Julia Roberts as Amanda next to Teslas in Leave the World Behind

Looks Like ‘Leave the World Behind’ Was Right About Elon Musk’s Self-Driving Teslas

Leave the World Behind may have eerily predicted at least one real-world event. Although Elon Musk was offended by a scene in the movie in which his self-driving Teslas were hacked, two million of his vehicles were just recalled for an autopilot defect.

Recommended Videos

Leave the World Behind is currently the number one movie on Netflix, which isn’t surprising considering how relevant it is to today’s world. The film follows the Sanford family, who must contend with a global crisis while vacationing at a rental home on Long Island. It is the kind of ambiguous movie that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. However, one impossible-to-miss theme is the impact of technology. Leave the World Behind criticizes society’s over-dependence on technology but also probes how easily our technology could be used against us.

What’s especially chilling is that we’re not talking about futuristic technology. We’re all familiar with movies that imagine the threat of extremely advanced artificial intelligence that may not even be feasible to create. However, Leave the World Behind differs in that it’s existing technology that results in wide scale destruction. It suggests the entire country could be debilitated and thrown into chaos just by controlling and tampering with its technology. One of the most memorable scenes is when it’s revealed that hackers are controlling all the self-driving Teslas in the country. Though some viewers might have scoffed at the improbability of the scene, real-life events prove it’s not that far-fetched.

All U.S. Teslas recalled days after Leave the World Behind premiere

Tesla scene in Leave the World Behind

Just days after Leave the World Behind‘s streaming release, it was reported that Tesla is recalling nearly all of the two million vehicles it has sold in the United States. The massive recall is the culmination of a two-year investigation into Tesla after the company’s self-driving cars were involved in numerous accidents, some fatal. The recalled vehicles will be undergoing a software update due to issues with the autopilot function. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that accidents occurred because drivers were too reliant on the autopilot feature and would stop paying attention when it was enabled. The update will not only create frequent reminders for those using autopilot to pay attention but will limit the areas where a driver can use autopilot.

Many readers may have been startled to read the headlines about two million Teslas being recalled after watching Leave the World Behind. Of course, the Teslas weren’t recalled for hacking, but the recall still proves that the movie’s warnings about self-driving Teslas weren’t misplaced. It’s also quite humorous because Tesla founder Musk defended his self-driving cars after the movie premiered. He missed the movie’s whole point, arguing that, because the vehicles use solar panel charging, they’ll remain functional even in an apocalyptic situation.

Musk’s faith in his Teslas may take a hit now that they’re being recalled, and their most marketable feature, autopilot, will be further limited. Musk’s cockiness is even more inexplicable, considering there’s already proof that the scenario in Leave the World Behind could happen. In 2017, a “hacker” managed to gain control of Tesla’s entire fleet of vehicles. Fortunately, it wasn’t a malicious hacker but a man specifically hired to find vulnerabilities in Tesla’s servers. That same year, Musk himself stated that a “fleet-wide hack” was a genuine concern for Tesla. He posited his own Leave the World Behind scenario, stating:

In principle, if someone was able to say hack all the autonomous Teslas, they could say – I mean just as a prank – they could say ‘send them all to Rhode Island’ [laugh] – across the United States… and that would be the end of Tesla and there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island.

Tesla has continued working with hackers to improve cybersecurity, and as recently as this year, hackers were able to compromise a Model 3 Tesla. Last year, a teenager was able to hack into 25 Teslas, immediately reporting the vulnerabilities he found to the company.

We’re lucky that none of these hackers had nefarious intentions. If a hacker ever did gain access to two million self-driving Teslas, it could easily result in a nationwide catastrophe. So, although Musk and his followers may be angry that Leave the World Behind warned audiences about self-driving Teslas, the recall and hacks prove that the film is right, and we should be wary of this technology.

(featured image: Netflix)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.