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Missy Cummings Erased Her Twitter Account: Why That’s Bad for Tesla

Karma is not something limited to Hinduism and Buddhism. Also known as the principle of cause and effect, it states that what you get is what you give. This is probably why Gandhi managed to get India independent with no violence: he did not want it back against what he defended. Some people claiming to protect Tesla did not get that and created a virtual hell for Missy Cummings. The immediate result is that she closed her Twitter account.
Missy Cummings Deleted Her Twitter Account After Attacks 23 photos
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Unfortunately, we do not doubt that the mob that attacked her is probably celebrating their “victory.” Everything points to precisely the opposite: it was something they may regret for the rest of their lives if they really love Tesla that much. What they have done was to harm the company.

The first reason for that is a matter of reputation. Instead of attracting more people to the brand they claim to defend, these guys are actually pushing them away from it. Famous folks have already said they would never buy a Tesla regardless of how good they think the cars are. It is a way to avoid being part of “the club.” Others compare these owners to some sort of cult, even to fundamentalist religions. Their behavior towards Cummings gives critics even more arguments to sustain that.

What does the company have to do with it? A typical enterprise would have some sort of shielding by not getting involved with the discussion. Lars Moravy and Zachary Kirkhorn tried to be professional about that at the Q3 2021 earnings call, but it was already too late. Elon Musk said Cummings was biased on Twitter. She quickly invited him to discuss that anytime. The Tesla CEO did not answer.

He only replied to a fake Missy Cummings that tweeted they would take away ”his” FSD Beta because her LiDAR company could not compete with Tesla. The owner of that account has since changed its name to Jeff Who, but the internet never forgets. A screenshot shared by Cristina Balan shows Musk’s interaction with whoever the person behind that Twitter account is. Any CEO would avoid that trap. Musk’s answer showed he thought it was at least entertaining.

To make Cummings’ bashing seem more legit, these guys are saying Cummings is biased because she is a member of the board of directors for Veoneer. The Swedish LiDAR company connection would make her unfit for the task of being a safety adviser. That is cringeworthy, to say the least. Mahmood Hikmet patiently explained why in a Twitter thread.

Summing it up, Missy Cummings was not invited by NHTSA because she is neutral or impartial. The safety agency could just name a judge if that were the goal. What NHTSA wants is her expertise: it needs people who know what they are talking about. Cummings does that when it comes to autonomous driving tech and its interaction with humans. She is a world specialist in the subject.

As Hikmet stresses, she is an adviser. The government may get her opinion and accept it, change its policies a bit due to what Cummings says, or completely ignore whatever she brings up. Making a petition to prevent her from advising NHTSA gives her role more weight than it actually has. Thanks to all the repercussions, that may even become true.

The Tesla fans that wrote a petition to ask NHTSA to cancel her nomination claim that they are doing that in the name of safety. Tesla’s FSD and Autopilot would save lives. Yet, they do not explain why the company did not adopt proper testing with its software. All other carmakers only put something in the hands of their customers when it is stable. Tesla released beta software for its customers to test.

It also did not forget a legal disclaimer that blames them if anything bad happens when testing the software. It would be interesting to hear any explanation that could frame that as safe behavior in any way. So far, we have not seen a single argument to defend that which did not sound wholly lunatic or fallacious. If these guys are against Cummings, her words on safety may be heard with more interest by the government.

On top of that, the petition states that “for over 13 years, the industry has tried unsuccessfully to bring LiDAR powered self-driving cars to market.” This is an ode to misinformation. Before anything else, because there is no self-driving car in the market, although some Tesla fans say it is perfectly safe to be in the rear seat when a Tesla is on Autopilot.

Tesla itself has promised autonomous cars for years. From a “basically solved problem” in 2016, it remains basically unsolved for a company that said its cars would become appreciating assets due to that capability. Tesla’s promises are even less credible after the Autopilot program director left the company.

CJ Moore was the man that told the California DMV that “Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality” when the Tesla CEO promised full autonomy soon. It did not take long for Moore to leave the company since that episode. We only discovered that because a lawsuit against Tesla and Autopilot wants Moore as a witness, and the company said he is no longer an employee.

When anyone says that a vehicle that does not drive on its own is a “self-driving car,” they are “autonowashing,” as Liza Dixon defined that behavior. In other words, they are making something seem more autonomous than it actually is.

This is not the only mistake contained in that short sentence in the petition against Cummings. LiDARs are becoming cheaper and being incorporated in a series of production vehicles.

Automotive journalist Lei Xing made a list of Chinese vehicles that will have LiDARs soon: Xpeng P5, NIO ET7, R Auto ES33, ArcFox Alpha S HI, WM Motor M7, IM L7, and GAC Aion LX. Volvo’s successor to the XC90 will use LiDARs, as well as the Lucid Air, BMW i4, BMW iX, and multiple other products. None of them claims to be autonomous.

The goal of LiDAR is to create redundancy, or else, to have a backup if any of the detection systems in an autonomous driving system fails. If cameras were dirty, a radar could help detect objects. If radars had any issues, LiDAR might keep the car going. Apart from refusing to use LiDAR, Tesla gave up on radars a while ago.

The company claims to be able to solve autonomous driving with cameras only. If any of them fails or gets a dirty lens, there’s no backup. A recent study by AAA proved ADAS systems might not work as they should if it rains.

According to the petition against Cummings, Tesla’s system would be safer because it is easier and cheaper to implement. LiDARs would demand expensive retrofitting. Ironically, Musk admitted his company would have to replace the cameras in vehicles made before Tesla Autonomy Day, on April 22, 2019. That’s a perfectly fine example of retrofitting. And it only costs up to $10,000: that’s what Tesla charges from anyone willing to buy FSD.

If the campaign to prevent Cummings from joining NHTSA were based just on incorrect (or purposefully deceiving) assumptions and concepts, it would at least have been civilized (even if eventually dishonest). It was not, as Cummings closing her Twitter account demonstrates.

In his thread, Hikmet shared a screenshot of the tweets made about her. It is a horror show of misogyny, sexism, vulgarity, and bootlicking toward Musk. You can check that for yourself inside Hikmet’s thread embedded below, although we do not recommend it. It is repulsive and depressing.

If Cummings really had anything against Tesla, as her detractors claim, this sort of behavior certainly did not help. Not only with what she thinks about Tesla’s demeanor, but also about what other authorities may consider. The U.S. Transport Secretary recently said Musk should call him if he has anything to say about Cummings.

Jennifer Homendy already said Full Self-Driving is “misleading and irresponsible.” The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) Chair tweeted in support of Cummings and shared “I Won’t Back Down” performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Homendy could have chosen The Toasters performing one of their most famous songs, but she’s probably not that much into ska.

That shows the kind of support Cummings enjoys with critical people in the safety area. After what she has gone through, that support tends to increase. We wonder how many signatures a petition to back her up would get at Change.org. Nobody has created any so far.

The one made by Tesla fans and investors seems to have stalled at a bit less than 23,000 signatures. From a potentially large group of Tesla owners, it was not as popular as they probably expected.

Paradoxically, that may be good for the company: it may mean most customers think Cummings can help make Tesla safer precisely by challenging its approach to autonomous driving. The ones that claim it is safe are only worried about their stocks and what to brag about in YouTube videos.

Hopefully, she will not back down or let them down despite all the absurdities she had to endure these days. Not being on Twitter will probably make her more productive as an NHTSA safety adviser. Thank you, detractors.

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