SoftBank Robots Pinch Hit For Baseball Cheerleaders

Grand venues of spectacle to entertain audiences has long been a part of history, but such tradition is highly problematic at the moment in the light of the pandemic. Some sports leagues are testing the waters with a soft restart by playing only to a broadcast audience, leaving the stadium empty. Many experiments are in progress trying to liven up an empty stadium and this is where SoftBank saw an opportunity: as a multinational conglomerate that has both a baseball team and a robotics division, they called a team of robots to cheer-leading duty.

Some clips of the cheerleading squad in action have started circulating. A few people may greet the sight with an indifferent shrug, but most tend to fall to an extreme: either finding them hilarious or react with horror. It is only natural to have a strong reaction to such a jarring sight.

Spot was only available for sale recently, and we admit this was not the type of task that came to our minds. Pepper has a longer track record and this is not Pepper’s first baseball game. The humanoid robot has been around long enough to raise questions about a robot’s role in society from unionization to sex work. We haven’t made much progress answering those questions, and now we have even more questions that the lightweight SoftBank Robotics press release (in Japanese) didn’t try to answer.

When people fret about “robots taking our jobs” the conversation doesn’t usually involve sports team cheerleaders, yet here we are. Welcome to the future.

11 thoughts on “SoftBank Robots Pinch Hit For Baseball Cheerleaders

  1. What a waste of technology and money. I guess that’s true of most technology and money, however. Instead of exploring our universe, we make apps so people can avoid real jobs by becoming “influencers.”

    1. It’s softening us up for robots becoming mor commonplace in society.
      So that when you next see a spot, you’ll think “cute cheerleading dog”, not “murderous military robot taking our jobs”.
      Until it shoots you.

  2. A replacement for Umbrella Girls?

    In motorbike racing, some events would have young ladies providing shade for the riders in the lead up to a race. They typically also wore outfits in team colors, and advertising logos. There was a decision made, to take away the ability of these women to earn an income. So robots could not be blamed for “taking their jobs”.

    1. Not just motorbike racing, many racing classes decided that girls/women were not allowed to decide for themselves they were fine with earning money through looking good in a tight fitting outfit and standing around in a designated place for a while. Because god forbid we ever let women decide for themselves what they want.

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