Billionaire apartheid beneficiary Elon Musk announced Thursday that Tesla, the company he founded to make beep-boop cars, will be expanding into the beep-boop humanoid market next. Speaking during a live-streamed presentation for his "Tesla AI" conference, Musk claimed his forthcoming robot is intended for basic domestic service with a carrying capacity of around 45 pounds. It is also "intended to be friendly." (We love good intentions, don't we folks?)
"[You can] talk to it and say, 'please pick up that bolt and attach it to a car with that wrench,' and it should be able to do that," Musk mused during his presentation. "'Please go to the store and get me the following groceries.' That kind of thing."
"I think we can do that," he reiterated. However, should his robo-servitude forecast not pan out exactly as planned, he's designed the bots to be 5-feet-8-inches and just 125 pounds, with a maximum speed of around 5 mph so you can, and I quote, "run away from it, and most likely overpower it" if necessary.
Oh, and he also brought a person in a spandex bodysuit onstage to do, uh, this:
To be clear, there are many, many reasons to be skeptical of Musk's Asimovian ambitions. The richest man on Earth has a healthy track record of overpromising and under-delivering on any number of his broad techno-topian proclamations. And even when his products work exactly as they're supposed to, the company's ability to unilaterally throttle how consumers use them is disquieting, to say the least.
Nevertheless, let's assume, for the sake of hilarious argument, that for once in his life, Elon Musk is not entirely full of shit, and he actually does manage to roll out a humanoid helper bot in the coming year. I think the question on everyone's mind is: How many of these could I (specifically me, Rafi) fight, and, to use Musk's preferred terminology, "overpower," at once?
Reader, thank you for asking.
One Tesla robot
Easy. Piece of cake. I would simply move faster than 5 mph, and run behind the bot, where I could easily shove its 125 pounds forward onto the ground. At that point, I would sit on its back, grab its arms, and tell it to "stop hitting yourself" while beating it to a pile of scrap with its own robotic extremities.
Two Tesla robots
This is a little trickier, but still fairly easy. My best bet here is to distract one of the robots with a simple domestic task, such as asking it to "please pick up that bolt and attach it to a car with that wrench." Then, with 50% of the robots preoccupied, I would repeat my previous tactic twice.
Three Tesla robots
Okay, now we're talkin'. A real challenge, finally. I see this as more of a "brains" problem than a "brawn" problem. Three robots means that two could theoretically grab my arms and hold me in place while a third pummels my midsection with digital precision. Can't have that. Instead, I would need to turn the trio against one another. "Hey robot!" I would yell. "That guy [pointing at other robot] just called Elon Musk an adult-sized baby with a goofy cantaloupe head!" Then, when whatever hidden subroutine Elon Musk designed to make sure people aren't mean to to him kicks in, the three robots will tear each other apart, Three Stooges style, until I get into my (non-Tesla) car and run them all over.
Four to 10 Tesla robots
10+ Tesla robots
At a certain point, I'm not sure my car could handle running over so many robots before they irrevocably ruin its suspension. That's unacceptable, and so I think a different tactic is called for: I will quite simply go back in time to rescue John Conner and then, uh, well, I'm sure things'll just sort of work themselves out after that. Right?
During his presentation, Musk briefly addressed the economics of creating a robotic slave force, suggesting that "in the long term I do think there needs to be universal basic income."
“But not right now," he added. "Because the robot doesn't work."
So true, Elon. But if and when it does, I'll be ready.