These are the jobs and functions that the new Tesla robot could replace

In the middle of summer, Elon Musk presented at Tesla’s AI Day -the day in which he advances his developments in artificial intelligence- the Tesla Bot, still in prototype form but which adds to the wave of automation and the representation of one of the dilemmas of the future: what will happen to jobs when robots are able to do many of them.

Based on the same technology as the company’s semi-autonomous vehicles, the robot will be able to perform basic repetitive tasks with the goal of eliminating the need for people to take on dangerous or boring jobs, Musk said at an online event on the advances. of Tesla in artificial intelligence (AI).

“Tesla is arguably the biggest robotics company in the world because the cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels,” Musk said. “It makes sense to put that in a humanoid form” and with five-fingered hands.

For now, not much is known about them, beyond the fact that Musk advanced that it would be used to perform “repetitive and boring” tasks.

But his presentation has given rise to thought, especially due to the opinions of Musk, who has positioned himself several times with his well-known technological optimism for a future in which there are no physical jobs, to stop the possible blow to employment that the automation.

But what will it do and what activities or jobs can the Tesla Bot really replace? In this regard, the Northwestern University robotics professor, Michael Peshkin, opined in an interview with the magazine that one should not underestimate how complicated it is still for a robot, however sophisticated it may be, to carry out the movements of a human.

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“We never appreciate how sophisticated we are. Even things that babies can do are difficult for robots,” Peshkin said.

Musk mentioned “mundane tasks” like putting screws in or shopping for a delivery guy, but it sounds like this would require a lot of specialized, adaptive programming.

This adds to Musk’s description that the robot receives verbal instructions, adding yet another requirement for natural language processing.

Warehouse workers, those who could be replaced

Peshkin said the robot Musk describes resembles, perhaps, the tasks human workers perform in an Amazon warehouse. Specifically to the work of moving heavy boxes to conveyor belts.

But the expert warns, while the term “unskilled labor” is often used for jobs like this, we actually use an incredible amount of multi-layered judgment and caution when doing these seemingly simple tasks.

Embedding the robots won’t be cheap

“When you try to automate things that people do, like picking things up from the shelf in a warehouse, you often end up changing the entire warehouse,” Peshkin explains. “The environment is often changed as well. Barcodes are put in, shelves are in standard locations, things are packaged differently, all kinds of adaptations are made to make the world safe for robots.” The task is made as uniform as possible so that it can be handled by the robot.

Driving bolts, as a one-time job, is something robots can do well today. The manufacturing industry has had some of the most advanced robots in the world for decades due to how relatively “doable” many of the manufacturing tasks are, for example on assembly lines in the automotive sector. But uniting that with a mobile robot that is capable of interpreting voice commands already seems more complicated.

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“Most robotic hands found in manufacturing are metallic, rigid, of limited dexterity, and only a few have more than three fingers,” says Arizona State University roboticist Heni Ben Amor. they are profoundly complex, and it would take many motors to create a similar robotic hand.

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