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Robot dog kicked

Meet Spot, the robot-dog of the future

Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 10:59 AM -

Google is making the news again and this time it's because of a viral video featuring their new robo-dog.

The video captures a 'four-legged' robot named Spot, the latest project of Boston Dynamics, a company owned by Google. In an attempt to display its resilience and ability to maintain balance the robot is kicked repeatedly during the video, which has caused a concern among many of the viewers. The robot wasn't really hurt in the making of the footage, but many viewers still left comments all across the internet, displeased with what they saw.

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Spot is a great example of the new development in robotics and is the spiritual successor to Big Dog, which was shown in its own video back in 2010. Big Dog was developed in conjunction with the U.S. military division, as its potential in militarized zones was outstanding. Since being purchased by Google, Boston Dynamics no longer are developing the project with a military purpose in mind.

But what to do with this robotic pet impervious to being kicked? According to the conditions of the purchase, Boston Dynamics and other robotic companies are given as much independence as possible. But according to Rory Cellan-Jones, the technology correspondent for the BBC, some signs point to that changing in the future.

If this proves true, Spot could become the 'pet' every young kid clamors for.

Feeling bad for the robot?

If you watch the video and feel bad for the robot dog, incapable of registering pain or sadness, you're not alone. In 2013, two studies found that most humans show signs of visible distress when observing robots being 'abused.' One study had people watching videos of robots being hugged and videos of robots being kicked. According to the results, humans showed signs of distress including sweating more when the robots were being mistreated.

In the second study, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe the brain activity of volunteers watching videos of humans, robots and inanimate objects being treated with abuse. The MRI scans reveal that similar patterns of brain activity were observed during the robot and human videos.

The authors of the study say that humans are still more empathetic toward each other but that could change as robots become more anthropomorphic.

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