- Elon Musk said Tesla’s humanoid robots may someday work on Mars.
- A Twitter user asked if they would be mass-produced and sent to the planet. “Hopefully,” Musk said.
- To some, Musk’s announcement mirrored Isaac Asimov’s book series, “I, Robot.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday said the company’s artificial-intelligence bots may one day be able to work on Mars, a vision seemingly ripped from the pages of sci-fi novels.
Musk on Thursday announced that the company was working on a Tesla Bot with a human form that would co-opt some of the AI the company has developed for its electric vehicles.
One of Musk’s other companies, SpaceX, has been focused on returning humans to the Moon, then heading to Mars.
A Twitter user asked Musk if the bots would be mass-produced and sent to the Red Planet as laborers. “Hopefully,” Musk replied.
The tweet that Musk was replying to also said his bot project mirrored the efforts of a fictional scientist from Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” books, a series that began publication in the 1950s. In those stories, humanoid robots work alongside humans.
A Twitter user on Friday compared Musk with Lawrence Robertson, a character who cofounded U.S. Robotics and Mechanical Men, the fictional company that built humanoid robots.
In “I, Robot,” Robertson said: “The idea was to accustom people to working with one humanoid robot; and, once they realized the enormous potential, they would clamor for more.”
On Thursday, Musk said: “It has profound applications for the economy” and “in the future, physical work will be a choice.”
Tesla said the Bot would have cameras for eyes, and would use its self-driving software to navigate its surroundings. The company also said it would have a new Dojo chip — a supercomputer focused on machine learning.
Musk in announcing the Tesla robots on Thursday seemed to acknowledge concerns that the robots would turn violent, saying most people would be able to “overpower” the 125-pound bots.
“We’re setting it such that it is at a mechanical level, at a physical level, you can run away from it and most likely overpower it,” he said.
The public’s fear of AI robots turning violent was natural, Asimov wrote in “I, Robot.” One of his characters called the concern the “The Frankenstein Complex.”
“Far too many Hollywood movies portrayed them as unstoppable weapons that, invariably, turned upon their creators,” Asimov wrote in the novel. “Others panicked over the idea that robots might replace humans in usefulness, for jobs, perhaps even for procreation.”