Thursday, January 26, 2023

As Columbo might say, just one more thing about our previous post

A few days ago, the New York Times Magazine ran a piece arguing that when Elon Musk put drivers' lives at risk with dangerous products, he is actually performing a "blunt utilitarian calculus," tolerating short term sacrifices (not coincidentally from other people) in order to advance his life-saving technologies.

I pushed back.

With the complicated exception of SpaceX, none of Musk's businesses are on the cutting edge of anything. In autonomous  driving, AI, solar cell development, brain-machine interfaces, tunneling machines, and countless other technologies where Musk has promised revolutionary disruptions, his companies are, at best, in the middle of the pack and, in some cases, not making any serious effort at all. (On a related note, despite attempts to muddy the waters with creative statistics, Tesla spends far less than any of its major competitors on R&D)
A few hours after that posted, I came across this perfect coda from Consumer Reports.

Of the 12 ADA systems we just finished testing, Ford BlueCruise came out on top, followed by Cadillac Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance. Tesla, once an innovator in ADA with its Autopilot system, fell from its second-place showing in 2020 to seventh this time around—about the middle of the pack. That’s because Tesla hasn’t changed Autopilot’s basic functionality much since it first came out, instead just adding more features to it, says Fisher. “After all this time, Autopilot still doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system. While other automakers have evolved their ACC and LCA systems, Tesla has simply fallen behind.”


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