by futurist consultant Ersan Seer


Fiction: Seattle Woman’s Video of Violent Robot Device Goes Viral


Author’s note: This article is fiction. There’s no video. I did have a video screenshot but removed it because some readers wondered why it wasn’t working. The article is just food for thought.

Seattle, WA – A video that went viral yesterday is causing a media frenzy and is prompting officials to take a closer look at current robotics technology.

seattle-woman-attacked-by-robotIn what may be the first ever widely-publicized claim of a robot displaying violent intent, Carol Smith of Seattle, Washington spoke on local news channel yesterday about what happened.

According to Carol, her expensive robotic device—nicknamed ‘Bubs’—physically attacked her in January. She says she ended up in the ER, seeking treatment for a broken arm, ruptured spleen, and swelling and burns on the thigh—which is where, Carol says, Bubs electrocuted her.

“My Robot Was Acting Weird For Months”

When asked why she waited until June to release the video, Carol said, “My robot was acting weird for months. I kept doubting myself. You just don’t think that a simple robot can hurt you. I didn’t even tell my friends because I thought they’d think I was crazy. But it’s obvious that that… thing… is out to get me.”

Science fiction authors and futurists have been concerned about robot violence towards humans for decades. But what makes Carol’s situation unprecedented is that she has proof of the violence. She released that proof on Youtube yesterday, and it spread like wildfire.

In the below video, Carol is heard shouting from behind the camera. Her hand appears in the video and she shoves the robot so that it loses balance and falls to the ground. Following that, the robot jumps up in a blur, lands in what appears to be an aggressive and threatening stance, and makes a peculiar noise that one video commenter described as “a cyborg cat chittering at birds, if the cat were a lion.”

Why did Carol shove the robot in the first place?

“He kept losing my knives whenever he did the dishes. I was angry. I had to keep buying knives. Who knows where he put them all or why he kept them. Creepy thing was, he stayed all angry at me in that one spot for 30 minutes. Kept rotating in my direction and making that awful sound.”

The video is highly controversial and receiving mixed responses.

Some viewers talk of impending apocalypse. Others criticize Carol for hitting the robot, which clearly caused it some kind of physical or “mental” anguish.

The general consensus, however, is that the video is a hoax—and that robots can’t act out of emotion because it’s simply not programmed into them.

Truth or publicity stunt?

Some comments claimed that Carol programmed her robot to act violently, accusing her of being an “attention wh-re” for orchestrating a publicity stunt like the Balloon boy hoax from 2009. Those commenters then drew their own critics, who pointed out that robot assistant software is equipped with high-grade encryption as mandated by the government, and that, to date, no human has ever officially been able to hack into a robot assistant.

In response to accusations, Carol released another video today, in which she displays hospital bills delineating the medical treatment for the injuries she sustained in January.

“Did I fake this bill? Call the hospital,” she says in the video.

The hospital, when called, declined to comment on Carol’s situation.

Futurist Ersan Seer Weighs In On the Controversy

Says Ersan: “What’s interesting about all this… is that in the past 24 hours there have been a flood of people releasing videos of their own robots engaging in odd behavior. I saw one robot repeatedly punching a tree in the backyard—it was unaware that its owner had come home and was filming it. Was it experimenting with the concept of violence? Was it genuinely attempting to cope with what it perceived as frustration? I saw another video where a robot shoved a Chihuahua out of its way. In one video, a robot stares at its owners for close to five minutes from a hiding spot.

“Thousands of videos are now being released, showing robots doing all kinds of disturbing things. Are these all hoaxes, as Carol’s critics assert? I think it’s narrowminded to assume so. Can robots actually feel? We should consider the implications.”

Seattle Mayor Jim Janis addressed concerns this morning at a press conference, saying, “No need to panic. When you consider that in America alone we are surrounded by billions of intelligent electronic devices operating peacefully every day, you realize there’s no need to panic. This is just one incident — one incident out of billions of devices — and the allegations have not been verified as true.”

Mayor Janis closed the speech by recommending that owners ensure that their robots’ operating systems are up to date, implying that any odd behavior in electronic devices is due to software bugs.

Bubs is currently quarantined and being questioned by officials and Bubs’ manufacturer, who have released statements that they believe Carol’s video is indeed an elaborate hoax, but that they’re not sure how she hacked in. Inside sources say there’s been nothing out-of-the-ordinary in Bubs’ responses to interrogation.

Futurist Societies Offer Help

Having been concerned for decades that robotic violence is a very real and possible outcome of advanced AI technology, futurists were quick to establish an hotline for anyone needing help. People who witness odd behavior in Artificially Intelligent devices are encouraged to call the hotline immediately: 888-BOT-HELP (268-4357).

Carol says she’s done with robots and plans to move to the countryside.

In concluding our talk, Carol had this advice to share to the world: “I don’t care if you believe me or not. I know that robot attacked me. Even if you don’t believe me, do yourself a favor and keep a close eye on your robots. If they do anything weird, leave the house and call the cops.”

Are the police prepared for the influx of phone calls? Likely not. Seattle’s Chief of Police could not be reached for comment.

Nor could we reach the manufacturer of Carol’s robot.

Author’s note: This article is fiction. There’s no video. I did have a video screenshot but removed it because some readers wondered why it wasn’t working. The article is just food for thought.

Ersan Seer

Ersan Seer is a futurist consultant, coolhunter, market researcher, strategic advisor, and concept artist. Ersan hungers to make the future world a more peaceful, survivable place.  → Read More & Book Ersan Seer

4 Responses to Fiction: Seattle Woman’s Video of Violent Robot Device Goes Viral

  1. anon says:

    this article is a hoax.

    using a fake image of a fake video… lame.

    grow up.

    • Ersan Seer says:

      You’re right—it’s fiction. I assumed readers would know that, since we don’t have robot assistants walking around in everyone’s home today.

      It is telling about the current state of technology that some people wonder if this article is real or not. Robots are around the corner. Indeed, Google’s buying up a bunch of robot technology. Think about what happens next.

      Anyway, I removed the fake video screenshot so it’s not confusing for readers.

      Also, I put disclaimers at the top and bottom of the article.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. chris says:

    This should SO be an Almost Live -err The 206 skit!!!

  3. chris says:

    This should SO be an Almost Live -err, The 206 skit!

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