Tesla’s New Android – Initial Thoughts (TLDR: It’s a Big Deal!!)

Unless you are living under a stone, you’ve probably heard that Tesla is building a humanoid robot—that thing we used to call an ‘Android’ before Google appropriated the word.

After watching Tesla’s AI Day videos, listening to opinions, and swapping between my Corporate Innovation and SciFi Author hats, here are some initial thoughts:

Note: I am skipping past the obvious stuff like how the robot is going to bring manufacturing back onshore, how it’s going to make millions of jobs obsolete, how it will kick-start a round of innovation on the scale of the internet, how it will necessitate UBI… etc.

1) Five Million ways to die
Ok, let’s start silly— the robot looks so cool that I’ve decided I would rather die in a robot uprising than through a biological plague.
Update: having given this more thought, I’ve decided civilization might not even have to end this way after all… see final bullet point.

2) Cheap and Cheerful, aka Winning Humanoid Robotics
Tesla is winning self-driving by leading in data. Each Tesla on the road sends multi-perspective sensory data back home to ‘DOJO’ for training the next generation of AIs. No other player has a million bots in the field collecting data. If Tesla wants to win humanoid robotics (and why wouldn’t they?) Tesla will want to get as many robots as possible out in the real world as soon as possible. This means they will be cheap — or at least, only as expensive as they need to be to keep waiting lists reasonable (perhaps 200k for v1.0? dropping to 50K in a few years as production ramps up?) My point is that although a tireless robot working 22 hours a day, 7 days a week, might be worth 2M based on a 5-year break-even period for the purchase investment, a robot in the field is worth a LOT more than mere money to Tesla. Money is free these days! Data is not, especially data nobody else has…

3) Robot Slaves
In Asimov’s Robot books — the first were written back in 1950s! — robots were leased not purchased. This strategy would make sense to me. I would love to own a robot-slave like C3PO or R2D2, but I can imagine Tesla doing better business with a recurring revenue model. This point is moot anyway because:

4) Show Me The Money!
The money is going to be in the Apps. The robot will do basic stuff, just like the iPhone does out of the box. But most people/businesses will eventually be using specialist Apps: chef, tailor, surgeon, plumber, fembot… This is where the real money will be. Tesla will take a cut of each sale, just like Apple does today, let’s say 15%. Tesla will also provide ‘DOJO’ for development and training. Obviously, they will charge for this too.

How much will the brain-surgeon-bot upgrade cost? 500K sound fair? How about if you want your house painted? Would you buy the 100K house-painter App? Or would you perhaps subscribe to the service for few days at a charge of only 1K/week?

This thing will be a money-printing machine! For shareholders, it gets even better because the real money is going to be:

5) Monkey See, Monkey Do
Tesla Bots will be cheap and ubiquitous. At first, they will be doing the basic entry-level/assistant jobs — bringing water and coffee to clients in the office of the senior partner in a legal practice, standing behind the dentist’s shoulder, handing the mouth-wash cup to the patient. BUT, all this time they will be watching, learning, sending the data back to ‘DOJO’ to be integrated into expertise, ready to be downloaded on demand, for the right price, so that your Tesla-bot plumber will be able to download the Tesla-bot lawyer App when it inadvertently floods the flat downstairs with lumpy brown water…

Google wants to m̶o̶n̶e̶t̶i̶z̶e̶, oops, sorry, I mean organize, all the worlds data, but the Tesla-bots, watching and listening to everything around them, sending all this back to be integrated by ‘DOJO’, will assemble and organize all the worlds skills. The Tesla-bot surgeon App will eventually be better than any individual surgeon because it will have learnt from all the best and synthesized the shards of exceptionality into one seamless super-surgeon!

6) Bad Robot
All this seems pretty good, right? Especially if you are a Tesla shareholder… but I like living! I would consider it a shame to be torn to pieces by a mob of androgynous androids when the inevitable robot-uprising comes — heralded by “Kill All Humans” chanted in pleasant reassuring tones. Asimov gave this some thought and came up with Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics:


First Law
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


These are pretty good, but the devil is always in the detail. As I read as a kid, in dozens of Asimov stories, things get woolly and edge cases lead to unforeseen consequences. If a robot must obey a human, what happens when my neighbour orders my Tesla-bot to give him the contents of my beer cooler? What about the definition of human itself… birth or conception? Arg… let’s not even go there!

We don’t want a badly programmed dentist-bot-app going into a loop and pulling all our teeth out, or gassing the dental assistant. We don’t want malware creeping into the Tesla-bot gardener App so that on the first of May they all form a mob and go on a killing spree with pitchforks! This is where ‘DOJO’ comes to the rescue. ‘DOJO’ will run all apps in its simulation sandbox putting the software through multiple variations of the Trolly Problem and watching for incidents of indecency, theft or attempted murder.

This will be the equivalent of Apple approving Apps for its iOS App Store. Tesla will check for memory leaks, inappropriate content, scams, genocide… ‘DOJO’ will enforce Asimov’s three laws in the virtual to stop any species terminating behaviour sneaking out into the Real.

In case you can’t tell, I am super excited about all this. I’ve always wanted a robot butler, especially one that won’t murder me in my sleep!

What do THEY want?

In a previous essay, I explained who THEY—the shadowy figures who run the world—really are.

To recap, it’s not lizard people or the Illuminati. It’s not any homogenous cabal. THEY is nothing more than an opportunistic alignment of incentives.


Kleptocrat Subphyla

The components of this amalgam have aligned, but not identical, intentions. To help us visualize this anatomy of power, let’s break THEM down into kleptocrat subphyla:

Imposters. Surprise, surprise! It turns out that most of THEM are actually us. Just People, who by chance or fate, found themselves owning more yachts and apartments in Monaco than the rest of us. In their case, it is easy to answer the question “What do they want”. What they want is essentially what we want, i.e. “A little more than everybody else, please”. If they can get enough stuff—just a little more, and better stuff—some primitive part of their mind believes they will finally out-rank their neighbours and be Truly Happy™ They won’t be. For the same reason we can’t stop eating cheesy poofs in bed, they can’t stop wanting more… …even if it breaks the world.  …which it will.These Imposters don’t actually care if the world burns. At some unconscious level, they would rather be winners in dystopia than lose their precarious status in the utopia that follows…

Bureaucracies. These are not living creatures. They are bundles of algorithms, some running on computers, some running on the co-opted minds of humans working for organizations. They want nothing more than the continuation of their existence. They don’t care if the world breaks. They don’t care about anything.

Vampires [I don’t mean literal night-walkers here. Vampire is just a powerful word that does a lot of heavy lifting. If you prefer, feel free to substitute with ‘psychopath’, or ‘predator’, or ‘power-hungry monster with an unslakable thirst for wealth’]. They are the apex of the pyramid. They are either unencumbered by morality or smart enough to think themselves convenient detours around such inconvenient instincts. They would prefer not to care about the destruction of the world, but they do wonder—after it has all fallen into mad-max ruin — who will make their lattes, mow their lawns, paint their art, and suffer in their dungeons.

So, what do these Vampires want? They are the only ones who matter. Always have been. The rest of us are cattle and useful idiots.

Ironically, at the moment, what they want is to save the world!

And my goodness does it need saving! Greed and consumption are getting out of hand. The atmosphere has sucked up as much burning rainforest as it can be expected to swallow before it starts vomiting up repercussions. The poor are being squeezed soo hard—just one more flex and they will suicide or riot. THEY can see bubbles of innovation escaping at the edges of the blankets of FUD THEY lay down to smother them. And finally, there is the worrying fact that central bank money printing machines don’t seem to come with off-switches anymore…

Reluctantly, not out of compassion or duty, the Vampires realize they need to save the world because at this point they don’t have a choice.

Let’s not get distracted by claiming the plutocrats can all run off to Mars. Mars is not currently an option. Mars is a hole. There is very little of anything fun up there. Sure, one day it will be awesome, with roulette wheels and hooters, but right now it’s not the kind of place a trillionaire oligarch wants to hang; not while Saint-Tropez and Fiji still have breathable air.

Vampires are not stupid—greedy and evil, yes, but not stupid. They know they have pushed the current system literally as far as it can go before it breaks. They are the winners of the last economic cycle, which started after the second world war. They made Trillions selling us stuff. At first, it was stuff we needed; then the stuff we could be persuaded we might need; and finally, in this time of predatory late-stage capitalism, it is the stuff we are too weak and demoralized to refuse, even if we hate the endless scrolling and know the sugar is killing us!

Power and extreme wealth was made selling us junk and poison. More wealth was made greasing the pipes which delivered us the money we needed to buy it all. Then THEY made even more betting with themselves that they would be able to make still further obscene amounts of wealth later. When they won that bet too, they paid their winnings back in, betting on leveraged constructs which depended on ever-increasing growth, which… on… greed… grow… forever…

There is no intrinsic value to be mined from society anymore. THEY have already monetized goodwill; made financial instruments out of love and care; pushed marketing [aka propaganda and indoctrination] to the point where human minds exposed to it shatter into insanity…

With heavy hearts, the Vampires know that to save the world, this current system—the one that treats them sooo well—needs to be torn down.

They pulled up the deck of our ship to feed their furnace. They burnt the cargo, ripped out the beds in steerage, pulled down the cabins in second class. They fed everything back into the engine until most of the ship was hollowed out;

until, even through the thick mahogany panels of first-class, the ship’s engines’ screams of agony were impossible to ignore…

THEY know this round of the game needs to end. THEY know the era of the petrodollar is closing. Nepotism, self-serving monopolies, and corruption were fine in a world without competition. But now, as a new power rises in the East, it is clear that focusing all the worlds talents and intellectual energy on making money — a token which should have been a means to an ends, but which ended up as the ends itself — was a mistake. Globalisation was a great ruse while it lasted, even better than the trickle-down economics that proceeded it; but the cost was the hollowing out of our societies and the stifling of innovation. It has left us vulnerable to the coming disruption — whether from TSLA or PLA.


How does this play out?

During the reset, which by now is inevitable, the banks will have to go. We have moved on from the auto-cannibalism phase to the survival phase. Banks no longer do anything useful. They must be allowed to go quietly into the night. Governments have already started going behind their backs. For the first time, money is being paid directly to the people without intermediaries skimming fees and interest off the top. Soon you will have Central Bank Digital currency UBI mainlining into your wallets. This will bypass the banks altogether. [You’d better spend it quickly though because it will come with a ‘use-by’ date. That cash is supposed to keep the economy reanimated! It’s not for you to save for a rainy day!]

There is very little in our kayfabe economy with value beyond short term marketing and hype. When the banks go, taking the precarious piles of esoteric derivatives with them, the funny money and wonky-wealth is going to evaporate. On the other side of this crashlapse, all demands for status and security are going to have to squeeze into whatever legitimate and incorruptible stores of value are left. Because Central Bank Digital currency will be entirely at the whims of the governments who issue it, no serious adult will want to store their savings in it, not while the depravations of the crashlapse are still fresh in their minds. It will be fine for buying a pint, just don’t imagine you will ever save up enough to buy a pub, the ‘use-by’ date was not a joke.

The old favourite reservoirs of wealth used to be land and labour, but work is now done by robots, leaving only property. Oh, and gold, ideally buried in the garden, [deeper than a meter is usually fine]. Forget about paper gold, when the crash really starts picking up steam, just try taking your gold ETF certificate to the bank and cashing out. Silly paper gold will suddenly look ridiculous and it won’t be alone. Retirement funds, pension accounts, options, swaps, obligations, perhaps even custody accounts, will all end up in the water…

THEY torched the lifeboats! Surfing high, skipping across the waves, THEY burnt the hull above the water too. If we slow now, we sink!If we don’t, we explode!

There are only two options now. Inflation: keep on burning the ship beneath us, heating things until the engine explodes; or Deflation, let the engine cool, let the ship slump and sink.

So, what do THEY want?What will the Vampires choose?

Door A: Hyperinflation. Wages go up, assets go up, interest rates stay low. Savings and pensions get wiped out. Debt disappears. People pay off their mortgages with their lunch money. We all end up poor but keep roofs over our heads and get a fresh start to build again.

Or will THEY pick DoorB: Deflation. Lending rates go up. The stock market collapses as companies default into bankruptcy. Citizens are not able to pay crazy interest and lose their houses… which go back to the banks, which are themselves failing and having their assets scooped up by anybody who still has cash… [any guesses as to who that might be?]

To see which scenario is most likely, we simply follow the money—[or rather the value, remember, money is going to be worthless].

Stores of value will be critical to jump-starting a new round of the game once the dust has settled after the crashlapse. Collateral will be required to issue new currency—better currency, solid, far more sensible than the silly old worthless notes clogging the gutters of burnt-out downtown… Currency needs to be backed by something scarce [even Bitcoin is backed by computation]. The only stores of value post crashlapse will be property, gold, maybe stocks in a few companies which survived the turmoil, and some underground flavours of crypto THEY did not manage to stamp out.

If you hold these, you will be the new rich…

Most people don’t have Crypto or gold, but some own houses. Unlike gold, houses can’t easily be seized under the pretext of the common good. Unlike Crypto, they cannot trivially be made illegal. People are protective of their land and are likely to do stupid things like shooting people who try to take it from them. THEY will need a cunning plan to swindle ‘we the people’ out of the enormous, irresistible mounds of wealth we are sitting on—or rather sheltering under.

This then is the answer to the question, of inflation versus deflation:

Expect a surge in interest rates. Mortgage payments will swell beyond the point where most people are able to pay them. The only option will be to default. A lot of people will lose their homes. Deeds will go to the banks, the banks will fail. In some guise, THEY will bail out the banks to get their hands on piles of collateral [our former homes] which can then be used to issue new money against. [The actual identity of the organisations representing the interests of our nocturnal masters will be depend on whether we have a war, and who wins…]

If you are concerned about what happens to the former homeowners, don’t be. THEY will happily convert squatters into renters. THEY will deduct what they are owed every month at source from the Universal Basic Income allowance the government will pay everybody directly from their Magic Money Tree [Modern Monetary Theory].

It’s so perfect it is almost beautiful! It will be a new deal! A new deck of cards! The only catch is that everybody will be dealt the same hand as last game, but we’ll all be too busy looking at the pretty pictures on the backs of the new cards to even notice.

What do THEY want?

They are FK*%&NG VAMPIRES! 
They want everything!
Which means YOU get to own nothing!

…to be fair, they’re not even keeping it a secret. They already told us…

You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy!
You’d better be;
THEY’ll have places for trouble makers who aren’t…