Are homo sapiens just not giving themselves enough credit? Elon Musk seems to think so.
While it’s no secret the Tesla and SpaceX mogul may be paranoid about artificial intelligence, LiveScience acknowledged he did need robots to level up the automation in the assembly line for Tesla’s new mass-produced (and vastly more affordable) Model 3 sedan. That assembly line is dominated by robots, which sounds like progress but ended up experiencing massive backup. So much so that he tweeted this:
Tesla was a little too optimistic about how fast those robots would be able to make this release happen—confident that it would turn out 5,000 new cars per week, the company was getting just as many preorders. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get behind the wheel of a Tesla for only $35,000? The question is how soon anyone actually will.
The reality is that Tesla could only get 2,000 cars out every week with what were supposed to be lightning-fast robots. Musk had to suspend production for the second time in the past few weeks, determined to fix automation glitches and improve the overall system to supercharge production, and ended up sleeping on the floor of the factory after taking over production and pulling one of many all-nighters working on the reboot. He also ended up with some really anxious customers.
"We put too much new technology into the Model 3 all at once," Musk admitted to CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King. "We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts… and it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing," he said.
Humans may be inseparable from human error, but they certainly don’t have mechanical parts that can break down in a nanosecond. Robots don’t come without flaws anymore than we do. Tesla found out the hard way with the fatal crash of a vehicle operating on a semi-autonomous driving system, and now with what Musk is calling “production hell”. It’s ironic he was more afraid of using an inherently imperfect human crew than the machines he fears will someday raise an immortal robotic dictator that will emerge if AI research continues unregulated.
While some of the major issues resolved, Musk believes that the robots can keep up the pace of 2,000 cars a week that should eventually rev up to three or even four times that. Of course, this doesn’t count for any more potential breakdowns in the system that had nothing to do with human mistakes.
Maybe that’s the real reason Musk should be afraid of robots.