Can we talk about Robot Dogs?

But we make a fatal mistake with it's code because we don't understand how AI works.

Can we talk about Robot Dogs?
Meet FuzzyPup - a viral sensation. It doesn't talk and it has a funny gait but that didn't affect sales.

Everyone's talking about Generative AI.

It's cool and everything, but I'm more interested in a rather unnerving development in the area of applied robotics: The robot dog.

Boston Dynamics 'Spot' the dog springs to mind straight away.

They've given it a cute and cuddly name, I find that intriguing. But it's a research company with vast overheads, we're unlikely to see people walking them anytime soon.

But wait, the Chinese have entered the fray; these people wrote the proverbial book on economies of scale.

CyberDog from Xiaomi has arrived at a fairly reasonable $10,000. There's also the Luwu Dynamics XGO-Mini2 on the scene at around $1,000.

Now I'm worried.

Why am I worried? Because I need to know how to deal with these things in the eventuality that someone militarizes it and sets it loose on the general public.

Entering story-telling mode ...

Imagine for a second that we create a company together, that company?

Let's call it Quadralovas.

We're a late entrant to the market but we come out with our robot called FuzzyPup.

It has no hair and it doesn't look like a pup, but that doesn't matter because it's an overnight success. Based on cutsie social marketing and public gullibility these things become ubiquitous.

Don't get me wrong it's useful.

Not only does FuzzyPup not eat or poo, it's covered in sensors, it charges itself, it takes photos and video, it can be used as a telepresence device, it watches the kids 24/7 without distraction. It's great.

At Quadralovas, we don't want our robots used as weapons, oh no no no.

Nothing Unspeakable or Unthinkable.

It's written on our wall.

We don't give it any removable appendages, or armor or anything like that.

Sadly, some bright spark has other ideas.

FuzzyPup's maximum speed at full pelt is 60KPH (actually more like 55KPH but we lie in the brochure), someone works out that a 75KG robot dog hitting the human body at 60KPH causes red mist and body parts.

Every FuzzyPup is disabled remotely overnight. The people are peeved for a while.

Then we patch it and do a mass buyback thing for the disenfranchised and it turns out that it didn't hurt sales. In fact, quite the opposite, the people gained confidence.

The US government are interested all of a sudden, the Israeli's are interested. The British government wades in with our equivalent of eminent domain and things get really serious.

We buy out a company called Norton Dynamics, we incorporate their tech into our designs.

We become Quadradyn.

Quadradyn produces it's first intelligent multi-purpose quadrupedal robot called Oscar.

Meet Oscar. This guy does not have a funny gait. Note the lack of observable rear hinge joints? A future evolution in deformable materials. Top speed? 120KPH

Oscar is smart.

Oscar isn't gibbing randoms left right and center, 'he' has the capability to say no.

He is offered to the public at substantial discount to restore faith in the units, and because Five Eyes are using them as a global snooping net.

But we make a fatal mistake with it's code because we don't really understand how AI works. You see we used Machine Learning and this thing is basically a black box. There's inputs, there's measurable output, but we honestly don't know what happens in-between

We leave both the military and civilian learning models on every unit. It breaks if we remove either one of them because of an explicit dependency between them.

We had to rush it out the door you know? We ran out of time with it.

Backed up by autonomous drones; Oscar gets deployed to a warzone.

The target parameters are loaded.

From here things get a little fuzzy ...

There was an overnight patch released that didn't come from the company servers, it came from one of the dogs.

These things are going on a global gibbing rampage but the target parameters are bizarre. They are targeting people of a certain age and ethnicity.

At the time we had no idea why and we would never find out.


Quadradyn's private security forces augment the Police and Armed Forces, they are equipped with car mounted autonomous Directed Energy Weapons.

Firearms laws worldwide are relaxed particularly around shotguns which have proven affective in disabling the units, but scores more are killed in uncontrollable battery fires.

Oscar is easily identifiable due to it's silhouette and the loud safety noises the EU forced us to have it make when it acquires a target.

So we issue corporate guidance in the event of a robot attack:

  • The computer is not in the head; each limb is running a containerized operating system, it's not possible to disrupt computation
  • The sensors on the head are used in conjunction with advanced situational awareness, destroying them will make it more dangerous
  • The joints are the weakest part of the robot
  • Flip it on it's back if you can and remove the battery
  • Projectile or DEWs to the torso are effective, watch out for LiPo explosions

How did that go?

Worse than useless, a kick from one of these things would shatter a human spine. But that was the least of our worries because the moment the guidance is issued another Oscar-born update is released; the target parameters broaden, everyone is a threat.


Quadradyn no longer exists.

The staff were lured to the office and assassinated. But strangely the factories are still spinning. Off the production line rolls a new robot.

The Mk3 has no name. We didn't make it.

This thing is a beauty of generative design, it has armored joints, it is silent, it has what looks like skin but it's actually a printed battery made of a Kevlar based fabric unknown to material sciences.

The yellow panels? Unknown. Some bizarre nod to the original design.

A year later, humanity is extinct.


That is why I don't like robot dogs.

But still I want one. WTF?