It may be premature but it is the future.

There has been a mixed reaction to Tesla’s announcement of the development of a domestic robot. Critics have said or at least implied that Tesla is getting ahead of itself, trying to prop up the share price and so on. But should there be any surprise that there’s a domestic robot coming down the pike? Of course not. We have a robot vacuum cleaner already, as do millions of people. All we are talking about is a scaled-up version with legs, arms, more sophisticated vision and a wider range of skills. That makes it sound easy, and it’s not. But, conceptually speaking, it is well within our grasp. Moreover, the chances of fatalities are somewhat lower with a physically weak domestic robot than with a driverless car. The key question is whether or not it can handle the more demanding tasks required of household staff. For example, could it answer the telephone reliably? Could it handle the payment of household bills where there is a dispute over one or two of the items? This is where ‘understanding’, for want of a concise way of phrasing the problem, comes in. No, it could not, any more than a driverless car can handle ‘edge’ cases. Where we are, technologically speaking, remains all of a piece.

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