Elon Musk Says Earth Will Soon Host a Billion Humanoid Robots

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Sunny Outlook

Elon Musk is back at it again with the outlandish forecasts, and this one about humanoid robots is a doozy.

It all started with a tweet from Midjourney founder David Holz, who predicted that by the time we reach the 2040s, "we should be expecting a billion humanoid robots" on Earth — and that 20 years after that, we should expect 100 times that many "mostly alien" robots, whatever that means.

"Probably something like that," Musk replied to Holz unprompted, "provided the foundations of civilization are stable."

To be fair, this almost certainly overblown prediction is shared by many who have stakes in the technology. Nearly a decade ago, leaders in the robotics industry told Pew pollsters that by the year 2025, artificial intelligence and robots will pervade "nearly every aspect of daily life" from manufacturing to household chores a la Rosey the Robot from "The Jetsons."

With one year to go, of course, that's not even close to happening. But advocates are still bullish, even if they're kicking back the timeline: the Austrian financial firm Macquarie said in February 2023 that its markets intelligence analysis predicted humanoid robots would replace more and more human workers in factories by the mid-2030s.

Big Talk

When it comes to making bold predictions, nobody does it like Musk.

This latest quip comes after a particularly weird week for the dual South African-born billionaire, who got called out for saying something super racist and then whined about not owning as much of Tesla as he wants because, as he tweeted, he's "uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI and robotics without having ~25 percent voting control."

It also occurred just a few days after Musk posted a video showing one of Tesla's Optimus robots folding a shirt, which was supposed to display the robot's autonomous prowess.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1746964887949934958

Eagle-eyed critics, however, noticed a gloved hand moving in and out of the corner of the frame, strongly suggesting that a human was controlling the robot's movements. Musk was forced to admit soon after his initially post that "Optimus cannot yet do this autonomously, but certainly will be able to do this fully autonomously and in an arbitrary environment."

After that miniature debacle, which is likely so low on Musk's list of concerns that it barely registered, one would think he'd be reticent to make another outlandish claim about the proliferation of humanoid robots so soon after getting debunked.

Then again, this is Elon Musk we're talking about, and humility has never been his strong suit.

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