Spot the difference

Remember before the pandemic, when news of robotics firms and their increasingly capable creations filled us with dread? Well, to paraphrase Tim from The Office, we never thought we’d say this, but can we hear more from Boston Dynamics, please?

Meet Spot, the robot dog patrolling Singapore’s Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and reminding visitors to practise social distancing. Observe its resolve as it marches up and down the paths, fronting out sceptical human glances while obligingly reminding them not to get too close to each other. Feel its slight embarrassment that it needed to get involved at all.

This is what it took for us to accept a robot. Our first impression of Handle was one of a Leeds United 1974 champion, scowling at Brian Clough as he introduced himself by highlighting everyone’s flaws. But things aren’t going so well for us now, are they?

Spot’s been appointed in a time of crisis. It’s striding out onto the green grass with a whistle round its neck and laying down marker cones. Its name is Spot, despite not even having any spots, yet no one’s questioning it. It’s filming all our sessions for analysis – a method we’ve previously rebuked – yet it’s being called a tactical genius by Henry Winter.

Things have changed. Spot commands respect, and our job now is to stand by our new robot.

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