Last week, I was invited to Tesla’s AI Day event and I happily attended. I have a few more articles in my head about other aspects, but I first wanted to share some thoughts about Tesla’s new AI robot prototype. The Tesla Bot will run on the same sort of AI that Tesla’s FSD uses in its vehicles. Although there wasn’t an actual functional robot, the idea is not only inspiring, but it opens people’s minds to possibilities and worries. The bots will each have cameras like Tesla vehicles use to see their environment and will have a screen to display information. And they will be powered (intelligence-wise) by Tesla’s Dojo computer.
“We should be worried about AI,” Elon said during the Q&A session. “What we’re trying to do here at Tesla is make useful AI that people love and is unequivocally good.”
Before I dive in, I want to emphasize that I believe this is a great thing. It has the potential to help humanity free itself from the slave-like mentality of capitalism, where you work your hardest and struggle to make ends meet. As I watched Elon invite the dancing “robot” onto the stage last night, I felt excited about the future. And that quote from Elon about what inspires us echoed in my head.
Elon said the bot would do limited tasks, the jobs that no one wants to do — boring and dangerous jobs. Again, this sounds ideal. In a perfect world, it would work brilliantly.
However, our world isn’t perfect, and if Tesla isn’t careful, these bots could end up in the hands of those with greed in their hearts. My Uber driver who took me home from the airport said that it’s not the greedy corporations we need to worry about, but private equity firms with the deep pockets to buy 10,000 of these bots to replace their own employees.
This idea that these bots will be used to replace jobs is pretty common, and I’m going to break this article down into three sections that explain the problem and potential challenges in detail, provide a solution, and share thoughts on what I think Tesla should do. Consider this constructive feedback.
The Bot Has Potential To Make Our Lives Better, But….
I think the bot has the potential to make lives better only if we address some critical societal challenges. We live in a world where, at least here in the U.S., giant corporations have the power to lobby politicians to do their bidding while “the little guy” has almost no influence. President Biden’s snub of Tesla at the White House event for UAW, which was marketed as an EV and clean energy event, is a great recent example.
Elon tends to focus on the good. After all, his goal is to preserve the light of consciousness. And one thing I’ve observed is that he sometimes doesn’t see the darkness or challenges that need to be addressed. I could be wrong, as I am not in his head — this is just my perspective. Perhaps he does see them but doesn’t think they are too bad — that compared to his goal, they are not important or not as bad as what he’s trying to prevent. He could be right, but for some who don’t see things the way he does, he could be wrong.
For him, these bots are to make life easier and better. For the majority of struggling Americans, however, these bots represent a threat to their existence and well being. I know this because I’ve been on that side before. Elon is so focused on his goals that he doesn’t see or understand the challenges that everyday working-class Americans face. This isn’t a bad thing — he’s not a bad person for not being able to understand this. We are all human and have different experiences, after all.
But I don’t think Elon fully understands just how embedded these challenges are in the collective mindset of society. But you know who does? The mainstream media industry. How about a quick comparison of his experience living in his office with his brother when they first started out and my own trying to survive while working a job and living on the streets. For him, he was chasing his dream and changing the world. For me, I didn’t know where I would sleep the next night or how I would be able to work my shift. I even had the police wake me up with a baton once while sleeping in a park.
Homelessness and poverty are very prevalent here in the U.S., but many of the über-rich and wealthy not only don’t understand how, but don’t understand the challenges that face those who struggle.
I don’t think he fully comprehends the stark fear that many of the working class may feel when reading about the new AI bot. But as I’ve said before, the mainstream media industry does. This allows them to control the narrative and many just believe what they read.
Add into this mix Elon Musk and the “bad billionaire” rhetoric by a handful of politicians, which is also amplified by the media, and we have a recipe for fear-based thoughts such as one I saw on Twitter from a Tesla critic saying that we should deploy resources to prevent Elon from developing the AI robots.
Sadly, many are too busy trying to survive day to day to do any type of research, especially if their minds are made up about Elon Musk, Tesla, and this new robot prototype. All they’re gonna see is Elon Musk, this super-rich guy, trying to take their jobs away or destroy the world — both of which are not the case at all.
What I Think Tesla Needs To Do
Set Up A Legal Framework/Terms & Conditions For Corporate Customers Buying Bots.
Tesla isn’t responsible for the setup of our economy. It’s not Tesla’s responsibility to solve the problems that our politicians get paid to look away from. However, Tesla can control how these bots are used to some extent and minimize the negative effects that could happen when corporations use them in the future.
Tesla can (and I believe it will) dictate rules on the proper use of the bots, and if a corporation fails to follow through or abuses the system, Tesla can take action to remedy these issues (whether legal, taking the bots back, deactivating them, etc.). Tesla can set up a legal framework that would protect itself and the working class from the greed of those who would take financial advantage of the bots.
Expand Its Employee Training & Education With High Schools & Colleges Nationwide.
Tesla, I think, should also expand its training programs with colleges and schools in the next few years. In Austin, Tesla is partnering with several schools to train future employees. It is also doing so in some other cities. Tesla could its services in this arena with regards to robots and robot development.
This leads me to the topic of another societal challenge that Tesla can have a positive impact on: the toxic relationship between education, student loan debt, employment, and poverty.
In general, higher education is highly costly. Student debt is robbing Americans, yet it’s encouraged. Take this loan, go to college, get a job, and pay it off. But the repayment requires extreme sacrifices, and in many cases, diplomas are useless due to related jobs being unavailable.
Diplomas are required for most types of 9–5 employment, but fast-paced retail jobs such as cashiering and food services don’t typically require a bachelor’s degree. These jobs are more plentiful and are sometimes the only options college graduates have. Minimum-wage jobs, rotating schedules, toxic work cultures disguised as families, and in many cases, no health benefits — many college graduates have to do these in order to survive, but then can’t even pay back their debt.
These types of jobs are what many think of when Elon said the bots would do the jobs that no one wants to do. Take these jobs away, though, and you take away someone’s livelihood. Elon noted (as he has before) that we’d eventually need to implement UBI (universal basic income), but 1) he isn’t in charge of implementing a UBI, and 2) it’s hard to believe the U.S. Congress would pass a UBI bill when we can’t even get universal health care.
To recap, I think Tesla should seek to understand why so many would fear its AI bot instead of embracing it. Personally, I think it’s a great thing, but for Elon’s plan to work, he needs to understand why people are worried. It’s not that they don’t like him or think that the bots will take over the world. (I mean, there are some in those camps too, but that’s not the bulk of people.)
The problem is that we have millions of struggling Americans working slave-wage jobs and barely able to pay the bills. Take away those slave-wage jobs and you take away their only income, their only means of survival. What is needed is to find ways to lessen the bots’ impact on the livelihoods of those struggling. Tesla is the best company to do this because its CEO has a good heart and deeply cares for humanity. You don’t see this type of leadership in many corporations. Elon speaks of the light of consciousness often. However, for millions (or billions), that light is dimmed by the societal challenges they face daily. He can help make that light a little brighter for many.
The fear-based headlines and marketing will surely continue, but those headlines don’t capture Tesla’s energy or the passion of its employees who care about making a positive impact. When I attended AI Day, I experienced something that cannot be felt in tweets or headlines. I experienced hope. Hope for a brighter future. Hope for humanity to overcome challenges such as corruption, greed, and darker aspects of human nature that hold us back from our greatness. I believe that this is another innovation that can give countless people hope.