Domestic robots are a not too distant reality
When Elon Musk says, as he did this week, that his new priority is using artificial intelligence to build domestic robots, we should not only take note, but look forward to the day we can put our legs up in admiration.
Mr Musk is a guy who gets things done. The founder of two “moonshot” tech companies, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is bringing electric vehicles to mass market and enabling humans to live on other planets. Lest this strike the amateur techie – not that readers of The Independent would ever count among them – as so much hot air, you can be reassured that the near $13bn (£8.8bn) fortune this entrepreneur has amassed comes from practical achievements rather than hypothetical ones.
A lot of clever people are terrified about artificial intelligence, fearing that robots will one day become so smart they’ll murder all of us. These fears are mostly overblown: as with hysteria about genetic modification, we humans are generally wise enough to manage these problems with alacrity and care.
And just think of how wonderful it would be if you had a live-in robot. It could – eventually – be like having a babysitter and masseuse rolled into one – or, if that required emotional intelligence beyond the ken of Mr Musk’s imagined machine, at least some one to chop the carrots, wash the car and mow the lawn. Once purchased and trained, this would allow the casual user to save money and time, freeing up precious space in our busy lives to, for instance, read The Independent.
That is why we welcome Mr Musk’s latest venture, and wish him well. As long as robots add to the sum of human happiness, reduce suffering or cumbersome activity, and create time to read world-class journalism, The Independent will be their fans. Especially since journalism is one job robots will never do.