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Tesla Inc Dodges Autopilot Crisis, Nabs AI Boffin Karpathy‏

Tesla Model 3 TSLA Autopilot NASDAQ:TSLA

Tesla Inc has chosen Andrej Karpathy‏ to head up its AI program, according to a statement released by the firm on Friday. The move was announced after Tesla’s Autopilot head said he was leaving after just six months in the role. Karpathy’s title will be director of AI and Autopilot vision.

Tesla Inc TSLA Autopilot NASDAQ:TSLA
Source: Tesla Motors

Chris Lattner, who joined Elon Musk’s company from Apple earlier this year, said that he was not suited to the role. His immediate replacement is Autopilot hardware head Jim Keller. That’s not all, however, as it seems clear that Mr. Karpathy is being ‏ preened for a role in improving the service.

Depending on how you look at Tesla stock, AI may be central to the firm’s future. At the very least AI is a marginal help to demand for the firm’s cars. If you listen to the optimists, Elon Musk’s Autopilot efforts will change the world. Deciding which of these stories is true now lies in the hands of one man more than any other.

Who is Tesla Inc AI director Andrej Karpathy‏?

The new man in charge of AI at Tesla Inc is an expert in neural network training. He has a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University, and his most recent work was at OpenAI. On Tuesday evening he sent out a tweet announcing his new role.

Mr. Karpathy is well known in the AI field. He designed and taught one of the first big Stanford courses on deep learning and worked for a time at Google’s DeepMind AI workshop.

Mr. Karpathy keeps a github blog about his exploits. If you have a professional interest in what he’s bringing to Tesla, that’s a good place to start reading. If you’re an investor with little taste for the technicals, however, you probably just want to know how this affects your Tesla stock.

Is AI central to Tesla stock?

Tesla stock isn’t a simple thing to value, and analysts on Wall Street have had a hard time understanding exactly what underpins its sky-high multiple. Some suggest the firm’s near-monopoly on the electric vehicle space is the major factor worth looking at. Contrastingly, other analysts reckon the outfit is a battery maker. That makes the Model S is just a nice box to deliver the real product.

More forward-looking analysts, like Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley, have been saying for some time that the real future of Tesla Inc is in AI and autonomous technology. That story is likely the most interesting. It says that in two decades Elon Musk will sell 0 cars per year. Instead he will rent them out.

The cars, equipped with Autopilot (2037), would essentially operate their own taxi service. Mr. Jonas predicted the service would spread across the US in 2016. We’re not quite there yet. While Mr. Jonas lofty predictions about the Tesla AI were ahead of reality, they may still come true.

Tesla seems to be hitting some roadblocks as it tries to develop an AI that can drive the firm’s cars by themselves. The crisis that the firm is dealing with, though extent of it is hidden, appears to have been handled ably by management.

We won’t know how his AI training program is proceeding for some time, nor do we know whether his leadership will bring a dramatic change to the programs style and substance. For those with Tesla Inc stock in their portfolios, however, this move seems like a net positive.

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