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Elon Musk unveils Tesla robot that’s ‘intended to be friendly’ after warning that AI will take over humanity

‘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’, Mr Musk said.

Adam Smith
Friday 20 August 2021 11:25 BST
Elon Musk unveils humanoid robot at Tesla event
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Tesla is building a humanoid robot “sometime next year” called the Tesla Bot, announced at the company’s AI Day event.

The robot will use the same artificial intelligence that the electric car company uses for its vehicles, will be approximately 173 centimetres tall (5ft 8in), weigh around 57kg, and be built from “lightweight materials” with a display somewhere on its body to show information.

Mr Musk says the robot is “intended to be friendly and navigate through a world built for humans” but will be built at a “mechanical level” so someone could “run away from it, and most likely overpower it.”

Tesla’s website says the robot is general purpose for jobs that are “unsafe, repetitive or boring”, such as going to a shop and picking up groceries. "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”, Mr Musk said.

Over the past few years, Mr Musk has repeatedly warned of the ramifications of artificial intelligence and robots.

In 2017, he said there was a “five to 10 percent chance of success [of making AI safe]” and that companies working on the technology should slow down to ensure they don’t unintentionally build something dangerous.

Three years later, Mr Musk said there was a risk of humans being overtaken by artificial intelligence before 2025.

“My assessment about why AI is overlooked by very smart people is that very smart people do not think a computer can ever be as smart as they are. And this is hubris and obviously false,” he said.

"We’re headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans and I think that time frame is less than five years from now. But that doesn’t mean that everything goes to hell in five years. It just means that things get unstable or weird."

As well as rockets with SpaceX and electric cars with Tesla, Mr Musk is also developing the neuralink, a chip that connects the brain directly to the computer that he hopes will allow "human-AI symbiosis".

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