In His 60 Minutes Appearance, Elon Musk Was Not On The Level(s) (2023)

Look Lesley, no hands! – Tesla CEO Elon Musk demonstrates the latest version of the company's... [+] Autopilot driving feature for CBS reporter Lesley Stahl.

60 Minutes via CBS

Elon Musk appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday evening in an extended segment anchored by Lesley Stahl. His lack of respect for the SEC grabbed the biggest headlines, along with his defiance of an order requiring his Tweets to be pre-screened for market-moving content by company advisors prior to posting.

That SEC settlement order may stand at least partly in conflict with the First Amendment, as Musk claims, and his insouciance and disrespect really only matter in the court of public opinion. But even in the age of cord-cutting and on-demand video, 60 Minutes continues to be a ratings winner and opinion influencer. Tesla stock closed up 1.4% on Monday, indicating Musk’s appearance did more good than harm to investor confidence, at least.

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Autopilot Abuse

Safety advocates found a reason to be outraged too. To demonstrate Autopilot engagement toreporter Stahl and viewers, Musk took his hands off the steering wheel—even though Tesla warns owners that they should always keep their hands on the wheel, and even though Tesla has blamed drivers who crashed when using Autopilot if they did not have their hands on the wheel.

We must remember that this is television; one cannot visually demonstrate a working Autosteer function if one’s hands remain on the wheel. The moment was brief for viewers, and we can only hope that footage on the cutting-room floor shows Musk returning his hands to the wheel soon after the few seconds shown on TV. For those few seconds, at least, Musk unwisely added a second or two to his reaction time.

Regardless, Musk really should have added an admonition with his demonstration, because his 60 Minutes segment now stands alongside other YouTube videos of people using Autopilot irresponsibly.

Thanks to the enduring popularity of the show, the popularity of Musk and his authority as CEO, millions of people—including present and future Tesla owners—may now be under the mistaken impression that it is alright to remove hands from the wheel while Autopilot is in use.

Ask any10 Tesla owners today and you can still reliably get several different explanations of how and when to use Autopilot, and what it can and cannot do. And because over-the-air software pushes can change Autopilot functionality overnight, even experienced users can be misunderstand current Autopilot limitations at any given time.

Autopilot Misrepresentation

There is another reason safety advocates should be upset; after engaging Autopilot, Musk said his red Model 3 was driving itself.

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The car was never driving itself—not even close.

Musk was giving Autopilot far too much credit for what it was actually doing; its level best to stay in the center of its lane, to hold the speed Musk told it to keep, and to maintain the distance Musk set to keep from any car directly ahead of it.

If the segment was edited fairly, the car also appeared to change lanes while in Autopilot mode, abruptly cutting off a Honda SUV with a car length or less between their bumpers.

An Autopilot lane change is now initiated by turning on the turn signal. But the driver is still supposed to look first, and judge whether the lane he or she intends to occupy is clear. Tesla’s Autopilot is not vested with that kind of vision or judgment. Not yet, at least. Presently, for lane changes, Autopilot primarily saves the driver the effort of turning the wheel slightly with one’s hands.

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At all times, both Musk and the Autopilot software were sharing the driving—except that one partner was not qualified to do much more than hold the lane and speed, and the other was clearly failing to do [at least part of] his part, at least for a few seconds.

With any luck, Musk and Stahl could have gone seven miles or more hands-free on Autopilot, just as a passed-out California driver recently did before quick-thinking California Highway Patrol brought the runaway Tesla to a stop.

Driving Doesn’t Mean What It Used To

If you are confused by the thought of multiple simultaneous drivers, it is understandable.

Driving--the verb--no longer means what you think it means. It now includes at least three or more severable and delegable tasks, including actuating the levers and steering wheel, being situationally aware of the driving environment, navigating, making judgments and decisions about vehicles and objects in the road, and also being the fail-safe backup in case any part of the software doesn’t do what it should, or tries to do what it shouldn’t do. When Uber's test car killed Elaine Herzberg, even the single task of braking was designed to be shared between the software and the human driver, with the former doing the gentle braking and the latter doing the aggressive braking.

Got that? Until partial automation came along, driving was just driving; something one person did, from soup to nuts, without help. It's still an open question whether some configurations can safely be shared at all.

SAE Levels of Automation And Confusion

Consider the Levels of Automation, created by SAE International, a professional engineering association and standards-developing organization. SAE developed the Levels as a taxonomy for defining, classifying and describing the variety of advanced drivers assistance features and self-driving technology that developers were putting into automobiles—with or without permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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Known internally as J3016, the Levels describe various advanced driving automation system configurations from Level Zero (which describes 100% human driving without any technological assistance with the driving tasks) to Level 5 (which describes 100% software-driven, in any environment, without any human assistance or oversight).

What very few people really understand about the Levels of Automation is that they are purely descriptive of how developers design and incorporate automation into the division of labor between human driver and software. In other words, the Levels aren’t the law; they are like an abstract of a unilateral contract with the driver, drawn in fine print.

Legal liability is a matter of state law, and—in California at least—issues of comparative fault and product liability (defective design, failure to warn) remain the standard for determining who is responsible for any crash. A state that enshrines the Levels of Automation for liability purposes would effectively be letting developers opt out of responsibility by simply declaring the driver is responsible for automation failures.

Some other common misperceptions about the Levels of Automation:

  • Level 5 does not mean there is no steering wheel, or that pedals are absent; it means the automation operates where any human can without any human input or backup.
  • Level 4 is not safer than Level 3, nor is 3 safer than 2, etc. The levels only describe the progressive division of labor between humans and software. Any Level can be safe or unsafe in any degree, including Level 5.
  • Level 4 testing can look a lot like Level 2 operation to the outside observer. An unscrupulous AV truck developer, for example, might claim their system Level 2, when in fact they are testing a Level 4 system across states that ban Level 4 testing without a permit.

Debate continues over whether the Levels themselves are a source of consumer confusion, whether the press misunderstands the SAE J3016, or whether developers abuse limitations for their own purposes. Perhaps it is all three.

But when Elon Musk says his cars are self-driving, or fully self-driving, he should be more careful. When he says the human is always responsible for Autopilot crashes, that is merely his desire. If he did a better and more consistent job of accurately explaining Autopilot’s limitations, the human driver would, in fact, have greater liability, and Tesla’s exposure would be a whole lot lower.

Autopilot Is Not Self-Driving

The real problem is that Elon Musk is bad at communicating a clear and consistent message of what Autopilot can and cannot do. It creates confusion for drivers, and that raises the danger for everyone on or near the streets. This 60 Minutes piece did not help.

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Why does Elon not like the SEC? ›

"I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them." The SEC had sued him for sending "misleading tweets" that "led to significant market disruption." Most famously, Musk tweeted that he was "considering taking Tesla private at $420." He claimed he had the "funding secured" to do so. The SEC alleged he didn't.

What did Elon Musk say about working in the office? ›

Tesla CEO Elon Musk enacted a strict return-to-office policy this spring, informing employees suddenly by email on May 31 that they would need to “spend a minimum of forty hours in the office per week.” Anything else, he suggested, was “phoning it in.”

What is Elon Musk philosophy? ›

In a September 2021 tweet, Musk claimed he preferred to "stay out of politics" while adding he believes the government "should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness"—a viewpoint which can best be described as libertarian.

Who is Elon Musk wife? ›

Elon Musk

Did Elon Musk break SEC laws? ›

Elon Musk made $156 million by breaking SEC rules - The Washington Post.

Who is suing Elon Musk and why? ›

Tesla is being sued by plaintiff Richard J. Tornetta, who says that the company was wrong in awarding Musk his compensation package in 2018, which shareholders approved at the time. Tesla said at the time it could be worth nearly $56 billion, and the net value today is $50.9 billion.

What is the answer to the Elon Musk question? ›

A correct answer is the North Pole. Musk would then ask: “Where else could it be?” Today's first puzzle was that one: where else could it be? There are an infinite number of places near the South Pole where walking a mile south, west and north returns you to exactly where you started.

What is Elon Musk's famous quote? ›

"Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster." "When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world." "I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems ... It's got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious."

What keeps Elon Musk motivated? ›

“I'm motivated by curiosity more than anything, and just a desire to think about the future and not be sad,” he said in the interview. “I'm sometimes sad, but I'm mostly feeling, I guess, relatively optimistic about the future these days. There are certainly some big risks that humanity faces.

What is Elon Musk personality? ›

As an INTJ, Elon tends to be confident, analytical, and ambitious. Elon is likely an independent thinker focused on solving the world's problems.

What makes Elon Musk special? ›

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has achieved global fame as the chief executive officer (CEO) of electric automobile maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and the private space company SpaceX. Musk co-founded PayPal (PYPL), was an early investor in several tech companies, and in October 2022 completed a deal to take Twitter Inc. private.

Does Elon Musk pay his ex wife? ›

An amicable separation

It has also been reported that part of the financial settlement includes Musk giving Riley $16 million in cash and various other assets. Based on a prenuptial agreement, the divorce papers state the property will be split.

Who is Elon Musk so rich? ›

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, ranked as the world's wealthiest person by both Forbes and the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, last year explained that the secret to his wealth is simple: "I own 20% of a company that became very valuable."

How much money did Elon Musk give his wife? ›

“Prior to the divorce trial that she lost in early May, I had offered her more than double that number as a settlement, which is roughly equivalent to a pre tax income of $80 million.

What rule did Elon Musk break? ›

The complaint in New York federal court accuses Musk of violating a regulatory deadline to reveal he had accumulated a stake of at least 5 percent. Instead, according to the complaint, Musk didn't disclose his position in Twitter until he'd almost doubled his stake to more than 9 percent.

How much was Elon Musk fined? ›

The market-moving 2018 tweet resulted in a $40m fine from the SEC, as well as an agreement that Musk would step down as chairman of the Tesla board.

What NDA did Elon Musk violate? ›

The social media giant's complaint, per Musk: that he violated its NDA “by revealing the bot check sample size is 100,” he tweeted. “This actually happened,” he tweeted, regarding the call. Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100!

Can you sue Elon Musk? ›

Employees could sue Musk over layoffs.

If Musk does mass layoffs before filing a required notice under the WARN Act, employees could sue, as they did at Tesla. (The law requiring the disclosure has exceptions, like unforeseen business circumstances.)

Did they sue Elon Musk? ›

Twitter has sued Elon Musk to compel him to buy the social media company for $44 billion – a deal the world's richest person said last week he was calling off. The lawsuit, filed in Delaware's Court of Chancery on Tuesday, accuses Musk of hypocrisy and bad faith in breaching his contract with Twitter.

Why did Tesla Sue Elon Musk? ›

June 17 (Reuters) - A Tesla Inc (TSLA. O) shareholder sued the electric car maker, Chief Executive Elon Musk and its board, accusing them of neglecting to tackle complaints about workplace discrimination and harassment, and engendering a "toxic workplace culture."

Is Elon Musk a problem solver? ›

Elon Musk has been instrumental in building three revolutionary, multibillion-dollar companies in completely different fields. His ability to solve seemingly unsolvable problems is essential to his success and he attributes his problem-solving success to first-principles thinking.

Where in the world can you walk 1 mile north 1 mile east then 1 mile south and end up where you started? ›

You're at the North Pole. It wouldn't matter how many miles east or west you walk, as long as you walk one mile south, and one mile north, you'll end up returning to the same place. You are standing on the surface of Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north.

What is Elon Musk goal for humanity? ›

Elon Musk, focused on man's colonisation of Mars

Musk has set a target date of 2024 or 2026 for man's arrival on the moon and 2029 for Mars. "I would be happy if humanity has a self-sustaining city on Mars because then, probable lifespan of humanity is much greater," Musk said.

When something is important enough you do it meaning? ›

If doing or accomplishing something is very important to you, you'll do it no matter what. Even if the odds are against you, you'll give it your all and the only thing on your mind would be accomplishing that goal. If we start considering everything as important as that goal, nothing and no one will be able to stop us.

What is Elon Musk famous question? ›

You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?

How much is Elon Musk worth? ›

With an estimated net worth of around $181 billion as of November 18, 2022, Musk is the wealthiest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and Forbes's real-time billionaires list.

How does Elon Musk inspire people? ›

His ability to be passionate and also persistent to keep going forward even after multiple failures sets him apart from most. Elon Musk is an inspiration because of his ability to be passionate and persistent at the same time. He is always optimistic and not afraid to take risks, even after multiple failures.

Is Elon Musk a motivational leader? ›

Elon Musk's leadership style, transformational leadership, focuses on creating real positive change in the world. This type of leader is action-oriented. Instead of sitting around and philosophizing about how to change the world, they outline and execute a strategy that makes their vision a reality.

Is Elon Musk a narcissistic person? ›

Musk's behavior has become increasingly narcissistic, controlling and concerning of late; when combined with increasing financial losses, a weak board of directors and execution concerns, Tesla needs to ensure that it doesn't follow Better Place's path.

What skills do Elon Musk have? ›

His expertise ranges from rocket science, engineering, construction, tunneling, physics, and artificial intelligence to solar power and energy. In a previous article, I call people like Elon Musk modern polymaths.

What habits does Elon Musk have? ›

Musk, who typically goes to bed around 3 a.m. and is awake by 9:30 a.m., said his smartphone habit is somewhat born out of anxiety. He wants to ensure he didn't miss any company emergencies while he slept.

Is Elon Musk introverted? ›

Elon Musk is a self-proclaimed introvert entrepreneur. There is a common misconception that only extroverts can succeed in business.

Is Elon Musk confident? ›

On the other hand, Elon Musk has such unshakeable confidence in himself and his capabilities that he uses his own money to finance his projects.

How is Elon Musk a good CEO? ›

There's a reason for that: Musk is a highly-inspiring leader. While some of his ideas are unattainable, he has the ability to get people excited about his ambitions, projects, and plans. “The thing that makes Elon Elon is his ability to make people believe in his vision,” said Dolly Singh, the former HR head at SpaceX.

How good is Elon Musk? ›

If anything, Elon Musk was an above average self-taught coder that used his skills to propel his entrepreneurial career. While Musk was a good enough coder to get his original projects off the ground, they later needed to be re-written by other engineers to properly scale the businesses.

Is Elon Musk self made? ›

Elon Musk: Biography of a Self-Made Visionary, Entrepreneur and Billionaire.

What is Elon Musk 1 day income? ›

His one-day wealth gain - ₹2,71,50,00,000,000.

Why does Elon Musk use IVF? ›

The Tesla mogul and his former wife, author Justine Wilson, welcomed son Nevada Alexander Musk in 2002. Nevada died of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, at only 10 weeks. After losing their firstborn, Musk and Wilson turned to IVF to grow their family.

What is Elon Musk CEO salary? ›

Elon Musk, Tesla: $23.5 billion

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Who is the richest person ever? ›

Who was the richest person ever? The richest person ever is thought to have been an emperor with an accumulation of wealth often described as “unimaginable” or “incalculable.” The title goes to 14th-century African emperor Mansa Musa, and his wealth has been estimated to be the modern day equivalent of $400 billion.

What happened between Elon Musk and SEC? ›

The SEC later said the funding had, in fact, not been secured and sued Musk for misleading investors. Musk eventually settled with the SEC for $20 million and gave up his position as chairman of Tesla (TSLA).

What did Elon say about SEC? ›

At a time when Tesla shares were on a massive upswing, Musk had written in a tweet on July 2, 2020: “SEC, three letter acronym, middle word is Elon's.”

What did the SEC do to Tesla? ›

SEC v.

A settlement was eventually reached anyway with stiffer penalties than the original agreement. Musk agreed, in the settlement reached on September 29, to step down as chairman of Tesla and pay a $20 million fine. Tesla also agreed to pay a separate $20 million penalty, according to the SEC.

Why is the SEC Investigating Tesla? ›

Activist investor group asks SEC to investigate Tesla over plan to shrink board. Activist investors SOC Investment Group asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Tesla over plans to shrink its board size and eliminate a slot for an independent director.

Who owns the Tesla? ›

Tesla, Inc.
Gigafactory Texas, Tesla headquarters in Austin, Texas
Total assetsUS$62.1 billion (2021)
Total equityUS$30.2 billion (2021)
OwnerElon Musk (14%)
Number of employees110,000 (April 2022)
22 more rows

What is Tesla's weakness? ›

Tesla's Weaknesses

Many buyers seek Tesla items because of its brand image. Musk, on the other hand, has other businesses to run, and running Tesla on his own is a difficult task. Manufacturing issues: Tesla vehicles have been in the headlines for being involved in accidents as a result of being driven autonomously.

Who is Tesla's enemy? ›

The Serbian-American scientist was a brilliant and eccentric genius whose inventions enabled modern-day power and mass communication systems. His nemesis and former boss, Thomas Edison, was the iconic American inventor of the light bulb, the phonograph and the moving picture.

What is Tesla's main problem? ›

There have been hundreds of reports of sudden unintended acceleration, brake failures, and "whompy wheels" – collapsing wheels due to faulty car suspension. These safety and quality problems have been compounded by the poor wait times of Tesla's customer service.

Why Tesla was kicked out of the S&P? ›

The index provider cited concerns related to working conditions and Tesla's handling of an investigation into deaths and injuries linked to its driver-assistance systems. A lack of low-carbon strategy and codes of business conduct also counted against Musk's company, it said.

Does Tesla use radar or camera? ›

Safety is at the core of our design and engineering decisions. In 2021, we began our transition to Tesla Vision by removing radar from Model 3 and Model Y, followed by Model S and Model X in 2022. Today, in most regions around the globe, these vehicles now rely on Tesla Vision, our camera-based Autopilot system.

Why is Tesla removed from S&P? ›

As Head of ESG Indices Margaret Dorn explains in a blog post, Musks' electric automaker has been removed from the index “due to its low S&P DJI ESG Score”, which reflects Tesla's (lack of) low carbon strategy and (poor) codes of business conduct.


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