This year’s PROJECT show, which took place on Tuesday, was dominated by Boris the Robot, who was able to not just walk and talk but also dance and do math. He was, the show and the television noted, „the most modern robot.“
Audiences there and at home were wowed by the advanced technology on display, and were even treated to a live robot dance. Later on, Boris engaged in conversation with the hosts about how robots and humans can work together. Eat your heart out, Boston Dynamics.
Except of course, this is 2018 and Russia, and the whole thing was, you guessed it, fake news.
Despite the conference organizers going to some lengths to imply Boris was a real robot reacting in real time to questions and occasionally noting with amazement at how he was „able to learn,“ the truth is that Boris was no more than a man inside a robot suit.
A pretty expensive robot suit, mind you. Suspicious Russian bloggers started digging into Boris – whose advanced AI had seemingly appeared from nowhere – and soon found that he wasn’t the result of a secretive defense project but rather a fancy costume that costs 250,000 rubles, or $3,750.
Boris is in fact called Alyosha, and is one of a number of complex robot-like outfits produced by a company called Show Robots. Their designs include Star Troopers, Iron Man, Robocop, and various Transformers, and they are designed and sold by two enterprising young men who promote them on their own website.
Even though Boris is designed to look as if he is an actual droid, the fact that he had no external sensors and danced like, well, a man stuck inside of robot suit trying to dance like a robot, rather than a machine trying to approximate human dancing, raised suspicions.