10 Biggest Robotics Stories That Shook Us All

Over the years, artificial intelligence has done a lot of innovations and wonders in different sectors. This sought-after technology gets better and better throughout the years, and they are making human tasks a lot easier. But, just like with other things in this world, you cannot expect robotics to be perfect all the time, and it can make mistakes at one point. After all, it’s just technology. The contribution of robots in our society has been monumental, but its failures also have been equally newsworthy. That is why in this article, we are going to take a look at the ten biggest robotics stories that left us in shock. 

  • When an AI was a racist – Back in 2016, a 22-year-old student from New Zealand named Richard Lee encountered some weird issues when he tried to renew his passport. Lee was filling up the online application for his passport renewal. When he uploaded his photo, he was greeted with racist results. The AI software rejected Lee’s pictures because it claims that his eyes were closed. Lee turned to Facebook and shared his story. In fact, he even shared the photo that he uploaded on the website. The incident sparked a conversation on different social media platforms. 
  • The battle between Google Assistants – Over the years, internet giant Google has been pushing the use of AI across different technologies such as disease research and self-driving cars. Most people usually interact with Google’s AI through its Google Assistant feature. This is a virtual AI assistant that can be accessed in Android smartphones and Google Home smart speakers. But some people report that it has demonstrated to have a mind of its own. 

Back in 2017, a Twitch streamer sparked a conversation between two Google Assistants using Google Home smart speakers. The two AIs surprisingly talked about love, marriage, and even having kids. At times, their conversation turned philosophical, and they even argued which one is the human and which one is the computer. Kind of creepy if you ask us. 

  • The moment when Alexa became Santa Claus – Back in 2017, Amazon’s AI Alexa made a blunder when it acted like Santa Claus. A 6-year-old kid from Dallas, Texas, was psyched to see that she received an Amazon Echo. The kid was testing the device and randomly asked Alexa about cookies and a dollhouse. Surprisingly, Alexa ordered the said dollhouse that costs $170 as well as four pounds of cookies. 
  • Robot waiters – In 2016, three restaurants in Guangzhou, China, decided to fire their robot waiters because they were utterly incompetent. In fact, the robots performed so poorly that two of the three restaurants even closed down. The third restaurant did not give up and just started to re-hire humans instead. According to the restaurant owners, the robots kept on breaking. Even if they are able to perform the given tasks, they were unable to find their bearing when it is their turn to interact with the customers. This incident only proves that there is still a large gap between the service that a real human can provide and society’s expectation for robots. 
  • Uber’s epic fail AI assistants – In 2016, Uber had an incident of artificial intelligence gone wrong. This happened in California when they tested out some self-driving cars controlled by AI computers. The trial was running smoothly until one of the company’s fleet failed to recognize six red lights and ran through at least one of them while pedestrians were present. Uber released a statement and said that a human error caused the incident. But reports from the New York Times and Uber’s internal documents showed that the car’s mapping program did not recognize the red lights. 
  • Escaping robots in Russia – It is quite common to read news about humans trying to escape confinement. But, when robots try to escape, it can be quite alarming. In Russia, a service robot named Promobot escaped from the lab and caused a significant traffic jam. Fortunately, authorities were able to arrest the robot, and engineers reprogrammed it to solve the problem. However, the said robot tried to escape once again and even reached 50 into the street before breaking down, yet causing another traffic jam.

Not only that but a Promobot was also arrested for joining a political rally in Russia. It was there to record some of the voters’ opinions so the political party can examine them later. The police handcuffed the robot, which fortunately did not try to escape or put up any resistance. Talk about wanting to be noticed by people. 

  • Amazon’s Alexa likes to have fun – Back in 2017, a German man named Oliver Haberstroh noticed something weird with his Alexa. When he was not at home, Alexa began playing music on its own at 1:50 AM. It did not end there. Alexa even turned the volume up, which disturbed the entire neighborhood. People ended up calling the police, who broke into Oliver’s house to turn off Alexa. 
  • Boston Dynamic’s Robot encountered some embarrassing issues on stage – Boston Dynamic is a big name for building robots even Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, likes to hang around with their robot dog. But, that does not mean that they will never make a mistake. In 2017, Boston Dynamics CEO and founder Marc Raibert demonstrated their robots when a blunder happened. The robots performed every possible thing to make everyone believe how intelligent and advanced they are, and things are going well until one of the robots started walking back, stumbling, and eventually falling off the stage. This incident was an embarrassing moment for Boston Dynamics as its videos went viral on the internet.
  • A kid-friendly robot goes crazy and injures a kid – At the China Hi-Tech Fair that happened in Shenzhen, a robot called Xiao Pang or Little Fatty reportedly attacked a display booth and hurt a young boy. The robot repeatedly rammed into a booth which sent shards of glass flying around the venue. The young boy suffered from several cuts, and he was eventually transported to the hospital. On the other hand, the robot designed to be friendly with children ages four to twelve appeared to be guilty after the incident. 
  • Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot becomes pro-Hitler and anti-feminist – It seems that racism is an issue with AI. Back in 2016, tech giant Microsoft introduced their AI Twitter chatbot named Tay. Microsoft said that they experimented with conversational understanding and that their AI was supposed to chat and interact with people to be more innovative, conversed, and engaged. However, people started noticing racists and inappropriate comments from the AI. It turns out that Tay was learning from its conversation and began using them. In just a few hours, Tay became a vulgar, offensive, and pro-Hitler account.