"Hi-tech" Russian robot turns out to be a man in a suit

The Russian robot named "Boris", promoted as hi-tech by state tv, was revealed to be an actor.

  • A state-owned channel showed a report on a "robot" which turned out to be an actor in a suit.
  • The robot "Boris" was supposed to be good at math and dancing.
  • Russian journalists who raised questions ultimately found out the truth.

In a story rich with metaphors, a Russian-made dancing robot named "Boris", which was trotted out as a high-tech advancement, has been unmasked as being just a man in a suit.

While reporting on the Proyektoria technology forum in Yaroslavl, organized each year for the "future intellectual leaders of Russia", the state-owned channel Russia-24 promoted a "most modern" android as a tech breakthrough that could talk, walk and even dance.

But what they saw did not sit well with a number of Russian journalists who raised questions, not believing it was really a robot. One thing that stood out for many was the lack of external sensors on the "robot" and the fact that it made many "unnecessary movements" during dancing.

The truth came to light when a photograph showing an actor being outfitted with the suit was published by MBKh Media. This news agency was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin's renowned opponent.

Credit: MBKh Media

"Boris" turned out to be a 250,000 rouble (~$3740) "Alyosha the Robot" costume, featuring a microphone and a tablet-like display. On its site, Show Robots, the company behind the suit, claims its product creates the "near total illusion that before you stands a real robot".

Whether this was truly a case of the state telling its citizens to not believe their eyes or a journalistic mistake remains to be seen, but the news report certainly portrays the dancing robot as an achievement. "Boris" is shown to say in a robotic voice "I know mathematics well but I also want to learn to draw." After that he gets the crowd to dance to the Little Big song Skibidi.

Here's the original news report from Russia-24 on the amazing "robot" Boris.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

The colossal problem with universal basic income

Here's why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.

Videos
  • Universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality, says Rushkoff.
  • Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
  • Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
Keep reading Show less

Top vets urge dog lovers to stop buying pugs and bulldogs

Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds. 

'No nose, no thermoregulation, no health, no welfare.' Photo by terriermandotcom.blogspot.com
popular

Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade, thanks to higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black. We're not ruling it out. These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.

Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less