Jim Keller: Elon Musk and Tesla Autopilot | AI Podcast Clips | Summary and Q&A

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February 7, 2020
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Lex Fridman
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Jim Keller: Elon Musk and Tesla Autopilot | AI Podcast Clips

TL;DR

Autonomous driving is a solvable problem that can be achieved within a timeline of years, not centuries.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main cost associated with autonomous driving technology?

The main cost is in the equipment needed to build the technology, but once the equipment is developed, the cost trend becomes zero.

Q: What mindset is required to successfully build an autonomous driving system?

The mindset should focus on the desired outcome instead of making small tweaks to existing systems. This requires a shift in thinking to figure out what is wanted and then finding ways to build it.

Q: How can autopilot and autonomous vehicle technology improve in terms of safety?

Autopilot and autonomous driving systems can improve safety by having better attention and reducing human errors, such as inattention or distractions.

Q: Can current autonomous driving systems understand complex scenes and infer the behavior of other drivers?

Current autonomous driving systems struggle with understanding complex scenes and inferring the behavior of other drivers. This ability requires not just object detection but also understanding the scene and making accurate predictions.

Summary

In this video, Jim Keller discusses the challenges and advancements in autonomous driving technology, as well as his experience working with Elon Musk at Tesla. He talks about the importance of thinking from first principles and questioning assumptions when building innovative systems. Keller believes that autonomous driving is a solvable problem and can be achieved within a timeline of just a few years, based on the advancements in hardware and software capabilities.

Questions & Answers

Q: How does the cost of building equipment for autonomous driving compare to the trend in cost?

According to Keller, all the cost is in the equipment to do it, but once you figure out how to build the equipment, the trend in cost is zero. He explains that the initial investment is high, but as technology evolves and becomes more efficient, the cost decreases significantly.

Q: How can we approach building an autonomous driving system from a different mindset?

Keller suggests a different mindset is needed, where instead of starting with how a system works and making tweaks, we should first figure out what we actually want and then determine how to build it. This approach requires thinking from first principles and questioning existing assumptions. Keller states that this mindset is not very common, but it can lead to innovative solutions.

Q: Elon Musk believes that vehicle autonomy can follow exponential improvement. What are your thoughts on this?

Keller agrees with Musk's belief that autopilot and vehicle autonomy can undergo exponential improvement. He explains that the development of the necessary computer for autonomous driving is straightforward, and the performance improvements can be achieved within a matter of time or price. Keller also mentions that driving is not a super hard problem, but safety is a concern that can be addressed effectively by computers.

Q: How does human vision compare to computer vision in understanding complex scenes?

Keller acknowledges that human vision is incredibly capable in understanding complex scenes by filling in the gaps and inferring occluded objects. While computers can detect objects, understanding the scene and avoiding errors are more challenging tasks. Human vision system excels in this aspect due to the ability to infer intentions and have theories about the behavior of others.

Q: Can autonomous driving systems develop theories about why certain events occur?

Keller explains that current autonomous driving systems lack the ability to develop theories about why specific events happen, such as a car cutting you off. While they can accurately detect and calculate trajectories, the ability to understand the intentions or reasons behind these actions is still limited. Keller emphasizes the importance of having theories and mental models of other people's behavior, especially for successful human interaction.

Q: Do autonomous vehicles have an advantage over humans in terms of attention and safety?

Keller believes that autonomous vehicles can surpass humans in terms of attention and safety. He explains that computers are excellent at focusing their attention and avoiding distractions, which is crucial for keeping the driver and passengers safe. While humans excel at certain tasks, autonomous systems can continuously pay attention to the road and never stop being cautious.

Q: What are the challenges in building a specialized computer system for autonomous driving?

Keller mentions that two main challenges come with building a specialized computer system for automotive applications. The first challenge is keeping up with the rapidly changing algorithms and ensuring that the hardware accelerator remains compatible with the evolving needs. The second challenge is designing a system that is affordable enough to be installed in every car, as Elon Musk envisioned. This requires thoughtful system design, considering sensor inputs, safety processors, and cost constraints.

Q: What are your thoughts on craftsmanship and the process of building autonomous driving systems?

Keller compares the process of building an autonomous driving system to craftsmanship, similar to a violin maker. He mentions that building a system involves thoughtful decisions, problem-solving, and trade-offs. While there is room for innovation, much of the work involves mastering a set of skills and making thoughtful decisions based on a deep understanding of the problem. Keller finds it satisfying to work on complicated tasks that require craftsmanship.

Q: What have you learned from working with Elon Musk at Tesla?

Keller mentions that he appreciates the way Elon Musk thinks and his ability to question assumptions and think from first principles. Musk believes that no matter what you do, it is just a local maximum, and there is always room to go further. Keller also emphasizes the importance of constantly questioning assumptions and not getting stuck in protecting one's self-conception. He finds it intellectually and emotionally satisfying to challenge assumptions and think from first principles.

Q: Do you believe that autonomous driving is a problem we can solve within a few years?

Keller expresses confidence that autonomous driving is a problem that can be solved within a timeline of a few years rather than a century. He attributes this confidence to the advancements in hardware and software capabilities, as well as the rate of improvement in various aspects of autonomous driving technology. Keller believes that there will be pleasant surprises along the way and that the overall safety and advancements in autonomy will make cars significantly safer than human drivers.

Q: What is the key to unlocking advancements in autonomous driving technology?

Keller believes that the key to unlocking advancements in autonomous driving technology lies in thinking from first principles and questioning assumptions. He emphasizes the importance of constantly reevaluating and applying knowledge to the problem at hand. Keller mentions that even though it is easy to get caught up in everyday priorities, taking the time to question assumptions and apply first principles thinking is crucial for progress and innovation.

Takeaways

In summary, Jim Keller discusses the challenges and potential of autonomous driving technology. He emphasizes the importance of thinking from first principles and constantly questioning assumptions when building innovative systems. Keller believes that autonomous driving is a problem that can be solved within a few years, given the advancements in hardware and software capabilities. However, he also acknowledges the complexity of human behavior and the challenges it poses in achieving fully autonomous systems. Overall, Keller's experience at Tesla with Elon Musk has taught him the value of craftsmanship, the need for constant innovation, and the importance of thinking from first principles.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The cost of autonomous driving technology mainly lies in the equipment needed to build it, but once the equipment is developed, the cost trend becomes zero.

  • Building a successful autonomous driving system requires a different mindset of focusing on the desired outcome rather than tweaking existing systems.

  • The development of autopilot and autonomous vehicles can follow an exponential improvement trajectory in terms of safety and performance.

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