Mention the phrase Guinness World Record to anyone and the first images conjured up are testament to the boundless genetic diversity and incredible feats of mankind: the tallest man in the world, Sultan Kösen of Turkey, who stands at 251 cm (8 ft. 2.8 in.), or Anatolia Vertadella of Italy, who underwent a highly risky and controversial procedure to become the oldest person to give birth at the astounding age of 101!
Although in this case the new record was not related to tallest man, longest fingernails, or largest baby born, the gathering of the robots dancing in synchronized movements, 1069 to be exact, required an impressive amount of planning and coordination of efforts. The choreography was quite good, and the range of movements not as mechanical as expected. Some would call it breakdancing meets the robot.
Credit for the exhibition goes to the Chinese company WL Intelligent Technology Co. based in Guangzhou, Guangdong, which toppled the record that had been set just one year before by another China-based company, Ever Win Company & Ltd, with 1,007 dancing robots.
With the genius and strategic marketing concept of spotlighting the robots—the official Guinness World Record video documenting the dancing robots has reached over 400,000 views—there is sure to be a spike in sales for the popular Dobi robots. The lifelike robots, which measure just under 50cm tall, retail for just $329.
The Rising Tide of Robotics
The Dobi robots’ dancing was a lighthearted display; however, the broader reality of robots and artificial intelligence and their presence in our lives cannot be ignored. In the past decade, we’ve witnessed a shift in conversation about robots. The consensus seems to be that humanoid robots are a welcome addition, and robots that are designed to do the work of humans are greeted with a more at times hostile reaction. Though the ongoing debate about the mechanization of labor is not a fresh one by any means, specialists working in the field of robotics are offering useful insights.
Sheffield Robotics Research Fellow and University of Sheffield Department of Psychology Professor Michael Szollosy is in a good position to analyze the issue of the social impact of robotics:
“...robots may well take 60% of the jobs in 20 years’ time and that is of deep concern, if we don’t restructure society to go along with that,” optimistically adding, “We are now at a tipping point...The possibility now exists [that] we can put over a lot of the work we don’t like to robots and AIs.”
Regardless of which gadgets or devices appear in the future, the Guinness World Record spirit of celebrating human ingenuity and diversity will remain intact. We just may need to add a few extra categories for our robot counterparts.