Boston Dynamics robot dogs star in Paris fashion show

Four-legged Spot robots stole the show as they strutted alongside human models during Paris Fashion Week, but their use was also criticized for "humanizing" a potentially lethal technology.

Coperni, a Paris-based fashion house, has partnered with the Boston robotics company to present its Fall-Winter '23 collection, inspired by Jean de la Fontaine's The Wolf and the Lamb fable.

The collection reinterprets the 17th-century original that questions the balance of power between different social groups by emphasizing a "symbiotic relationship" humans and machines could have instead.

"The show presents Coperni's vision, which is that there is neither a dominant nor a dominated, but that mankind and machine can live in harmony," the company said after the show, which was part of Paris Fashion Week.

While five robot dogs emerging from the dark at the show's beginning might have caused some moments of unease – their green, glaring eyes menacingly set on the audience – the atmosphere soon cleared as models joined them on the catwalk.

The high point of the show's choreography included one of the robots helping a human model remove her jacket. Another scene saw a robot handing a model her purse.

There were many Instagram-able moments, for a fashion house that went viral for spray-painting a dress on Bella Hadid during a live show last year.

As with the previous year, the show generated some controversy, with social media users criticizing Coperni for "humanizing" a potentially dangerous technology.

Coperni said Boston Dynamics shared its "positive and joyful vision of innovation and technology."

The duo behind the fashion house, Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, are committed to exploring technology themes in their work. Some marketing for their latest show also included AI-generated images of a wolf and a lamb.

Boston Dynamics is keen to promote the non-lethal use of its robots, and distance itself from a post-apocalyptic portrayal of the technology on shows like Black Mirror, the offbeat sci-fi TV series that ran an episode in which humans are hunted by deadly robot canines.

Last year, the company signed an open letter calling against the weaponization of general-purpose robots. A Spot robot was also sent to Ukraine for a de-mining mission.

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