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Google Acquires Boston Dynamics

timothy posted about a year ago | from the oh-you're-just-paranoid dept.

Robotics 104

First time accepted submitter totally_mad writes "The New York Times reports that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that is primarily a concept robot maker for the military. The robot wars appear to be heating up between the big corporations, with Amazon recently announcing plans to have 30-minute home deliveries using drones. Perhaps Boston Dynamics', or now Google's, Cheetah will outrun the drone!"

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Welcome to the world of the future! (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#45688871)

Robot cheetah drops package at door step, rings the bell and runs like a scared child before the door can be answered. Just like the hoomans working for UPS and FedEx!

Re:Welcome to the world of the future! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#45689255)

It's a stupid name. By analogy with Fahrenheit 451, I propose to name it the Mechanical Retriever.

Re:Welcome to the world of the future! (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45689273)

I prefer to imagine the robo-cheetah batting at a quadcopter while the herd of big-dogs watch from a distance and begin forming a protective circle.
Whichever gets photographic proof of delivery earns the energy credit to survive. Let natural selection do the rest.

Safety (1)

mrops (927562) | about a year ago | (#45690795)

With 8 stitches in my hand, not more than 12 hours ago. I have just gained new respect for multirotors, they are powerful beast.

I really really hope that Amazon puts proper protection in them drones so there are no injuries. The little toy one I have spins at around 5000 rpm with rotors with 16 inches propellers. It can cause serious injuries, just ask my hand.

Who will be responsible if an injury does occur, which they will. If you look at the Amazon prime air demo, the customer asks the drone to descend via his smartphone. Say there is a 5 year old standing under this thing or comes running in its direction, are there smarts in the drone to abort the mission. Who is responsible for the injury, Amazon or the customer who sent the descend order?

Re:Safety (1)

the_arrow (171557) | about a year ago | (#45702149)

In any sane country, the customer. In the USA? The wealthiest company even marginally involved (see e.g. this for inspiration [uclick.com] ).

Re:Welcome to the world of the future! (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about a year ago | (#45691215)

Remove the package from the equation, and finally we can automate and/or outsource ding-dong-ditch.

Hey shithole (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#45691229)

We'd be happy to stand around and bullshit with you on your doorstep if it weren't for the insane injury-inducing speedup demands from mgmt. 20 seconds per delivery.

will be interesting to see what they do with it (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#45688875)

Will they maintain its current (quite lucrative) military business? I can almost see Google becoming a defense contractor, and it would be one way of addressing their "we need revenue streams other than search ads" issue, which has been their main risk on the financial side for years.

But defense contracting would be a bit of a shift in how they like to do business, and I'm not sure a positive one. Alternately, they could just repurpose the acquired tech and expertise towards Google's own robotics projects, and dump the military clients. That would be leaving quite a bit of money and existing business on the table, though, not to mention possibly annoying some politically powerful folks.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45688905)

they replace their inhouse robotics dept with it of course, since they have market experience..

you know, google video-> buy youtube, kill gvids...

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about a year ago | (#45689003)

BDI's defense income is insignificant for Google, but the acquisition is a great risk mitigation tactic for anyone wanting to get into robotics in a big way.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45689373)

yeah but why do they want to get into robotics, other than because they're big nerds? what is the defensible business reason for expanding into robots? whatever happened with more wood behind fewer arrows. sure, they cancel reader but now make hunter-killers.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#45689477)

I don't see how there's no overlap with these robots and autonomous cars.

They didn't cancel that program.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45689579)

autonomous cars make no sense either. wheres the nexus? somebody has way too much money. its a shame because competition sharpens the mind and makes you produce disciplined well designed products. when there's no budget and no competition you just indulge your inner nerd and make products that have great demos in the 'plex then nothing happens.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about a year ago | (#45690071)

wheres the nexus?

Complex software. Recognizing objects in images and video seem to be one thing search, autonomous cars, and military robots have in common.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45690169)

wheres the nexus?

Complex software. Recognizing objects in images and video seem to be one thing search, autonomous cars, and military robots have in common.

that's super, but what's the nexus between robots, autonomous cars, etc, and advertising supported search? the way they make money is by1) providing free services to consumers that are supported by advertising and 2) monitoring consumer behavior so they can place smart ads and make more money from them. where do robots fit in here. how will they be tied to advertising. how will they be tied to data tracking.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (1)

kactusotp (2709311) | about a year ago | (#45691983)

Automated cars means all that wasted time consumers spend paying attention to the road can be redirected to Google services and ads. But really where the big money will be, is space mining. Teams of Autonomous vehicles, with enough smarts not to get stuck making Google doodles on the moon.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45695559)

Wow, you are a dull fucking person. If it doesn't fit into your free market fundamentalism, it's not interesting to you.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690087)

There has to be big money somewhere in the autonomous car scheme, because almost every car manufacturer is putting serious effort into solving the problem -- and quickly. But where's the money?

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (1)

HiThere (15173) | about a year ago | (#45690163)

automated Trucks + automated warehouses + automated factories.+ web store

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45690175)

just because there's big money in something doesn't mean that all companies need to blindly scramble for it.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45693011)

Whaaaaat? I know I've heard you say exactly the opposite regarding things like Windows Phone. M$ didn't scramble when Apple & Google did and you can now clearly see the results. Windows doesn't really have a mobile phone presence do they? Smart businesses see the future and adapt their business model to the times. You've advocated for that too. What exactly do you have against Google?

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#45690705)

In me paying ten extra thousand dollars for a car? In someone richer paying 50 thousand extra dollars?

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#45690687)

I assumed that the cars involved :

1) seeing the tech overlap with image search
2) they had the money to do it
3) someone really wanted them

Maybe they can make money, licensing to manufacturers, though I doubt it, it seems manufacturers already have the tech, based on recent news stories. Google appears to have been the first to seriously start testing it in real world rather than tech demos though, maybe they thought they were further ahead. Certainly autonomous cars will increase overall internet usage, thus increasing advertising dollars.

I hope somebody gets to autonomous cars soon, and I think google's work made it come a couple years sooner, even if they don't sell the tech directly, they get 2 years * number of commuters * 1 hour /day * revenue / of internet for bringing the tech two years sooner.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#45691063)

I think you're nuts. Automating transportation will dwarf the search business.

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#45691375)

autonomous cars make no sense either. wheres the nexus?

Isn't it obvious? Few people will pay $100,000 extra for a self-driving car... but lots of people would pay $100,000 for a bipedal robot that not only chauffeurs you around town in your existing car, but also does light housecleaning and yard work. ;)

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45691429)

As long as it follows the three laws

Re: will be interesting to see what they do with i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45694425)

You are mistaking where their money comes from now with what they have been building over the longer term, because essentially they are creating an incredibly complex AI that will be able to understand their users desires and communicate intelligently with users, it will know where they have been previously and to the reason for it and extrapolate where you will want to go. like facebook it will also know what you have said and to who. and you think the best use of this long term is to make money with advertising or that a couple of billion thrown at cars and robots is really that much of a drain from where they are making their money to undermine their ability to achieve the longer term synergies between these technologies?

its like thinking that you should always work at the part time job that you have to pay the bills when you are a kid and never goto college to get the degree you need to earn some real money. Equally the barriers to entry for googles current market are somewhat minimal, facebook is taking a massive bite out of it within a very short time period and its not like someone cant go in steal everything google has and then blow up the original, robotics in the applications they will be looking at is a cash cow for the next century, same with transportation and communication.

Essentially you can not see the rainforest they are growing around you because you are so focused on the one weak piddly little tree that is currently providing the shade.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#45689849)

Andy Rubin wants to do robots. His last project turned out well, so he gets to make robots.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45690177)

yes, this is a good explanation. i wonder what the purchase price was though. that's a big slush fund just cuz your last project was good.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (3, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#45690433)

Not just this one project, Android, sold to Google for $50M and turned into a global mobile powerhouse that transformed the world. Some of his previous products turned out nicely as well. He was responsible WebTV, which sold to Microsoft for $425M before they turned it into nothing special. And for the Sidekick (Danger, Inc), which was huge for a while and the company sold to Microsoft for $1B before they turned it into the Kin and killed it. He is a serial innovator with grand vision and a long history of success. One of a handful of people at this level on the planet.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45693033)

Haters gonna hate,
Lovers gonna love,
I don't really want, none of the above
I wanna piss on you, yes I do, I'll pee on you.
I'll piss on you.....

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#45689013)

What could get interesting is the combination of those robot technologies with technologies to interpret the environment developed for Google's self-driving cars.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#45689027)

Google works for the NSA, which is a military organization - so Google already is a defence contractor.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#45689149)

That doesn't really make them a defense contractor; sharing some data with the NSA doesn't involve the whole procurement game that is the mainstay of defense contracting.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45689297)

Hmm, well, we tried searching for other bidders to fulfil the contract, but the only result was Google's products. We went to Bing, but it was the same, almost as if they're copying Google's results...

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

sky770 (2731643) | about a year ago | (#45700967)

Nope..the word you are looking for is "compliance".

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689073)

Two questions
1. Is the revenue from the defense work of value to Google
2. Is Boston Dynamics' defense work of value to the military

If either or both of those are true then you might see a spin off or divestment of the military work to a 'slightly evil' company that would not be google... because they re not evil

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#45689249)

I for one hope that robotics will provide Google with a revenue stream other than ads and customer data. That way they might at some point create consumer robots which are designed with our benefit in mind, rather than that of advertisers. Then again, they might be tempted to leverage robotics for even more enhanced, soul-sucking data mining.

Would you trust a Google household robot to not scan your house and every single product in it, and relaying the data back to its corporate overlord?

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

aix tom (902140) | about a year ago | (#45689671)

I for one hope that robotics will provide Google with a revenue stream other than ads and customer data.

Or they simply want thug-bots that can go to your house and beat you up in person to get information, instead of just mining it out of your electronic devices.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#45691591)

Then they can sell ads for medical services, home repair services, security services, law services....

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#45690675)

"We do no evil...
 
...not ourselves anyway...
 
...we leave that to our robots"

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#45691265)

Alternately, they could just repurpose the acquired tech and expertise towards Google's own robotics projects, and dump the military clients

yeah, I have to admit to being pretty disturbed imagining BD's robots weaponized and on the battlefront. This news is potentially awesome.

I want to think that Google is going to build the world's most amazing wheelchairs and alternative (self-driving) transportation devices.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#45691619)

BD's biggest issue was always, and still is, a power source. Their packbots that are supposed to support foot troops in the field need to be stealthy. You can't be stealthy if your very operation requires a noisy gasoline engine.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

drolli (522659) | about a year ago | (#45691665)

Ads (Imagine big LCDs on the side of cheeta) on the Battlefield?

Google for Terrorists (face recogniton from autonomous patrolling robots)?

Streetview for patrolling dangerous areas?

Home deliveries (Much better than flying drones)?

Streetview inside shops and stations?

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

RayHs (888369) | about a year ago | (#45693269)

How cool would it be if they entered the Iditarod with a fully automated team with a sled pulled by BidDogs and manned by Atlas. Forget self driving cars, I want to ride WildCat to work.

Re:will be interesting to see what they do with it (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year ago | (#45695423)

But defense contracting would be a bit of a shift in how they like to do business, and I'm not sure a positive one. Alternately, they could just repurpose the acquired tech and expertise towards Google's own robotics projects, and dump the military clients. That would be leaving quite a bit of money and existing business on the table, though, not to mention possibly annoying some politically powerful folks.

Boston Dynamics *is* a defense contractor, so by extension Google is one too, now. I am going to try to remain optimistic about the positive effects that Google can have on human advancement. Science and engineering seem to leap forward much farther and much, much faster when they are deployed in the service of armed conflict. Companies like Planetary Resources, Armadillo Aerospace, and SpaceX are going to have to be able to defend their extra-terrestial ventures, and NASA has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that robotic missions in space are far more cost-effective in terms of results than manned missions. The minute Planetary Resources starts exploiting the asteroid belt, they are likely going to need a way to defend against claim jumpers, and I'm hoping that by hoovering up all these robotic companies,Google is positioning itself to defend these companies in their (hopefully) peaceful occupation and exploitation of the solar system.

DARPA droids! (5, Interesting)

DaTrueDave (992134) | about a year ago | (#45688903)

We've already seen some of the incredible Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [darpa.mil] droids that have come out of that shop, and one can only imagine what designs might be classified and unknown to the public.

There's the humanoid robot, Atlas [youtube.com] .
The RC car with a secret, the SandFlea [youtube.com] .
There's the robot that runs faster than any man, Cheetah [youtube.com] .
The packmule that can't be tipped over, Big Dog [youtube.com] .
And the frightening combination of tech, the robot that runs fast on ANY terrain, WildCat [youtube.com] .

It will be interesting to see what Google does with their droids. Their robot shop is being headed by the guy that made Android the most popular smartphone OS, Andy Rubin [slashdot.org] . He tweeted a link to the New York Times story yesterday, along with the comment, "The future is looking awesome!" Rubin was a robotics engineer for Apple, and the lens company, Carl Zeiss, before starting with Google.

Regardless of your feelings about droids, I think we're going to see huge advances in robotics now that Google is jumping in with both feet.

Re:DARPA droids! (1)

De Lemming (227104) | about a year ago | (#45690747)

Also very impressive is LS3, Legged Squad Support System, a.k.a. AlphaDog. This is the successor of Big Dog.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7ezXBEBE6U [youtube.com]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNUeSUXOc-w [youtube.com]

Re:DARPA droids! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45691547)

More importantly, Big Dog's predecessor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXI4WWhPn-U

spys hacked my robot i fear my dog is next (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45688907)

progress honestly hymenless monkeys still have more fun than us without having to shoot each other or hoard bananas. ms. monkey keeps the peace.... nothing new in centuries

robot flashing banner ADs now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45688951)

i asked for a cup of tea, generic i said. not found..... maybe you would like to shop for t-shirts it says.... weakend to a poorly written letdown

Re:spys hacked my robot i fear my dog is next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689341)

Was that message a random mash of words or did it include a logical sentence there somewhere? I'm still a bit undecided.

Serious Business (1)

regular_guy (1979018) | about a year ago | (#45688917)

Wow, this is getting a bit scary. I didn't expect Google to go ahead and snatch up a company like Boston Dynamics. If they pick up Hanson robotics I'm going to be incredibly excited/freaked out for what they might create.

I, for one... (3, Insightful)

blackbeak (1227080) | about a year ago | (#45688921)

I, for one, would like someone to please tell me when it's time to say "Goodbye" to our new overlords!

I, for one ... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45689601)

You're too late. Big Dog is already on your tail.

Google's Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45688953)

They're going to teach BigDog to Google and call it Lycos.

Re:Google's Plan (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#45688981)

No, they'll develop it into a real-world search engine.

Re:Google's Plan (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#45689033)

It puts search and destroy in a whole new light.

An acquisition I did not expect (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about a year ago | (#45688963)

Boston Dynamics is a favorite company of mine, they have developed some remarkable technologies. Atlas is easily one of the most advanced bi-pedal robots yet developed - albeit also the stupidest. When I consider that the majority of their R&D seems to be for the military, it makes me more than a little curious what Google plans to do with their new toys. I don't see Google going into the business of military hardware, yet the military has been more than interested in some of the tech they have developed. It boggles my mind to think what Google will do with this.

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (3, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#45689609)

Well, if you're going to beat swords into plowshares, it would be great to do it before the swords are wielded in anger -- and even more efficient to do it before you spend all the time to forge, temper and sharpen them.

The technologies BD developed to make these robots work certainly have non-military uses. I'm not sure how they apply to data-gathering and marketing, though. Maybe some parts of Google really are interested in advancing technology for its own sake...?

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45689669)

Exactly. If somebody wants to give you a lot of money to do R&D ...

You've got the money, honey - I've got the time.

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about a year ago | (#45689883)

A comment worthy of +5 Insightful. Too bad I can't mod you.

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690913)

Google will make the ads follow you around even in physical world

Google is confused about itself and post-scarcity (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#45691707)

Good point on how we should invest our efforts in productive directions. More by me on that:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
"There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all. "

The question is, how much is Google part of the problem vs. part of the solution? I discuss here in relation to Google's "Virgle" Mars settlement April Fools joke of 2008: http://www.pdfernhout.net/a-rant-on-financial-obesity-and-Project-Virgle.html [pdfernhout.net]
----
So what am I really saying?
    That we as a society are not going to happily get to Mars or the Asteroids or other star systems, or even just fix up Space Ship Earth, until we come to see the love of money as the problem, not the solution.
    Or as made clear by Iain M. Banks:
        http://folk.uio.no/thomas/po/the-culture.html [folk.uio.no]
"Money is a sign of poverty, meaning that money only has a function in a scarcity economy, and therefore its existence betrays a pre-abundant (poor) society."
    And so financial obesity is part of the problem, not the solution. ...
That $600 billion a year is spent essentially from fear of the human potential. From fear of "OpenVirgle". From *fear* the kids might actually figure out how to go to Mars instead of being profligate consumers and obedient cannon fodder soldiers. :-( That fear is still the fundamental basis of the two biggest institutions almost all of us spend almost all of our time (school and work). And so *fear* is what keeps more people from doing space settlement given how interesting it is and how much prosperity our mostly automated productive systems can pump out -- whether those free people work on OpenVirgle or choose another approach or another related good cause (Earthly sustainability). ... And it is likely fear that holds Google back from becoming a post-scarcity organization despite the continuing rush of exponential growth in technological capacity its planners surely must be predicting: ...
----

Intelligent mobile robots are near to totally transforming our society. And the transition might be quicker than we might expect, as robots can go from worse than human to better than human at some task almost overnight when there is an R&D breakthrough in some area. Here is one such example for manipulation, tossing and catching a cell phone:
http://www.hizook.com/blog/2009/08/03/high-speed-robot-hand-demonstrates-dexterity-and-skillful-manipulation [hizook.com]

One thing most people do not yet understand about robotics (especially in the hands of some place like Google) is that if you have millions of networked robots, all learning independently, they can pool that learning over the network. And that network can then learn very quickly. And so "performance" can improve very quickly, with millions of trial-and-error experiments running in parallel with the results integrated with learning algorithms. That is perhaps the biggest upside and downside of a big data company like Google getting into robotics, especially if they keep the results proprietary (which they may or may not do).

Another aspect of this which I wrote on around 2001:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/on-funding-digital-public-works.html#what_have_funding_policies_in_automotive_intelligence_wrought [pdfernhout.net]
"Consider again the self-driving cars mentioned earlier which now cruise some streets in small numbers. The software "intelligence" doing the driving was primarily developed by public money given to universities, which generally own the copyrights and patents as the contractors. Obviously there are related scientific publications, but in practice these fail to do justice to the complexity of such systems. The truest physical representation of the knowledge learned by such work is the codebase plus email discussions of it (plus what developers carry in their heads).
    We are about to see the emergence of companies licensing that publicly funded software and selling modified versions of such software as proprietary products. There will eventually be hundreds or thousands of paid automotive software engineers working on such software no matter how it is funded, because there will be great value in having such self-driving vehicles given the result of America's horrendous urban planning policies leaving the car as generally the most efficient means of transport in the suburb. The question is, will the results of the work be open for inspection and contribution by the public? Essentially, will those engineers and their employers be "owners" of the software, or will they instead be "stewards" of a larger free and open community development process?"

I respect Marc Raibert and want him to succeed; I met him hanging around the CMU RI in the 1980s, and his lab and staff were nice people doing good stuff even back then. Still, his work in practice seems to me to have been funded mostly by public dollars directly and indirectly, and now most of the fruits of those public dollars have been privatized... And now Google-ized... There just seems something wrong to me about that, even though it is a wrong thing that goes on across the USA (and the globe) every day in most research labs... Of course there are publications, but I doubt they cover the full essence of the innovations, and also resulting patents will probably lock emerging ideas away for a long time... Still, that is how the US system works, and it is hard (even fatally exhausting) to swim against the tide as opposed to with the tide, or at least across the tide...

We can't expect any trend towards humane or compassionate actions from amoral immortal giant corporations (especially when based in the USA, with an emphasis to short-term gains and ignoring all stakeholders but majority stockholders). We have not yet learned (or maybe re-learned) how to "breed" corporations that serve humane ends, as I mention here: http://www.dougengelbart.org/colloquium/forum/discussion/0126.html [dougengelbart.org]
Maybe the best we can hope is some few individuals who happen to find themselves enmeshed as a functional part of such huge amoral beasts will make some healthy life-affirming and community-affirming choices in a broad way.

That said, Google is doing a lot better job of not being "evil" than we probably have any right to deserve all things considered...

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689719)

Yeah, I'm trying to figure out the angle as well, since this really isn't in line with Jobs's recommendation to stay focused on _a_ product.

I'm wondering if the tactical reason is so they can now indefinitely justify paying government rates on jet fuel for their planes at Ames.

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (1)

drgould (24404) | about a year ago | (#45689961)

it makes me more than a little curious what Google plans to do with their new toys.

Well, they already have autonomous vehicles and if they can add autonomy to "Atlas", then they can replace FedEx and UPS package delivery.

Although that's something I'd expect Amazon to experiment with.

Re:An acquisition I did not expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690245)

I don't see Google going into the business of military hardware

That's because you are dumb.

Also, Google announced a name change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45688989)

From here on, they are going to be known as "SkyNet".

Re:Also, Google announced a name change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689243)

SkyNet was the name of the AI. You should instead call them Cyberdyne, since that was the name of the corporation that built SkyNet.

We're doomed... (1)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | about a year ago | (#45688999)

I was pretty well convinced that the NSA and it's data sniffing what-not has become self-aware and is the first to do so. That may still be the case...

But I'm not pretty sure that the Googleplex is now self-aware and is trying to make itself self-mobile.

Next step, the Nexus-1000 Terminator....

Re:We're doomed... (1)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | about a year ago | (#45689001)

"now"...But I'm NOW pretty sure that the Googleplex is now self-aware and is trying to make itself self-mobile.

Re:We're doomed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689089)

The difference is that the self aware google-net is a voyeur and instead of destroying humanity it get's all giddy prying into every aspect of their lives... soon to be augmented by robo-pervs to peek into your windows an go through your trash, um... for market purposes....

So now Google is a military contractor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689091)

Nice.

When the googlebot knocks on your door.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689113)

..the only way to opt out of it scanning your home for Google Houseview is with your life.

HUUUUGE tech story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689117)

This a fantastically important acquisition for google. Boston dynamics is a leader in all types of ai, which can be applied to a range of googles services or projects, like driverless cars being the most obvious.

what could possibly go wrong? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689121)

soooo...

lemme see if I got this straight: the company who built skynet has acquired the company that's just built the first cylon? don't see this ending well...

hopefully we at least get to meet the Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Rekha Sharma & Lucy Lawless models before we're wiped out!

Do no evil, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689307)

No your honor, I didn't shoot anybody, my army of killer robots might've though...

Getting "Crawled" by Google (1)

Michael Schroeder (3462757) | about a year ago | (#45689323)

Google's hardware record is shaky. Unlike their software, most HW projects never venture far from the googleplex. From Glass, to self driving cars, products are long in development with a handful of testers. This is not at all like their bold software formula: buy a cool tech startup, then rebuild it at scale and make $$. Yes, they need a visionary, but also someone that is not afraid to deliver it.

Re: Getting "Crawled" by Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689815)

It makes getting visited by the Googlebot a much more scarey prospect!

sex with the terminator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45689361)

now I can finally have sex with the terminator.

Smarter warfare (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about a year ago | (#45689569)

Along Google's expansion into military "appliances" warfare will be much easier and result in practically no collateral damage.
Imagine the combination of geolocation, autonomous cars and autonomous war drones.
"Terrorists" would frequently be transported into specially prepared killing zones, with specially prepared, hardened parking lots, for optimum munition utilization.
DOD would receive a weekly auto generated report of kills.
Merry Christmas

And in other news, Google has renamed... (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#45689741)

And in other news, following a shakeup at the top levels, Google is being renamed Cyberdyne Systems (NASDAQ: CDSYS).

No word yet on whether the motto "Do No Evil" will remain in place or be changed.

Top executives after the shakeup say their new focus will be on merging their artificial intelligence development projects with newly developed tech such as Google Glass and robotics, in order to create life-like avatars. These avatars can be used as surrogates for disabled person, or even to replace human workers in extremely hazardous occupations. There has been speculation as well that these would also be used to gather even more data from the real world to further enhance their marketing capabilities. The military has also expressed in interest in these avatars.

Rube Goldberg solution (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year ago | (#45692329)

No, this is just Google admitting their driverless car project is a failure. So they'll replace the car with a real Android driver that will chat you up while driving you to work, "Sir, there's they're having a 50% off sale at XXX.com. Would you like me to get you a promo code?"

Re:Rube Goldberg solution (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#45702745)

*whoosh*

So when are they gonna ... (1)

Behrooz Amoozad (2831361) | about a year ago | (#45689831)

So when are they gonna make a contract with a handsome musciline guy to model for their T series?

Four Laws of Robotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690027)

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

4. A robot must act in a way as to accrue maximum profits to the shareholders of Google (Amazon, Tesla, etc), notwithstanding potential conflicts with the First, Second, or Third Laws.

Google no sovereignty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690207)

Google is becoming a worrisome enemy potentially for the free world as it is juxtapositioning itself against the world, ignoring China and displaying itself as a player in military affairs and is not even a sovereignty. Who is behind the wheel? Better believe it won't display itself.

"By Your Command" (1)

cstacy (534252) | about a year ago | (#45690229)

"The virtual version of Zoe was created by Zoe Graystone herself using hacked rudimentary emulation software capable of duplicating her own V-World avatar. Graystone programmed the copy - a perfect copy - with roughly 100 terabytes of personal information from other databases. This allowed the avatar to access and translate information from medical scans, DNA profiles, psychological evaluations, school records, emails, video and audio recordings, CAT scans, genetic typing, synaptic records, security cameras, test results, shopping records, talent shows, ballgames, traffic tickets, restaurant bills, phone records, music lists, movie tickets, TV shows and "even prescriptions for birth control" - essentially turning raw data into personality and memory." -- http://en.battlestarwiki.org/wiki/Zoe_Graystone [battlestarwiki.org]

Redmond goes Akiba. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690337)

Microsoft needs to respond to Google's move. I wonder if they will soon announce some robotics venture acquisition from Japan? They are also into cybernetic feline research, but their approach is radically different from Boston Dynamics'. Do you want your Windows 9.1 holo-ray disc delivery by a robotic cheetah or a nekomimi?

My ideas ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45690373)

- Make the street-view cars autonomous and turn them into package delivery drones.
- or Street-view for the rest of the planet.

Have... (1)

Chuq (8564) | about a year ago | (#45691055)

.. William Bell or Nina Sharp made a comment?

fucked up and scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45691143)

google is pure evil

Google is an R+D front for the NSA and US military (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45691623)

Google is to the US government as the BBC is to the UK government. Both are FAKE public entities that actively cultivate a relationship with the sheeple to pretend they are of the sheeple. Both, in reality, were specifically crafted to serve the regime in the deepest and darkest ways possible. The BBC spouts government propaganda, and pushes social engineering projects. For instance, the BBC was at the forefront of RAISING racial tensions in the UK during the 70s (the creation of the National Front - NF - was the major factor used to first get Margaret Thatcher in power, a political cataclysm that wiped away post-war liberal consensus politics, and laid down the ground for the monster Blair to rise and complete the absolute control of all of Britain's institutions). After 9/11, the BBC was the major mainstream media outlet in the West pushing for the widespread use of torture by the State- and actually worked propaganda demanding this crime against Humanity into almost every form of program output.

Google has an interest in social engineering too, but this is its least competent area. Google is an engineering company, first and foremost, originally creating the computer systems that the intelligence agencies of the West use to store the incredible (and growing) amounts of data culled from full surveillance projects, allowing such data to be stored, searched, indexed and mined in a fully sustainable way. Google's new focus is in the field of autonomous WAR MACHINES- killer drones, tanks etc., that can be mass produced, and sent into target nations chosen for destruction by the USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Daily, the owners of Slashdot look for new ways to push the laughable GARBAGE of near future self driving cars on ordinary roads. They do this because Google needs a COVER STORY for its work in military robotics and pseudo-AI control systems. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to produce any self driving car in any degree safe on your roads in your life-time, or the life-time of your children or grandchildren. But self driving war machines do NOT have to consider safety issues. During the invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair's butchers literally drove their tanks over buses full of schoolchildren.

And note how during the wars created by the genocidal monster, Blair, over and over Blair's military forces have MURDERED dozens of civilians at a time by bombing NATO military equipment that had been 'lost' in the field, on the excuse that preventing the tech in such machines falling into the 'wrong' hands justified the mass murder of civilians. Blair CHANGED the 'rules' of war this way to imply even your military machines have a higher value than the Human life of the so-called 'enemy'. Blair wants and needs the penalty for impeding a war machine partly created by Googe to be summary execution.

So, Google's self-driving project is intended for self driving TANKS sent into 'enemy' nations. You should be ashamed of yourselves if you do not know that the senior owners of Google participate in every celebration of Israeli terrorism held by the murderous racist leaders of that nation. Google is run by warmongering zionists, and in their favour, they have never tried to hide this fact.

The racist madmen that run Google consider themselves in a race with the Russians and Chinese, and believe Team Blair can be ultimately victorious across planet Earth if they move quickly enough. Students of History know arms races NEVER work out this way when the major players all have significant resources and skills. However, Blair knows the very concept of an arms race massively improves his odds of creating a World War.

robo-chauffeur (1)

fikx (704101) | about a year ago | (#45691657)

So, now can they just load the driving software into Atlas? instant marketable product...buy a driver for all the benefits of the AI driving without having to buy a new car!
Or load the same software into Cheetah and it can run deliveries down streets and right up to your door! That will show Amazon!

Making more of the world's information available (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45691921)

Google wants to make the world's information available.
Some information is on servers. So Google builds spiders.
Some information is out there, in the physical world. So Google builds robots that can explore the real world. And self-driving cars that get the robots there.
Quite straightforward, actually.

Don't be evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45693781)

Means person shouldn't be evil, because big G knows everything and killer robots will find you if you commit thoughtcrime?

It's a cover story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45701315)

BigDog is the codename for a monstrous mobile distributed DogeCoin mining rig. Time to hunt for your cryptocurrency folks.

Oh wow, such force!

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