9 thoughts on “Optimus”

  1. An automated welder that does ten welds per minute is a machine.
    A humanoid robot that does one weld per minute is a danger.

    • To itself?
      The things are slow by design.
      And as you point out the single function robots are more effective at repetitive single tasks.

      Where humanoid robots make sense is at mixed and intermitent assignments that require humans but not particularly skilled ones. They won’t replace plumbers but they would replace gofers. And at $20-30k they’ll be cheaper than minimum wage.

      Bear in mind that the society Musk hypes won’t be living on earth. There won’t be undocumented migrants to be exploited on Mars (or the Moon) but there will still be a need for an underclass of toilet bowl cleaners. Best they be mechanical.

      With every day that passes and every new venture he starts the more he looks and acts like Heinlein ‘s D.D. HARRIMAN.


      All his ventures (and those of his brother and cousins) are complementary and serve to develop technologies and raise funds for an off world colony.

      Over the weekend, Musk also announced that his other big company, SpaceX has built a million satellite internet terminals, each capsbsle of bringing in a minimum of $1200 a year in revenue so his STARLINK business is well over a billion dollars a year even before his constellation is built.

      Also, his comany is working with NASA to see if his existing DRAGON spacecraft can be used to raise the orbit of the Hubble telescope as part of the POLARIS Private space program. Zero public funds.

      Not everything going on in the world is bad or dangerous.

      • The danger is in the minds of the other workers in the plant. A machine is a treat to their jobs. A humanoid is a terror.

        • Good. 😉

          Seriously: look at the US demographic pyramid.


          See those “small” reductions going down from 59? That’s the last boomers exiting stage left. Leaving gen X in charge for 10 to 15 years. The slight increase after that is millenials. Whatever one might say about their politics and attitudes, they have one undeniable good trait: they exist. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, US Boomers had kids. Thanks to them the country is “only” looking forward to a 300K shortfall of trained workers, not millions like continental Europe or a hundred million like china.

          That shortfall will be with us until the zoomers have kids, circa 2040.

          Now notice I said is trained workers. The labor shortage is not warm bodies, regardless of what Pelosi might think. The current wave of immigrants aren’t a match for the labor force gap. The 21st century isn’t the sixties and seventies when exploiting migrants was how ditches were dug, fruits were picked, and meat animals were butchered. Contemporary economics have less and less need of punch clock worker every year, the real reason why those salaries haven’t kept up with productivity. Even since the 80’s the drivers behind US productivity (which outclasses every other country) are all technological.

          We are now at the point where the cost of untrained labor is higher than the value it offers, while trained labor is increasing in value daily. Hence my jokes about unionization: raising untrained labor cost only incentivizes businesses to automate out of selfdefense. In many businesses it is either automate or go away.

          Instead of pushing for higher minimum wages and more job “benefits” for thd untrained, the gerontocracy should be starting up training programs all over: for truck drivers, plumbers, carpenters, machine repair, medical technicians. Even hair care services. And yes, software. None of those require 4 years at a high price name school or, in most cases, a two year community college ride. For some, a six month aprenticeship will lead to a better lifestyle than four years of gender studies and a $200K lifelong debt.

          So yes, humanoid robots are a threat to the untrained because $20K upfront and $100k a year to a technician keeping 100 of them running is going to make more economic sense than a $20 minimum wage plus all the associate emp!oyment taxes. And the things will make sense outside of factories soon enough. Thonk of a household pet assistant that will clean the cat litter box, keep thevsater bowl ful, feed it at appropriate times, while watching over the kids and the house security.

          Asimov’s very first robot story went there. Heinlein’s DOOR INTO SUMMER likewise saw the need for a multifunction household robot. And, in fact, boomers will be the earliest customers of the residential version. Look at Japan and China where elder care robots are a *government* developmental priority. Or look at Amazon’s ASTRO, the Timex/Sinclair of the new market.

          The market is there today, just as the market for home computers was there back in the 80’s. Musk is weird but he ain’t crazy. And just like in the 80’s with PCs, the choices are adapt or get swept away.

          Fretting over worker fears isn’t going to make the bots go away. Educating them about the world they live in is the only way forward.

    • That’s the final prototype before it goes into production. 😀
      Figure around 2028. (Musk timelines are…flexible. 2027 is aspirational. 2030 more likely.)

      Musk knows the power of cultural references in salesmanship: he isn’t calling his new spacecraft STARSHIP for nothing.

  2. A more nuanced look at what Optimus is:


    “When watching Tesla debut its humanoid Optimus robot at AI Day 2022, it’s entirely fair to be skeptical about the company’s grand plans. The robot’s shuffling gait was plodding compared with the exciting parkour and flips of Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, and Tesla has missed many deadlines bringing its full self-driving technology to its cars.

    But I was at the AI Day event, and I’m here to warn you not to dismiss Tesla’s sci-fi inspired vision.

    The company revealed abundant evidence that it’s thinking deeply about a bipedal robot and the artificial intelligence technology needed to make it useful. And much of Tesla’s track record of genuine achievements in electric vehicle engineering and manufacturing apply to Optimus.

    Non-Tesla experts in robotics and AI I spoke with at the event were impressed with Optimus, the code name for the Tesla Bot. And Tesla engineers had the kind of fire in their bellies that bodes well for progress, especially when backed by Chief Executive Elon Musk’s vision and Tesla’s resources.

    “I haven’t worked this hard since grad school. But I love it,” said one senior chip designer working on Tesla’s Dojo technology for training the artificial intelligence systems behind Optimus’ ability to navigate rooms and Tesla’s FSD technology to steer cars. He wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. ”

    More at the source.
    TLDR: Take it seriously, the industry is.

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