There’s some new dog-like robot who just “learned to open doors”. Most people are excited, or scared, by the dog itself. Maybe they should worry more about the door.

Robot dogs opening doors. Or keeping them shut? /img/robot-dog-opening-door.jpg
Boston Dynamics' newest robot learns to open doors

The official demonstration of that robot is described in an article that, among other things, points out “both the agility of the arm itself, as well as the robot’s ability to maintain balance”. That whole demonstration begs the question:

Who should you fear first, or most?

  • door-opening robots stealing even porter and concierge jobs from humans?
  • robot dogs that can chase and kill you, even if you closed all doors behind you and them, like the raptors in Jurassic Park?

Or should you fear, for example, whoever may use such robots to KEEP YOU behind closed doors? Never gets tired, can move fast even on rugged terrain, alone or in packs, reports everything it sees in real time to base, can grab and block even heavy “objects”…

That thing may be the best guardian ever for any labor or refugees camp. In several settings, it could be a much better surveillant than drones.

At the same time, and for the same reasons that would make of it an excellent bounty killer, that thing would be an excellent Search and Rescue assistant, able to save many more lives than “normal” dogs after heartquakes, flood and so on.

So that’s the problem with “robots that can open doors”. In and by itself, “opening doors” is a nice trick, nothing more. Maybe you can try normal dogs to do the same, maybe they already do. Whatever. The problem in cases like this is not (necessarily) the technology, in and by itself. It’s who will use it, and for what reasons.