Phoenix the Robot

Geordie Rose, the chief executive of Sanctuary AI explained the business value of his company’s new humanoid robot, Phoenix. “The long term total addressable market is the biggest one that’s ever existed in the history of business and technology,” he told the BBC. “The labor market.”

Manufacturers continue to face a severe labor shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were about one million job openings for skilled trades workers in manufacturing and construction this summer. With skilled tradesmen retiring in large numbers, there just aren’t enough workers to go around.

Phoenix is supposed to help solve the problem.

General-purpose humanoid robots

The idea of general-purpose humanoid robots like Phoenix is that they should be able to do what human workers do. Instead of being concerned that these robots might take away human jobs, the makers are presenting them as solutions to the lack of human workers to take on those jobs.

Alongside the idea that Phoenix and its counterparts from other companies will be able to work in warehouses and factories, picking and packing in place of human beings, makers also hold out hope for a robot butler.

Many people nowadays are uncomfortable with human servants, but a robot maid or houseboy would be welcomed by 33% of people surveyed by YouGov. Wired suggests that having electronic helpers who can anticipate our needs and wants like autocorrect on our phones might get in the way of deep thought, but the danger is probably far in the future.

Robots cannot, at this point, do the laundry, wash dishes, cook, or clean up after animals. We’re probably safe for a while.

But Phoenix might be coming to a factory near you in the next decade. Geordie Rose points out that technology is advancing at a very fast clip, so that a decade is a long time in tech terms. Are you ready?

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