We know who killed hitchBOT, the world′s most beloved hitchhiking robot | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 05.08.2015
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We know who killed hitchBOT, the world's most beloved hitchhiking robot

Over the weekend, a loveable, harmless robot was found decapitated on the outskirts of Philadelphia. There's only one possible explanation for who did it: the CIA.

Thanks to some tireless Internet investigators, security footage emerged yesterday of a man in a Philadelphia eagles jersey kicking and beating the little robot on a sidewalk somewhere in the city of supposed brotherly love.

Judgment, Philly. Massive, massive amounts of judgment.

The entire hitchBOT experience - started by a group of researchers at Ryerson University in Canada - was a social experiment to see how strangers would react to a strange little robot asking for a ride. Turns out people in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and most of Massachusetts were up for the task of just being nice to a helpless, lifeless stranger.

Not so much in Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia's defense, one resident started a Kickstarter campaign to rebuild hitchBOT that raised close to $5,000 by Wednesday, far beyond the original ask-for target of $1,200.

The identity of hitchBOT's murderer is still unknown. But we here at Deutsche Welle science and technology desk think we know exactly who it might be. Buckle up kids.

A Conspiracy

26.02.2015 DW PROJEKT ZUKUNFT Hitchbot

hitchBOT with DW's Christoph Hartmann, in happier times.

Exhibit 1: hitchBOT's head was missing. The head is where the computer is stored. Someone wanted whatever hitchBOT was carrying with him. Think about it: this is a robot that has seen all of Canada, and much of Germany and the Netherlands. He has been in people's cars. He has listened to (recorded?) their conversations. Who knows, really, what he might have heard.

Exhibit 2: The police are not investigating hitchBOT's demise, the local newspaper "Philly Voice" reported yesterday. Nor are the researchers at Ryerson - hitchBOT's parents, essentially - pressing charges. Why on earth would the creators of this beloved creature, which had 63,000 Twitter followers, choose to simply abandon him?

Exhibit 3: Last March, Canada announced it deported five people who were in Canada, who were charged with being spies for the US.

Closing argument: Canada was trying to spy on Americans, and the CIA destroyed hitchBOT and kidnapped his data.

The evidence is all there, sheeple! Open your eyes!

Why else would the researchers at the head of the project be refusing to give interviews to the press? (DW asked, and was refused.)

Clearly these "scientists" at "Ryerson" "University" are nothing more than a smoke screen for the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service. This robot was just a very typical Canadian spy: Friendly, polite, approachable - and secretly judging everything you do.

On the bright side: If we're wrong, then hey, maybe we finally found the person who kept beating Will Smith up before his mother told him to move in with his Auntie and Uncle in Bel Air.

Disclosure: The author of this comment is from Detroit, a city where hitchBOT probably would not have fared much better.

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