Optimus Data Collection
Tesla’s Optimus Robot will replace or augment manual labor such as factory work, cooking, cleaning, etc. One thing people may not consider is how Optimus is uniquely positioned to get real time data and derive value from that data wherever it is put to work.
This real time data is very valuable and will enhance economic decision making for households, businesses, industries, and governments. Perhaps greater than Optimus’ direct contribution to the factory floor will be its indirect contribution to the economy. The volume, quality, and timeliness of the data will supercharge the economy in a scale data has never done before.
Data Driven Economies
Information has been used to make economic decisions for millennia. We rely on more data than ever to make decisions. Recently, the widespread use of networked sensors has sped up data collection tremendously. On factory floors and in our homes, smart sensors and devices collect data continuously.
Consumer Data Platform
There is an industry called “Consumer Data Platform.” Basically companies are using artificial intelligence and data to create targeted advertisements. The industry is tentatively valued at $2 billion right now, but I personally think that number is inaccurate. I suspect that most serious companies are already using AI to shape their advertising and services.
Improvements in smart devices have allowed data engineers to collect vast amounts of relevant information, very quickly. Consumer data collection devices would be Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices, to name just two. Both of these are fantastic devices, for both consumers and producers because they provide personalized recommendations and light automation to households.
CDP also extends far outside of smart devices. The loyalty programs that keep consumers hooked and report on their spending, bank and credit companies that monitor transactions, and web browser and social media accounts that track likes and follows. Modern consumers exist in a web of data collection that is not necessarily evil, but attempting to optimize and enhance our consumer experience.
Optimus is a natural extension of the Consumer Data Platform because it adds a missing visual element to the equation. Perhaps Amazon Alexa can hear us talking about running out of toilet paper, but Optimus will be able to restock the roll and count how many remain. It may even make recommendations to the user.
This type of data collection could be sold to companies for a high premium. Tesla may even create an advertisement-subsidized purchase plan for Optimus. Consumers who want to keep their data private could do so to gain the manual labor functionality, or generic shopping recommendations based on visual inventory.
The economics are pretty simple though. For $20,000 you can buy an Optimus bot that will optionally keep your consumer data private or for internal use. But for $5,000 you can buy an Optimus bot that sells your consumer data to companies in exchange for personalized advertisements. Which price do you think will be more popular among the masses?
Industrial and Government Data Collection
Collecting household and consumer data is only one part of Optimus’ value proposition. Large scale data collection for industry and government will be key to geopolitical effectiveness in the future as it is today.
Industrial data collection by Optimus is really two parts. The private, or proprietary data, and any public information that is for regulators. Proprietary information will be used by a corporation’s management to make informed decisions about their business practices. Companies already do this with connected smart sensors. In the future, Optimus will give a critical edge to companies. Optimus data insights may even be required to stay competitive in the global market.
Government, or national, data is important for geopolitics and macroeconomics. This data will have to be aggregated from both consumer data and industrial data. The ethical way to collect this data would be to anonymize it and generalize it, and then it would have to be used ethically to improve the standard of living for the nation’s people. An AI ethics council, perhaps an offshoot of a data ethics council, would have to steward this data use.
Instead of receiving quarterly reports of production and making predictions, economists could make real time reports and decisions about the economy. The use of AI to create data sets and enhance our processing of this data should be a net benefit for society.
This level of awareness and knowledge about macroeconomics will give governments the ability to influence the market to a degree they’ve never been able to. The temptation to front run market downturns will be tremendous and quite possibly disastrous. I suppose time will tell.
Tesla’s Optimus robot was first brought onstage in 2021. In the beginning it was a man in a suit. They have two prototypes now, with one that has been taught to walk and water plants in six months. I believe that they will be available to purchase by 2025, as the AI and vision work has been largely finished except for the long tail. Hopefully in 2025, Optimus resembles once again, a man in a suit — only this time, made of metal.