Category Archives: Energy

Tesla Safety Negligence Finally Goes to Court: “Sore Thumb” of American Roads

Quality of Tesla vehicles has been notoriously bad for years, and has been trending worse, which should be little surprise given how poorly it treats human life (from its workers and its customers to anyone in or around their product).

Now top experts in automobile safety, who finally are getting some attention, aren’t mincing words about the sad danger a Tesla poses to everyone on the road.

“Tesla sticks out like a sore thumb,” said David Friedman, who was deputy and acting administrator of NHTSA from 2013 to 2015. “And it has for years.” [Heidi King, a deputy and acting administrator of NHTSA during the Trump administration added] “I really dislike a lot of what Tesla has done, and at the top of the list in bright, bold letters, is Elon Musk’s habit of making false public claims… visionary exaggerations about a consumer product can be very, very dangerous.”

Liar, liar Elon Musk’s customers are literally dying in fires.

One of the reasons Musk has become an obvious “sore thumb” of safety is explained by his bully mindset of doing harm: to do wrongs until someone can afford to stop him in court.

“In the US, things are legal by default,” Musk said.

A public automobile company showing intent to commit crimes unless someone can catch them is the worst possible CEO statement.

“Things” are not simply legal by default.

To put it another way, in the US cannibalism is legal by default. So is Elon Musk’s next business idea going to be grinding the rising number of his dead customers into hamburger? Something technically legal DOES NOT mean you won’t be convicted of a related crime.

“We essentially have the Wild West on our roads right now,” Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the NTSB, said in an interview. She describes Tesla’s deployment of features marketed as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving as artificial-intelligence experiments using untrained operators of 5,000-pound vehicles. “It is a disaster waiting to happen.”

The Wild West killed a LOT of innocent people, especially because of men like Stanford when you think about it. I mean Silas Soule was a very notable exception who became more like the American rule but only much later.

But I digress. Tesla is not a disaster just waiting, it already happened!

Let’s play spot the disaster. Here are the death rate stats for electric cars.

Source: tesladeaths.com

I warned very loudly about the disaster we are now in for at least six years prior. My 2016 keynote presentation about Tesla death at BSidesLV was literally called “Great Disasters of Machine Learning“.

Elon Musk long ago signaled disaster as his business model and I saw it right away after the first road death was reported April 2, 2013.

Tesla was leaving Laguna Beach and veered into oncoming traffic

Veering across lines into oncoming traffic is not “legal by default” yet it seems that Tesla must believe it to be a profitable business model for America, given their vehicles have become notorious for doing exactly that.

April 8, 2022 (nearly TEN YEARS later) we see repetitive failures in safety.

Little remains of a Tesla and its driver in 2022 after it veered yet again into oncoming traffic

Things may change, however, given that a court is finally going to help Tesla owners see just how many unsafe “things are legal by default”.

A US federal judge’s ruling paves the way for a trial in July, the first time Tesla will face a jury in litigation over a car crash. The electric car-maker faces a flurry of lawsuits over a spate of accidents… Barrett Riley, 18, was at the wheel of his father’s Model S when he lost control and veered into a concrete wall of a house in Fort Lauderdale. The car was engulfed in flames. Riley and his friend in the passenger seat were both killed. The father, James Riley, alleged in a lawsuit that Tesla was negligent for removing a speed-limiting device from the car after his wife had asked for it to be installed. The after-market device was designed to cap the car’s speed at 85mph. The family also argued that Barrett could have survived the impact of the crash but lost his life because of the intense fire, which the suit attributes to a defective design in the battery.

Defaults give an interesting framing for this court case.

Why was the default top speed so far above any legal limit? The family tried to set a safe mode by requesting Tesla enable their built-in speed limiter (“loaner” mode with an 85 mph max). Allegedly Tesla later removed the setting to override parents’ explicit request, which led directly to the predictable death of their child.

Tesla’s argument for why they intentionally disobeyed parents was… because they could. A toddler-level mentality of safety, if not a conspiratorial one. When parties A and B come to a service provider with conflicting requests, Tesla very clearly took sides: serving the (reckless abandon) one and not the (safer, wiser, legal) other.

Two footnotes also may be worth adding.

First, this Tesla also operated with two un-repaired recalls at the time of its crash; unrelated to the cause of death yet it still gives evidence of Tesla being not on top of safety.

Second, the car continuously re-ignited into fire. It was on fire when police arrived. It then caught on fire again when it was put on a tow truck. It then caught on fire again when it was put on a second tow truck. And it then caught on fire again when it was unloaded from the second tow truck. That’s significantly worserush to market” thinking than even the Pinto disaster.

The lawsuits brought by injured people and their survivors uncovered how the company rushed the Pinto through production and onto the market. […] Ford officials decided to manufacture the car even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank. Did anyone go to Mr. Iacocca and tell him the gas tank was unsafe? “Hell no,” replied an engineer who worked on the Pinto. “That person would have been fired. Safety wasn’t a popular subject around Ford in those days. With Lee it was taboo.” As Lee Iacocca was then fond of saying, “Safety doesn’t sell.”

Does anyone really want to buy a sore thumb?

How to Stop Bicyclists From Running Stop Signs

The obvious answer to how to stop bicyclists from running stop signs is… remove the requirement for bicycles to stop at the sign.

Done.

Seriously, though, stop signs are a function of cars being low to the ground with limited visibility, hard to stop and hard to maneuver in an intersection. None of that is true for bicycles, which put the rider up high with unobstructed views and ultra-fast stopping and turning.

A bicycle entering a 4-way road stop has about as much need to stop as a car entering a four lane roundabout, virtually none although there are the occasional times when it’s necessary. And let’s be honest, the flow of not stopping (roundabouts) is significantly safer than stopping (intersections).

According to studies done by the Federal Highway Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts resulted in a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions, 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, 90 percent reduction in fatality crashes and 75 percent reduction in injury collisions.

90% reduction in fatality crashes when allowing people to roll into intersections instead of trying to stop them with a sign…

You can perhaps see why stop signs make about as much sense for road safety on bicycles as requiring car drivers to stuff a chamois in their pants for safety.

A “chamois” is a European mountain-goat-like animal, and the first chamois was made from actual chamois skin.

Also bicycles incur a massive cost to the rider when stopping without a need to be stopping.

Car drivers just empty their wallets and burn gallons of gas without a second thought while the cyclist often actually cares about wasted energy, ergo a big reason for being on a bicycle in the first place.

It comes to mind when reading the Colorado news that drivers are losing their mind when bicycles ride through an empty intersection without stopping.

“We’ve certainly seen some disgruntled drivers who think this is just going to cause chaos on our streets, and we just don’t think that aligns with reality,” Todd said of the new law. “The reality is that many bicyclists do this already. This is legalizing a common behavior. The bicyclists know it will be safer for them. Bicyclists can only proceed when they already have the right of way.”

Exactly. When you have right of way on a bicycle you use that right. Rolling is not a crime.

Car drivers nonetheless may go to absurd lengths to stoke fear about what could happen when bicycles are simply allowed to do what is sensible and right, which definitely comes out in the article.

“I can see a cyclist rolling up behind me as I begin to make a right turn and plowing into me, or I run over them as they cruise through the stop sign.”

This is the voice of someone who treats their vehicle as power and dominance where “right of way” feels to them like justification for killing others in their path, instead of operating with a duty of care.

No cyclist wants to plow into anything and likewise no driver should be thinking they will run over people.

If a cyclist is approaching a stop with a car already stopped, or if a cyclist is approaching a car about to make a right turn… the cyclist should NOT proceed (and in nearly 100% cases would not) because of the OBVIOUS harm to self and others in doing so. The concept of rolling through a stop on a bicycle is as simple as rolling on any road that is CLEARLY UNOBSTRUCTED. When any obstruction appears, bicyclists are not seeking some kind of special power over others in the way that car owners often do.

Rivian penalized for price hike as market awards Tesla “prize” for price hike

File this one under why markets clearly are not even close to rational.

Here’s one headline from March:

Tesla raises prices across entire range

The March 15th price hikes are purely speculative to “protect” the company from consumers demanding value from cars sometime in the future.

The price increases are designed to cover higher costs for the next six to 12 months, which protects Tesla on orders for cars that it may not deliver for a year.

That’s a form of speculative/misleading surge pricing linked to stress, which Uber and Lyft have been criticized for years and still haven’t figured out as immoral.

…in the wake of the shooting, fare prices quoted by rideshare companies had skyrocketed due to understandably increased demand. […] Surge pricing spiked after a bomb in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan injured dozens in 2016; in Sydney, Australia during a 16-hour hostage crisis in 2014; in London after a vehicle was deliberately driven into a crowd of pedestrians in 2017; and in 2020 after eight people were shot in downtown Seattle, leaving one dead.

The basic calculus here is when companies try to benefit themselves as others are experiencing higher risk, it’s a form of gouging (the kind condemned throughout the COVID19 pandemic, or that Texas wealth depends upon).

In theory someone can’t ethically spike prices for bread after an earthquake just because speculation that people in panic/desperation can be coerced to pay more.

It’s a different story when higher supply prices in the past force a change to production costs, given actual explainable inputs instead of gambling on opaquely speculative futures.

Now here’s another headline, this time in April

Tesla snatches coveted relic from GM and Ford

Coveted relic? Just call it a prize. The news here is that Ford saw its value drop precipitously when it announced a price increase in just one car model.

Ford’s stake in Rivian was valued at $5.1 billion on March 31, down from $10.6 billion at the end of 2021, the company said. The young electric vehicle manufacturer had a very difficult start to the year, marked by major difficulties in managing increases in production rates and a PR crisis after a controversial rise in the prices of its vehicles. Rivian shares thus lost 51.5% of their value between December 31 and March 31.

Tesla somehow boosted its value by doing the same thing that dramatically lowered Ford’s valuation. Right?

Moreover, Tesla announced their March price hike as some kind of toxic mockery tactic a week after they watched Rivian declare it cared about trust and would roll-back its price hike.

Rivian is rolling back price hikes on preordered vehicles following backlash from its customers. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe apologized to customers in a letter published Thursday. “I have made a lot of mistakes since starting Rivian more than 12 years ago, but this one has been the most painful. I am truly sorry,” Scaringe wrote.

The CEO of Rivian talks about pain, about caring for people and losing trust. These are concepts obviously completely alien to the CEO of Tesla, which has produced a car killing more people at a faster rate than any competitor.

It reminds me of how Ford himself in the early days became successful being a horrible fascist-loving racist who lied and stole from others, inspiring men like Hitler and Goebbels to be even crueler. He was a horrible human in so many ways there’s never enough time to document it all.

Like who really talks about Ford taking millions of dollars from the U.S. government to deliver “tractors” during WWI and… just walking away with the money delivering zero product (Ford favored Germany and took orders without delivering product in order to help sabotage Americans supporting Britain).

The Ford Motor Co., according to the War Department, received from Wilson’s administration $249,000 for tools which were never delivered. I suppose Henry has them yet. He also has the money, unless he spent it on this election. The Ford Motor Co., for tractors: Number delivered, none. Amount paid, $1,299,000. Where are those tractors? They might be converted into golden chariots, for all I know. The Ford Motor Co., for spare parts: Number delivered, none. Amount paid, $5,517,000.

The American car-maker supporting the wrong side during war was no real secret. In 1922 the New York Times profiled Adolf Hitler who said a picture of Henry Ford was hanging on the wall of his Munich office.

The wall beside his desk in Hitler’s private office is decorated with a large picture of Henry Ford. In the ante-chamber there is a large table covered with books, nearly all of which are a translation of a book written and published by Henry Ford. If you ask one of Hitler’s underlings for the reason of Ford’s popularity in these circles he will smile knowingly but say nothing.

Translation of “a book”? Come on, just say the title.

Source: Wikipedia

Goebbels literally cites Ford’s writing and publications for his own anti-semitism.

Ford’s own attitudes towards Jews were the major reason for the publication of “The International Jew.” His anti-Semitic beliefs formed along several strands from his upbringing, attitudes, and personal beliefs.

No wonder in 1925 Hitler mentioned only one American in his autobiography (Mein Kampf): Henry Ford.

Perhaps the real rationalization then of what makes Tesla so loved by completely unregulated investors is being more Ford than even Henry Ford: a company consistently awful to the planet, accusations of racism piling up, its staff and customers trying to rapidly dump poor quality products and only increasing pain?

Honestly that really does sound like Ford, but begs the question of how soon before Tesla will have its necessary Pinto/Bronco market reaction moment. How many Tesla must catch on fire, how many people dead?

We’ve all known for years that ALL the Tesla models are unsafe at any speed.

The CEO of Tesla does in fact seem to exhibit Ford-like “permanent improvisation” (abuse of trust) that signals fascism, and he repeatedly makes only positive Hitler references.

What kind of prize are we really talking about here?

Good 1964: “Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine”

Irving John Good was giving talks in 1962 and 1963 on artificial intelligence, which he turned into a now famous paper called “Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine”. As he put it at the time:

Based on talks given in a Conference on the Conceptual Aspects of Biocommunications, Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, October 1962; and in the Artificial Intelligence Sessions of the Winter General Meetings of the IEEE, January 1963 [1, 46]. The first draft of this monograph was completed in April 1963, and the present slightly amended version in May 1964.

I am much indebted to Mrs. Euthie Anthony of IDA for the arduous task of typing.

That last note really caught my eye. How ironic to be giving thanks to a woman for typing this paper as it was about machines that would remove the need for women to type papers (let alone give them thanks).

It reminds me of the fact that the very poetic term “computer” was used for a while to describe predominantly female workers in the field of data entry (e.g. rocket science). Nobody other than historians today might think of computers as female, even though far too many people today tend to portray artificial intelligence as their idealized woman.

From there I have to highlight the opening line of Good’s paper:

The survival of man depends on the early construction of an ultra-intelligent machine.

What if we reframe this as early evidence of “mommy-tech”, which tends to be all too common in Silicon Valley?

In other words, men who leave their mothers and embark on a successful well-paid career as engineers in technology soon “innovate” by thinking of ways to make machines replicate their mothers.

Self-driving cars are about children being raised thinking their mother should drive them around (e.g. the Lift System of apartheid was literally white mothers driving their kids to school). Dishwashers are popular in cultures where mothers traditionally cleaned plates after a meal.

Is mommy-tech liberating for women? In theory a machine being introduced to take over a task could be thought as a way to liberate the person formerly tasked with that job. However that does not seem to be at all how things work out, because imposing a loss is not inherently translatable to successful pivot into new tasks and opportunities.

If nothing else, more of something obviously is not better when that thing is loss. More loss, more death, more destruction only sounds good in places of privilege where a rebuild or a repeat is even conceivable.

Good kind of points this out himself accidentally in part two of his paper where he calls intelligence entirely zero sum, such that machines getting more intelligent would mean “man would be left far behind“.

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind (see for example refs. [22], [34], [44]). Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control. It is curious that this point is made so seldom outside of science fiction. It is sometimes worthwhile to take science fiction seriously.

Indeed, Wollstonecraft’s daughter invented science fiction (Frankenstein) for a very good reason, which I often explain in my presentations. However, Good’s analysis here is not good for reasons that rarely are discussed.

To my ears, trained in history of power contention, it’s like hearing men who have said women becoming intelligent (e.g. allowed to speak, read, educate) would represent a dangerous challenge: “docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control”.

And it doesn’t even have to be men and women in this “struggle” for domination.

Imagine a context of colonialism or American history of Manifest Destiny, which similarly centered on oppressors keeping “intelligence” of the oppressed under control.

If nothing else you can’t deny that America ruthlessly and systemically engaged in denying Blacks education, as Wollstonecraft very sagely had warned in the 1790s, which most Americans are completely ignorant about in order to keep them docile.

Perhaps containment of intelligence should be framed like filtration of water or direction of energy; rather than holding back we must seek ways to increase output on measured outcomes. It’s not that safety becomes dominant or pervasive, instead that loss is measured properly and accounted for instead of falsely implied as something inherent to gain.

Just like industrialization created an emaciation of male power, a domain shift that scared many into bunk response theory (false power projection) such as fascism, there are men today trying to gin up fear of gains (ultraintelligence) as some kind of loss.

It’s interesting to think about the answers to these power and control problems related to technology and specifically intelligence being sorted out way back in the 1700s, yet today people often frame them as recent or needing to be solved for the first time.

Tesla Labeled Deceptive by Owner Desperate for Repairs

The 2021 JD Powers quality rankings clearly put Tesla very low on the list.

When you think about Chrysler (despite recalls for batteries that catch on fire) being even more dependable than a Tesla, it says a lot!

Years ago experts tried to point this out by referencing Kia (before it turned things around) but who really listened? (Hint: NOT Tesla)

Sandy Munro, who tears apart and reverse-engineers cars to assess quality, issued a brutal appraisal of the Model 3 citing “flaws that we would see on a Kia in the ’90s.”

In other words, Kia grew dramatically better from feedback while Tesla only seems to be getting worse. A recent study put it as:

The only thing reliabile about Teslas is their poor reliability.

No wonder stories like the following nightmare have become regular updates in the news:

…a bone-chilling problem has prompted a recall on some Tesla models. The issue has left owners stuck without heat in the dead of winter…

That flaw was from poor engineering practices, with Tesla trying to cut corners even when it puts owners in serious risk. The ironically named HotCars says Tesla is intentionally lowering quality:

Not everything on a Tesla is inherently low-quality, but Tesla is certainly cutting corners.

Even China, the epicenter of cutting corners, has recently tried to heap shame on quality of the Tesla brand as very far below expectations (with Tesla clocking a sad 133 failures per 100 cars — averaging more than one for every car).

An example of how this serious lack of quality in Tesla plays out comes from a self-described “very active EV advocate” who seems to be spending huge amounts of time on a basic flaw, and has announced arbitration in an attempt to get a repair done.

I am convinced that Tesla is well aware that they are installing faulty battery PCSs in the penthouse. In fact, Tesla once issued a Technical Service Bulletin about the “HV Battery System,” which states that “For certain Model 3 vehicles, the power conversion system needs replacement.” Although the bulletin projects dates for the vehicles possibly affected (the earliest, one month after I took delivery), it does not clarify why those PCSs had a problem. Were they from a different manufacturer, design, material, or build than other PCSs installed before and after those dates? I strongly suspect that, in reality, Tesla has been installing the very same, identical PCSs in the Model 3 for years, both before and after that Service Bulletin, and has failed to inform all Model 3 owners of the potential problem.

This would explain why an increasing number of owners are now finding that this integral part of the Battery and Drive Unit System is starting to fail after 3, 4, 5 years of ownership —in my case after only 3 years and 9 months. It is apparent that these battery PCSs are of poor design and quality, faulty, prone to break down, and Tesla is trying to pass the hefty expense of these failures on to owners…

The blog post links to many Tesla owners suffering similar problems and offers this scathing analysis of Tesla business practices.

Tesla has bragged that the maintenance and repair costs for its vehicles are so low that they make their higher purchase prices more affordable than a gas car over a lifetime of ownership. With the Service Center refusing to cover faulty —and expensive!— PCSs under the Battery and Drive Unit Warranty, Tesla’s braggadocio about such costs now strikes me disingenuous —if not deceptive.

And on that disgruntled owner note “Tesla is the only automaker that has chosen not to grant J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in all 50 states.” In other words the Tesla score could be even worse if its owners were actually allowed to speak.