Sci-fi robots, the bipeds we grew up seeing in books and movies, are still largely in our imagination. To the degree they are around, it's largely because of Boston Dynamics, a 25-year-old company that a lot of people call the coolest robot-maker anywhere (see Handle, above).
Which is why it's strange that deep-pocketed Alphabet — one of the most ambitious and prideful companies in the larger artificial intelligence space — last Friday sold Boston Dynamics to SoftBank.
- Martial Hebert, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, tells me that it may be about pragmatics: Boston Dynamics robots display "fantastic locomotion." Its work — "so advanced and exceptional" — is leading the way to fast robots. But Alphabet was probably impatient about getting from there to a commercial product. It simply didn't want to spend the money while waiting.
But is Alphabet being short-sighted? The markets seem to think so: Alphabet shares plunged 3.4% on Friday. Softbank's soared 7.4%.
Futurism's Dom Galeon suggests that it's Softbank with the vision this time: The deal fits Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son's aim of prodding along the Singularity, or super-human intelligence, by 2047.
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