Elon Musk: Tesla Could Play a Big Role in ‘Artificial General Intelligence’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is suggesting his company might play a “role” in the pursuit of artificial general intelligence (AGI). 

In theory, AGI is an A.I. platform with the creativity and intellectual grasp of a human being. Creating an AGI is exponentially more difficult than building a “weak” or “narrow” A.I., which learns how to effectively execute a single task (such as driving a vehicle without any human input). Research progress into AGI has been slow, and researchers have struggled to understand the very nature of cognition.

As he often does, Musk made his assertion in a Tweet

“Optimus” is the code-name for Tesla’s humanoid robot, which is currently in production. When he unveiled the hardware last year, Musk claimed that Optimus would be capable of “dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks,” as well as carrying 45 pounds and moving at five miles per hour. While it won’t behave like the highly evolved robots in science-fiction movies, Musk’s Tweet suggests Tesla will use lessons learned from Optimus to advance A.I.

Over the past few years, Tesla has been on a much-publicized hunt for technologists with A.I. skills—and Musk has made it clear that he doesn’t care if those experts have advanced degrees. In early 2020, he Tweeted: “Educational background is irrelevant, but all must pass hardcore coding test.” Tesla relies on Python and a handful of other languages as the foundation of its A.I. programming. 

Whether or not researchers manage to crack the secrets of AGI in coming years, it’s clear that working in A.I. can prove quite lucrative. O’Reilly pegs the average salary of data and A.I. professionals at $146,000 per year (that’s from 2,778 respondents in the U.S. and 284 in the U.K.), with salaries expected to only grow bigger. Meanwhile, the number of A.I.-related jobs is on the rise in many tech hubs