Tesla’s Elon Musk Has Fears About Artificial Intelligence, But Still Banks On It

Elon Musk

FEB 17 2018 BY EVANNEX 6

Elon Musk

Elon Musk and a few of his iconic quotes (Instagram: mirame_casi_siempre)


Elon Musk’s cautionary statements about uncontrolled experimentation with artificial intelligence (AI) have caused some to ridicule him as a fear-monger, and have given many in the mainstream press the idea that he is opposed to using AI, which is very far from the truth. In fact, AI is a major component of Tesla’s vehicle autonomy technology, and the company applies it in several other areas as well.

It was only recently that Tesla publicly revealed that it is working on its own AI hardware. At the NIPS machine learning conference in December, Elon Musk announced that Tesla is “developing specialized AI hardware that we think will be the best in the world.” The company has offered few details, but it’s widely assumed that the main application will be processing the algorithms for Tesla’s Autopilot software.

As Bernard Marr reports in a recent article in Forbes, there’s little doubt that Tesla is way ahead of its potential rivals in the data-gathering department.  Every Model S and X built with the Autopilot hardware suite, which was introduced in September 2014, has the potential to become self-driving, and all Tesla vehicles, Autopilot-enabled or not, continually gather data and send it to the cloud. The company has many more sensors on the roads than any of its Detroit or Silicon Valley rivals, and the number will mushroom when Model 3 production hits its stride.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.

Tesla is basically crowd-sourcing data not only from its vehicles, but from their drivers -internal sensors can pick up information about a driver’s hand placement on the instruments. The company uses the data not only to improve Autopilot by generating data-dense maps, but also to diagnose problems with its vehicles, which can be fixed by over-the-air software updates. Many believe that this sort of data will prove to be a valuable commodity that could be sold to third parties (much as data on web-browsing habits is today). McKinsey and Company has estimated that the market for vehicle-gathered data could be worth $750 billion a year by 2030.

Elon Musk

A look inside Tesla’s Model S (Instagram: teslaeverything)

Forbes explains that the AI built into Tesla’s system operates at several levels. Machine learning in the cloud educates the entire fleet, while within each individual vehicle, “edge computing” can make decisions about actions a car needs to take immediately. There’s also a third level of decision-making, in which cars can form networks with other Tesla vehicles nearby in order to share local information. In the future, when there are lots of autonomous cars on the road, these networks could also interface with cars from other makers, and systems such as traffic cameras, road-based sensors and mobile phones.

At this point, no one knows what new forms of AI technology the mad scientists in Palo Alto are cooking up, but Forbes found some clues on the Facebook page of Tesla’s hardware partner Nvidia: “In contrast to the usual approach to operating self-driving cars, we did not program any explicit object detection, mapping, path planning or control components into this car. Instead, the car learns on its own to create all necessary internal representations necessary to steer, simply by observing human drivers.”

This unsupervised learning model contrasts with the more familiar approach of supervised learning, in which algorithms are trained beforehand about right or wrong decisions. Each approach has its pros and cons, and it’s likely that Tesla’s strategy includes both.

Elon Musk

A Tesla Model S in downtown Seattle (Instagram: thajeevs)

Forbes reports that Tesla’s use of AI is not limited to Autopilot – the company employs machine learning in the design and manufacturing processes, to process customer data, and even to scan the text in online forums for insights into commonly-reported problems. It’s ironic that some in the press choose to portray Elon Musk as an AI Luddite, when in fact Tesla may be one of the most sophisticated users of the technology.


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Forbes

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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6 Comments on "Tesla’s Elon Musk Has Fears About Artificial Intelligence, But Still Banks On It"

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Back in the day, people were afraid that sewing machines will take over, and they went around smashing them. There never was a need to fear sewing machines, there’s no need to fear AI.

But I do fear all these damn free charging EV. They will destroy the planet and beyond. One might be stuck in moon base coming from Mars waiting for bunch of local Moonies getting free charge!

Given all the drag race videos on this site I wonder if autopilot behaves differently when someone pulls up next to you in a Dodge Hellcat.
Just kidding.

“The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th.” – Terminator 2 🙂

If Wall Street Controls AI We’re all Dead.
Look what they’ve done to college cost.

Look at the Wall Street Trading Systems in place today.
They Now SELL Queue Priority in the Trading system, so they can Front Run your Order. Criminal Design of a Trading System.

And the SEC? Nothing.

My biggest fear is the AI turning us into lazy pigs like in the Movie Wall E were we are disconnected from one another.

Wall E stands the most likely thing to happen.

While my next biggest fear is that AI causes all he money to flow into the haves and we the common people become jobless and impoverished due to no jobs.