In everything from “Star Trek" to “Ex Machina," there’s a pretty clear message – we have good reasons to be afraid of humanoid robots being plugged into AI. But Elon Musk, notorious for heeding the advice of not-so-futurists, has decided it’s in everyone’s best interest to push forward with the concept. And worry not – because Elon knows best.
In all seriousness, Tesla just showed off its new humanoid robot (called Optimus) at the company’s AI day presentation, and it’s pretty interesting. Untethered to any cords, the robot came out on stage, waved at the audience and even did the “raise the roof" dance move that, depending on when you were born, you would think is either cool or incredibly cringy. Tesla also showed some videos of other tasks Optimus can do, like moving around boxes or watering plants, but Musk admitted that they didn’t want to show that off on stage just yet for fear of it falling “on its face." (After the Cybertruck incident a few years ago, this was probably a good call.)
Optimus uses similar software to Tesla cars to detect its surroundings and interact with them. Musk has said in the past that he hopes these bots will do anything that is “boring, repetitive and dangerous" for humans to do. He’s also said he’s hoping the price of the bots could be less than US$20,000 and that they could be for sale to the public in only a few years.
Not everyone is impressed, though. Critics have said that other companies have already passed the benchmarks Tesla is celebrating and that Musk’s tendency for optimism can lead to exaggerated claims. Some have also noted that there’s no concrete plan for how this robot would fit into the company’s bigger clean-energy initiatives.
So, for all of us wondering if this thing could really work out, we could take the best advice from Musk himself. When asked a difficult question at last year’s event, he said, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to see."