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9 Aug 2022

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Tesla's Head of Artificial Intelligence Exited the Company.

Tesla's director of AI, Andrej Karpathy, announced that he is leaving the company only a few months before releasing the full self-driving software to 1 million people. During his tenure as the Head of the Artificial intelligence department at Tesla, he significantly advanced in developing driver-assist features.

He spent the past five years working for Tesla. Before that, he was a research scientist at OpenAI and studied computer vision and generative modeling. Traveling further, he did his Ph.D. at Stanford as part of Fei-Fei Li's Artificial Intelligence Research Team.

Musk hasn’t given any explanations for Karpathy's departure. However, Karpathy's five-year tenure on the Autopilot team matched many previous leaders'. It's unclear if Tesla's demanding culture contributed to Karpathy's departure, but Elon Musk announced in March that Karpathy was taking a 4-month break.

Tesla has cut 10 percent of its workforce, as rumors have suggested. Due to the record number of vacancies and strong demand for talent in the tech industry, but especially in AI, some high-profile employees appear to be leaving early on their own.

While on a backpacking trip around Asia and Europe, Karpathy praised European cities for being clean, safe, unique, and pedestrian-friendly.

A pattern of executive departures has become increasingly prevalent at Tesla as some of the top personnel involved in the Model 3 project take a brief leave of absence before exiting the company. Recently, Doug Field, who led the development of Tesla's Model 3, was hired by Ford to lead its electric car efforts.

Tesla's approach to developing autonomous-driving features is unlike any other company in the auto industry. Karpathy defended the firm's positioning. It utilizes cameras to perceive the world, not additional sensors like radar or lidar. It has surpassed nearly all its competitors, including General Motors' Cruise and Alphabet's Waymo.

"Is that person on their phone and distracted? Are they going to walk into your lane?" Those answers are only found in vision." Karpathy said in 2019.

At Tesla, Karpathy has quickly made a name among AI experts. Before joining Tesla, he was a research scientist at OpenAI, the lab founded by Elon Musk. Before moving to Stanford, Karpathy created Stanford's first class on deep learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that has seen rapid growth in recent years. Karpathy's initial interest in artificial intelligence stemmed from his studies with Geoffrey Hinton, an artificial intelligence legend at the University of Toronto.

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