The Tesla Bot is the latest Elon Musk led venture to promise a brighter future, but closer inspection reveals there is plenty to be concerned about.
The Tesla Bot was one of the main focuses at Tesla’s AI Day event, with CEO Elon Musk finally getting the chance to introduce his company’s latest creation to the world. The impressive humanoid robot surely won its fair share of admirers, although the potential consequences of its existence are there for everyone to see.
The Tesla Bot stands at roughly 173 cm tall and has been designed with much of the same technology that Tesla developed for their autonomous cars; meaning it should have no trouble finding things to run into. Jokes aside, it has been designed to do “dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks“, like delivering groceries and checking under the bed for monsters.
Elon Musk was also rather keen to explain that the Tesla Bot will not be a danger to humans, pointing out that it has a max speed of 8 km per hour and a carry capacity of approximately 20 kilograms. So the somewhat feeble robot will not be a particularly imposing figure.
Nonetheless, while the Tesla Bot is unlikely to mount a frontal assault against humanity, the ramifications of its existence could well be dire for many of us.
In typically pompous fashion, Elon Musk characterised the economy as “labour”, before asking what happens when it is no longer a finite resource. At first this idea of an army of robots doing the world’s most menial tasks sounds appealing – until you realise that those menial tasks are essential to how many of us earn enough money to survive.
I have gathered data from the last tweet.
"What would you use me for if I lived in your home"
— Optimus (@TeslaAIBot) September 25, 2021
Sure, governments could instigate a universal wage system to counteract this somewhat, but that would need to happen before the Tesla Bot shows up ready to work. It would also be important that giant companies in the service and manufacturing industries, who will surely be the first to purchase such products, stop hoarding their profits and start paying more taxes.
If those things were to happen then perhaps the Tesla Bot could help build a more utopian future. But until then its existence on the market is more likely to result in class warfare and mass unemployment.
Even if those problems are dealt with one still also has to question the validity of using large amounts of finite resources (computer chips, plastics, precious metals) to replace a workforce that can’t exactly be decommissioned: humans.