This Ballet With Humans And Robots is Sweet and Slightly Scary

By Annalee Newitz on at

Right now, you can watch human and robots perform ballet together at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in a piece called “Robot.” It’s about humans teaching robots to dance, though the small mechanical creatures aren’t able to replace their fleshbag teachers quite yet.

IEEE Spectrum’s Eliza Strickland saw the show, and said the robots often fell over:

Each time a bot went down its bandmates carried on with the dance, but the audience’s attention was fixed on the turtle-like Nao on its back, struggling to get up. When the slow manoeuvring of limbs ended with a Nao rising to its feet and rejoining the dance, the crowd broke into applause. These moments of malfunction became highlights of the show, as we humans looked for plucky determination in the souls of these mechanical dancers, and found it.

This scene sounds a lot like what Matt Novak experienced last weekend at DARPA’s Robotics Challenge, where robots falling down was part of the action — and jokes about it were a big theme of the event. It’s all fun and memes until somebody gets hurt, or has their job stolen by a bot.

So laugh now, gentle humans. One day all your dancers will have twisted polymer fibres for muscle and carbon fibre for skin.

[IEEE Spectrum]