New NHTSA Senior Advisor Would Put An Electric Cattle Prod In Tesla Seats To Make Drivers Pay Attention

Dr. Missy Cummings was a recent election of the Biden administration to a senior adviser position at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). She is also a clear Tesla Autopilot skeptic and has said some extreme and alarming things about the case. Although she said this in 2020, and the video is a few years old, it is making waves on Twitter, and what she said is seriously disturbing – even as a joke.

The video panel discussion she participated in was published in 2020, but news of that panel is floating around on Twitter, and I’m honestly disgusted. In the virtual panel with Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE), Cummings said:

“Unfortunately, the Milgram studies prevent us from putting an electric cattle plug into the car seats, which is what I would vote for.”

The Milgram studies or experiment were a series of social psychological experiments in 1961 that measured the willingness of participants (men aged 20-50) to obey an authority figure who told them to perform actions that were in conflict with their conscience. In the study, participants were told that they were helping with another, unrelated experiment in which they were to give electric shocks to a student. Although the shocks were false, participants did not know this and were told that the shocks were gradually increased to levels that would have been fatal if they had been genuine.

In response to this comment, Edward Neidermeyer giggled. Neidermeyer has been critical of Tesla and Elon Musk for at least 14 years when he ran a “Tesla Death Watch” blog series. The idea back then (in 2008) was that it was only a matter of days before Tesla went bankrupt.

Together with Niedermeyer and Dr. Cummings was Dr. Michael Nees and Dr. Michael Clamann also on the panel.

I have also been subjected to such harassment, but mine pales in comparison to how my friend Omar Qazi has been treated.

As someone who has been a pedestrian all my life, I have witnessed many accidents (and have even been in near-accidents myself) – mostly from motorists who were not paying attention.

Dr. Cummings, who has previously stated that she owns a Tesla, has been an outspoken critic of Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technology and has even gone so far as to support a group of critics on Twitter who call themselves “TSLAQ” – but eventually she deleted her account after she was called up for her bias.

Many Tesla owners and supporters had several problems with her bias, including the fact that at the time she was on the board of a direct competitor to Tesla in the autonomous driving area, as well as her support for the cult-like anti-Tesla groups that have targeted several Tesla owners and supporters for years. (Disclosure: I’ve even been targeted several times by that group.)

“Tavi” shared a thread on Twitter with his thoughts on the matter. He pointed out that she mocked engineers and that her view of autonomy stands in direct contrast to Tesla’s approach.

Tavi also pointed out that Dr. Cummings is likely to never support any non-Level 5 adaptive driver assistance system, but is not concerned about how Level 5 will be achieved or how many traffic accidents will occur until Level 5 vehicles become widely available.

To conclude, note that Dr. Cummings never really answered Neidermeyer’s questions about how she would propose keeping drivers focused on driving when using high-level driver assistance systems. Neidermeyer first laughed at her joke, then waited for a genuine answer, but got nothing and had to climb with yet another statement of her own. It seems to indicate that she has no solution in mind other than what Tesla is already doing (various audio and visual warnings to pay attention and the internal camera that sees where the driver is looking and potentially removes their FSD software access) ). Or she was not joking.

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