A security guard robot has met a watery end in a shopping centre water fountain, prompting a social media storm of doomsday predictions about suicidal robots and Marvin-related humour.
The Knightscope security robot was patrolling the Georgetown Waterfront shopping complex in Washington D.C. on Monday when it apparently launched itself to its death.
"Our D.C. office building got a security robot. It drowned itself," one Twitter user Bilal Farooqui wrote.
"We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots."
Our D.C. office building got a security robot. It drowned itself.
We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots. pic.twitter.com/rGLTAWZMjn— Bilal Farooqui (@bilalfarooqui) July 17, 2017
Others tweeted images of the robot's human colleagues mounting a rescue from the fountain.
— Greg Pinelo (@gregpinelo) July 17, 2017
The robot is a Knightscope security robot, used by several Californian shopping centres for security. It's designed to identify anomalies in its environment, and then alert other (human) guards to any security threats.
While some mourned the passing of 'Steve the robot', others used the droid's untimely end to take down Elon Musk's predictions that artificial intelligence poses a fundamental threat to humanity.
Don't know what @elonmusk is so worked up about...— Theo Priestley (@tprstly) July 17, 2017
Elon Musk: "Robots will be able do everything better than us."— Elan Ruskin (@despair) July 18, 2017
Of course, it's more likely that the security bot simply didn't detect the body of water -- which is only slightly below ground-level -- as anything other than solid ground, and so drove straight into it.
The Knightscope's company website says the security robots' "autonomous presence" allows them to "guide themselves through even the most complex environments" -- but not, apparently, bodies of water.
But that didn't stop Twitter going into sci-fi overdrive:
His name was Marvin. pic.twitter.com/fo0FwryjPn— Patrick L. Lee (@patricklee6669) July 17, 2017
straight from the Daleks in Doctor Who pic.twitter.com/eLWn2Pj1gw— Darshan Shankar (@DShankar) July 17, 2017
Someone needs to update the Robot Resources employee manuals. pic.twitter.com/81ThGyrdi8— Mambo dogface (@SlackerGeorge) July 17, 2017
I don't blame the poor robot. All those human security guards "metal shaming" him ever time he came to work. 👮 The humanity!— Shawn 🌞 Strickland (@Strickalator) July 17, 2017
It's not the first time a Knightscope robot has run into mischief.
In April this year, one of the 136-kilogram security guards was knocked down by a drunk man in Silicon Valley while patrolling the Knightscope offices. And last year, the same kind of robot knocked down and then ran over a toddler at a California mall.
At the time, Knightscope vice president of marketing and sales Stacy Dean Stephens defended the robots as "incredibly safe" -- but not, it would seem, for their own self-preservation.
With predictions that robots will rob a billion humans of their jobs before too long, it's nice to know we can still do some things better.
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