Survival Research Labs and their motivations

The last issue of Stanford's Ambidextrous magazine features an interesting article about Survival Research Labs (heavy pdf):

Survival Research Labs (SRL) has built its reputation on providing “the most dangerous shows on earth”—it is an art collective that specializes in staging performances, starring enormous robots that beat the crap out of each other. You may think you’ve seen robot wars on television, but there’s a crucial difference: These exhibitions are explicitly designed not only to entertain hundreds of paying viewers, but also to threaten their lives.

Then the writer (Angie Heile) reports some interesting thoughts about their motivations:

“Our shows aren’t for humans, they’re for machines.” But this only hints at the real answer: SRL’s shows aren’t done for the audience—they’re for the creators. (...) Observers often wonder why so much engineering genius doesn’t get applied to something more beneficial—after all, people who can make a self-propelled fire-breathing monster from scrap could probably use their spare time to design life-saving-appropriate technologies for the developing world—rather than just blow things up. But SRL’s creators seem to feel that using their skills to play with fire is a more exciting challenge.

Why do I blog this? SRL has always been interesting to me and I am intrigued by this argument about the "why so much engineering genius doesn’t get applied to something more beneficial". Actually the author could have elaborated a bit more about the importance of stuff like SRL; even though it's exciting for the creators, there is a lot more to think about that: what they do convey relevant messages with regards to tech usage, the future of its use and dissemination and how it plays out in extreme contexts.