Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed his disapproval of a report alleging that a robot from Giga Texas attacked an employee, causing injuries. As per Musk, the report, which is based on an incident from two years ago, was shameful.
The report in question was published by the Daily Mail, which ran with the headline “Tesla robot ATTACKS an engineer at company’s Texas factory during violent malfunction – leaving ‘trail of blood’ and forcing workers to hit emergency shutdown button.” The publication opted to use a photo of Musk and Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot as its primary image.
This article in the “science” section of Daily Mail makes it seem like Optimus decided to attack an engineer.— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) December 27, 2023
What they’re actually talking about is an injury involving the Kuka robot in the factory in 2021. Although injuries are horrible they do not hint at a robotic uprising pic.twitter.com/GoGsTroJ5u
While it is unsurprising to see the Mail adopt a dramatic headline — such is the publication’s typical style — the use of Optimus’ photo in the article gave the impression that the humanoid robot was the one that “attacked” a person. As noted by social media users, the word “attacks” in the headline implies that a robot made a decision to hurt a human, which is completely false.
Correct.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 27, 2023
Truly shameful of the media to dredge up an injury from two years ago due to a simple industrial Kuka robot arm (found in all factories) and imply that it is due to Optimus now.
The incident, after all, involved a Kuka robot that’s widely used in factories across a wide range of industries today, and such robots only operate as they are programmed. Musk highlighted this in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Truly shameful of the media to dredge up an injury from two years ago due to a simple industrial Kuka robot arm (found in all factories) and imply that it is due to Optimus now,” Musk wrote.
I see your point in this context though I think attack can be used for non-sentient subjects (rust attacked the metal). I used the word as short hand in tweets, though not in the story, which looks in depth at systemic issues with Tesla's safety culture, not robot sentience.— Becky Peterson (@beckpeterson) December 28, 2023
Musk was quite correct in his statement, as the incident did happen back in 2021. Interestingly enough, the Daily Mail‘s report was actually based on an article from The Information, which published an article in November that included the incident. Becky Peterson, who penned The Information‘s article, shared her take on how the word “attack” was used in the context of the story.
“I see your point in this context, though I think attack can be used for non-sentient subjects (rust attacked the metal). I used the word as short hand in tweets, though not in the story, which looks in depth at systemic issues with Tesla’s safety culture, not robot sentience,” Peterson wrote in response to an X user who argued that the word “attack” implies sentience.
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