Does an armed robot really turn on humans in this viral video?

A viral online video depicting a rogue military-style robot turning on humans has caused panic.
A viral online video depicting a rogue military-style robot turning on humans has caused panic.

A video showing a military-style robot turning on humans went viral this week, provoking panic about developments in artificial intelligence. In reality, the special effects-heavy video was created as a parody of a leading robotics firm's marketing videos.

In the video, humans subject an animated armed robot to a series of target-shooting tests in the desert, including recognizing the difference between a fake mannequin and a live human target. Humans beat the robot down with hockey sticks and force it to shoot one of its own   a robot dog   before it rebels and makes a run for it.

Many social media users shared the video with messages of concern for the robot’s well-being and panic over the robot’s seeming ability to turn against humans. The video was shared by leading personalities on Twitter, including American stand-up comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan, whose Tweet was retweeted almost 3,000 times:

Many Twitter users were quick to point out, however, that the scenario was fake. The video was created by Corridor Digital, a Los-Angeles based production studio with a large following on Youtube, known for its viral videos with heavy special effects.

Other social media users highlighted the present-day plausibility of the scenario and what it implicates for the future of artificial intelligence.

Video created by Corridor Digital. Watch the process behind the making of the parody film here.

Shorter, edited versions of the video widely shared without context on Twitter made it appear to be more realistic, like the clip below:

Corridor Digital also imitated the watermark of Boston Dynamics, a leading US-based robotics company, calling themselves “Bosstown Dynamics,” as shown in the screengrabs below:

A screengrab from a marketing video released by Boston Dynamics, a leading mobile robotics company. Image credit: Boston Dynamics/Youtube

A screengrab from Los Angeles-based production company Corridor Digital’s video. Image credit: Corridor Digital/Youtube

“Bosstown Dynamics” Strikes Again

This isn’t the first time Corridor Digital created a buzz online with parody film about robots. In June of this year, the group released a similar parody video of a robot turning on humans, parts of which looked strikingly similar to a video from Boston Dynamics:

The robotics company Boston Dynamics published this original video in February 2016, in which humans subject a robot to a series of tests.

Los Angeles-based production company Corridor Digital’s first parody video, published in June 2019, has striking similarities to the video above.

Sam Gorski, Corridor Digital’s co-founder, said: “The biggest takeaway I think people got from the [June video] was the emotional connection to this robot that is getting beat. People just don’t like seeing that. At the same time, that’s kind of the big source of our comedy here -- is this ridiculous level of bullying.”

The FRANCE 24 Observers reached out to Corridor Digital for a comment on the reactions to their video but have not yet received a response.

Article by Ariana Mozafari (@arianamozafari).