Have you seen this GIF of a humanoid robot in a lab? It shows an inventor gently tossing a basketball at his robot. The inventor excitedly turns to the camera only to have the robot throw the ball back and hit him in the face. The GIF has gone viral recently, but it's totally fake.
And this is how the robot apocalypse started pic.twitter.com/QHTx9GM6DT
— Science (@scienmag) December 16, 2017
The video is actually an experimental short film called "Project Helios" that was directed by Giso Spijkerman and posted to Vimeo last year. The synopsis of the film describes the computer-generated robot as a sibling of Boston Dynamics' Atlas. The fictional robot has a "BK371 Artificial Intelligence module," which isn't a thing.
Granted, humanoid robotics has been making some terrifying strides recently. Did you see that Atlas can now jump between boxes? It does backflips. We've hit the point where robots are more agile than a lot of humans and that's definitely scary. But this one is an art project.
The misleading GIF was most recently sent around by the Twitter account @Scienmag. The dodgy account is verified and looks like a legit source of information, but it's constantly spreading bullshit. As you can see, the caption to their most recent upload says, "And this is how the robot apocalypse started" and gives no indication that it's a fake.
It's really incredible how bad @Scienmag is when you look at how many hoax videos and unscientific articles they spread every month. This chameleon video? Totally fake. It was part of an ad created for Ray-Ban in 2009.
— Science (@scienmag) November 4, 2017
This pendulum swinging perfectly? It's obvious CGI.
— Science (@scienmag) December 7, 2017
And when you start to look into the junk science that this account peddles we can start to speculate about why this account exists:
— Science (@scienmag) November 26, 2017
Life-extension dietary supplements for $US56 ($73)? That looks like an advertisement to me. And an undeclared one at that.
Yes, that robot video is fake, but so is much of the bullshit being sent around by this Twitter-verified Science account. As of publication it has over 240,000 followers.
I know Twitter is dealing with its Nazi problem right now, but the company needs to take a look at anti-science bullshit peddlers next. The company doesn't need to ban them entirely, but it should definitely strip them of verification. Getting verified used to just mean that an account is who they say they are. But in recent weeks we've learned that users feel it means much more than that. And an account like @Scienmag is making Twitter a dumber platform for us all.