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Open Letter to Elon Musk

Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by imispgh, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    Please consider changing your approach in creating autonomous vehicles. People’s lives, possibly the industry, your company and your legacy depend on it.


    Elon

    When you submitted your SpaceX code to NASA for review I believe they failed it for not being properly tested and for having exception handling issues. NASA intervened, forced you to do the right things and saved SpaceX and you. As NHTSA and others have abdicated their positions and deferred to you and the rest of the AV industry, I do not believe there is anyone with enough power to force you to do the right things and save Tesla or you here. I am making the attempt to help you save yourself as well as the many people who will lose their lives, needlessly, as you pursue an untenable process to build your autonomous vehicles. What is at stake here, in addition to the lives of these innocent people, are your employees, shareholders, most of the AV industry because they follow you, your company and you personally.

    I believe you are in the process of crossing the line between being famous to being infamous. From saving lives to needlessly costing lives. From ethical to unethical. From being seen as one of the greatest visionaries, humanists and verbs of all time to someone who will be remembered for squandering all of that and becoming a monumental hypocrite. A person who becomes or does the things they say they rail against. As I have almost zero power here the best I can do is make my case, ask you to take a deep breath, try to put your ego and pride to the side, evaluate the information presented and find the courage to do the right thing. (I say almost zero power because I have done somethings that have earned me some ethical and engineering credibility. Should I not convince you to do the right thing here I will do my best to find another way to force a change.)

    The issue is your use of public shadow driving as a primary or significant means of creating your autonomous technology. Versus the use of aerospace level simulation. Setting aside the deplorable and selfish use of your paying customers and their families as your Guinea pigs, let’s focus on the objective viability of that approach from a cost, time and engineering point of view. I will start with the punch line – you will never reach autonomy using this approach. You will never save lives using it. You will also make the lives of those people you have stated are necessary casualties, completely unnecessary casualties. When the public, press, insurance companies and lawmakers figure this out, after the first child or family is killed needlessly in one of your vehicles, they will feel betrayed and rightfully determine you and the majority of the industry, using this approach, are not competent or ethical enough to continue. At least not without far more regulation and delays than you would have had if you self-policed. You will also never reach the end state because you, nor anyone else, can drive the one trillion (not 6B) miles needed to get there nor spend the $300B+ to do so.

    In an effort to keep this letter concise please find links two of my articles. In them I explain all of the issues, their root causes and how to resolve them in detail. I also provide links to the references I cite.

    Letter to Congress - Handling of minimum standards for Autonomous industry

    · https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/letter-congress-handling-minimum-standards-industry-michael-dekort/

    Who will get to Autonomous Level 5 First and Why

    · https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/who-get-autonomous-level-5-first-why-michael-dekort


    In closing I ask that you provide me the courtesy of reading the material I provided and to endeavor to think about it as separate from your ego and pride as possible. Think about it from the point of view of a human being, an engineer, a business owner and a mentor of a vast amount of people. If this weren’t you and someone else was going through this and they asked for your counsel, what would you suggest they do? I am pretty sure that if you made an announcement tomorrow where you explained and owned the mistakes you made, laid out an ethical and workable plan to resolve them, even if it takes another decade, most would understand, be grateful and supportive. And even if my prognostication is wrong. You would have actually saved the lives you intended to save, and many more. You would get back to being that person I you were a short time ago before your ego and pride led you down that slippery slope. You would bounce back and be just fine.


    Respectfully


    Michael DeKort
     
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  2. futurem3owner

    futurem3owner 2017 90D

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    As Trump said, "Rocket man is on a suicide mission" :p
     
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  3. MSDadMich

    MSDadMich Member

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    imispgh, your letter is very respectful. Happy to see you sharing your opinion regardless of viewpoint. After reading your note however, I don't think you know what is necessary to develop this technology. Why would you be against gathering data? And if so, why are you singling out Tesla? He who has the most data wins...
    Why don't you consider pasting here... an analysis of current data showing the safety record of motorists with and without driving aids of any type... then I'll be happy to spend a bit more time thinking about your position.
     
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  4. Tam

    Tam Active Member

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    No one forces owners to pay $8,000 pre-delivery or $10,000 post-delivery.

    As long as they volunteer to pay to be in the program, I am for it.

    What counts is an owner's consent.

    If you don't like it, you don't pay for it!

    Somebody's child did die!

    This is the statement from his parents:

    "On May 7, 2016, Joshua Brown (40) of Canton, Ohio, was killed in a motor vehicle crash in Williston, Florida when his Tesla collided with a semi-tractor trailer that failed to yield when crossing a divided highway.

    Josh was a veteran, an exceptional citizen, and a successful entrepreneur. Most importantly, he was a loving son, brother and uncle. Josh served 11 years in the United States Navy. He was a master Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician and achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He proudly served as a member of EOD Mobile Unit 3 out of San Diego, CA, and then the Navy’s elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG) out of Dam Neck, VA. Josh was deployed to multiple war zones as part of the special operations groups. He also served at the White House and overseas supporting Secret Service operations.

    Joshua loved technology and was a successful entrepreneur. He developed several database applications widely used by the Navy. In 2010, he started his own technology company, Nexu Innovations. The company primarily focused on developing and installing WIFI and surveillance systems, but also developed other technology driven applications.

    This fatal and tragic collision was the first documented crash involving the use of driver assist autopilot technology. It generated worldwide media attention. Unfortunately, while some of the reporting was accurate, many media outlets published or broadcast speculation about the crash which was later proven to be false. Many of those accusations were damaging to our son’s reputation and a twist of the knife in the open wound of our family. Since May 7th, 2016, our family has endured reading, listening, and watching as international attention played out on this tragedy. We have intentionally remained silent because we fully believed it was critical to have all the facts before making any public judgments.

    Multiple official investigations, evaluations, and reports are now complete. This includes those conducted by the Florida Highway Patrol, Medical Examiners, Tesla, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) has not yet released its final report, but has made all of their investigations and findings public.

    We now feel it is time to try to set the record straight based on the facts. We urge all news organizations to give as much coverage to the truth which has now been confirmed through these investigations as they did to the unverified speculation in the early sensationalized reporting. We hope the truth gains as wide an audience as did those false statements.

    Some media falsely claimed that Josh was traveling well over 100 mph. Within a few days of the crash, it was verified Josh was on cruise control (Tesla Autopilot). It was set at 74 mph. Although above the speed limit, it is significantly different than the original extreme speeds which were rumored and repeated by some media outlets.

    It was “reported” that Josh was watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the accident. This movie was purported to be playing either on the large screen in the Tesla console or a portable DVD player. Both claims have been proven untrue. There was no Harry Potter video found in the car and no video device in the vehicle that was capable of playing a movie. Moreover, the eye witness accounts taken from those people who were first on the scene after the crash confirmed there was no movie playing.


    It was reported after the NTSB findings were released that Joshua was given 7 reminders to put his hands on the steering wheel prior to the accident. The false implication in the news stories was that Josh continued to ignore these repeated reminders (and keep his hands off the wheel) until he finally struck the truck. In reality, Teslas are designed so that every few minutes if the car does not sense hands on the steering wheel, it provides the driver with a visual reminder. If that is ignored, it then gives an audible reminder. If that is ignored, the car will slow down and stop. Understanding how this technology works, we now know Joshua responded by putting his hands on the steering wheel. Aware of both the vehicle’s abilities and limitations, Joshua followed the prompts of the Tesla with each series of indications received. Otherwise, the Tesla would have automatically slowed and stopped.

    Joshua loved his Tesla Model S. He studied and tested that car as a passion. When attending gatherings at the Tesla store, he would become the primary speaker answering questions about the technology and the car’s capabilities/limitations. In the videos Josh posted to YouTube about Tesla, he repeatedly emphasized safety, that the car was NOT autonomous, and that the driver had to pay attention.

    We heard numerous times that the car killed our son. That is simply not the case. There was a small window of time when neither Joshua nor the Tesla features noticed the truck making the left-hand turn in front of the car. People die every day in car accidents. Many of those are caused by lack of attention or inability to see the danger. Joshua believed, and our family continues to believe, that the new technology going into cars and the move to autonomous driving has already saved many lives. Change always comes with risks, and zero tolerance for deaths would totally stop innovation and improvements.

    Nobody wants tragedy to touch their family, but expecting to identify all limitations of an emerging technology and expecting perfection is not feasible either. When rail systems, metro systems, and personal vehicles (etc.) were constructed, fatalities occurred and we learned from them. Who determines it has been vetted enough? Life is a balancing act. Barring blatant recklessness, finding common ground will always be a debate.

    Part of Joshua’s legacy is that his accident drove additional improvements making the new technology even safer. Tesla has done extensive research into the accident and how it might have been prevented. They have made significant investments toward improvements and the Version 8 software release included numerous safety improvements that were a direct result of that research. Tesla continues to release additional features based on lessons learned from Josh’s accident. Our family takes solace and pride in the fact that our son is making such a positive impact on future highway safety."
     
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  5. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

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    This section demonstrates a lack of understanding of how machine learning and neural networks work. AP is not algorithmically driven, it is driven by machine learning and feeding the system massive amounts of data allows it to learn. Shadow driving does (I'll ignore the "mean and selfish" characterization) provides massive amounts of real word data which is the best shortest path to safer systems. The problem with simulations (and algorithmically driven systems for that matter) is that they are bound by the imagination of the guys and gals programming the simulations and the typical driver is much more creative as any of the early AP YouTube videos will attest. Sure you can optimize a system for a given set of scenarios or simulations, but if you step outside of that box, the system is going to be lost. Machine learning systems typically start off slowly but they hit a typing point that will leave everything in the dust. We see this now where AP2 struggles to match AP1, but given time AP2 will far outpace anything AP1 is capable of.

    OK, you really do have to explain to me what is "mean and deplorable" about using the AP cars to gather data--it costs me nothing, does not impact my driving or car ownership experience in any way and is generating data that benefits me and every other current and future AP owner.
     
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  6. Ghosty

    Ghosty Member

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    #6 Ghosty, Sep 27, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
    The same line of reasoning Horse Carriage manufacturers made when the modern ICE cars were being introduced. Nothing personal against OP, just pointing out that - throughout history - the same line of reasoning has always been made against innovation, technology, and change.

    Not a single incident has EVER been attributed specifically to Tesla technology - so why this hyperbole? "the many people who will lose their lives needlessly." Why would do the author speak of ethical standards WITHOUT considering the many lives this technology will save? If we can begin to eliminate user error in driving how many lives will be saved?

    In fact, slowing down autonomous driving will result in slower implementation of this technology - causing thousands of more lives. Why is that not addressed? If lives are the standard? Why use unsubstantiated hyperbole in your premise to argue against innovation?

    Why doesn't the author address the current THOUSANDS of people killed every day due to lousy drivers/accidents in general? If life is the standard - why only approach this issue by advancing ideas against innovation with hyperbole all while ignoring everyday accidents that cause thousands of deaths a year?

    Using the same logic as the OP - is the OP then responsible for the lives of all those people lost b/c he contributed to the obstruction of technology that could save so many lives?

    If saving lives is the goal - why not ask current car manufacturers to stop building cars? That would save THOUSANDS of lives.

    When you cast judgment on another - you should think about applying that same standard to your line of reasoning.
     
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  7. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    The minute that AVs have a lower fatality rate than the average driver, putting them on the roads saves lives.

    Since the death rate is climbing, it will get easier and easier to reach that goal.

    AVs need to have a mfr liability exemption like air bags do. AVs absolutely will kill people. They just will kill less people than human drivers do. The liability should be handled by the owner's insurance not the mfr, otherwise it would cause AVs to be delayed years longer and cost thousands of lives in the process.
     
  8. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    The issue is PUBLIC shadow driving. Not shadow driving
    You are correct. The Joshua Brown tragedy should have never happened as that car should have never been on a road or that road. Which the NTSB clearly agrees with. The point stands however as most people understand the point being made. That being someone under 18.
     
  9. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    I have no issue with gathering data. Data is needed from many sources including drivers. But NOT public shadow drivers. (Except in limited cases where aerospace level simulation and test tracks will not work. Or validating the sim. In those cases the situation needs to be very targeted and not just letting folks drive anywhere at any time).
     
  10. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    I never said "mean" I said deplorable.

    I want real world data just not from folks not in control in the real world. (Except limited situations). Shadow driving should be done in the simulation.

    You did not address my points that make the process impossible to complete. Will the world allow for deaths of children and families? Who can drive one trillion miles and spend $300B?
     
  11. rxlawdude

    rxlawdude Member

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    OP has exclusively written, since 3/1/17 negative spew about Autopilot. Not sure of his motivation, but it may not be pure.
     
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  12. u00mem9

    u00mem9 Member

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    Sadly the reason Tesla’s direction isn’t that dangerous is that they are SO ridiculously far from having the hardware and knowledge to enable FSD, that the worst anyone will suffer is a mild case of fraud.

    Within a year, their failure to manage this in the face of other OEMs success will make them capitulate and apply the Waymo hardware and software. They have shown stubbornness but won’t let this area threaten the rest of their EV goals.

    The implosion of SolarCity, on the other hand...
     
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  13. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    Most of you are clearly did not read the articles I referred to. You are also avoiding the reasons I gave for why this process can never work. And you are responding with defenses which are not in disagreement. The end goal is autonomy as soon as possible so lives are saved. On that we agree. The differences the current approach WILL NEVER GET THERE! And will kill thousands NEEDLESSLY as folks try and fail.

    Please do the topic some justice and respect and actually stay on point. And please take the 5 minutes to read the things I wrote.
     
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  14. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    You are incorrect. The NTSB said Tesla's LACK OF TECH contributed to Brown's death because it did not have the "appropriate" capabilities in that location.
     
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  15. Muzzman1

    Muzzman1 Member

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    Sounds like someone is trying to sell simulators.
     
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  16. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    #16 imispgh, Sep 27, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
    Let me add this. I am Mr. Musk's best friend. And yours if actually getting to autonomy and saving lives matters vs your ego and protecting your beliefs when they are proven wrong. The status quo means ZERO L4, ZERO lives saved by L4 and thousands of lives wasted in trying to get there. My method is the opposite.

    Also if you have not seen aerospace level simulation, especially FAA Level D simulation, with networked simulations in complex war games you have no idea what that tech gap is.
     
  17. stan23

    stan23 Member

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    Not this guy again...

    He's basically trying to pedal his services by creating false hysteria. He's trying to sell some sort of testing services.
     
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  18. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

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    Boy oh boy - this is gonna be good. Haven't read what is sure to be a masterpiece of the persuasive essay form - but with an opener like this it's gonna be a great text. :runs to make a coffee, some popcorn and turns off phones to have uninterrupted reading pleasure:
     
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  19. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    If you truly meant well, you would have sent a letter to him at Tesla or SpaceX -- you wouldn't be pontificating on a public forum.
     
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  20. imispgh

    imispgh Member

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    What testing services?

    Sometimes people do the right things for the right reasons.

    IEEE Xplore Full-Text PDF:

    IEEE Xplore Full-Text PDF:
     
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