Elon Musk: Skeptics of Self-Driving Cars Are Essentially “Killing People”

Tesla's Elon Musk gives a grave warning to those trying to hold back self-driving car technology. According to him, we have it all backwards.

Elon Musk
A visionary’s warning (ROBYN BECK/STAFF)

According to Elon Musk, we have it all backwards. It’s not self-driving cars that we should be worried about — it’s human-driven cars. In a recent call with reporters, he expressed his view that skeptics of self-driving vehicles are essentially “killing people.”


His argument is that each time a critic argues against self-driving technology, Musk said, he or she stands in the way of safer roadways. Musk expressed frustration that malfunctions of self-driving vehicles draw a disproportionate amount of attention at a time when there are so many fatalities caused by human drivers. 2015 saw the highest number of roadway deaths and injuries in 50 years, with 38,300 fatalities and 4.4 million injuries.

(CEMAXX)

When a man being driven by a Tesla Model S outfitted with the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system died in a crash (while he was watching a Harry Potter movie), U.S. safety regulators launched an examination of 25,000 Tesla vehicles. Musk points out that this was the first fatality in 130 million autopilot-driven miles in the U.S., while there’s a fatality caused by a human driver every 94 million miles.

By equipping Tesla’s newest Model S and Model X cars with eight cameras, 12 new sensors and upgraded radar, the company hopes to have the vehicles capable of full autonomy by year’s end, "without the need for a single touch" once the car is on its way.

It’s easy to see why people are reluctant to hand over their safety to automated vehicles for which even the optimally ethical rules of the road are tricky to work out. And the technology is as yet unfinished. But it’s also easy to imagine a world in which cars communicate with each other to reliably stay safely out of each others’ way, respond effectively to unexpected hazards, use fuel more efficiently, and even eliminate current nuisances like traffic jams by coordinating their movements with mathematical precision. One Model X has already transported its owner suffering a pulmonary embolism to the emergency room for care — the man credits his Tesla with saving his life.

Musk says self-driving cars are the future and that future is coming. Every day that we cling to a comfortable, familiar system that he views as inherently more dangerous, we’re merely exposing more drivers, passengers, and pedestrians to the risk of death. According to Musk, it’s time to let someone — or something — else drive.

From 1.8 million years ago, earliest evidence of human activity found

Scientists discover what our human ancestors were making inside the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa 1.8 million years ago.

Inside the Kalahari Desert Wonderwerk Cave

Credit: Michael Chazan / Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find evidence of early tool-making and fire use inside the Wonderwerk Cave in Africa.
  • The scientists date the human activity in the cave to 1.8 million years ago.
  • The evidence is the earliest found yet and advances our understanding of human evolution.
Keep reading Show less

How cell phone data can help redesign cities

With the rise of Big Data, methods used to study the movement of stars or atoms can now reveal the movement of people. This could have important implications for cities.

Credit: Getty Images
13-8
  • A treasure trove of mobility data from devices like smartphones has allowed the field of "city science" to blossom.
  • I recently was part of team that compared mobility patterns in Brazilian and American cities.
  • We found that, in many cities, low-income and high-income residents rarely travel to the same geographic locations. Such segregation has major implications for urban design.
Keep reading Show less

The never-ending trip: LSD flashbacks and a psychedelic disorder that can last forever

A small percentage of people who consume psychedelics experience strange lingering effects, sometimes years after they took the drug.

Credit Imageman Rez via Adobe Stock
Mind & Brain
  • LSD flashbacks have been studied for decades, though scientists still aren't quite sure why some people experience them.
  • A subset of people who take psychedelics and then experience flashbacks develop hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a rare condition in which people experience regular or near-constant psychedelic symptoms.
  • There's currently no cure for the disorder, though some studies suggest medications may alleviate symptoms.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

Mind and God: The new science of neurotheology

Studies show that religion and spirituality are positively linked to good mental health. Our research aims to figure out how and why.

Quantcast