Elon Predicts that in the Future People Will Demand No Human Drivers

Elon Musk Predicts that in the future people will demand that there be no human drivers. This will make it inevitable that steering wheels will be removed from safe full self-driving cars. The steering wheels will be removed.

Elon Musk believes that it is crazy to buy any car other than a Tesla. This is because a full self-driving car is far more valuable than a non-self-driving car. Tesla is the only car that is full self-driving hardware enabled at this time.

Elon expects to be feature complete with self-driving by the end of this year.
Tesla will be feature complete with self-driving which does not require driver attention by the middle of next year.
Tesla should start getting regulators in some jurisdictions to approve full self-driving which does not require driver attention towards the end of next year.
Regulators should be willing to approve truck platooning and other truck self-driving that is simpler use-cases ahead of wider approvals.

Elon Musk said the two crutches to self-driving that will in hindsight be obvious dead ends are LIDAR and high-definition maps.

61 thoughts on “Elon Predicts that in the Future People Will Demand No Human Drivers”

  1. My current boss was working on that.

    Well, a rival product with an even dumber name. Same idea though.

  2. The “hand over your wallets” and rely on the video works kind of OK for a simple robbery (though convenience stores have had video and silent alarms for decades now and they still get robbed with occasional deaths).

    Too bad if it’s a crazy killer. I’m old enough to remember the LA riots with video footage showing people stopping to not run people over and being dragged from their cars and beaten to death. And it was on video because I was watching it on TV.

  3. And given that about half of those customers were NOT available to a US computer exporter, things are even worse.
    Basically the USA and UK. Even Russia they’d be thinking long and hard about “Maybe we just generate the tables for them? No need to hand over our actual tech. And we’d need to send technicians to help operate it and they might never come back…”

  4. Technically insurance must cover damage done by the uninsured and hit and runs. So even if you are not at fault there is some $ being spent by you to cover people who will damage your car (or you) and basically escape from the consequences of their actions. So mass self driving adoption could lower rates beyond just the rate for your responsibility because these drivers could not hit and run, and would probably be made safer to boot.

    Maybe self driving cars will require inserting a drivers license to work. It shall be called a multipass.

  5. Heh, never heard of CueCat but, if I had, I might have looked for opportunity in it . . . but there is a big difference between looking for something and finding it. Even without the advantage of hindsight i doubt I would have seen much.

    .com bubble? The whole .com thing was great for me. I jumped ship from my old career when I first got to try out the WWW in the early 90’s. I looked for opportunities in it and found them. The .com thing made people eager to hire me, train me, and give me job experience. I did get laid off four times by companies that couldn’t stay solvent (9-11 was the cause of one of those) and each time I was working someplace else for more money before the severance pay even stopped. Life has been very good ever since. (Good thing, since all those .coms got me addicted to Aeron chairs for home and for work.)

    I also didn’t have any money invested in companies that didn’t even have a plan for making money so I did okay and, later, did much better. I wanted to buy Amazon so badly in 1998 I could taste it, but it wasn’t making money, so it evaded my opportunity search . . . for a time.

    Clerk (in 1998 at a big book store): Sir, we don’t have that book in stock but we can order it for you.
    Me: How long would that take?
    Clerk: Probably about a week, we could call you to come in when it arrives.
    Me: You realize I can go order that book off your website, or from Amazon at a better price, and I will have it delivered to my home far sooner than that?

  6. Right, a penny saved is a penny earned?

    Difference in definitions. A payoff is when you get more than you had, anything else is a loss.

    Spending pennies and wasting pennies aside, in the real world you have to do something with that penny. That’s called investing. Even if it’s just hiding it in a jar in your underwear drawer, that’s an investment decision, of a sort . . . usually a bad one, as inflation (without offsetting earnings) will pretty much automatically cause it to be a loss over time.

    The key is “looking for opportunities.” Looking for opportunities means trying to gain something, not lose something. Yes, people sometimes look for opportunities NOT to lose money, or to lose LESS money . . . but that’s not why so many homes these days have wifi.

    Never bought a laserdisc, or invested in it. I saw no opportunities there. I did get sucked into a Betamax VCR, once, when I was very young (and in California, where it ruled, for a time). Still very young, I actually wrote down what I had done wrong, and haven’t ever repeated that mistake with either consumer goods or, later, with investing.

    Yes, I am taking early retirement . . . because in both my career, and my investments, I looked for (and found) the opportunities created by new technologies to make more, a lot more, not just preserve what I had.

  7. I think what is anticipated here is that, once self-driving cars are safer than human drivers, the decision to manually drive will invoke strict liability and possibly punitive damages in the event of an accident.

    Like deliberately driving even though you know your brakes have failed, manually driving will be seen as reckless, and made expensive by the tort system.

  8. Yep, cars are dangerous. When my niece received her first shotgun at the age of 14; I congratulated her on having the second most dangerous piece of equipment she would ever operate. She took a minute and then realized “You’re talking about cars”

    F = m*a and cars have a big m . We also use them a lot more so we have more chances to screw up.

    Personally, I would love a fully automated car, just to get rid of 90-120 minutes of dead time behind the wheel each day. I still disagree with Musk on only using cameras for sensors, I would argue that a fully autonomous car needs redundant, overlapping multi-spectrum sensor suites.

    Also, how do I go off-roading without a steering wheel?

  9. Off topic but I think Watson is grossly hard done by in that comment.

    Thomas J. Watson Jr. of I.B.M. is said to have opined in 1943 that, “I think there is a world market for about five computers.”

    Well… in 1943 he was right. Remember that the world was in rather unusual circumstances at that point in time. And a 1943 computer was NOT a MacBook.

    Let’s expand out what he said.
    “I think that, in the middle of world war, where even half our allies are primitive brutal dictatorships that we trust about as far as we could throw them, that a vast, building sized factory that chews half a power station worth of electricity, needs constant care by a staff of trained professionals, and a stream of delicate replacement electronic components, and is used to generate artillery tables, logistics calculations and mmumble mumble code mumble…. Well we’d only be using about 5 of those.”

  10. Well individual street crime from the USA is not going to make headlines in my country.

    Conspiracy theory: Such crimes are actually sponsored by the taxi companies who have been arguing for years that only their corporate screening policies are able to detect criminals.

  11. Current insurance premiums cover the expected damage done by a human driver.

    In a future where other (machine) drivers are more skilled, why would the few remaining human drivers be causing more destruction than they are right now?

    So: If human drivers cause as much damage as they do now, then premiums should stay the same (because premiums are about equal to expected value of damage).

    If every other vehicle on the road being safer means that you are now driving in a safer environment, then your premiums should go DOWN, because the expected damage goes down.

    The only reason premiums would go UP is if, now that all the robocars have better-than-formula-one level driving ability, the speed limits are doubled with half the following distance.

  12. Google docs censoring private files

    People having their movements made public because they didn’t read the terms and conditions carefully enough

    So called “accidental” data breaches revealing the misbehaviour of millions.

  13. It’s not justifiable just because there is a magical label in the US under which legions are freely maimed and/or slaughtered.
    Everyone has a right to not be butchered by another, not through intent nor the occasional goof.

  14. While I agree that it is an ugly statistic, and more needs to be done to dramatically reduce the deaths in automobile accidents, it is inaccurate to label them all as “vehicular manslaughter”. You should also list the region such as “in the US”, if that is what you meant.

    If you drive into a tree or off a cliff, how can that be characterized as manslaughter? It is just an accident or possibly a suicide…even murder-suicide sometimes, if there were innocent passengers.

    In any case, manslaughter in the context of automobiles in the US requires negligence or incompetence, or worse…and it has to be the other guy who dies. Plenty of negligent or incompetent cause a fatal accidents hitting other automobiles where they are the only fatality…though it never seems that way.

    I am not saying every life is not valuable. And everyone makes a goof now and then. Most of the time it does not result in an accident. Screw-up enough or have bad luck though, and very bad things can happen.

  15. I wonder how much grandfathering we’re going to get away with.

    And yeah modern automotive performance is pretty awesome in almost any respect. Each decade has shifted the goal posts out of the stadium. Can you imagine e.g. a world champ from the 50s or 60s magically teleported into the cockpit of the latest c.2020 racing machines?
    We could also compare the leading edge of sports cars and motorcycles each of those decades with the current equivalent pound-for-pound and power-for-power. Go back far enough and something like a subcompact 4-banger $htbox worth less than 15 or 20k new will match or best what used to be record-setting.

  16. That sounds plausible but I guess I’m biased by very low expectations from majority of drivers/people.

    Where I live currently there’s a segregation of drivers – drivers of sporty vehicles and everyone else. The “idiot drivers” are not at all underrepresented among sporty vehicle population, and tend to crash and burn harder per capita than idiot drivers of “normal” vehicles. So the insurance is much higher for sporty vehicles.
    I’m not sure if I understood perfectly what you argued, but that seems to be the opposite of what you described.

  17. But what I replied to was the apparent prediction that there’ll be something akin to cryptojacking pandemic among the public; in part because of how much easy money it promises. State level hacking is a whole other animal at the other end of the zoo.

    I still think the former is a somewhat future shocked “there’s no market for more than 2 computers in the whole world” type of prediction.
    Consider the very specific suggestion as framed above:
    <<car companies are deep pockets and will be sued for millions for each accident. I can see people deliberately targeting computer driven cars for a big pay day.>>
    And compare for instance the not quite similar but still comparable insurance fraud claims of people (typically pedestrians) feigning collisions. IIRC Russia has dash cams everywhere in good part because of that.


  18. << Debbie Barham of the Evening Standard quipped that the CueCat “fails to solve a problem which never existed.” >>

  19. “Society should never bow to the tyranny of the irrational and the inept.”

    You obviously don’t live in Seattle.

  20. “I don’t know what I’d guess at, as final steady state of things after the dust settles, but I reckon insurance premiums will drive most people to accept giving up control of their vehicle inside of increasingly large human-prohibited areas.”

    Only if you are an idiot driver. Insurance premiums can’t go below zero so you will pay at most your current rate. In fact even if you drive a human controlled car you will see insurance rates go down as bad drivers move to self driving cars and your rates go down due to a form of herd immunity.

  21. The advent of full self-driving cars will empower society to revoke the licensees it should, but isn’t, because driving is so fundamental to livelihood and quality of life. One DUI and that is it. Reckless driving? You are out of here. You are the clear cause of an accident with significant injuries? License shredded.

    Cars are dangerous things. They should involve appropriate accountability, not just insured liability, where there are limited consequences.

    And as annoying as it is, age can become a factor. We need better tests for peripheral vision and reaction time.

  22. It’s hardly surprising the coming generation aren’t into cars, when CAFE has forced the cars to look like knockoffs of each other. You’re into some mighty expensive cars before the styling gets to be excitingly distinctive. Even the Corvettes are kind of boring looking now. (Though the performance is phenomenal. My Nisan Altima is more of a sportscar that that late 60’s T-top Corvette I’ve lusted after most of my life.)

    My point is that, while I’m “into” cars, the aging population is going to see self-driving cars as a Godsend.

  23. It might be like me, I barely recall those because statistically they arent important. If it leads it bleeds is not my thing usually. There is some truth in the statement: a single death is a tragedy, millions are statistics.

  24. Then you as a passenger shoot them. Or give up your wallets, and have them caught because the AI called for police help, and is transmitting live to 911.

  25. I know one of them, but I cant find a link. I remember a article on it where they hunted one person down based on his tracking data, and interviewed him with his permission. And the amount of data you could pull out was amazing.

    To get an idea of what you could see……
    Launch Google Maps.
    Tap the more button (three horizontal lines) on the top left corner.
    Tap your timeline.
    Tap the calendar icon to view a particular day.
    Swipe left or right to switch months.
    Tap a date to view your location history.

  26. How’s your Laserdisc investment going?

    Lot’s of technologies don’t go anywhere. Avoiding a bad investment is a payoff.

  27. I’m not sure if you’re arguing for or against or only adding your perspective to the argument, but I agree with everything you said. I would add that I’ve heard a lot of the latest generation don’t really seem to be (generally, statistically speaking) into cars. That there’s a trend of treating them like people-moving appliances. Which would jive with what I suggested above.

    More of that context in a particular segment of the automotive population that’s definitely going to feel such sea changes.

    I will concede for the sake of transparency that I’m a motorcyclist myself.

  28. When will self driving cars be able to handle bad conditions eg: a blizzard.
    The only videos I have seen, of cars driving without a human controlling them have been on dry pavement in sunny weather.
    I haven’t seen any such videos in the last several months, are there now some that show self driving cars in less than ideal conditions?

  29. People tend to react to technological change in one of three ways. 1) They ignore it (or try to), 2) they actively oppose it, and 3) they look for opportunities in it.

    Only one of those ways ever seems to pay off.

  30. Seriously? I’m 60. I have had one traffic ticket in my entire life, (Left turn between the wrong hours; I wasn’t wearing a watch.) and never been in an accident that I caused. Poster boy for manual control of cars.


    My reflexes are clearly slowing, my peripheral vision is suffering since the cataract surgery, and I’ve had a few near misses that have forced me to alter my driving style to be more conservative. (And never mind that guy behind me honking because I’m not turning right on red!)

    Am I interested in a self-driving car? Sure, I am. Got a lot of company in this, I’m guessing.

  31. So these self driving vehicles will presumably be programed to stop if a person walks into the road & blocks the lane, right? So what if some masked criminal(s) does that, then pulls a gun out and demands the passengers toss their wallets off to the side; or worse get out of the vehicle? That sort of thing is risky for criminals now, since the driver could run them over, but without that risk I bet criminals would get a lot more daring. Bit of an edge case, but at least worth considering.

  32. “I can see people deliberately targeting computer driven cars for a big pay day.” Then they haven’t thought it trough, his/her actions will be recorded on the autonomous car cameras. In court the company will send it’s army of lawyers, and the idiot will have to pay for the damages.

  33. I’ve pointed out for many years that one of the conditions required for self driving cars to become reality will be some kind of changes to insurance/liability laws that remove the possibility that people would be able to treat the car manufacturers as ATMs.

    I don’t know what the exact form of the changes will be, and it won’t be easy to devise rules or laws that both protect responsible car manufacturers and don’t let sloppy car manufacturers off the hook.

    There probably won’t be a perfect solution (there rarely is), but I expect something reasonable can be worked out.

  34. That seems odd. Have you not seen any of the several reports of women being sexually assaulted by Uber drivers, or men who hang around popular Uber pick up points, pretending to be Uber drivers? And just a week or two ago, in, I believe North or South Carolina, a woman got into what she thought was the Uber she had ordered, and was found dead a day or two later (and her blood was in the guy’s car).

    I don’t focus on those kind of incidents, but I can’t help but notice the reports from time to time. You must have a pretty effective filter on your news bubble. I wonder what you are missing that would be important to you.

  35. The point being that the hacker is able to make the lights turn green, or stay green, whereas otherwise they’d be red.

  36. Cut tip, then cut fare, then walk out, then walk out and report to dispatch? I’ve actually never had a driver myself, that was worth punching in the face or anything.

    I keep wondering if those Uber and fake-Uber victims carried tear gas or a taser, and if not if it would’ve changed anything.

  37. I don’t know what I’d guess at, as final steady state of things after the dust settles, but I reckon insurance premiums will drive most people to accept giving up control of their vehicle inside of increasingly large human-prohibited areas. Eventually you get to a tipping point. For instance look at motorcycles today. An almost inarguably marginalized and maligned minority to most other humans on the road.

    Today smoking is a PITA to most people and most smokers understand and accomodate this status quo. Compare with a few decades ago.

  38. Or, maybe you aren’t seeing anyone PUBLICIZE such hacks, because the last thing they’d want is everyone finding out about it.

    Meanwhile, hackers go on cruising through green lights and you are none the wiser.

  39. That sounds like future shock. Currently there’s no real pandemic of traffic lights hacks or remote control hacks of major/total drive-by-wire vehicles.

  40. As if the number of illegal things you do will ever decrease.

    Big tech companies are introducing new “laws” all the time.

    Were you using banned words while talking in the car or close enough for the voice recognition system to hear you anyway? Well what happened when people used “racial slurs” in their private documents on the cloud based Google docs?

    Were you spending too many trips going to the local right wing political party meetings? To “overly monochrome” “no female members” golf clubs? To Church? Somehow there was a “mysterious data breach” and 15 million people had their travel “heat maps” released into the wild. Sorry about that.

    New Car-Face social media has an “opt-out” policy so if you didn’t notice the email you got 3 months ago there is now a public record of everywhere you go, with a photo.

    Note: I’ve not made anything up here. This is all stuff that has already happened, just not with self driving cars. Yet.

  41. Even if computers can drive cars ten times safer than people, car companies are deep pockets and will be sued for millions for each accident. I can see people deliberately targeting computer driven cars for a big pay day.

  42. 37,133(2017) instances vehicular manslaughter a year is more than enough butchery to tolerate.

    It’s one thing if you could guarantee that you would only damage your own property, maim or kill yourself, but you cant.

    Society should never bow to the tyranny of the irrational and the inept.

  43. What about getting around construction sites and the like? How am I going to tell my vehicle to pull up to that next trench or whatever?

  44. Probably the car will still start and not drive you to the police station. it is like you board a bus or an airplane. They will wait for you at the destination point and disable all the vehicles in the area. On the other hand, there will be less illegal things you can do in a car.

    1. having an open alcholol containr
    2. distracted driving
    3. DUI
    4. dangerous driving
    5. road rage (you can yell but nobody will be looking at you)
  45. That depends. Will your steering-wheel devoid car auto-deliver you to the authorities if you make some infraction and the car notices?

    Will it betray you and mooch on you as soon as you board it, if there is an arrest warrant against you?

    If the lack of manual mode goes against people’s selfish interest, then people will demand for it to stay, or they’ll buy something else.

    The only way I see full automation happening is if the state mandates all driving to be automated and performed by potential traitorware, but then we’ll know where we stand.

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