ONE OF the robot manufacturers at the centre of the "when good robots go bad" research which we reported on earlier this week has hit back at the "exaggerated" reports.
IOActive's research demonstrated how a domesticated robot can be hacked and turned into a screwdriver-wielding, tomato-squishing maniac that, much like a swan, could break a man's arm. But a swan with gears and cogs instead of feathers and a beak.
Now UBTECH, whose robots were featured in the research have hit back, dismissing the video.
"UBTECH has been made aware of a sensationalistic video produced by IOActive featuring the Alpha 2. The video is an exaggerated depiction of Alpha 2's open-source platform. UBTECH encourages its developer community to code responsibly and discourages inappropriate robot behaviour," it told INQ.
Which is kind of the point. The video served to show what would happen if the robot was hacked to be evil and while UBTECH implies scaremongering, it also does little to deny that actually, yes, it could happen.
It's a bit like saying "We at the INQUIRER as members of the press, discourage Katie Hopkins". We do, but someone is still obviously poking her with a stick somewhere.
With regards to protecting customers from the vulnerability, John Rhee, the General Manager at UBTECH North America adds: "UBTECH is committed to maintaining the highest security standards in all of its products. As a result, the company has conducted a full investigation into the claims made in the IoActive report regarding the Alpha 2 robot.
"The Alpha 2 robot was designed to be on an open-sourced platform where developers are encouraged to program their robots with code. UBTECH has fully addressed any concerns raised by IoActive that do not limit our developers from programming their Alpha 2"
So basically, again, a pretty empty but angry response. UBTECH has fixed everything, except the bits that might cause a problem for people using it for good things - which of course could then be used for bad things.
Basically, we're on different sides of the same coin here. For UBTECH the message is "our robots aren't dangerous because we're responsible". Ours is a less nuanced "it was a bloody silly report in the first place". After all, IOActive has been treading this path for months. Either way, it could still happen. Make sure you unplug your toaster oven at night or it WILL EAT YOU. That's scientific fact*. µ
*actual science may vary
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