Australian Students “Swing In Robotic Unison,” Break Robot Dance Record

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A massive supergeeky public stunt involving hundreds of students who half-dance half-convulse their way into the record books? Well then. Your move, Japan:

A group of more than 300 Australian university students grooved their way into the history books Tuesday, setting a new world record for the largest ever robot dance. A total of 318 people swung in robotic unison on the lawns of the University of Melbourne … Some were wrapped head to toe in foil while others sported pirate costumes, and a film student captured the event on camera for a robot-dance documentary.

Apparently this was done to raise awareness about a student group called Robogals, which tries to encourage female participation in engineering and computer science. That’s a laudable goal and we wish them the best, both in the broad context and on the specific “we hope they have nothing to do with the robot-dance documentary” question. Because no matter how well intentioned, there’s no way a robot-dance documentary helps the team.

More pointedly, this new record brings to the fore several thorny geopolitical questions, none of which have ready answers. How long will it be before Japanese flash mobs respond with a larger and more extravagant performance? It can’t be more than a couple weeks, even accounting for the mind-bending logistics of moving thousands of cosplay fanatics into one Tokyo street.

Also: given how it’s guaranteed that the Japanese robot dance will involve actual robots, how big will they be? Will cranes have to be rolled in to move them into position? Will any of them be equipped with shoulder-mounted lasers, the better to intimidate future robot dance record-seekers? Because we’re against equipping robots with shoulder lasers, fyi.

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