Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be ‘Deepfakes’, Lawyers Claim | US News


Elon Musk was ordered to be questioned under oath to determine if he made certain statements about Tesla’s Autopilot feature after the automaker questioned their authenticity, saying the billionaire is often a target of online “deepfakes” been.

A judge inside California made the tentative decision after raising concerns that such arguments could be used by Musk — and other high-profile celebrities — to “avoid taking responsibility for their public statements.”

The “deepfake” allegation was made by attorneys for Musk’s firm while defending a lawsuit brought about Musk’s safety TeslaThe driver assistance system from

Walter Huang’s family is suing the company in Santa Clara Superior Court over a car accident that killed him Apple Engineer in 2018.

Mr. Huang’s family argues that Tesla’s semi-automated driving software has failed.

However, the automaker claims the engineer was playing a video game on his phone and ignoring vehicle warnings before the accident.

The Tesla factory in Fremont, California

Lawyers for Mr. Huang’s family have pointed out that Musk has touted the safety of the Autopilot feature — including a 2016 statement in which he allegedly said that Tesla’s Model S and Model X vehicles are “more safe than one person can drive autonomously”.

Musk’s lawyers say the businessman can’t recall details about statements, arguing that “like many public figures [he] is the subject of many ‘deepfake’ videos and audio recordings that purport to show him saying and doing things he never actually said or did.”

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However, the judge presiding over the trial, Evette Pennypacker, questioned Tesla’s argument, which she called “deeply disturbing.”

“Your position is that because Mr. Musk is famous and may be more of a target for deepfakes, his public statements are immune,” Justice Pennypacker wrote.

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She added that such arguments would allow him and other famous people to “avoid taking responsibility for what they actually said and did.”

Judge Pennypacker provisionally ordered a limited three-hour testimony during which Musk could be asked if he
actually made the statements on the recording.

What is a deepfake?

A deepfake is usually an image or video in which a person or object is manipulated visually or audibly to say and do something that is made up.

They were used to create fake videos in which Barack Obama called Donald Trump a “complete dip**t” and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg boasted about having “complete control” over people’s data.

Deepfakes have also been used to create fake pornographic images of celebrities.

And there are concerns that they could be used to incite mass panic or influence elections by creating fake videos of politicians.

Some countries are even trying to crack down on deepfakes. Proposals have been made in England and Wales to criminalize the creation of pornographic deepfakes without consent.

The images are created using AI technology – although experts are also trying to use AI to combat deepfakes by developing technology that can more easily distinguish fact from fiction.

California judges often issue preliminary rulings, which after such a hearing are almost always completed with few significant changes.

The lawsuit is scheduled to go to court on July 31.

It comes after a California state court jury on Friday found that Tesla’s autopilot feature did not fail in what appeared to be the first trial related to a semi-automated driving software crash.

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