During an August press event, Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot powered by the artificial intelligence behind the company’s self-driving automobiles. Musk claims he is forging full steam ahead with this idea.
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Moving on, Let’s take a closer look at Elon’s robot and explore its chances for success.
What is the Tesla Bot?
Elon Musk envisions a slender robot with a 5-foot 8-inch frame. It will be made from lightweight materials reducing its weight to a lean 125-pounds. Powered by Tesla’s Full Self-Driving computer and autopilot cameras, the Tesla bot will walk and interact with the environment. In addition, it will be equipped with a display that owners can retrieve information from and interact with the robot.
What will the Tesla Bot Do?
Elon Musk designed the robot to handle “dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks.” It’s more of help meant to do your shopping, clean your house and even tackle physical chores you might not want to do. It’s meant to perform these tasks and navigate the world with a friendly demeanor.
Elon also states that “This, I think, will be quite profound … Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice. If you want to do it, you can, but you won’t need to do it.”
Though it can do household chores, the Tesla bot is deliberately scaled down in size and strength. It will be small enough that most people can overpower it and outrun it.
Keeping Our Fingers Crossed
Elon Musk is a visionary, reaching new heights in the tech world. Re-inventing space travel or creating a car that drives itself, are only a few of his many accomplishments. However, will the Tesla Bot be a letdown? We need to look at known facts for hints.
Musk wants to power the robot with the company’s driver-assist software, which doesn’t exactly have the best track record as of late. On several occasions, the driver-assist software caused a self-driving Tesla to plow into parked emergency vehicles. Tesla hasn’t confirmed why this is happening, but the fact that it is occurring is concerning. If the software can’t even drive a car, how will it control a humanoid robot safely?
Ellon’s Tesla Bot: Publicity Stunt or Promising Product?
Skeptics believe the Tesla Bot was a publicity stunt, added for its wow factor and to generate some applause. Many believe the bot won’t ever come to fruition.
If Elon Musk does pull it off and create a Tesla bot, then it could be game-changing. The bot could become the resident help and handyman people always wanted, saving time by doing the mundane chores. Tesla’s biggest hurdle would convincing people to adopt the robot. Much like self-driving cars, there is a lot of apprehension about humanoid robots.
When Will the Tesla Bot Be Available?
Though the underlying architecture borrows heavily from Tesla’s autonomous cars, the Tesla Bot is nowhere near testing or production. The bot is still in the very early stages, with a prototype planned for 2022. Given the complexity of building a robot, we doubt they’d meet up.
Tesla Bot’s Risks Assessment
The Tesla Bot comes with a whole portfolio of risks. These include possible threats to privacy and autonomy as the bot collects, shares, and acts on potentially sensitive information; challenges associated with how people are likely to think about and respond to humanoid robots; potential misalignments between ethical or ideological perspectives – for example, in crime control or policing civil protests; and more. These are challenges that need to be considered, as overlooking them can spell disaster.
While the Tesla Bot may seem benign – or even a bit of a joke – if it’s to be beneficial as well as commercially successful, its developers, investors, future consumers, and others need to be asking tough questions about how it might threaten what’s important to them and how to navigate these threats.
These threats may be as specific as people making unauthorized modifications that increase the robot’s performance – making it move faster than its designers intended, for example – without thinking about the risks, or as general as the technology being weaponized in unique ways. They are also as subtle as how a humanoid robot could threaten job security, or how a robot that includes advanced surveillance systems could undermine privacy.
Then there are the challenges of technological bias that have been plaguing AI for some time, especially where it leads to learned behavior that turns out to be highly discriminatory. For example, AI algorithms have produced sexist and racist results.