Tag Archives: Elon Musk

Elon Musk Requires ‘FSD’ Demo For Every Prospective Tesla Buyer In North America

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is now requiring employees to install and show customers how to use the latest version of the company’s premium driver assistance system, which is marketed as “FSD” or Full Self-Driving, before completing a vehicle delivery in North America, CNBC reported.

“Going forward, it is mandatory in North America to install and activate FSD V12.3.1 and take customers on a short test ride before handing over the car,” Musk wrote in an email to staffers on Monday. “Almost no one actually realizes how well (supervised) FSD actually works. I know this will slow down the delivery process, but it is nonetheless a hard requirement.”

Bloomberg first reported on Musk’s email, which was also viewed by CNBC.

While all new Tesla vehicles have a standard driver assistance system installed called Autopilot, the company’s FSD option costs $199 per month for most customers in North America.

Tesla’s FSD system does not turn cars into autonomous vehicles. According to Tesla owners’ manuals, drivers must remain attentive to the road and ready to steer or brake at any time when using FSD or FSD Beta.

TechCrunch reported Tesla is about to start giving every customer in the U.S. a one-month trial of its $12,000 driver-assistance system, which it calls Full Self-Driving Beta, provided they have a car with the compatible hardware. The company is also reportedly mandating, at CEO Elon Musk’s request, that prospective buyers are given a demo of the software before they purchase a new Tesla.

The full-court press to promote FSD Beta software, an upgraded version of the Autopilot system that comes standard in all Tesla vehicles, is happening at an interesting moment for the company. It’s the end of the first quarter of 2024, and Tesla usually pulls out all the stops — including having executives help deliver cars to customers — to meet or beat its sales goals.

According to TechCrunch, tempting customers with a new incentive could be one way to boost sales, although it could backfire if prospective customers are turned off by Tesla adding extra steps to its usually streamlined buying process.

To enjoy Tesla’s FSD technology, you’d have to pay $12,000 to unlock it on top of what you paid for the car itself. It comes with all of the company’s Autopilot features, as well as the ability to use auto steer on city streets and to activate your vehicle’s capability to identify stop signs and traffic lights so it can automatically slow your vehicle to a stop on approach, Engadget reported

Still, $12,000 is a big chunk of money. If you’re on the fence about shelling out that much, Tesla might be hoping that the demonstration could give you the push you need to make you say yes.

In my opinion, I think it is likely that people who really want to buy a Tesla will attempt to come to come up with the money for the FSD beta software. That said, having to pay $12,000 on top of the Tesla itself, could be difficult for those unable to throw around that amount of money.

Musk’s X Corp Loses Lawsuit Against Hate Speech Watchdog

A U.S. judge on Monday threw out Elon Musk’s lawsuit against a nonprofit group that faulted him for allowing a rise in hate speech on his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Reuters reported.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco said it was “evident” that Musk’s X Corp sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) because he didn’t like its criticism, and thought its research would hurt X’s image and scare away advertisers.

“X Corp has brought this case in order to punish CCDH for CCDH publications that criticized X Corp — and perhaps in order to dissuade others who might wish to engage in such criticism, Breyer wrote.

“It is impossible to read the complaint and not conclude that X Corp is far more concerned about CCDH’s speech than it is its data collection methods,” he added.

X, in a statement, said it plans to appeal.

According to Reuters, the decision is a blow to Musk, the world’s third-richest person, who has for many years styled himself as a free-speech champion.

But since paying $44 billion for Twitter in October 2022, he has faced wide criticism for firing too many people who policed misinformation, and from civil rights groups for allowing more harmful and abusive posts.

Engadget reported a judge has dismissed a lawsuit from X against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit that researches hate speech on the Elon Musk-owned platform. In the decision, the judge said that the lawsuit was an attempt to “punish” the organization for criticizing the company.

X sued the CCDH last summer, accusing the group of “scraping” its platform as part of a “scare campaign” to hurt its advertising business. The group had published research claiming X was failing to act on reports of hate speech, and was in some cases boosting such content.

In a ruling, federal judge Charles Breyer said that “this case is about punishing” CCDH for publishing unflattering research. “It is clear to the Court that if X Corp was indeed motived to spend money in response to CCDH’s scraping in 2023, it was not because of the harm such scraping posed to the X platform, but because of the harm it posed to X Corp’s image,” Breyer wrote. “X Corp’s motivation in bringing this case is evident. X Corp has brought this case in order to punish CCDH for CCDH publications that criticized X Corp – and perhaps in order to dissuade others.”

The Verge reported the CCDH is an organization aimed at identifying and pushing back against hate speech online. Last year, the CCDH found that X didn’t address hateful content posted by 99 percent of premium users and that the platform failed to take swift action against over 200 blatantly racist and antisemitic posts.

In my opinion, the judge made the correct ruling regarding X Corp. and its failure to remove racist and antisemitic posts. Perhaps Mr. Musk wouldn’t be in this situation if he had not fired so many Twitter workers.

Elon Musk Says xAI Will Open Source Grok This Week

Elon Musk’s AI startup xAI will open source Grok, its chatbot rivaling ChatGPT, this week, the entrepreneur said, days after suing OpenAI and complaining that the Microsoft-backed startup had deviated from its open source roots, TechCrunch reported.

xAI released Grok last year, arming it with features including access to “real-time” information and views undeterred by “politically correct” norms. The service is available to customers paying for X’s $16 monthly subscription.

Musk, who didn’t elaborate on what aspects of Grok he planned to open source, helped co-found OpenAI with Sam Altman nearly a decade ago as a counterweight to Google’s dominance in artificial intelligence. But OpenAI, which was required to make it’s technology “freely available” to the public, has become closed-source and shifted focus to maximizing profits for Microsoft, Musk alleged in the lawsuit filed last month.

According to Elon Musk, xAI will open source its Grok chatbot, Engadget reported. The founder of the company, whose AI assistant is available to Premium+ subscribers on X, hasn’t revealed any other details about the decision, which is slated to take effect this week.

It’s hardly the first time a Musk company has opened up access to its knowhow. Tesla open sourced its patents a decade a go, and now practically ever major car manufacturer has adopted its electric vehicle charging connector. X, meanwhile, published the code that powers its “For You” algorithmic feed last year, though we didn’t learn much from it.

Engadget also reported that The Wall Street Journal points out, Musk may be hoping that, by letting third-party developers and researchers dig into Grok’s code, there could be an increased uptake of the model. The developer community may also provide feedback that could be used to improve Grok.

After suing OpenAI this month, alleging the company has become too closed, Elon Musk will release his “truth-seeking” answer to ChatGPT, the chatbot Grok, for anyone to download and use,WIRED reported.

“This week @xAI will open source Grok,” Musk wrote on his social media platform, X today. That suggests his AI company, xAI will release the full code of Grok and allow anyone to use or alter it. By contrast, OpenAI makes a version of ChatGPT and the language model behind it is available to use for free but keeps its code private.

Musk has previously said little about the business model for Grok or xAI, and the chatbot was made available only to Premium subscribers to X. Having accused his OpenAI cofounders of reneging on a promise to give away the company’s artificial intelligence earlier this month, Musk may have felt he had to open source his own chatbot to show that he is committed to that vision.

It seems to me that Elon Musk is very interested in allowing Grok to become an open source application. Previously, Grok was available only to those who were paying a subscription fee on X. I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Musk was always intending to allow more people to use Grok, and whether or not that would come with a fee. 

Twitter Security Staff Kept Firm In Compliance By Disobeying Musk

Twitter employees prevented Elon Musk from violating the company’s privacy settlement with the US government, according to the Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, ArsTechnica reported.

After Musk bought Twitter in late 2022, he gave Bari Weiss and other journalists access to company documents in the so-called “Twitter Files” incident. The access given to outside individuals raised concerns that Twitter (which is currently named X) violated a 2022 settlement with the FTC, which has requirements designed to prevent repeats of previous security failures.

However, based on a concern that such an arrangement would risk exposing nonpublic user information in potential violation of the FTC’s order, longtime information security employees at Twitter intervened and implemented safeguards to mitigate the risks. Ultimately, the third-party individuals did not receive direct access to Twitter’s systems, but instead worked with other company employees who accessed the systems on the individual’s behalf.”

Here are some key parts of the letter the FTC sent to Chairman Jim Jordan:

“I am writing in further response to your April 12, 2023, letter requesting documents and information related to Twitter, in an additional effort to be responsive to your request. This letter addresses your questions regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of potential third-party access to the information of Twitter users. It also addresses your inquiry regarding the FTC’s review of Twitter’s numerous employee terminations and resignations…

…In early December 2022, media reports indicated Twitter had granted certain third-party individuals broad access to the company’s systems, communications, and other information. For example, one individual tweeted on December 8, 2022, “Our team was given extensive, unfiltered access to Twitter’s internal communications and systems.” Around the same time, another individual tweeted that “the authors have broad and expanding access to Twitter’s files.” Moreover, that same individual was reportedly given access to Twitter’s employee systems, to its Slack channel(s), and given a company laptop…

…You also queried why the FTC was looking into personnel decisions made at Twitter. According to X Corporation (Twitter), in the fall of 2022, the company undertook a rapid series of terminations, layoffs, or other reductions in its workforce. Numerous employees resigned during this time. These workforce reductions significantly impacted the Twitter teams charged with protecting user data. Key data privacy and security executives were gone, including the Chief Privacy Officer, the Chief Information Officer, and the Chief Compliance Officer. Simply put, there was no one left at the company responsible for interpreting and modifying data policies and practices to ensure Twitter was complying with the FTC’s Order to safeguard Americans’ personal data…”

Engadget reported that The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded Elon Musk ordered Twitter (now X) employees to take actions that would have violated an FTC consent decree regarding consumers’ data and privacy and security.

The FTC says it will continue to monitor X’s adherence to the order. “The order remains in place and the FTC continues to deploy the order’s tools to protect Twitter users’s data and ensures the company remains in compliance.”

In my opinion, it was an incredibly smart move for the Twitter employees to limit access for the journalists that Elon Musk selected for the “Twitter Files”. Imagine how bad Twitter would have become if those brave employees hadn’t stepped in!

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Implants Brain Tech In Human Patient For The First Time

Elon Musk’s neurotech startup Neuralink implanted its device in a human for the first time on Sunday, and the patient is “recovering well,” the billionaire said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday, CNBC reported.

The company is developing a brain implant that aims to help patients with severe paralysis control external technologies using only unreal signals. Neuralink began recruiting patients for its first in-human clinical trial in the fall after it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct the study back in May, according to a blog post.

Musk said Monday that Neuralink’s first product is called Telepathy, according to an X post.

If the technology functions properly, patients with severe degenerative diseases like ALS could someday use the implant to communicate or access social media by moving cursors and typing with their minds.

“Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer,” Musk wrote. “That is the goal.”

The in-human clinical trial marks just one step on Neuralink’s path toward commercialization. Medical device companies must go through several rounds of intense data safety collection and testing before securing final approval from the FDA.

Reuters reported that the first human patient has received an implant from brain-chip startup Neuralink on Sunday and is recovering well, the company’s billionaire founder Elon Musk said.

“Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” Musk said in a post on the social media platform X on Monday.

Spikes are activity by neurons, which the National Institute of Health describes as cells that use electrical and chemical signals to send information around the brain and to the body.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had given the company clearance last year to conduct its first trial to test it’s implant on humans, a critical milestone in the startup’s ambitions to help patients overcome paralysis and a host of other neurological conditions.

The study uses a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said previously, adding that its initial goal is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.

Engadget reported the identity of Neuralink’s first human trial subject hasn’t been made public. However, the company’s call for volunteers stipulates that trial participants must be within the U.S., over 18, and have a disability. Specifically, Neuralink is interested in implanting brain chips in people with “quadriplegia, paraplegia, vision loss, hearing loss, the inability to speak, and/or major limb amputation (affecting above or below the elbow and/or above or below the knee).”

Personally, I hope that the humans who have access to the Neuralink receive the best possible outcome. Previously to putting the chip into humans, the company implanted chips in monkeys – and that didn’t go well.

X To Be Investigated For Allegedly Breaking EU Laws On Hate Speech

The social media platform X, formerly Twitter, is being investigated for allegedly breaking EU law on disinformation, illegal content and transparency, the European Commission has announced, The Guardian reported.

The decision to launch formal infringement proceedings against the company, owned by the US billionaire Elon Musk, comes weeks after X was asked to provide evidence compliance with new laws designed to eliminate hate speech, racism, and fake news from platforms in the EU.

Under the Digital Services Act, which came into force in August, a company can be fined 6% of its global income or be banned from operating across the EU if it is found to have breached the law.

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to assess whether X may have breached the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency, and data access for researchers.

On the basis of the preliminary investigation conducted so far, including on the basis of an analysis of the risk assessment report submitted by X in September’s Transparency report published in 3 November, and X’s replies to a former request for information, which, among others, concerned the dissemination of illegal content in the context of Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel, the Commission decided to open formal infringement proceedings against X under the Digital Services Act.

The proceedings will focus on the following areas:

The compliance with the DSA obligations to countering dissemination of illegal content in the EU, notably in relation to the risk assessment and mitigation measures adopted by X to counter the dissemination of illegal content in the EU, as well as the functioning of the notice and action mechanism for illegal content in the EU mandate by the DSA, including in light of X’s content moderation resources.

The effectiveness of measures taken to combat information manipulation on the platform, notably the effectiveness of X’s so-called ‘Community Notes’ system in the EU and the effectiveness of related policies mitigating risks to civic discourse and electoral processes.

The measures taken by X to increase the transparency of its platform. The investigation concerns suspected shortcomings in giving researchers access to X’s publicly accessible data as mandated by Article 40 of the DSA, as well as its shortcomings in X’s ads repository.

A suspected deceptive design of the user interface, notably in relation to checkmarks linked to certain subscription products, the so-called Blue checks.

CNBC reported that the European Union has opened infringement proceedings into social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, over suspected failure to combat content disinformation and manipulation.

According to CNBC, it is the first probe under the Digital Services Act.

The bloc’s regulator, Thierry Breton said Monday that the move is in response to suspected breaches of X’s transparency obligations and its duties to counter illegal content and disinformation. It is also in response to what the EU calls a “deceptive” design of the user interface, relating to its so-called blue checks.

In my opinion, I am certain that the European Commission will push forward with its investigation of X, formerly known as Twitter. We will have to wait and see how this proceeding turns out.

Elon Musk Says X Will Show Headlines On The Platform Again

Elon Musk said that X, formerly Twitter, will start showing headlines in preview cards with URL’s on the platform again after removing titles last month, TechCrunch reported.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Musk said in an upcoming update, the company will overlay the title in the upper portion of the image of a URL Card. He didn’t mention any specific timeline for the rollout or give an example of what the card might look like.

According to TechCrunch, in August, the Tesla CEO said that X planned to stop showing titles with URL’s in “improved aesthetics.” The company stopped showing headlines in October after the announcement.

Because of this change, users had to tap on the URL card to actually know the title or read the headline. To get around this change, publishers started to write their own headlines on image and post the link separately or include the headline in the image of the generated preview card.

This change might make it easier for publications and not work on custom formats, but that completely depends on the layout of the new card.

Mashable reported that Twitter/X owner Elon Musk has announced the platform will reinstate headlines to link previews for articles. Musk removed automatic article headlines and their subhead text last month because he didn’t like how they looked.

The announcement came less than two hours after Musk himself inadvertently demonstrated how the removal of Twitter/X’s headline previews had severely reduced the platform’s functionality. Sharing a Reuters article about OpenAI, the beleaguered billionaire simply stated that it was “Extremely concerning!” – a statement rendered nonsensical without the link’s context.

According to Mashable, Twitter/X users immediately began roasting Musk for returning a feature many felt he never should have arbitrarily removed in the first place.

9to5Google reported that for years, Twitter/X has been a great source to not only witness breaking news (ie.the recent OpenAI drama), but also to get news from various outlets.

But when Elon Musk opted to remove headlines from link previews, it really took away the usefulness of sharing links on the platform. That is, on iOS and the web. Headlines were never removed from Twitter’s Android app.

Now, things are changing back. Elon Musk announced this week that Twitter/X will, “in an upcoming release,” put an “overlay title” on URL cards. In other words, tweets will start showing headlines again.

iPhoneInCanada  reported that the original change to the headlines on X posed a number of issues for the user base. As one can imagine, cutting headlines caused a lot of context to be lost when sharing articles. Thus, many began having to clarify and write out the headlines as part of the post’s text.

It also became a cause for concern when the legitimacy of some articles and the spread of misinformation became apparent thanks to the change.

In my opinion, Mr. Musk tends to try out new things on X, formerly Twitter, without really thinking through how those changes will affect users. The removal of headlines from news articles is a vivid example of why he shouldn’t be messing around with things.