There was a lot of hype and interest around Tesla AI Day, and then Tesla rolled through technical presentation after technical presentation and mere lay people like me got a bit lost in the jargon and visualizations. Some who watched the event thought it was a failure — Wall Street didn’t “get it,” customers and potential customers were lost, and then there was a robot/human dancing in a robot costume.
One of our writers, Johnna Crider, was there. It seemed clear from her impressions of the event, but also from activity leading up to the event and how the event was tailored, that AI Day was something akin to a job fair. The aim was to get good AI researchers and people who understood AI and subjects on the periphery of AI well to apply for a job at Tesla.
Well, if all of that wasn’t clear enough, Elon Musk made it explicit today at the 2021 Tesla Shareholder Meeting. He pointed out that AI-related job applications skyrocketed following the event. So, basically, it seems that Tesla nailed its prime goal for the event.
This gets to a broader point that Elon has brought up on multiple occasions, including in short discussions with me: the main thing Tesla needs is good engineers, and those can be hard to find. Elon pointed out in the meeting today that there is no factory out there producing great engineers. So, hiring good engineers for the right jobs at Tesla can be a challenge.
Even though Tesla is one of the top companies (if not #1) in the world for attracting graduates from top engineering universities, finding truly excellent engineers is a notable ongoing challenge for the company.
Plus, corporate evaluation systems for such people are not perfect, including Tesla’s. Elon wondered out loud on stage whether Nikola Tesla himself would get through an initial interview at Tesla — probably not.
In any case, skipping all the talk about robots, the point is that Tesla needs smart, effective engineers. And AI Day helped with that.