submitted 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) by [email protected] to c/technology

I've enjoyed Mark Rober's videos for a while now. They are fun, touch on accessible topics, and have decent production value. But this recent video isn't sitting right with me

The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrGENEXocJU

In it, he talks about a few techniques for how to take down "bad guy drones", the problems with each, and then shows off the drone tech by Anduril as a solution.


Anduril aims to sell the U.S. Department of Defense technology, including artificial intelligence and robotics. Anduril's major products include unmanned aerial systems (UAS), counter-UAS (CUAS), semi-portable autonomous surveillance systems, and networked command and control software.

In the video, the Anduril product is a heavy drone that uses kinetic energy to destroy other drones (by flying into them). Quoting the person in the video:

imagine a children's bowling ball thrown at twice as fast as a major league baseball fastball, that's what it's like getting hit by Anvil

This technology is scary for obvious reasons, especially in the wrong hands. What I also don't like is how Mark Rober's content is aimed at children, and this video includes a large segment advertising the children's products he is selling. Despite that, he is promoting military technology with serious ethical implications.

There's even a section in the video where they show off the Roadrunner, compare it against the patriot missiles, and loosely tie it in to defending against drones. While the Anvil could be used to hurt people, at least it is designed for small flying drones. The Roadrunner is not:

The Roadrunner is a 6 ft (1.8 m)-long twin turbojet-powered delta-winged craft capable of high subsonic speeds and extreme maneuverability. Company officials describe it as somewhere between an autonomous drone and a reusable missile. The basic version can be fitted with modular payloads such as intelligence and reconnaissance sensors. The Roadrunner-M has an explosive warhead to intercept UAS, cruise missiles, and manned aircraft.

top 50 comments
sorted by: hot top controversial new old
[-] wjrii 104 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Rober's always seemed a little off to me, like one of those who enjoys being famous more than the stuff that made him famous in the first place. Seems like he's gotten worse, though. For instance, this video declares it "was not sponsored [by Zipline] in anyway nor did they pay for any of my travel or accommodations," despite extolling their virtues over and over again by name, and lingering lovingly on their drones and logos like Michael Bay with a car company's badge.

Smarter Everyday is also rather polished, and he's even more in bed with the military industrial complex, but (as of a few months ago anyway) he comes off like he's still actually enjoying the projects themselves and the information he's sharing. It's hard to exactly articulate the point where a content creator loses me, but I can feel it in my nerd-bones.

[-] AstridWipenaugh 85 points 1 month ago

Destin works for defense contractors and he's never been shy about his interest and involvement in weaponry. He has a bible quote at the end of his videos. I seriously doubt I would agree with him about pretty much any politics and definitely not his personal beliefs, but he keeps his channel pretty strongly focused on the episode's subject without bringing his personal views into it. He seems to do the channel because he likes geeking out about nerdy stuff and wants to share that love with others.

I personally feel that the knowledge he's sharing is more important than knowing we probably disagree on some things. If he starts including prayer time or turns his channel into military porn, I'm out. But his channel is a positive influence for now, IMO.

Rober is different. He acts like cool science bro that worked for NASA and wants you to think he's Bill Nye or something. But he seems to be doing it for views and to push the stuff he's selling. He doesn't seem genuine. He's at risk of turning into a prank bro channel if his quality goes downhill.

[-] LeroyJenkins 32 points 1 month ago

yeah I quite respect Destin despite being pretty opposite to him in ideology. he's able to be fairly apolitical while being very clear on his views by way of his topics and minor Bible nod on his videos. the politics are never front and center tho and the dude is actually a real real engineer that is a great science educator. the dude just really loves farm and weapon tech.

load more comments (1 replies)
load more comments (3 replies)
[-] [email protected] 49 points 1 month ago

Rober's always seemed a little off to me, like one of those who enjoys being famous more than the stuff that made him famous in the first place.

It's hard to exactly articulate the point where a content creator loses me, but I can feel it in my nerd-bones.

You've articulated my thoughts more clearly than I could myself. I've felt the same way for some time.

load more comments (3 replies)
[-] Wizard_Pope 86 points 1 month ago

Yeah I just watched it and it seemed off. Almost like the mrwhosetheboss touring a fucking prison a while back.

[-] [email protected] 35 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Almost like the mrwhosetheboss touring a fucking prison a while back.

The channel Boy Boy (I Did A Thing's ~~brother~~ friend) did a great response video to that one.

[-] glimse 17 points 1 month ago

Small correction: Boy Boy is Aleksa (I Did A Thing's friend) and Alex (I Did A Thing), not his brother

load more comments (2 replies)
load more comments (9 replies)
[-] [email protected] 23 points 1 month ago

I had to stop watching his videos because I can’t stand his overly enthusiastic personality.

load more comments (2 replies)
[-] Legonatic 79 points 1 month ago

I also had this uneasy feeling watching the video. It certainly felt a bit like a cog in the military industrial machine. While the actual content of the video wasn't exactly bad in my opinion, I don't know how I feel about pitching anti-terror or war machines to children through the lens of, "Engineering is cool!" That said, there are many more examples of that pitch out in the world in other forms. I do think Mark could be more careful especially when he is directly promoting a company in the defense industry.

[-] [email protected] 43 points 1 month ago

Unfortunately engineering and military have a huge overlap in the US. It's kind of inescapable. I found out recently that Destin from Smarter Every Day also worked for a weapons manufacturer before starting YouTube. These people just don't want to think about the fact that they probably have blood on their hands.

[-] Legonatic 23 points 1 month ago

I am well aware of this overlap and it doesn't come as a surprise. I perhaps wish more of these creators acknowledged the military industrial complex and addressed what it means for their content and for the world of engineering.

[-] wjrii 12 points 1 month ago

I don't think Destin's ever been real shy about his connections. Huntsville is basically nothing but NASA and missile companies, and he did a multi-part series where he lived on an active US Navy sub for two days.

load more comments (1 replies)
load more comments (2 replies)
[-] new_guy 20 points 1 month ago

If you take a look into the fitness bubble on YouTube you will see military propaganda too. They're often competing against real soldiers/SEALS/whatever to demonstrate how well prepared they're are in the case of war. Back in the subject of engineering, William Osman was also sponsored by the Navy (I think) one time.

load more comments (2 replies)
[-] [email protected] 18 points 1 month ago

I don't know how I feel about pitching anti-terror or war machines to children through the lens of, "Engineering is cool!" That said, there are many more examples of that pitch out in the world in other forms.

Kids have been sold military toys since forever. GI Joe, tin soldiers, toy guns, toy armor and swords, model kits of tanks and fighter aircraft...

load more comments (1 replies)
[-] [email protected] 75 points 1 month ago

The breathless enthusiasm for the military industrial complex while dropping scary descriptions of terrorism that hasn't happened gave me exactly the same impression.

I hate this kind of content, especially from someone who seems like a pretty genuine person.

Please Mark: be a bit more critical.

load more comments (16 replies)
[-] [email protected] 57 points 1 month ago

Also a 5mn ad break to sell his kit felt much too long.

It's like 1/3 of the video.

[-] [email protected] 45 points 1 month ago

That's his videos now. Get you to watch them to hype Crunch Labs.

[-] [email protected] 26 points 1 month ago

This, I think, is more a symptom of YouTube no longer supporting creators. Most every big channel is looking to alternate income sources. YouTube ad revenue and sponsor inserts aren't good enough.

Thing is, I wouldn't mind it if channels could self-fund by things like this, but it's being done on top of all the ads, not replacing them.

load more comments (1 replies)
load more comments (3 replies)
[-] riodoro1 41 points 1 month ago

Ive turned this shit off after 30s. Fucking military industrial complex propaganda. Remember, they’re gonna bomb your stadiums from drones (maybe) so forget about all other problems of our society and masturbate to our defensive abilities (that we would never ever use to kill innocent kids in the middle east).

load more comments (5 replies)
[-] [email protected] 36 points 1 month ago

This is a common pattern in content creators. As they grow their goals shift into running a production machine that maximizes earnings, throwing away any values or standards they started with.

Just look at LTT/LMG. It's not gonna get better, so you could watch someone else who still values things other than money.

[-] Snapz 35 points 1 month ago

Weird topic for a channel aimed at children

[-] [email protected] 34 points 1 month ago

While I'm not linking to an external article, I'm hoping that my write-up within the post can still fit with the intent of this community :)

Maybe I've watched too much Black Mirror, but this video felt too similar to the tech demos at the start of a sci-fi thriller. In fact, it made me think of the Slaughterbots short film from 2017.

Sci-Fi Short Film “Slaughterbots” | DUST (youtube.com)

Two relevant points from that video:

  • The person in the tech demo for the drones also uses language such as "bad guys"

  • The address at the end:

This short film is more than just speculation. It shows the results of integrating and miniaturizing technologies that we already have. I'm Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science at Berkeley. I've worked in AI for more than 35 years. It's potential to benefit humanity is enormous, even in defense. But allowing machines to choose to kill humans will be devastating to our security and freedom. Thousands of my fellow researchers agree we have an opportunity to prevent the future you just saw, but the window to act is closing fast.

load more comments (3 replies)
[-] Carrolade 30 points 1 month ago

I don't know about everyone else, but I had a great interest in war when I was a boy. Now as an adult, I'd rather have Mark explaining things to kids than anyone else they might seek out.

[-] [email protected] 15 points 1 month ago

Sure, and I went through the video looking for some nuanced explanation of the technology, the risks, and what safeguards were being put in place. Unfortunately, I didn't see any, and the cheerful music throughout the video seems to be promoting the content more than anything else.

I find that there are other engineering channels that discuss technologies while focussing on the technology itself, both the good and the bad. I'm not opposed to such content being accessible to children, but the way this video goes about it did not sit right with me

[-] Carrolade 19 points 1 month ago

If it's military tech, then the finer details are likely not part of the public domain. Anything that could be used to understand or develop a way to counteract the weapon more effectively, or sometimes even just understand its precise capabilities, would be secret.

It's understandable that it does not sit well, I think that's healthy. War is hell.

load more comments (1 replies)
[-] TheFeatureCreature 26 points 1 month ago

I stopped watching his content after his ableist campaign with NEXT For Autism (another shitty autism "charity" like Autism Speaks) and his subsequent removal of comments and banning of users who criticised his campaign or attempted to inform him of the dangers of the organisation.

It's good to see that his morals and ethics are still, to this day, not exactly heartwarming. /s

[-] [email protected] 30 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Given that his own kid is on the autism spectrum, I'd like to think any involvement he has with autism related organizations comes from a genuine desire to do good by autistic people.

load more comments (1 replies)
[-] boaratio 24 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Remember when he faked his first fart bomb video because he used his friends to play the part of the porch pirates? That was years ago.

Edit: My memory was a little fuzzy on exactly the nature of the incident was. See my follow up comment for a link to an article that explains what actually happened.

load more comments (5 replies)
[-] lledrtx 24 points 1 month ago

Mark has always been icky for me. I watch these kinds of videos almost excellently - the science-tech ones; yet I avoid him like the plague.

[-] [email protected] 23 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Such a nice name wasted. Same as Palantir

[-] CodexArcanum 19 points 1 month ago

I do wonder what's up with fascist nerds and Tolkien names.

[-] [email protected] 24 points 1 month ago

Fascist nerds get way too excited about the worst aspects of any fiction.

See: Starship Troopers, Helldivers 2, and so on.

[-] [email protected] 22 points 1 month ago

I watched it with my kids and felt uncomfortable. This sort of video is not the same as elephants toothpaste.

I don't suffer through rober videos so my kids can now worry people want to drop bombs on them at a stadium.

Thanks mark.

[-] raspberriesareyummy 21 points 1 month ago

Mark Rober is a practicing mormon. And that already did not sit right with me. Christian, muslim, I don't care what religion, these people should stay away from child education programs. Keeping your faith completely private is borderline acceptable, but please keep your symbols of faith out of your videos (white shirt for the mormons as I learned)

load more comments (8 replies)
[-] [email protected] 19 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

This just in: Palmer Luckey is a piece of shit. This is what you bought when you paid for the Oculus Rift.

Somehow I already knew this was Anduril.

load more comments (5 replies)
[-] CylonBunny 15 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

All of the people here saying Backyard Scientist is better should check out his latest video.

load more comments (1 replies)
[-] [email protected] 14 points 1 month ago

I also was not happy about the video.

[-] [email protected] 14 points 1 month ago

I understand the criticism of the tone of the video, but what I totally don't understand is that some comments say that this technology was "scary".

How? You are aware that we are loving in a world where missiles can carry nuclear bombs and where thousands of those are kept in working condition so they could be launched at any moment? A world where terrorists have successfully destroyed a building in another country with a plane? Where school shootings are a thing? Where there is a war in the Ukraine where much cheaper drones are used to kill much more efficiently with explosives?

I guarantee you that no one will ever acquire one of these drones to attack an individual because there are so many ways that are cheaper and easier and have been around for decades.

load more comments (5 replies)
[-] wylderbuilds 13 points 1 month ago

That's an absolutely awful video. Loud, obnoxious, disingenuous and not even remotely as funny, informative, comprehensive, or clever as the idiot who made it thinks it is. It's valueless content made to be ingested and served up by an algorithm.

load more comments
view more: next ›
this post was submitted on 21 Apr 2024
383 points (88.5% liked)


55259 readers
4936 users here now

This is a most excellent place for technology news and articles.

Our Rules

  1. Follow the lemmy.world rules.
  2. Only tech related content.
  3. Be excellent to each another!
  4. Mod approved content bots can post up to 10 articles per day.
  5. Threads asking for personal tech support may be deleted.
  6. Politics threads may be removed.
  7. No memes allowed as posts, OK to post as comments.
  8. Only approved bots from the list below, to ask if your bot can be added please contact us.
  9. Check for duplicates before posting, duplicates may be removed

Approved Bots

founded 1 year ago