On Wednesday last week, Elon musk gave a presentation in which he said "Writing an article that’s negative, you’re effectively dissuading people from using autonomous vehicles, you’re killing people".
That's rich, coming from someone who's company is building cars that are killing people. And in my case, consider me firmly on that dissuasion bandwagon, and I'm very proud of it.
He went on to compare the accident stats of self-driving cars to those of human-driven cars. The problem is, that's irrelevant.
Spouting statistics without a frame of reference means nothing. If we were all driving in straight lines, on well-painted roads, in the middle of the day, in the dry, with no road construction or intersections, the accident rate for human-driven cars would be exactly the same as it is for Tesla's cars. But in the real world we don’t have that luxury, and Musk chooses to ignore that simple (but extremely important) fact.
The other fact he chooses to ignore is that the number of self-driving cars is miniscule so choosing an accident statistic that compares deaths to population is stupid. 10 deaths per 1,000,000 population is 0.01% - sure. And one crash in 25,000 autopilot-equipped cars is 0.0025%. But those are not the metrics to use. The metrics should be deaths per passenger mile driven vs deaths per passenger miles driven in self-driving mode, and because those stats simply are not available, you simply can't make a comparison.
Self-driving cars are not ready for prime-time yet. They can’t handle rain, autumn (leaves on the sensors), snow, ice, merging on and off freeways, road construction, pedestrians, misplaced street furniture, pot-holes, trees, large trucks (apparently) and a dozen other things.
There's a reason more attention is paid to deaths in self-driving cars - because they're new, they're very high profile, and they prove that Musk's claims about accident-free driving are bullshit. In the real world we all know this, but on planet Musk, he lives in a bubble of distorted reality. Musk continues to insist that his autopilot is in beta. A car capable of killing someone is not something that should be being beta tested on the open public. It's not an iPhone. Being flippant and glib about his customer's lives is even more reason to steer clear of Musk and his products.
I imagine once he's killed a bunch of astronauts with one of his spacecraft, he'll be critical of the media for dissuading people from space tourism too.
The more Musk speaks, the more I hate him and his company.