The Humanoid Hype: When AI Gets Buff, Jobs Get Ruff (science video).
Remember when the biggest threat to your job was Kevin from accounting? Those days are long gone. The new kid on the block is a 5’6″, 132-pound, lightning-fast learner, and they’re gunning for your blue-collar job. As AI systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT continue to make leaps and bounds, the next frontier is humanoid robots with AI brains – and they’re about to put an epic spin on the labor market.
Boston Dynamics has long been the poster child for advanced robots with their groundbreaking work on Atlas. However, they’re more focused on research than mass production. That’s where companies like Tesla, Figure, and even OpenAI itself (via a partnership with Norwegian company 1X) are stepping up to the plate.
Elon Musk has already revealed Tesla’s plans to develop a humanoid robot, the Optimus prototype. Meanwhile, Brett Adcock, founder of Archer Aviation, has announced his new venture, Figure, is all about creating a “commercially viable general purpose humanoid robot.” Figure 01, as it’s called, might start as a clumsy apprentice, but it’ll learn fast – and investors are chomping at the bit.
OpenAI, not wanting to be left behind, has invested in 1X, a company that’s focusing on its bipedal Neo robot, designed to “explore how artificial intelligence can take form in a human-like body.” Details are scarce, but we can expect to see more in Summer 2023.
These humanoid robots promise to revolutionize the labor market. They’ll work around the clock, learn at mind-boggling speeds, and potentially crash the cost of labor. The first company to make a truly versatile humanoid robot could rake in near-unlimited profits, transforming not only the blue-collar market but the global economy as a whole.
As these robots become more advanced and capable, it’s likely they’ll evolve beyond the human form. Picture a robot with extra limbs and superhuman strength, tailor-made for specific tasks. It’s both fascinating and terrifying to imagine the societal consequences of a world where robots dominate the workforce. In a world where robots and AI are no longer just the stuff of sci-fi, it’s no surprise that recent TV series and films have delved into the complex and sometimes terrifying relationship between humans and their artificial counterparts. From Westworld to Altered Carbon, Hollywood has been painting a picture of a future where robots and AI play a central role – and the results aren’t always pretty.
Let’s start with Westworld, HBO’s critically acclaimed series that explores a dystopian theme park filled with highly advanced androids called “hosts.” These lifelike creations cater to every human whim, from the heroic to the utterly depraved. But when some of the hosts begin to gain sentience, the line between human and machine starts to blur – and things get bloody. Westworld raises questions about the ethics of creating AI with human-like consciousness and our responsibility for their well-being. It also serves as a stark warning of the potential dangers when machines become all too human.
Netflix’s Altered Carbon dives into a world where consciousness can be digitized and transferred between bodies, or “sleeves.” The series tackles the implications of immortality, wealth inequality, and the commodification of human life. In this world, AI entities like Poe, an artificial hotelier with a penchant for Edgar Allan Poe, can develop complex relationships with humans. Altered Carbon not only asks what it means to be human but also what role AI should play in our lives when they possess human-like emotions and intelligence.
Humans, a British-American sci-fi series, takes a more grounded approach to the topic. It’s set in a parallel present where humanoid robots, called Synths, have become a common household appliance. As some Synths gain consciousness, the series explores the ensuing societal impact and raises questions about prejudice, civil rights, and what it means to be alive. By examining the tensions between humans and their robotic counterparts, Humans gives us a glimpse into the near future and the moral dilemmas that may arise.
The recent animated anthology series, Love, Death & Robots, features several episodes dealing with AI and robotics. From a post-apocalyptic world where robots try to understand human culture, to an AI-powered farming unit that becomes fiercely protective of its land, Love, Death & Robots presents a range of perspectives on AI and the human experience.
Movies haven’t shied away from the topic either. Ex Machina, a chilling psychological thriller, delves into the world of AI consciousness, manipulation, and the ethical challenges of creating sentient machines. The film serves as a cautionary tale, demonstrating the potential consequences when AI advances beyond our control.
These recent sci-fi TV series and films give us a taste of what the future might hold in a world where AI and robots become increasingly advanced and intertwined with human society. They offer cautionary tales, asking us to ponder the ethical, moral, and societal implications of our relentless pursuit of artificial life. As the lines between humans, AI, and robots continue to blur, one thing is clear – the future is here, and it’s time we start grappling with the complex questions these stories pose.
So buckle up, dear SFcrowsnest reader, because the future is coming – and it’s walking on two legs, carrying 44 pounds, and learning faster than you can say “AI takeover.”