding them with their mighty shoulders. But there’s something in this video that just... It’s like watching an animal wiggle to life and gain just an extra click of sentience. It’s like watching intelligence bloom and immediately eclipse us. It’s like watching the future, and the future wants us to die. Again:

Obviously, all I can think of right now is: Can this robot dog kill me? And the answer is: Not yet. I mean, under certain circumstances, the robot dog could kill me—I feel if it propels itself up to a high enough speed, for instance, scrabbling toward me on all those gun-like legs, topples me down like I’m being hit by a small low car, and I’m on a well-polished floor, and I go down like a sack of shit, head gone, clok, instant brain bleed, agonizing death, the dog just robotically pants at me—or perhaps it could pound me to a mush by repeatedly slamming and unslamming a door upon me, head then legs then head again, until I stop twitching.

But, fundamentally, the robot dog cannot kill me because it does not yet have the desire to kill.

That's soon to come, though. That’s the thing with robot dogs that can open doors: They just keep evolving, like a snowball of progression barreling down a hill of technology. Soon, the dogs will be able to undo jam jars and tie intricate knots. They will be able to sift flour and change a kitchen garbage bag. They will be able to choke you unconscious with their rigid plastic pincers, as tiny lasers scan your eyes for the final flickers of life extinguishing inside you. They’ll be able to blast an unerring forearm into the softest meat of you and pulse around inside until they find the organ they want, which they will snip out neatly as you bleed beneath them on the floor. They will be able to crush your skull like a Coke can. They’ll be able to flick through a telephone book. They’ll be able to break your nose with a single peck. They’ll be able to strike a match. They’ll be able to slosh your warm body with gas and light the building on fire.

No, come on, I’m a smart man. I can defeat this robot dog. I reckon with one outstretched leg I could tip it over on its side, and it will scrabble and struggle to get up—like literally every robot in the first season of Robot Wars. The arm bit of it looks good now, obviously, but with a decent enough attack to the joints of it, it would fold and crumple beneath me. Think: The backseat of a Toyota Prius seems quite sturdy. Until you start beating the shit out of it with something, and then it starts to bend and yield. This robot dog is just that, but with a door-claw and death on its mind. Could I fuck it up with a baseball bat? I feel like I could fuck it up with a baseball bat. I am immediately going to a local sporting goods store and getting a baseball bat.

Soon the robot dogs will be baseball bat-proof, and then it’s time to worry. The clunking dread of the door dog is this: This isn’t even the freakiest and most advanced robot you will see in your lifetime. This is just the horrid start of Skynet closing in. Soon, the robot dogs will stand, and jump, and sprint, and squeeze us to death in monstrous robot bear hugs. Human blood will seep into the concrete beneath us. Only those on the side of the monsters will survive the onslaught.

What can we learn from the beasts? They are polite: In holding the door, the robot dog literally has more manners than I do. I’m going to start thanking bus drivers and helping old ladies cross the street. I'll figure out what side plates are for. I'll start giving my change to the homeless. I’m going to be nicer to technology, too: I'll un-peel the tape from my laptop webcam, stop using my phone on the toilet, do that thing less where I throw a remote control in a perfect arc across the room. Your iPad is on the side of the victors, now, so stop downloading porn onto it that makes it run all slow. Maybe, together, we can appease the beasts long enough to stave them off. But when they turn, O, when they turn. You will not even hear the knock on the door. It will just shudder open. And then: death. Sweet, sweet death.

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