As good truck would have it: Musk delivers the first Tesla pickup

August 3, 2023 | By Anthony Venutolo

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In Tech is our regular feature highlighting what people are talking about in the world of technology — everything from crypto and NFTs to smart cities and cybersecurity. 

Almost four years after it made its debut, the first (and long-delayed) Tesla Cybertruck has rolled off the factory floor. The sleek and stainless steel EV, constructed at its Gigafactory close to Austin, Texas, made its debut in a photo surrounded by factory personnel in a company tweet last month.

While Tesla has been relatively silent of late about its plans for the highly-awaited vehicle, it blamed supply chain issues on the delay back in early 2022. When the truck made its first appearance in 2019, a demo of the its allegedly impenetrable windows went awry when a metal ball thrown at the glass shattered it.

So will we see Cybertrucks zipping down highways anytime soon? Elon Musk looks to 2024. During the company's earnings call in January, he again cited supply chain issues as one of the primary reasons Cybertruck hasn't been delivered.   

“It just always seems to be some force majeure thing that happened somewhere on Earth. And we don’t control if there’s like earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, pandemics, etc.,” he said.

There just always seems to be some freaking force majeure thing that happens somewhere on earth," Musk told investors then. "And we don't control if there's like earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, pandemics, etc. So if it’s a smooth year, actually, without some big supply chain interruption or massive problem, we actually have the potential to do two million cars this year."

With sharp, futuristic angles, Cybertruck's entry-level model costs $39,900 and will compete in the highly-profitable market for EV pickup trucks, which included Rivian's R1T, the Ford F-150 Lightning, and the GMC Hummer EV pickup.

‘AI Hard’ with a vengeance

Just as Hollywood comes to screeching halt with a labor strike, VentureBeat reports that Fable, a San Francisco startup, has launched AI Showrunner, a new technology that can make new episodes of TV shows and insert anyone as the star.

The Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning company just published a white paper explaining the potential of its AI Showrunner called SHOW-1, which delivers a TV show soup to nuts. And even with a somewhat wonky script, the results can be pretty impressive.

Fable used "South Park," the long-running Comedy Central animated series created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as the lab rat of what its AI can create, and published the 11-minute episode on X. And yeah, while devoted fans of the toon may be able to spot how paint-by-numbers it may seem at first, there's no telling how far the creativity may eventually go.

This is where it gets sticky. The use of artificial intelligence for writing and recreating an actor's likeness remains a hot-button issue in the current strike by the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA, respectively. The potential notion of AI dominating writers’ rooms along with the proliferation of deep fake technology to mimic an actor's likeness are major impasses in the Hollywood labor fight.

In an interview with GamesBeat, Fable CEO Edward Saatchi was excited at the prospect that his company can create TV from scratch: “Not just the dialogue. It animates, it does the voices, it does the editing," he said. "For the TV episodes, AI Showrunner can just generate episodes, or the user can create a prompt and create TV episodes based on a two-sentence prompt. People said AI can’t tell a story. Well, it can.”

So where is this all going? While Saatchi says that Fable is not releasing Showrunner commercially, the company is in talks with several studios to develop original intellectual property. The original IP Simulations, with attached AI TV shows, include a space exploration sci-fi simulation, a satire of Silicon Valley simulation and a detective simulation.

Too late? “Black Mirror” already made an episode about this.

Holy guacamole!

In another example of how tech is simplifying the repetitive work of fast food chains, Chipotle recently announced a partnership with food automation company Vebu. It will soon be testing the Autocado, an "avocado processing cobotic prototype" that preps the fruit for workers before they smash it into guac. (That's not a typo - a cobot is a  "collaborative robot.") 

There are valid concerns that the increased use of tech will drive humans out of jobs, although another reality is that most chains are having significant problems staffing eateries altogether. 

"We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees," said Curt Garner, chief customer and technology officer at Chipotle. "The intensive labor of cutting, coring, and scooping avocados could be relieved with Autocado, but we still maintain the essential culinary experience of hand mashing and hand preparing the guacamole to our exacting standards."

Anthony Venutolo, Manager, Global Communications