In recent weeks Tesla has been drawing a lot of attention for its new “Autopilot” feature. A crash in Florida May of a Model S while Autopilot was engaged, added to the fact that this feature was released in beta mode, exacerbated by Tesla’s refusal to cede ground in the face of blowback from motorists and experts, are building toward a true PR nightmare. How should Elon Musk and his team respond?
Technological advances have been credited with accelerating the pace of globalization. Unfortunately, globalization – including multi-national initiatives such as the EU single market – has unwittingly caused casualties among middle and working class people around the world due to widespread outsourcing, offshoring, and the easing of border security in the case of the EU. The crisis of middle east migrants into Europe has not made things easier, and the repeated domestic and international terrorist attacks of the past several months have made things worse. These factors help to explain the Trump phenomenon in the U.S., the recent Brexit vote in Europe, and the surge of far-right movements in France, Austria, the Netherlands and other EU countries against immigration, international trade agreements, and dramatic income inequality. Coming full circle, tech companies cannot afford any longer to ignore their role in addressing these issues if they are to avoid being scapegoated sooner or later by enraged citizens manipulated by cynical political leaders.