- In the movie “Leave the World Behind,” a scene depicts self-driving Tesla causing a massive traffic jam.
- The film explores the vulnerability of modern society to technological threats.
- Elon Musk’s response about charging Teslas with solar panels does not directly address the film’s concerns about self-driving technology security.
Could hackers take control of Tesla’s full self-driving (FSD) technology? That’s the big question that arises in a horrifying scene in the movie Leave the World Behind with Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke.
The scene involves miles of self-driving Tesla vehicles piling up and preventing Julia Roberts and her on-screen family from returning to New York City.
Several self-driving white Teslas are an immediate threat to Roberts, but in the long run, they end up saving her life. The pileup forces her to hunker down at the idyllic vacation home she rented on Long Island.
The Techno-pacalypse Destroys Modern Society
The Netflix film dives into the premise of an unknown threat (hackers, terrorists, a powerful global cabal) destroying the foundations of our modern society: satellites and connectivity.
In a bit of luck, Roberts and her family (Ethan Hawke, Charlie Evans, and Farrah Mackenzie) take an impromptu vacation just before technology goes haywire. They leave NYC and rent a luxurious Long Island home from Mahershala Ali and his daughter played by Myha’la Herrold.
The Tesla Traffic Jam
As Roberts and her family have clearly never watched other end-of-the-world movies, they scramble to figure out what to do. Their first thought is to return to their home in NYC. The family of four piles into their Jeep Grand Cherokee and hits the road until they are stopped by what appears to be a traffic jam of brand-new white Tesla Model 3s.
Roberts gets out of the car to check on the people in the vehicles, only to find no one is driving the EVs. She quickly sees the words “Self-Driving” on the window stickers, looks back, and finds another white Tesla barreling toward their Jeep. She gets her family back into the Jeep, starts it up, and dodges the self-driving vehicles as she makes her way back to the safety of the rented home.
As she’s driving away, the camera pans upward to show that it wasn’t just white Teslas, but all colors that blocked the road to NYC for miles.
Elon Musk’s Solar Panel Response
Elon Musk responded to the situation, but his responses don’t fit the scene in the movie. Musk commented on how Tesla vehicles can be charged with solar panels, which makes them a great choice when the electrical grid goes down. But, this isn’t what happens in the film. He tweeted, “Teslas can charge from solar panels even if the world goes fully Mad Max and there is no more gasoline!”
According to the Tesla website, self-driving capabilities “require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” But, the website also states: “your car will be continuously upgraded through over-the-air updates.” Are those OTA upgrades hacker-proof?
Is Tesla Technology Hacker-Proof?
The Tesla pileup has nothing to do with gasoline, charging, or solar panels. It has to do with self-driving technology and the question of whether that technology is hacker-proof.
The Tesla pileup is one of many scenes that show how our dependence on technology makes us vulnerable to evil-doers. Several scenes focus on GPS dependence. An oil tanker slams into a public beach, airplanes crash into the Long Island Sound, and Ethan Hawke’s character gets lost driving into town to fetch a newspaper.
Is it time to put the old atlas back in your vehicle? Or print out Mapquest directions?
Musk’s comment about solar panels shows that he didn’t watch the film. Rather than worrying about charging when the grid no longer functions, the issue is about using self-driving EVs as weapons. In the film, the Model 3s don’t slow down as they approach other vehicles, they don’t recognize the pedestrian (Julia Roberts) in the roadway, and they create a massive backup of hundreds of vehicles.
Viewers never get to see who is actually causing the techno-pacalypse. We only get to see the results, leaving viewers to wonder: could an army of Tesla vehicles (or other semi-autonomous EVs) become deadly projectiles in the hands of evil-doers?
That’s the question we really need Mr. Musk to answer.
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