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Evette Pennypacker

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27 Apr, 2023

Tesla lawyers: Musk’s statements could be deepfakes

Court filing0 Comments

Tesla’s lawyers argue in court filings that some of Musk’s statements about the safety of their autopilot features cannot be trusted, because they could be deepfakes. This includes Musk, saying in a speech in 2016:

A Model S and Model X, at this point, can drive autonomously with greater safety than a person right now.

The lawyers say they don’t know whether Musk really made the statements or not:

At first glance it might seem unusual that Tesla could not admit or deny the authenticity of video and audio recordings purportedly contain statements by Mr. Musk…The reality is he, like many public figures, 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.

Judge Pennypacker says these arguments are “deeply troubling” and tentatively orders Musk to be interviewed under oath for three hours about whether he made the statements:

Their position is that because Mr. Musk is famous and might be more of a target for deepfakes, his public statements are immune. In other words, Mr. Musk, and others in his position, can simply say whatever they like in the public domain, then hide behind the potential for their recorded statements being a deep fake to avoid taking ownership of what they did actually say and do.

The filings are part of a lawsuit brought against Tesla in 2019, alleging that the autopilot feature was defective, resulting in the death of the car’s owner.