It’s starting to seem like the creators of HBO series WESTWORLD might know something we don’t — like when and how robots are going to overthrow humans’ reign on Earth.
At least that’s what patrons at a London pub might have feared when they first caught sight of “Fred,” the establishment’s first robotic customer and a startling real-world promotion for the show’s second season, which airs on UK network NOW TV beginning next week.
Designed by Engineered Arts over a 12-week period, Fred is far more complete-looking than Sophia (whose “brain” is exposed beneath a clear dome) or Charles (who doesn’t even have a body below the shoulders).
But technology just hasn’t quite caught up with robotics engineers’ ambitions, and the resulting “Uncanny Valley” effect creeped out several patrons when Fred tried to make casual conversation… especially as the subject turned to the prospect of “the impending humanoid robot invasion.”
One patron described his encounter with Fred as “a really frightening, unnerving, spooky experience,” while another admitted the humanoid was amazingly realistic.
“To a large extent, you don’t believe you are talking to a robot,” he said.
However, as the clip shows, Fred’s fragile mask of humanity begins slipping (intentionally, on the part of his designers): he occasionally stutters, makes short-circuiting sounds while blinking his eyes separately, and calmly asks “Do you want to meet your maker?” before violently smashing his beer glass on the table.