Marco Rubio is broken.
Ever since last Saturday’s debate when Chris Christie maimed him on national television, the man that was once the Tea Party’s golden boy has seemed a bit... off. The glitch first appeared that night, as Rubio spouted off variations of the line, “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing” not once, not twice, but four separate times.
Then again, just yesterday, the now-questionably human candidate seemed to repeat and reboot right before our very eyes. So what’s actually going on with our thrashing hard drive of a candidate? We asked Professor Chris Atkeson at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics and Human-Computer Interaction Institute to perform a little Rubiobot troubleshooting from afar.
And unfortunately for Marco, it’s worse than we thought. As Professor Atkeson explained to Gawker over email:
In terms of debugging Marcobot, there are several reasons robots repeat the same behavior, and thus several possibilities that might explain the faults and glitches we are seeing. I have to caution the public that it is often difficult to debug a robot remotely, and we really need to get Marcobot back in the lab. It appears our Turing test is failing.
- The behavior works. Given positive results, continuing to produce a behavior makes sense. Most robots, and many humans, feel no need to vary behavior or try or think about new things. This is an unlikely hypothesis given the media response (which may not actually reflect the impact on voters). It does not seem the behavior is working.
- It is sometimes hard to detect repeated behaviors or behavioral loops. Small variations in behavior or context may make detecting “similar” behaviors difficult. In the case of Marcobot, the behaviors are so similar this is not a likely hypothesis either.
- Sometimes computational overload requires the use of a standard set of safety behaviors, which leads to repetition of these simple safety behaviors that do not require any thinking, and may actually be just filler in that they don’t actually mean or do anything.
This seems to be the most likely explanation.
So Marco, wherever you are (you’re in New Hampshire), go home—before things get worse. Remember what happened to Hitchbot in Philly? You and Hitchbot are too fragile for this cruel and heartless world.