The documentary series The New York Times Presents has announced Elon Musk’s Crash Course, which aims to examine Tesla’s artificial intelligence system Autopilot, and “how Autopilot has been a factor in several deaths and dozens of other accidents that Tesla has not publicly acknowledged.” It premieres May 20th on Hulu and FX.
Musk has called self-driving cars a “solved problem,” and he’s made A.I. part of the central pitch at Tesla. Earlier this year, he hyped up investors with Tesla’s burgeoning robotics program, the intelligence for which will build on Autopilot. Musk said these robots have “the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business, over time.”
But even as he continues to expand the applications for the Autopilot system, Elon Musk’s Crash Course seems poised to make the case that Autopilot is killing people. A press statement said the documentary “details pressure Elon Musk put on government officials to quash investigations and features inside stories from several former Tesla employees, who speak out against Musk for promoting a self-driving program that they believe was perilous.”
The feature is directed and produced by Emma Schwartz, with reporting by Cade Metz and Neal Boudette. It debuts simultaneously on FX and Hulu on Friday, May 20th at 10:00 p.m. ET.
This is but the latest documentary feature from The New York Times Presents to examine the intersection of culture and public policy. Last year, the franchise released Framing Britney Spears, Controlling Britney Spears, and Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson, among other titles.
Meanwhile, Musk has finalized an agreement to purchase Twitter and the deal is expected to close later in 2022. He has suggested plans to reduce content moderation, though his own history suggests a strained relationship with free speech. As to whether he’s indifferent to the deaths of those using his projects, you might look at the monkeys implanted with his Neuralink brain chips.