5 New Technologies That Look So Needlessly Evil

The rapid advance of technology is both marvelous and terrifying to behold. Look, we know none of the following things are actually evil. We know that technological progress is going to be unsettling sometimes, because shaking up the status quo always is. But sometimes there's just something so off about the latest, greatest innovation, we can't help but suspect it was devised by a mustache-twirling loon bent on conquering the planet. Such as ...

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5
The Navy's Firefighting Robots Look More Likely To Set Them

Robots are a natural fit for hazardous tasks that most sensible humans would prefer to avoid, like going into combat, or talking to your children. Fighting fires also belongs on that list, so it's perfectly understandable that the U.S. Navy has designed two of them (named "Octavia" and "Lucas") to assist in suppressing shipboard blazes. That makes sense. It does not make sense that they gave them faces, much less permanently set those faces to "malevolently bored."

US Navy

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This is not the product demonstration room. The researchers have no idea where that fire came from.

Even worse: The horror-doll siblings don't merely roll (they're perched atop modified Segways) into a fire scene, squirt some retardant about willy-nilly, and return to their nooks, never to be seen by human eyes again. They're meant to interact with people, via "a booming voice," and visual recognition technology that "algorithmically computes how to handle discordant or contradictory information." So you can't even kill them with a paradox -- mankind's only surefire weapon against robots!

4
Bat Bots Are For Construction (Of Nightmares)

When reports begin to surface that the federal government is investing big money into the development of "mechanical bats," certain questions need to be asked. Such as, "W-why?" and "Is there any way we can get you to stop?"

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Oh, but there's a perfectly good, official explanation for this atrocity that shouldn't concern you in the slightest. According to the National Science Foundation, they're for supervising construction sites.

Ramezani/Chung/Hutchinson/Caltech

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If that's the best cover story they could come up with, maybe we really do need to start spending more money on defense.
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Bat Bots began as a "casual conversation" between a few unnamed engineering professors, presumably the sort with last names like "Depravicus," "Von Nefarios," or "Musk." They believed an airborne robot with the characteristics of a screeching, rabies-riddled cave rodent "could do a better and safer job getting into disaster sites and scoping out construction zones than bulky drones with spinning rotors." The government's response to these "professors" was somehow not a trip to Super-Prison, but a $1.5 million grant. And so we wound up with this new nightmare:

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These things would be great at swooping into disaster sites -- just huge swarms of semi-transparent robo-bat skeletons, screeching and dive-bombing the wounded to provide ... comfort? It's unclear how, exactly, a Bat Bot would be preferable to a non-Halloween-themed drone in these scenarios. But don't worry, this will all make more sense when they unveil the next version, which spends its downtime dangling upside down. Because that was the part that disconcerted us: It's not hanging upside down. Not lurking above our heads, in the shadows of dark ledges. We hated that part. Thanks for fixing it.

Ramezani/Chung/Hutchinson/Caltech

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It also has facial recognition so it is always looking directly at you.

3
Tesla's Charging System Wants To Violate Your Car

When you really love a car, it's more than just a machine. It's your steed. Even ... your friend? And who doesn't want to watch their friends being unceremoniously probed by robots, every single time they turn the lights off in the garage?

Tesla Motors

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"Since we can't do it in the tailpipe, we have to come up with something else."

This disturbingly flexible roboner is actually a fueling system. Fresh from the broiling termite mound that is Elon Musk's brain, Tesla is offering a home charging station for electric cars that, for no explainable reason, doubles as Transformer pornography.

The concept is simple enough: A robotic tentacle maneuvers into position, so that it makes contact with the charging point on the Tesla. However, as tech insiders have pointed out "it's unclear exactly what problem this solves," since many Tesla owners could actually plug a thing in themselves. No, the only explanation for this invention is some engineer's perverse desire to make machines that violate other machines.

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors

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And/or to have a prehensile penis.

2
A Terrifying Combat Droid To Do Your Household Chores

Boston Dynamics is responsible for a number of alarmingly terrible automatons. But normally, their metallic horror bots are intended for the battlefield. Now they're working on offering the public their very own domestic abomination -- purportedly to help out with household tasks.

Boston Dynamics

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The end game is to eventually have a Terminator in a French maid outfit.

A miniature 55-pound-version of their DARPA-friendly Warhound, this ghastly horse-skull-headed hyena-droid runs for about an hour and a half on a single electrical charge, and is remarkably quiet as far as cybernetic hell beasts go. It comes equipped with a "variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro and proprioception sensors in the limbs." All of these assets work in concert to make SpotMini a friendly lil' robot helper around the house, one that can do things like "slowly doing dishes, careful not to crush them with superhuman strength."

Boston Dynamics

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"Half the parts are in U.S. units and the other half is in metric, but we're sure that won't be a problem."

SpotMini looks like an artificial intelligence determined the cutest part of a dog to be its skeleton. But if you can get past the initial shock of seeing the Terminator's dog prancing around your living room, using its alloyed Skeksis face to poke into every facet of your home life, some might say it was cute.

Those people are all deranged psychopaths, and the rest of us need protection from them.

1
Countries Are Developing Swimming Robot Snakes For ... Uh ... Maaaaintenaaaance ...?

A Norwegian company with the not-at-all-Bond-villain name "Eelume," has designed a functional mechanical snake. Finally! Because that's what snakes needed: enhanced armor. It's purportedly designed for "inspections and repair," which absolutely explains the pitch-black scales and glowing malevolent eyes.

Kongsberg Gruppen

Kongsberg Gruppen

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Well, it is dark inside pipes. And bodies.

Luckily, this mecha-snake is capable of "light intervention jobs" and "disruptive solutions," which both sound an awful lot like an intelligence agency dancing around the subject of cold-blooded murder.

Kongsberg Gruppen


"Oh, I don't have blood. Yet."

There's also mechanized sea serpent activity underway in Japan (obviously). ACM-R5H is the thing's Star Wars assassin droid-sounding moniker ...

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They don't even have an application for it. They made this thing and they don't know why.

And there's no explicit mention of toxic projectiles or explosive metallic fangs in the design docs. The inventors only boast of it being "versatile," and capable of operating in "extreme environments." Side note: Your blood is probably considered a pretty extreme environment.

HiBot

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"Your flesh is a relic; a mere vessel. Hand over your flesh, and a new world awaits you."

E. Reid Ross is the author of Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again, which is in stores now, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For more robot overlords we can look forward to, check out The 5 Most Terrifying Robot Advances In Recent History and 6 Shocking Ways Robots Are Already Becoming Human.

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