With the Tesla Bot, Musk is trolling us again – and it’s fine

Will the company be able to deliver on the promise of delivering a “bi-pedal humanoid robot” in one year from now? Probably not, but that's never been the point.

During an event to introduce Tesla’s latest advancement in AI research last week, Elon Musk came up with a weird, bizarre and totally in-character wild claim. In about one year, he promised, after a dancer in a spandex suit resembling a robot danced on stage to stereotypical Dubstep music, Tesla will be able to launch a new humanoid robot. The name, Tesla Bot, is as lazy as the details and roadmap for the product are vague. According to Musk, the device will be “a general-purpose, bi-pedal, humanoid robot capable of performing tasks that are unsafe, repetitive or boring”, but there was no mention of how the company would be able to create something so complex and technologically far-fetched in one year from now.

The reason is quite simple: the master Doge troll was probably trolling everyone, both its fans and critics, albeit with a purpose. As James Vincent writes on The Verge, Musk’s announcement reminds of Sophia, the talking robot that was all the rage at so many tech conferences, pre-pandemic. What people saw in Sophia is an advanced talking robot that makes us think we’re closer to general-purpose human-like AI than we actually are. And that’s what the Tesla Bot is: a tool to make people believe we are closer to what it represents than we are in reality. After all, Elon Musk’s signature strategy consists of reaching outstanding achievements through bold claims and unattainable goals. In other words: shoot very high, whether it’s Mars exploration, autonomous driving, crypto coins or humanoid robots, then land high enough to please your fans and your investors. We'll see where the Tesla Bot will end up landing.

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