Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plays ping-pong with robot

Commentary: Yesterday, it was a walk with a robot dog and beer pong. Now, Bezos appears to be stepping up his game.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Bezos is the one wearing a hat.

MIT Technology Review/Twitter screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

People define their own fun.

For Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, it seems like it's amusing to go to a conference and commune with robots.

On Monday at the company's MARS conference in Palm Springs, California, he took a walk with a Boston Dynamics robot dog. He played beer pong with a robot, too.

On Tuesday, he took it to a more competitive level. He played ping-pong with a large piece of metal holding a red bat.

Footage posted by the MIT Technology Review to Twitter shows Bezos pitting his skills against a monstrosity from outer space. Or, perhaps, the new COO of Blue Origin.

Many will focus on Bezos's table-tennis prowess, rather than the cast-off prop from "Men In Black."

He seemed confident enough serving. His backhand and forehand, however, were a little tentative for a man of his muscle.

One would have hoped that he'd have displayed a little more topspin aggression on the forehand and some underspin on the backhand to make the robot move a little.

Instead, he put one shot into the net and another far off the table.

Perhaps it was nerves, you might think. It's not easy exposing your ping-pong skills so publicly.

Naturally, I have a different theory. 

This was Bezos showing excellent interviewing skills. After all, such machines will soon replace many of the humans he employs -- the ones who, some say, are already at breaking point.

By hiding his true skills, he's showing the robots deference, so that they will prefer to work for him rather than, say, Google.

On the day that Amazon surpassed Google's parent company Alphabet to become the America's second-biggest company, it's heartening to see Bezos still can offer a display of modesty. As well as canny psychology. 

Robots don't like to be dominated, you know.