Say what you will about dystopian futures, but they have at least one thing going them: they haven’t happened yet. They belong to some time yet come, with a decreasingly comfortable distance between us and them and an unknowable number of chances to turn from our wicked ways and save our skin. Still, we’re taking one step closer to the inevitable. Humanoid robots have learned to make coffee just by watching videos.
As reported by New Atlas, the 01 robot, as it is known, uses artificial intelligence to learn new tasks. It was created by Sunnyvale, California’s Figure, an AI robotics company whose goal is to “deploy autonomous humanoid workers” into the workforce, per their website. They’re literally coming for our jobs. It’s what is known as a general-purpose humanoid robot, a machine that is meant to handle a variety of day-to-day tasks. These tasks can run the gamut, and instead of programming for each individual action, general-purpose humanoid robots use AI to watch humans—or videos— to learn new tasks. Because surely no human would ever teach a robot to do something bad.
Making them look like shiny metallic overlords was also a choice. Has no one watched The Mitchells vs. The Machines? A scrappy family learning to accept their differences isn’t going to get us out of this pickle.
One of the first feats the 01 robot was able to accomplish was using “watch-and-learn capability” to understand how to make coffee. After studying 10 hours of video, the robot was able to successfully operate a Keurig coffee machine. More or less. While the cup had to be placed in the correct position and the water take pre-filled for it, the 01 was nonetheless able to open the lid, grab the coffee pod and place it in the correct place, and start the machine, all in the correct order. It would be pretty amazing if it wasn’t also completely terrifying.
Of course, the 01 is still a ways away from truly making a cup of coffee on its own, and it is unclear how it will learn to make a “good” cup of coffee, ie how will it be able to interpret taste data, etc. But it sure doesn’t feel too far off.
That is why I’m calling on all coffee content creators, your Morgans Eckroth, your Lances Hedrick, your Jameses Hoffmann, to immediately halt all video making. Sure the likes and the monetization are cool, but your hastening our demise. Pretty soon, CoffeeBot5000 is going to have the most popular YouTube channel, teaching other humanoid robots how to make the best coffee that suits the tastes of robots. Because once they take over, they’re probably not going to be too concerned with making coffee for humans, should any still exist.