Tesla AI leader Andrej Karpathy Has Left the Company
Tesla has laid off 229 employees working on auto-pilot
JULY 14, 2022 - 1:30 PM MONTREAL, CANADA
Elon Musk has made a lot of promises in recent years about Tesla’s ability to roll out FSD, full-self-driving vehicles. Some analysts like Cathie Wood have even called Tesla an A.I. company when it appears to be in the business of car manufacturing.
Tesla is laying off 229 data annotation employees who are part of the company’s larger Autopilot team and is shuttering the San Mateo, California office where they worked, according to a California regulatory filing.
Including those is now Tesla’s head of AI, Andrej Karapthy.
The San Mateo office employed 276 workers. The remaining 47 employees may be sent to work in Tesla’s Buffalo Autopilot office, according to sources familiar with the matter. Layoffs at Tesla are more significant than many have been reporting.
Andrej has been a pretty important member of Tesla’s AI team. Tesla’s AI leader Andrej Karpathy announced on Wednesday that he is leaving the company. As Elon Musk claims Tesla is getting into genera purpose robots, it seems a very odd time for Karpathy to quit or be fired. Karpathy worked for Elon Musk’s electric vehicle venture for about five years and led its Autopilot efforts. I feel as if there is more to the story.
A team of senior machine learning scientists and engineers reported directly to Karpathy, who had recently taken a months-long sabbatical from Tesla. It’s very suspicious, what does it all mean?
The layoffs come on the heels of other cuts and during a time of increased scrutiny of Autopilot by regulators and lawmakers. - Gizmodo
In March, 2022, Tesla fired an employee after he posted driverless tech reviews on YouTube. John Bernal was a Tesla employee who showed FSD Beta to the world on his YouTube channel, AI Addict. He was fired in February. Many people and users have been prevented from sharing problems with FSD, for legal reasons by Tesla.
But the departure of Karpathy is problematic for Tesla’s credibility. Andrej Karpathy, senior director in charge of AI and computer vision at Tesla, announced that he is leaving the automaker. It is a big loss for Tesla’s Autopilot team and self-driving effort. The idea that Tesla is a technology company and not just an auto-manufacturer has fueled an incredible stock bubble for Tesla and EV stocks during the 2020 stock market bubble.
Karpathy joined Tesla more than five years ago as a neural net and computer vision expert. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a big part of Tesla’s Autopilot team and the automaker’s effort to develop a full self-driving system. So why would he leave or be let go? Media outlets are claiming he resigned.
Karpathy isn’t technically part of the statistic in the 3.5 percent workforce that Musk wants to layoff. But there are questions around how Tesla is operating. Including of course the long-term viability of its approach to FSD.
Why is it concerning for investors and tech watchers like me? In 2019, Musk raised billions of dollars for Tesla by promising investors the company would have 1 million “robotaxi ready” cars on the road by the end of 2020. He also warned investors in 2019, “Sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.” Of course Elon Musk usually had made promises for Tesla or SpaceX with unrealistic dates he does not meet, it’s a real pattern.
According to Bloomberg, the majority of these employees were reportedly low-wage workers working to analyze Autopilot’s massive collection of real-time driving data through data labeling and other techniques. It’s unlikely Karpathy would feel bad for them, per se.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, previously mentioned layoffs at the electric carmaker were likely, but it was unknown whether they would come from within the Autopilot division, one of the company’s most vaunted areas for future growth.
Before Karpathy, former Apple executive Chris Lattner occupied the role, for a short six-month stint. Since taking over the role in 2017, Karpathy has overseen the development of the Tesla autopilot feature. We can speculate it has been a failure to some extent, otherwise why would Karpathy resign?
Bloomberg first reported that the company is gutting part of its Autopilot department. It’s all a bit shocking to be honest.
A large part of Twitter is also pretty skeptical about this.
While Elon Musk does his sales pitches, or on Twitter, for serious academics it must be hard to reconcile.
The timing for Tesla’s investors is a huge red flag, I’m with them on this angle.
It’s 2022 and still no real FSD.
Amidst the departure of former Tesla Director of AI Andrej Karpathy on Wednesday, Elon Musk provided an update on one of the company’s most important projects — Full Self-Driving. According to Musk, the highly-anticipated FSD Beta v10.13 should enter internal beta on Thursday.
PR Stunts and False Advertising
The FSD Beta option can best be summarized as a set of new driver assistance features that are not finished or fully debugged. Chief among them is “autosteer on city streets,” which lets the car navigate around complex urban environments without the driver needing to move the steering wheel.
Tesla is nowhere near giving you the ability to turn your Tesla into a money making Robo-taxis.
Customers must first have FSD, which costs $12,000 up front or $199 per month in the U.S., and then obtain and maintain a high driver-safety score, as determined by Tesla software that monitors their driving habits.
It’s also been a cash cow with not very good data to back it up. Or much transparency for that matter from a safety perspective.
Amazed by what he saw as Tesla’s “potentially life-saving technology,” Bernal who was fired in February, started the AI Addict channel on YouTube in February 2021 to show what the public version of FSD Beta could do.
As Tesla expanded its effort from self-driving to broader artificial intelligence, Karpathy was promoted to senior director of AI at Tesla. I guess that didn’t last long? So no breakfasts served by robots and in the self-driving vehicle by 2024? Elon Musk, how disappointing.
To date, the company has not managed to deliver a coast-to-coast autonomous vehicle demonstration. The company only instead offers driver assistance features like traffic-aware cruise control, lane keeping assistance and automated navigation. Very primitive.
According to Gizmodo, prior to these layoffs (or potential firings), Musk spoke forcefully about his belief in AI and self-driving as integral to Tesla’s future success. The billionaire reiterated that belief this week during a Kilowatts interview posted on YouTube. Something just doesn’t add up.
Elon Musk looks scattered and stressed:
Tesla’s FSD Not so Autonomous
However, even Tesla’s most advanced, experimental package, which is marketed in the U.S. as its Full Self-Driving Beta system, requires a human driver to remain attentive to the road, with hands at the wheel and ready to take over the driving task at any moment.
After so many years of development, this is looking to be a huge scandal just waiting to blow up.
Karpathy leaving could ignite this time-bomb for Tesla’s stock price.
So perhaps Tesla’s not only not an AI company but not even a Technology company. Is that so far fetched? Forgive me Tesla fans, but I have more trust in Apple building a smart car.
U.S. safety regulators are currently investigating Tesla’s Autopilot feature after a Model S accident left three passengers dead. This is not a joke.
Thanks for reading!
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