Elon Musk is making the world of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot look like more of a reality than ever with his newly unveiled Tesla Robot.
The Tesla CEO closed out the company’s “AI Day” on Thursday by unveiling the concept designs for the Tesla Robot as well as some details about what consumers can expect if and when it finally makes its way to market (the “if” looking a little bigger than the “when” at the moment). The event showcased some of the company’s progress on artificial intelligence and supercomputer technology, specifically the bits that will power its self-driving cars.
As the event drew to a close, Musk unveiled drawings and a scale model of the Tesla Robot. While there were a handful of details about what the company envisions for this technology, there was nothing specific to showcase other than mere concepts and ideas, of which, Musk had many.
First of all, the company explains on its website that it envisions a future in which the Tesla Robot, a bi-pedal humanoid robot, will be capable of taking over small, menial tasks that human beings might find dangerous, repetitive or simply boring. However, for those who have fears of artificial intelligence replacing humanity on Earth — as well as those who have seen The Terminator and fear we’re currently living in its prologue, Yahoo notes that Musk said he wants the Tesla Robot to be friendly. Therefore it was designed on a mechanical level so that the average human can run away from or overpower their personal robotic slave if and when it decides that humanity is its own greatest threat and —- you get the idea.
Still, at five feet, eight inches and weighing 125 pounds, it’s still easy to see what a convenient as well as formidable presence a machine such as the Tesla Robot could be in one’s home.
In fact, Musk himself has previously discussed the dangers that artificial intelligence in something like the Tesla Robot could pose to humankind. The Guardian reported in 2017 that Musk joined a group of more than 100 robotics experts in 26 countries in calling on the United Nations to essentially ban the development of killer robots. What he meant was less about bi-pedal hominids and more about autonomous weapons for military purposes, citing the danger that artificial intelligence’s unpredictability poses to organic lifeforms like, you know, people. While a Tesla Robot that can pick up your groceries may not be the same threat posed by an autonomous missile or T-1000, it’s a slippery slope that even Musk recognizes.
The SpaceX founder also called for regulation on the kind of artificial intelligence he’s hoping to utilize in the Tesla Robot, according to CNET. So, despite warning against this exact kind of thing in the past, Musk clearly wants to be on the vanguard of robotics. However, what he wants and what crystalizes aren’t always one and the same.
As The Verge notes, the Tesla Robot sounds an awful lot like other lofty goals Musk has unveiled in the past that never truly came to be, at least in terms of being ubiquitous technology that will change the very fabric of people’s lifestyles. The outlet explains that he previously promised a solar-powered Supercharger network, battery swapping, and robotic snake-style chargers, all of which never came to be. However, all of those were certainly less eye-catching than a five-foot-eight-inch human-like robot that can be your personal butler.