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We found no evidence to substantiate a Facebook video’s claim that robots designed for military use recently shot and killed 29 people in a Japanese lab.
The woman who made the claim in 2018 credited an anonymous source. Since then, the claim has been repeatedly debunked.
The footage in the Facebook video does not depict actual robots attacking humans. It was created using motion-capture technology and computer-generated imagery, according to the production company that made the videos.
It sounds like a science fiction plot, but a viral video warns that murderous military robots are a real and present danger.
"At a top robotics company in Japan this week, four robots being developed for military applications killed 29 humans in the lab, and they did it by shooting what he called metal bullets," claimed a woman in a video shared on Facebook.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The claim has been repeatedly debunked as far back as 2018. The version we checked had been shared nearly 5,000 times, with Facebook users leaving comments like "wow" and "I keep thinking every video is a movie til it’s not."
The woman speaking in the video is Linda Moulton Howe, according to Reuters. At an expo in February 2018, Howe, who studies UFOs, shared the story about robots killing 29 people in Japan. She credited the information to an anonymous ex-U.S. Marine who did contract work with the CIA and National Security Agency, Snopes reported.
Howe’s story lacked specific details, such as who was killed and which lab was affected. We searched news archives and Google and found no headlines or articles from reputable news sources to corroborate Howe’s allegations.
A spokesperson for the Robotics Policy Office at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry told Reuters: "To our knowledge there is no basis in fact regarding the matter you inquired about."
The video clips spliced between Howe’s words in this video did not actually show robots attacking and shooting at humans. The footage was pulled from videos featuring parodies of Boston Dynamics robots.
The parody videos came from the YouTube channel of Corridor Digital, a Los Angeles-based production company. The videos used motion-capture technology and computer-generated imagery to create videos that featured people taunting robots until those robots fought back.
In disclaimers published with each video, Corridor said the clips were "comedic parodies" that are not "associated with the Boston Dynamics company." We’ve previously rated False a claim that one of these Corridor videos showed "military robots ready for war."
Corridor explained its process for creating the videos in another 2019 video titled, "How we faked a ‘Boston Dynamics’ robot." We rate the claim that robots killed 29 people in Japan False.
Facebook post, March 10, 2023
Corridor YouTube channel, New Robot Can Now Fight Back! (Corridor Digital), June 14, 2019
Corridor Crew YouTube channel, How We Faked a "Boston Dynamics" Robot, June 14, 2019
Corridor YouTube channel, New Robot Makes Soldiers Obsolete (Corridor Digital), Oct. 26, 2019
Tweet, Dec. 18, 2018
Indy100, This conspiracy theory about AI robots killing 29 Japanese scientists has gone viral, Sept. 29, 2022
The Daily Caller, FACT CHECK: Did A.I Robots Kill 29 Humans In A Japanese Lab? Jan. 25, 2023
Fact Crescendo, Did Four AI robots kill 29 Japanese scientists inside a lab? Find Out the Facts…, Dec. 28, 2022
Snopes, Did four AI robots kill 29 scientists in Japan? , Dec. 19, 2018
Reuters, Fact Check-No evidence that four AI robots killed 29 scientists in Japan or South Korea, Jan. 23, 2023
PolitiFact, Parody video shows ‘military robots ready for war,’ Oct. 31, 2022
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