Home Bots & Brains Elon Musk: ‘There will be 20 billion humanoid robots’

Elon Musk: ‘There will be 20 billion humanoid robots’

by Marco van der Hoeven

At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Elon Musk shared his perspectives on artificial intelligence (AI) and humanoid robots in a wide-ranging interview. He predicts there will be a humanoid robot for every person on earth, plus robots working in the industry, which means there will be a market for 20 billion humanoid robots.

Musk talked also about Optimus, the humanoid robot developed by Tesla, designed to perform a wide range of tasks, from domestic chores to industrial applications. “Optimus is intended to be a fully functional humanoid robot, capable of doing a wide range of tasks. Basically, you can just ask it to walk your dog, take care of your house, babysit the kids, teach the kids, cook dinner, play the piano.”

“It’s a generalized humanoid robot. I think everyone will want one because why not, you know? I think there’ll be at least one for every person and then a whole bunch more in industry making things. My guess is 20 billion humanoid robots out there.”

Personalized robots

Asked if he would make robots look like people, he said “We’re not currently planning on doing that. We want it to be a good-looking robot. I think people will start to regard their personal Optimus robot as a sort of friend. Kind of like in Star Wars, R2-D2 and C-3PO, you sort of like them. You get quite attached to those characters. I think people will personalize their Optimus robots because you can snap on different parts. The outer shell is a snap-on plastic part, so you could have different ones.”

Elon Musk maintains a balanced view on the future of AI, acknowledging both its potential and risks. He estimates a 10-20% chance of catastrophic outcomes but believes the most probable scenario is one of abundance, where goods and services are plentiful, and work becomes optional. This optimistic vision suggests that AI could revolutionize industries by enhancing productivity and reducing costs, ultimately leading to a higher standard of living.


“I think the most likely outcome is one of abundance, where goods and services are available to anyone. There is no shortage of goods and services for anyone on Earth. So, it wouldn’t be Universal Basic Income; it would be Universal High Income. Work will be optional. I think we’re at the most interesting time in history.

In terms of AI safety he thinks the most important thing is to train the AI to be as truthful as possible and to be curious. “In “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the AI is told to bring the astronauts to the monolith, but also that the astronauts cannot know about the monolith, and it concludes that therefore it should kill the astronauts and bring their bodies to the monolith, thus solving the problem. I think the point that Arthur C. Clarke was trying to make is that you should not force AIs to lie. That’s why HAL would not open the P-bay doors.”


He also thinks AI will be creative. “AI will create art or music that we will say is original. I think we may be able to enhance human intelligence. That’s kind of what Neuralink aspires to do, is to enhance human intelligence so that we can keep up with AI or achieve better AI-human symbiosis. It will certainly amplify creativity. You will have a magic genie sort of situation where if you can think of it, the AI can do it. In the positive scenario, the AI will be doing its best to make you happy, so that might work out pretty well. If some superintelligence is trying to make you happy, it will probably succeed. Like I said, this is the most interesting of times, and it’ll most likely be good. But we want to be careful about a potential downside. I think it’s going to change things very fast. So I think you’ll see quite radical changes even next year, and very, very radical changes within five years.”

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