After Russian chess robot breaks boy's finger, it's clear the machines are coming for us

I’m not saying all robots are out to get us, just most of them. It’s time to consciously uncouple from our automated assistants before we become their automated assistants.

Rex Huppke

I take no joy in saying this, but for our own survival, we humans must immediately destroy all robots. They drew first blood.

In case you missed the news story – perhaps because you were kidnapped by a self-driving robot car – a chess-playing robot at a tournament in Russia grabbed and broke a 7-year-old boy’s finger during a game last week. 

Video of what I’m calling “the attack” shows a robotic arm lifting a chess piece off the board, followed by the boy quickly sliding a different piece across the board. As the human child is moving the piece, the robot arm comes back down and grabs his finger with what I’m calling “its malevolent, metallic death grip.”

Several adults rushed in to help pry the robot claw open and free the boy.

Bad? Of course it's bad. 😳

A chess-playing robot broke a boy’s finger during a match in Russia on July 19, 2022, the president of the Moscow Chess Federation told state news agency TASS media.

According to several U.S. news organizations, Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the Russian state news agency TASS media: “A robot broke a child's finger – this is, of course, bad.”

Thanks for the understatement, Lazarev. It’s not “bad” – it’s effectively the first shot fired in humanity’s battle against the machines.

If they first come for the nerds ...

As a nerd-in-good-standing, I can tell you this: We can’t have robot chess nerds attacking human chess nerds. The nerds built the robots, so this is a clear case of a machine attacking its creator. And if they first come for the nerds, who’s going to stop them? The jocks? That’s a laugh.

Making an already unconscionable situation worse, the Moscow Chess Federation head tried to blame the boy: “The child made a move, and after that it is necessary to give time for the robot to respond, but the boy hurried, the robot grabbed him.”

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That is pure, uncut robot propaganda masquerading as pure, uncut Russian President Vladimir Putin propaganda. It sends a message that if we aren’t polite to our robots, they will break our fragile human bones like twigs.

Lazarev continued: “We have nothing to do with the robot.”

Robots may dance on our graves

At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “This is dumb, there must be something wrong with the algorithm that decides what I should read and care about and accurately predicts what household product I’m going to want next and OH MY GOD, IT’S HAPPENING, THIS IS REAL!!!”

Now who looks dumb?

Boston Dynamics, the company known for its robotic dogs, now has humanoid robots named Atlas able to do parkour and synchronized gymnastics moves.

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You know how every time you see one of those videos of a Boston Dynamics robot dancing or doing parkour or opening doors and behaving in an almost other-worldly fashion, and you kind of laugh and show it to a co-worker and say: “Oh, man, those things are definitely going to kill us all”?

Well, maybe it’s time you woke up, grabbed your Roomba, dropped it in a bucket of boiling water and parked it behind the wheel of your self-driving car.

Shh (they can hear), it's time to say adios to robots

Aside from vacuums, we have welcomed all manner of robots into our world: robot grill cleaners, robot window cleaners, home robot assistants, robot pool cleaners, robot pets, robot lawn mowers and, if Elon Musk is any example, robot billionaires.

Robot from the 1991 movie "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

I’m not saying all robots are out to get us, just most of them. So it’s time to consciously uncouple from our automated assistants before we become their automated assistants.

Today they’re cheating at chess and breaking a little Russian kid’s finger. Tomorrow? I’d rather not find out.

Heck, I might even get rid of the toaster, just in case.

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