Tesla’s biggest unveil this year wasn’t a new vehicle, but rather a robot. The Tesla Bot, announced back in August, promises a lot – namely to do all the repetitive and basic tasks humans are gradually less willing to do. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was recently quizzed on the status of the Tesla Bot project during a Wall Street Journal Conference, and had the following to say:
"With the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, I think we are creating the most advanced practical AI for navigating the real-world and you can also think of Tesla as the world’s biggest robot company – or semi-sentient robot company. The car is like a robot on 4-wheels. We can probably take that same technology and put in a humanoid robot – and have that robot be useful."
"Essentially, to have the humanoid part, we need to develop some custom actuators and sensors – and essentially use the Tesla Full Self-Driving and Autopilot or generally speaking real-world navigation AI in the humanoid robot."
Musk also outlined how, long-term, the Tesla Bot could play a key role in performing tasks humans are slowly becoming less willing to do.
"It has the potential to be a general substitute for human labor over time. The foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is essentially distilled labor. I asked a friend of mine what should we optimize for and he said “gross profit per employee” – fully considered so you got to include the supply chain in that."
"The fundamental constraint is labor. There are not enough people. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are not enough people. I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low and rapidly declining birth rate."
Musk clearly believes the project can have a major impact, but admitted there is no clear timeline for it at the moment.
"I think this can be quite profound. I don’t know exactly when we can get this right but we will get it right."