The Rossiya 24 news channel aired footage of Boris — what was said to be a high-tech robot — dancing, singing, and talking at a technology forum for school pupils. He was even filmed saying;
I’m good at maths but now I want to study art and musical composition.
With the human-like movements and impressive dance moves, he was touted as a testament to how far Russian technology has come. The announcer is recorded saying, “At the forum there’s the opportunity to see state-of-the-art robots. Boris the Robot has already learned to dance, and not badly at that.”
Here’s the video of the alleged robot:
But there’s just one small problem.
Boris the robot is, in fact, a human.
The first clue was from a picture posted on social media, showing a tall-tale strip of skin between the head and body of the robot:
This is less a testament to Russia’s technological abilities than it is a reminder of how thinly veiled Russia’s lies are.
Perhaps Russia’s Oligarchy is getting lazy, what with their near absolute control of the media narrative. But attentive journalists did their jobs here, according to Sky News. They noticed the ‘robot’s’ obvious lack of external sensors and how it was the perfect size to fit a human inside.
After doubt spread, it was later found out that the robot costume is available online. According to The Guardian, the man was wearing a R54,000 (about 809.00 American dollars) robot costume sold by a company called Show Robots, which is named by the site as ‘Alyosha’.
In response to the backlash in news forums and social media, a Russian journalist Arseniy Kondratev pushed back, saying:
I was absolutely sure everyone would realize it was a costume, like Santa Claus, that this was a project created for children.
BBC news reports that the forum organizers never claimed the robot was authentic, but that the state TV (and journalist Arseniy Kondratev) later suggested it was.
We as Americans are no strangers to Russia’s crazy stunts. We’re just surprised they didn’t do as they usually do and double down on their claims.
On the website of the company behind the robot, it is described as being able to create “an almost complete illusion that you have a real robot”.
According to reports, a photograph published by MBKh Media, a news agency founded by Vladimir Putin’s opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, appeared to show an actor wearing the suit ahead of the annual Proyektoria technology forum, where “Boris” was displayed.
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MBKh Media insisted that the event’s organizers did not try to pass off the robot as real, despite it being described as such on state television. Footage of the robot reportedly disappeared briefly from Russia-24’s YouTube channel on Wednesday morning but it came back again a short while later.
We will stand by for Russia’s future cringe-worthy bluffs. Maybe it will help take our minds off our own country’s blatant disinformation. It makes you a little alarmed when you realize that these guys, with their Hobby Lobby robot, are the ones who influenced our elections.
And of course, people of the internet weighed in with their thoughts:
Artificial Artificial Intelligence
— Aviv Keren (@TheAvivKeren) December 13, 2018
Sad part is now the man in the suit is probably dead for disappointing Putin.
— Chastity Urban-Taylor🇦🇺❤💕🐶🌞 (@ChastityUrban) December 13, 2018
I’m shocked to the core that this could happen in such a honest place like Russia I mean like when has Russia ever lied or been manipulating
— adam goodwin (@adamgoodwin) December 13, 2018
— Spec Kay (@speckaymusic) December 13, 2018
Meanwhile, in Boston pic.twitter.com/W9dJMnRGlO
— eechentx (@eechentx) December 12, 2018
— Jon Stewart (@JonStewart92) December 13, 2018
Maybe next time they’ll get a little help with their fake robots from Michael Bay. Or maybe they’ll ask these guys, whose robots are infinitely cooler: