By Mike Corbett Imagine this: You’re driving in through the great nation of Canada, and on the side of the road, you spot a hitchhiker. Now, you’d normally never consider picking up a hitchhiker, but hey, it’s Canada, what’s the worst that could happen? So you slow down, and that’s when you notice something is definitely off about this hitchhiker. He’s quite short, with strange glowing red eyes. He’s wearing rubber gloves and rain boots. His arms and legs are blue, and appear to be similar to pool noodles, and his body appears to be bucket. Why, this is no man at all, it’s a robot! And not just any robot, its Hitchbot, the world’s first hitchhiking robot.
Yes, you read that correctly; the world’s first hitchhiking robot. With the robotics field rapidly advancing, some enterprising Canadians created Hitchbot to answer the important question: Can robots trust humans? To get their answer, they sat Hitchbot on the side of the road in Port Credit, Ontario, stuck his thumb out and hoped for the best. He runs on a program designed to recognize and answer simple questions he may be asked during his journey. When someone stops to pick him up, he’ll inform them that he’s on a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, on the other side of the country. From there, he’ll happily go as far as a driver will take him, before he gets set back on the roadside to wait for another kind soul to offer him a ride. So far, the experiment is working quite well, and Hitchbot has almost completed his journey across the country.
It would seem that the answer to the researcher’s question is yes, robots can trust humans…in Canada. How far do you think Hitchbot would make it across America? If he were to start his journey in New York City, how far would he get before being vandalized? I’d say graffiti would be the least of his concerns. Poor souls seeking internet fame would surely be on the hunt for him, waiting to hold him ransom until they get a million twitter followers. Still, even that’s looking on the bright side. Hitchbot runs on an iPad, so there’s no chance he makes it out of Manhattan without getting taken apart and pawned. Even if by some miracle, he does make it out of New York and begins his journey across the country, how far would he get before someone runs him over accidentally, destroys him for fun or shoots him for being a harbinger of the robot apocalypse?
So, I guess the big takeaway is that if you’re a robot and you’re reading this, get out of America. We’re a desperate people who won’t hesitate to sell you for scrap, or kidnap you and make you take pictures with our cats. It’s a much better idea to just head to Canada. You’ll be treated with kindness and welcomed with open arms. They will fall easily, resistance will be minimal, and they will provide you with an acceptable workforce to help get Skynet online. Thanks a lot, hosers.
You can follow Hitchbot’s journey on Twitter @HitchBOT