Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics has released a holiday video featuring its dog-like Spot robot, and it’s turned out as creepy as ever. The video, posted to Twitter, starts innocuously enough — there’s a large present of the type anyone would be happy to see under their tree, sitting in a courtyard. Then, the gift stands up and walks off-screen, kind of like Metal Gear’s Solid Snake moving through a jungle disguised as a cardboard box to stalk a private military contractor.
While the video ends with a “Happy Holidays” greeting, it’s perhaps not as heartwarming as it was meant to be. It’s hard to come away from it without the feeling that Spot’s going off on a mission to terrify a child or pull a prank on someone who thought they were about to get something really cool for Christmas.
Unlike the dancing videos (which themselves are a terrifying display of how the robots could definitely steal my girl by being smoother and more coordinated), this video really leans into the creepy militaristic undertones of Boston Dynamic’s robots. I mean, the hiding under a box meme is from the Metal Gear franchise, which bills itself as “tactical espionage action” and has plot points about sinister AIs.
In real life, people have spotted the robots in military tests and working for the NYPD. (Though the NYPD contract was canceled after almost everyone said, “Wait, should the police have a robot dog?”)
What I’m saying is that this video is probably not going to win Spot any friends and isn’t getting me in the holiday spirit. Mostly it just makes me feel resigned to this being life now — a robot could be hiding under my tree, waiting to ambush me and ruining all the excitement I felt about The Big Present.
Thankfully, we probably won’t have to start checking underneath every box for a robot like people in the southwest US check their shoes for scorpions. Spot’s sensors aren’t likely to do it much good through a cardboard barrier, and it’ll have a hard time sending a video feed to its remote control. Of course, someone close by could control it by eye to follow you, but if someone’s willing to do that, you’ve probably got bigger concerns than lifting up a box and hearing the “!” sound.