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Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot has wowed us with a backflip and amused us with its iffy box-stacking abilities. Now in a video posted Thursday on the company’s YouTube channel, the humanoid robot demonstrates its running ability.
It’s quite a feat for the robot’s creators, but it might not reassure people who worry that smart, agile machines like Atlas are harbingers of a robot apocalypse.
“Wow, kinda scary,” one commenter said of the video.
Another said, “These are the machines the elite want to use against us humans.”
The 33-second clip shows Atlas chugging along through a leafy neighborhood. The battery-powered bot has no trouble keeping its balance on grass or uneven terrain. At one point in the video, Atlas encounters a log across its path but leaps over it with aplomb.
The clip is one of two new videos from Boston Dynamics. The other shows the company’s doglike robot, SpotMini, as it wends its way through an office and lab facility. SpotMini shows it can climb and descend stairs and avoid obstacles while finding its way.
There’s nothing especially ominous about SpotMini or its on-camera jaunt, but you can’t stop people from worrying. As one commenter quipped, “Just imagine this with two machine guns mounted and the AI inside can reload them, that’s the future of warfare.”
US National Guard troops removed from inauguration duty due to ‘far right’ links, reports | US News
Two US Army National Guard members have been removed from duty during Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration because of ties to far-right militias, according to Associated Press.
A US Army official and a senior US intelligence official confirmed the decision to AP on the condition of anonymity due to Defense Department media regulations.
They did not say what fringe group the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in.
A spokesman for the National Guard Bureau told AP: “Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.”
The heightened security comes after the riots on 6 January when Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building.
One dead as Japan snowstorm causes 134-car pile-up | World News
A snowstorm caused a 134-car pile-up which killed one person and left a dozen others injured in Japan.
At least 134 cars were involved in a series of crashes on a 1km stretch of the Tohoku Expressway, in the northern prefecture of Miyagi.
Authorities had imposed a speed limit of 50kph (31mph) after blizzard snow conditions cut visibility at about noon on Tuesday.
Some 200 people were caught up in the pile-up and 12 of them were sent to hospital, the disaster management agency said.
Rescue operations were under way, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
Japan has seen unusually heavy snow in recent weeks, with some parts seeing more than double the usual amount.
Last week Toyama city, on the Japanese coast, saw a new record 88cm (2.8ft) of snow within 48 hours, NHK reported, leaving many stranded.
Thailand: Woman jailed for for 43 years over defaming monarchy | UK News
A Thai ex-civil servant has been jailed for a “record-breaking” 43 years and 6 months for sharing audio clips on social media said to defame the country’s monarchy.
The 65-year-old woman – identified as Anchan – pleaded guilty at Bangkok Criminal Court to 29 counts of posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube under different usernames with comments deemed critical of the monarchy.
The court initially announced a sentence of 87 years but reduced it by half because of her guilty plea.
It is said thought be the longest ever sentence for such crimes.
Sunai Phasuk, senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch, said: “Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished.”
Violating Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, known widely as Article 112, is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count.
The law is controversial not only because simple things such as liking a post on Facebook can be punishable, but also because anyone, not just royals or authorities, can lodge a complaint that can lead to legal proceedings lasting years.
Ms Anchan’s case dates back six years when Thailand’s anti-establishment sentiment was growing after a 2014 military coup led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
She denied the charges when her case was first heard in military court, where lèse-majesté law offences were prosecuted for a period after the coup.
When her case was transferred to a criminal court, she pleaded guilty in the hope the court would have sympathy for her actions, because she had only shared the audio not posted or commented on it, she told local media.
She said: “I thought it was nothing. There were so many people who shared this content and listened to it.
“The guy (who made the content) had done it for so many years, so I didn’t really think this through and was too confident and not being careful enough to realise at the time that it wasn’t appropriate.”
She added she had worked as a civil servant for 40 years and was arrested one year before retirement, and a conviction meant she would lose her pension.
Ms Anchan is now seeking bail and will decide whether to appeal. If she does not appeal or her appeal fails then she may try to seek a royal pardon from the king.
Thailand has seen 15 years of political unrest but recently young protesters have started issuing calls for the reform of the monarchy, which has long been regarded as an almost sacred institution by many Thais.
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