4 Tech Innovations We Didn't Need This Week

Robots, VR workplaces, and more robots? Just...no

How are we supposed to react?

When a tech company announces some latest plan about the future, invariably, a group of Weird Nerds will get excited.

But it might leave you wondering, with all the headlines about climate doom and the need for solutions, fast, why are we blasting billionaires into space and not fixing the CO2 problem? Is advancing technology this way the best use of our time right now?

There were four splashy press announcements this week that made us say exactly that: OK, but where's your cheap solution to help us carbon capture?

Tesla Robots

Taking no notes from films like "Ex Machina," "Terminator" or "Blade Runner," Elon Musk's Tesla announced a new concept for a human-like robot, the Tesla Bot, which will stand about 5 feet 8 inches tall and perform human tasks.

Seeming to address concerns about robots outsmarting us and taking over the planet, Musk reportedly said the robot would be easily overpowered or outrun by a human. That's in line with past comments in which Musk has cautioned that unchecked artificial intelligence could have a "potentially dangerous outcome."

The Tesla Bot will be able to do some dirty, repetitive work that can also be dangerous for humans. There was no word on what those humans will do for a living instead.

It was only a few months ago that we heard about robot dogs helping us humans with the fight against COVID. Now we have to deal with robots taking our jobs?

Disney robots

Was everyone trying to steal Boston Dynamics' thunder this week? As if the world didn't have enough robot concepts to upset us about the future, Disney announced that realistic robots will one day be roaming the company's theme parks.

Apparently, a 3-foot-tall robotic Groot is already in the works. Sources say his dialogue options will be pretty easy to program.

Growing eyes on a chunk of human brain

Elke Gabriel/Creative Commons
Researchers writing in the journal Cell Stem Cell developed a brain organoid with optic cups - in other words, a primitive eye. (Elke Gabriel, CC BY-NC-SA)

This one's finally not about robots, but stem cells. Basically, researchers learned that a lab-grown mini brain can create the beginnings of sensory organs, including eyes.

Researchers learned the eye-things were sensitive to light, and can use this to better understand how eyes form in the womb, or how to treat serious eye diseases.

Admittedly, this one is hard to dunk on. But if you hear anything about these stem cell proto-eyes getting near the Tesla Bots, let us know. We need to do what we can to prevent the rise of the cyborgs.

Going to work, in VR?

A mockup of avatars conducting a meeting in virtual reality on Facebook's Horizon Workrooms.
A mockup of avatars conducting a meeting in virtual reality on Facebook's Horizon Workrooms.

Do we have to? Facebook is pitching a new VR app that simulates a conference room, and Mark Zuckerberg wants us all to get on board.

In the app, Horizon Workrooms, you can sit around a conference room table with your coworkers' avatars or watch a presentation. As if Zoom fatigue wasn't enough, now we've got to worry about our cartoonish VR torso too? And I gotta learn about the metaverse? I'm still figuring out cryptocurrency...