This article was published on May 24, 2018

Dear Elon Musk: Stop spreading fake news

Dear Elon Musk: Stop spreading fake news
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Elon Musk, a billionaire playboy whose parents weren’t murdered in front of him outside of a theater (yet still seems to think he’s Batman), today stopped rocketing cars at the sky long enough to rage-tweet his displeasure with journalists’ criticisms of Tesla.

As best we can tell, it all started when Elon tweeted an article from a news source that quoted someone saying “despite” media negativity, Tesla could “rally.”

Elon, Elon, Elon. If the public doesn’t respect us for publishing negativity towards your company, then they don’t want the truth. I assure you that my bosses at TNW had absolutely nothing to do with my negativity when I wrote this article, and said the following:

For starters, it’s time for Musk and company to reconsider the idea of calling its driver assistance technology “Autopilot.” It encourages people to do stupid things like ignore warnings. In fact, in the fight for our lives against human error, it may even be worth wasting people’s time to make the point.

My bosses didn’t ask me to criticize his company, but I chose to out of respect for the people who’ve died in accidents involving its products. I’ve personally written about half a dozen articles defending Tesla’s technology, while at the same time I’ve written several asking it to change the way it represents its products. That’s not fake news, it’s responsible journalism.

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When reporters mention his company’s recalls, missed production quotas, and.. you know… the deaths, they aren’t spreading misinformation – they’re reporting. We get paid to do that.

I’ve also fawned over Musk in other articles, including one where I expressed my genuine appreciation for him opening up about his mental health issues. Again, not because I was told to by anyone, but because I felt my readers would be interested in the mind of a genius. That, if I can blow my own horn, was also responsible journalism.

Sure, some of us abuse our privilege. Maybe some journalists forget that they aren’t beholden to those they write about or the people who cut their paychecks, but instead to the people who read their work. Others do lie, but not all of us. It’s unfair to try and manipulate the public into seeing all journalists as people who lack integrity.

If a plumber came and fucked up your pipes, would you be on Twitter decrying all members of the mainstream pipe-fixing industry as liars who are only claiming to be professionals?

So when a rich asshole conflates every single journalist in the industry with “the media,” and then says we’re all under pressure to generate clicks and views, he’s generalizing and stereotyping.

Anyone who dares call themselves a scientist, CEO, or decent human being should have the base-model intelligence and social acumen to understand that no one particular sentiment represents “the media.”

Let me be specific: you’re an idiot if you equate Alex Jones, Anderson Cooper, and Kara Swisher as being similar objects (people), because they demonstrably aren’t — yet all are “the media.” You may as well say there’s no difference between one president of the United States and another, or between Kanye West, Marilyn Manson, and Taylor Swift.

In closing, I’d personally like to encourage Elon Musk to study some basic artificial intelligence concepts, such as eliminating bias and using legitimate data to form rational conclusions, before the next Autopilot update. He can hate “the media” all he wants, but that won’t change the truth.

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