Open AI, the company behind Chat GPT and the industry leader in Artificial Intelligence, has recently become a lead investor in 1X Technologies, a Norweigan startup that designs humanoid robots.
The Series A2 investment round, one of the initial steps for tech companies to gather outside funding once their reputation has been established, made a total of $23.5 million, with Open AI as the main backer, followed by Tiger Global and a group of Norway-based investors.
“1X is at the forefront of augmenting labor through the use of safe, advanced technologies in robotics,” said Open AI COO Brad Lightcap at the end of March. He stated that the Open AI Startup Fund believes in 1X’s impact “on the future of work.”
1X, a company with more than 50 employees globally, aims to create robots with practical, real-world applications to augment human labor globally. They have already developed and commercialized a wheeled humanoid robot called EVE, and will use the funding to scale-manufacture it, as well as to build a bipedal walking iteration called NEO.
Jumping Into The Physical World
Embodying artificial intelligence into robots seems like the next logical step for the AI industry, and the amount of needed research and technological development in robotics has been mounting up for decades in order to achieve that purpose.
Now it is time to test it in the real world. “Deploying our wheeled android EVE at an unprecedented commercial scale gives us a unique understanding of the challenges and opportunities the robotics community has yet to address. If androids are going to work in our world, they need to experience our world,” said Bernt Øyvind Børnich, CEO and founder of 1X Technologies.
The search for AI applications is now one of the urgencies of the tech world, following the explosion of generative AI tools like Chat GPT. AI’s material implementations are becoming central in the minds of top tech companies, as well as in the agendas of venture capitalists.
It seems like a race to achieve general-use humanoid robots is now developing. The competition includes robotics leaders and pioneers such as Boston Dynamics, and tech giants and AI veterans like Tesla, which is developing its own human-like robot called Optimus.
Utopian And Dystopian Versions Of The Future
The enthusiastic vision of AI materializing in the physical world is on par with its exponential growth of computing power. Fields involving healthcare, food, construction, and manufacturing could be revolutionized by taking this step, and work productivity could reach levels never seen before.
But just as much fear is generated by the potentially catastrophic consequences of AI implementation in the labor market, with white-collar sectors such as programming, finance, marketing, and media already under threat by AI, as reported by Business Insider.
While AI models currently pose no major threats to jobs involving physical work, their robotic materialization could rapidly change this panorama, and we could see humanoid robots doing blue-collar jobs in a not-far-away future.
Among other reasons to be worried, that is why calls for regulation and responsible implementation have been made by tech leaders, academics, and governments. In 2017, AI governance steps were taken when the 23 Asilomar AI principles were published to ensure adequate AI research, Ethics, and Values.
However, technology seems to be outpacing regulation capacity, and governments have started to ban AI tools out of fear of potential harm. In an effort to take a pause and reflect on the consequences of AI implementations, more than 100 experts published an open letter last month to halt AI experiments bigger than ChatGPT-4 for at least 6 months.
No matter where you stand, AI implementation in the world is more and more becoming a thing of the present rather than a fantasy of the future.
Interested in more? Read Where Could Chat GPT + Generative AI Be In A Few Years?