Elon Musk, the entrepreneur, businessman, and capitalist extraordinaire has been named the man of Times in 2021. He has been involved in many industries, like Space, Chips, and cars. This time is Elon Musk’s robot is coming soon.
The billionaire, Elon is mainly famous for his involvement in the founding of Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX, as well as many other companies and ventures. His most recent revolutionary product was his 2021 announcement of a fully autonomous humanoid robot.
Elon’s announcement has certainly drawn both positive and negative reactions. What does it mean for the future of both robotics and humanity as society tries to tackle the problem of the automation of blue-collar labor?
In order to understand how Elon’s announcement is going to change robotics, it’s necessary to know exactly how it came. And what precedents it sets when it comes to robotics. You see, Tesla’s robot isn’t the first humanoid robot, nor is it the most technically advanced or impressive. Companies like Boston Dynamics and Toyota have only recently made similar announcements of robots that are much more technically developed.
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However, the backstory of the development of the Tesla bot is very different from those others. Perhaps even much more nefarious. The trouble started in the year 2018 when Tesla was facing criticism for its handling of workers’ rights and demands.
Will Elon Musk’s robot succeed?
Allegations of union obstruction and even union busting were surfacing against Musk’s company which eventually led to the NLRB finding Tesla guilty of engaging in anti-labor practices. This presented a problem to Musk who was personally involved in the scandal through one of his famously reckless tweets.
Now, for most CEOs and managers, this is a problem with a clear and obvious solution; reach a compromise with your workers that honors their demands while maintaining the company’s profit margins. Should be simple, right? Well, not for Elon. You see Elon is an engineer that saw the problem as a merely failed cog in his money-making machine.
Why Elon Musk’s robot!
His response to his workers’ demands was to think of a way of replacing them. But he couldn’t just replace them with other human beings who will undoubtedly also end up speaking out against the horrid working conditions at Tesla. No, he had to replace them with mindless mechanical slaves that only he could control. The perfect worker under a capitalist structure, one without a mind, a heart, or a soul. The Tesla bot.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, dear reader. I’m merely dramatizing a perfectly mundane event that can’t really be all that bad. Surely, Elon Musk isn’t planning on building a slave robot army, that would be absurd, straight out of a science fiction novel, right?
Well, I would have to agree. Malice is indeed very seldom as dramatic as it is in sci-fi novels or movies, it’s in fact often very boring. The banality of evil, as it is commonly known. But, the danger is where this path leads. In the past, robots were always imagined to be a helpful tool that is merely assisting humans in their daily lives.
DO we like the fact that robots will, one day, replace us?
If you watch The Jetsons, for example, you’ll notice that while their robot acts as a maid or assistant to the family, George Jetson still has a job that he goes to every morning, instead of sitting at home and living off of government pensions like Elon suggested humans would in the future.
You see, this is Tesla’s addition to the world of robotics. No longer are robots here to help humans, they’re here to replace them. And replace them for good. Now, this may sound like an anti-scientific backward view of the world that aims to halt the progress of science.
What Robot can do for humans?
After all, if machines can do the labor more efficiently than humans, then, who are we to stand in the way of progress? To that, I also say, I agree. These robots were going to happen at some point. Whether it is going to be Tesla, Amazon, or Google, one day, a company will pull the trigger.
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And I’m not calling for the halting of the development of such robots. I’m just asking that we all as a community think about the consequences of such a massive event in human history. Will we be better off because of it or not? And if human happiness is the goal here, should we really be calling developments that cause unprecedented poverty and unemployment “progress”?
Well, the answer is that it doesn’t matter what we think. Elon’s going to move ahead with building his robots anyways. That’s the legacy Tesla’s leaving on the robotics field. One of technological progress at the expense of the most vulnerable people in society. This robot will undoubtedly start an arms race between the major tech corporations to see who can build the most impressive human replacement robot. First, they’ll replace the “boring and dangerous” jobs as Elon described them.
Can robots replace human labor?
Then, drivers and truckers will be replaced, which is also something Tesla is leading the charge on via their AI-powered vehicles, like Tesla Cybertruck. Next will be builders, craftsmen, service workers-,and perhaps even white-collar workers eventually. No one and nothing is safe. And where will that leave us? Well, dear reader, I assure you that right now you’re reading an article that’s 100% written by humans.
For most people though, Elon envisions a future where they’re unable to practice their work and have to rely on a “universal basic income” or UBI.
Basically, you have to live on government pensions, controlled by a system that is in turn controlled by people like Elon. Jobless, hopeless-, and still consuming products like a good capitalist citizen. But hey, look at the bright side. If all goes well, Musk and other billionaires can keep going on space adventures that cost taxpayers billions of dollars!
If you feel like there’s something wrong with the picture I just painted, well, welcome aboard. This is the logical conclusion of giving the responsibility of developing technology to late-stage capitalists like Musk and others. Welcome to the boring dystopia.