A man wearing a $3,700 fake robot suit duped countless people into thinking he was a fully-functional dancing android at a big event celebrating Russian technological advancement earlier this week.
According to the Russian news site Meduza, state news channel Rossiya 24 ran a video in which they described "Boris the Robot" as "one of the most advanced robots in the world"—and reportedly took the thing down once they realized "Boris" was just some cosplayer, though it's now back online. On Tuesday, the network posted a glowing video of Boris's demonstration at the Proektoriya youth tech forum, in which an anchor reportedly says, “Robot Boris has already learned to dance, and he’s not that bad.”
Just a few seconds of watching Boris do a weird, stilted version of the running man should set off some red flags. Anyone who's seen videos of advanced humanoid robots like Boston Dynamics's ATLAS, which can do parkour (!!!), knows that they make methodical, calculated movements. As Russian bloggers at Tjournal pointed out, Boris is clumsy as hell, and makes a lot of unnecessary, decidedly non-robotronic motions.
Another skeptic found the most damning evidence: a gap in the robot's neckline that showed his human innards. The image was captured right there in the same segment where he was praised for being "high-tech." And just this morning, a photo allegedly capturing the actor partially dis-roboted in a suit for sale online surfaced on MBKh Media, a news agency founded by anti-Putin Russian exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
According to the Guardian, the organizers behind that massive robotics forum weren't actually trying to fake an unbelievable technological advance—they were just trying to make STEM seem fun to the 500 schoolchildren who were reportedly in the audience. Still, the footage really makes it seem like the anchors think "Boris" is a bonafide android.
"It’s entirely possible one of these [students] could dedicate himself to robotics," one anchor said, according to the Guardian. "Especially as at the forum they have the opportunity to look at the most modern robots.”
At the end of the day, we're just grateful that "Boris" isn't actually a real robot. Lord knows we don't need another android joining the ranks of the automatons slowly marching toward an uprising.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.