From space travel to deep earth boring, Elon Musk shares his opinions on AI, Mars, and business. He explores his early years as an entrepreneur that led to creating some of the most cutting-edge companies on the planet, in the planet and beyond. Oh, and there is a great little ditty at the end.
First an excerpt
with a boring company it’s about looking at infrastructure projects we typically take decades and billions of dollars and looking to to reduce the complexity that is there is that how are you. Is that how you is know how you see the world do you see the things that don’t work and can be made better. No I mean I don’t like look at things and say OK what’s the rank ordered. Business Opportunity. From a financial standpoint or anything like that it’s really just like these there are some things that are that don’t seem to be working that are important for the you know for our life and for the future to be good and I’ve said that if if you want to say where’s the. Where did you risk adjusted rate of return estimate on various industry of charities output errors like basically building rockets and cars pretty close to the bottom of the list that there would have to be the dumbest things to do. Just because you look at the auto industry and in the U.S. auto industry the only two companies that have gone bankrupt at least at some point are Tesla and Ford. Every other company that bankrupt or was failing and got acquired. There’s only two companies that haven’t gone bankrupt and there’s a big graveyard of companies that did so and you’re going up against entrenched competitors. There’s no I guess basically both SpaceX and Tesla from beginning a probability of less than 10 percent of likely likely to succeed. So why do well in the case of SpaceX.
We we met a number of years ago. In part I was writing a movie. I was going in to pitch a movie called interstellar at the time Steven Spielberg was the director and he wanted to do a grounded movie about the future of space travel. So I came in to my pitch was very short. I said the movie is going to be 10 minutes long because it’s not happening. There’s about 10 years ago we’re not going. There’s no money left. This is not a priority for us anymore. And then in the course of and somehow I got the job. In the course of writing the movie worked with Kip Thorne physicist a physics conference one night and I got seated next to Ilan. We’ve been friends ever since. The irony of that being I wound up becoming friends with a guy who I think personally is moving the needle back in the other direction out of by himself at this point. More than more than anyone I can think of. So the net result is I think we are going back to the moon. I think we are going to Mars and I think a lot of it is because of you. So one of the questions we got here today one of the questions submitted that I love is simple Mars. Can we help. Well. So in the short term Mars is really about getting a spaceship both we’re we’re making good progress on this on the on the ship and the booster be bfr what does this hand for.
Well it’s a bit of a it’s like sort of a Rorschach test an acronym form and it is very basic and I gave a presentation on this at the International Ashton local congress in Australia last year and that design is evolving rapidly we’re actually building that. But atrip right now the I think right now the biggest thing that would be helpful is just general support and encouragement. And goodwill I think once we build it they will be well it we’ll have a a a point of proof something that the companies and countries can then go and do that they currently don’t think it’s possible so if we show them that it is then I think they will they will up their game and they will build interplanetary transport because as well. Now once that has been built and there is a there is a means of getting Aargau and people to and from Mars as well as from the moon and other places in the solar system then I think that that’s really where there’s a per minute amount of entrepreneurial entrepreneur resources that are needed because you’ve got to build out the entire base of industry. Everything that allows human civilization to exist and it’s going to be hotter a lot hotter in a place like Mars or the moon we need volunteers to be colonists. We have the volunteers here. Actually not many hands raised by the mean the moon that was often thought of as like some escape scheme escape hatch will reach people but it won’t be that at all it’s in anyone who but for the early people go to Mars it will be far more dangerous. I mean really it reads like Shackleton’s ad or Antarctic explorers. You know it’s like difficult dangerous.
Good chance you’ll die. Excitement. Well those who survive that kind of thing. And I think there’s not many people who actually want to go in the beginning because all those things I said are true. But there’ll be some who will vote for whom the excitement of the frontier and exploration exceeds the danger and they will start off with them the most elementary infrastructure just a base to create propellant a power station. Glass domes and wished to grow crops all the sort of fundamentals without which you cannot survive. And then and then really there’s going to be an explosion of entrepreneur opportunity because most will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints to definitely pizza joints like why should really have great bars. The Mars Bar is all right. I loved that joke with that. What do you think the timeline for this is. So I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the timeline although I’m I can be a little sometimes my timelines are a little you know people have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic and so I’m trying to recalibrate to some degree here. But I can tell you what I know currently is the case is that where we are building the first ship the first Mars or interplanetary ship right now. And I think we’ll probably be able to do short flights short of up and down flights by sometime in the first half of next year. This is a very big booster in ship the lift of thrust of this would be twice that of a 75.
So it’s capable of doing 150 metric tons to to orbit it and be fully reusable so that the expendable payload is run double that number. So what what’s amazing about the ship assuming we can make. Well in rapid reusability work is that we can reduce the cost module cost per flight dramatically by orders of magnitude compared to where it is today. There’s this question of we’re use butties so fundamental to rocketry it is the it is the fundamental fundamental breakthrough that’s needed. If you consider aircraft for example the you can lease a 747 and do a return flight from cat black cargo from California to Australia for half a million dollars that’s what it costs to lease 747 fully round trip to Australia which is bar to buy a single engine turboprop plane a good one. It would be about one and a half billion dollars and that can’t even reach Australia. And it’s and it’s tiny compared to its employees. So what that means is like a it costs less to do take it to use a giant plane with huge cargo for a long trip than it costs way less than buying a small plane or a short trip in the aircraft world. And the same actually is true of Rock the beat. The bfr flight will actually cost less than a falcon 1 flight back in the day. That was about a five or six million dollar marginal cost per flight. We’re confident that bfr will be less than that. So that’s profound. And that is what will enable the creation of a permanent base on the moon and the city on Mars. And that’s call it like that Union Pacific Railroad or having ships that cross oceans until you can get there.
There’s no way for all of the entrepreneurial energy to do you can’t you can’t do anything. So we are full of flowers to bloom once you can get there and the opportunity is immense. And so we’re going to do our best to get you there and then make sure that an environment in which entrepreneurs can flourish and then I think it’ll be amazing. A big part of that and we’ve talked about this is inspiring people to look again at this. You know we were talking about this yesterday. It was our grandparents who went to the moon and we have not gone back says you know in my lifetime no one has gone to the moon. You and I were having a conversation last year about what to put in Falcon Heavy and and kind of what’s the cargo. And the idea was to use that as an opportunity to inspire people again. Carl Sagan had a beautiful thought many many years ago that if you just get enough people to look at the Earth from a distance that it would get them to focus on problems here and on the possibilities of space exploration. I was fortunate enough to be with you at launch control when Falcon Heavy launched a few weeks back and we made a little movie we’ve called it a trailer. That that sums up the experience we have it we have it here we thought we’d play it.
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You guys get this is two minutes that does a pretty good job of giving you the feeling of what it was like to be there when you really want to get the public to get excited about the possibility of something new happening in space of the space frontier getting pushed forward. The goal of this was to inspire you and make you believe again just as people believed in the Apollo era that anything’s possible. That picture at the end is a picture of one of the circuit boards inside the Roadster we’re trying confuse the aliens as much as possible. If you look carefully it is also a little hot wheels version of the Roadster with a tiny little astronauts in the hot wheels roadster on the dashboard. How a Scearce just by far the best cook. Nora Nourse just that and so if you guys have expressions let us know. I think for me watching those two boosters come down side by side felt like a transformative moment. It felt like a we can do anything and that’s the culmination I was really struck there by the culmination of you know a singular vision and hundreds or thousands of very talented people working together to make sure I was sitting in launch control and looking at the sheer amount of variables that you guys are clocking in those moments before the launch wind speed at different altitudes and the status of all the different 27 engines in that. I mean how do you manage your very hands on with the details. We’re also looking at the bigger bigger picture. How do you manage your time how do you how do you how do you parse you know how do you zoom in and zoom out and make sure that all these things are coming together. Well at SpaceX almost all my time is spent on engineering and design. It’s probably 80 90 percent.
And then when Craughwell who is president chief operating officer takes care of the business operations of the company which is what allowed me to do that and I thinking in order to make the right decisions you have to understand something you don’t understand something at a detail level you cannot make that decision. So I’d like to just point out like the what where you saw there as a result of an incredible team at SpaceX. Super talented people who where we work like crazy to make that happen. You know I think my role is to make sure that they have an environment where they can they can really where the talents can really come to the fore. And you know and I can’t tell you how honored and grateful to work with such a great team. Everyone in this room is inspired by you. Who are you inspired by. Well Kanye West obviously beat too right there. Fred Astaire you know you see my dance moves. We make Macy’s dance moves unless you love for us. It’s amazing to watch as we reserve I think for me when I look at all of all of the things you’ve undertaken to do the the commonalties with Tesler with Space X Silver City. Now with the boring company it feels like you’re seeing a firmly established and mature industry that is ripe for a sort of a quantum shift. There’s an opportunity there for you know in the case of cars electrification which drastically changes the complexity of an automobile and potentially down the line at the expense of it with rockets.
The usability of it with with solar it’s about a firmly established energy system that’s about to be massively disrupted. This is happening. And with a boring company it’s about looking at infrastructure projects we typically take decades and billions of dollars and looking to to reduce the complexity that is there is that how are you. Is that how you is know how you see the world do you see the things that don’t work and can be made better. No I mean I don’t like look at things and say OK what’s the rank ordered. Business Opportunity. From a financial standpoint or anything like that it’s really just like these there are some things that are that don’t seem to be working that are important for the you know for our life and for the future to be good and I’ve said that if if you want to say where’s the. Where did you risk adjusted rate of return estimate on various industry of charities output errors like basically building rockets and cars pretty close to the bottom of the list that there would have to be the dumbest things to do. Just because you look at the auto industry and in the U.S. auto industry the only two companies that have gone bankrupt at least at some point are Tesla and Ford. Every other company that bankrupt or was failing and got acquired. There’s only two companies that haven’t gone bankrupt and there’s a big graveyard of companies that did so and you’re going up against entrenched competitors. There’s no I guess basically both SpaceX and Tesla from beginning a probability of less than 10 percent of likely likely to succeed. So why do well in the case of SpaceX.
I just kept wondering why we were not making progress towards sending people to Mars why we didn’t have a base on the moon or where the space hotels that were promised in 2001 the movie. Like it just wasn’t happening in Europe. You’re just getting me down. I look at the NASA website. I was like this where does it say you want to go to Mars. So initially for SpaceX for example I thought well the Genesis SpaceX was not to create a company but but really how to how do we get NASA’s budget to be bigger that was initially to go. So I came up with this little small philanthropic mission which would be to send a small greenhouse to the surface of Mars called Mars Oasis. And then on landing the seats would be dehydrated nutrient gel hydrate upon landing and then you have a little greenhouse and then the money shot would be you know green plants against a red background. Until recently led it when he shot has a meeting that I didn’t want to wear. But you know I think that that would get people excited about recompose that the spirit of Apollo essentially and as I got more and more into what it would take to do that I learned that the fundamental issue is actually the cost of access to space rockets were super expensive and the cost cost per pound a kilogram to orbit had actually gone up over the years not down and it was like OK well it won’t matter if we are able to do this philanthropic mission and it generates a lot of will to go to Mars. That’s not going to matter if there’s no way.
So at my second or third trip back from Russia I was like whoa there’s got to be a way to build rockets. There’s got to be a way to solve this rocket problem. I start reading a lot of books and rockets and that sort of first principles analysis of of Iraq it just broke down. Materials that are in a rocket what would it cost to buy those materials what versus the price of the rocket. And there’s a gigantic difference between the ROCI real cost of the rocket and the finished cost the rocket. So there must be something wrong happening in going from the constituent to atoms to the final shape. And in fact that’s only to be true. And then and then why weren’t people trying to make usability work. It was very difficult to make rocket rocket reusability. And then unfortunately that the space shuttle ended up being a counterexample of Don’t don’t try to make the usability work because it’s special. It ended up costing more per flight than an expendable vehicle of equivalent capability. So for a long time people were using the space shuttle as an example of why reusability is dumb. You can’t take a single case example and make an entire theory out of it. So there’s no question in my mind that if you could reuse the rockets it has to be true reuse which means rapid and complete reuse. The problem with the space shuttle is only a portion of the system came back like the big orange tank which was also the primary airframe was discarded every time the parts that were used were incredibly difficult to refurbish.
So the careers of a career reuse that matters is if it’s rapid and complete is that the way things are changing between flights for scheduled maintenance. Is the propellant so we embarked on that journey to create space x in 2002 and in the beginning. Actually I would never let my friends invest because I don’t want to lose their money. I thought like you know I really lose my money. So and then it we almost a diet Space X actually. So we budgeted for all three flights. I mean technically I did have a plan where I had to have the money from paper I’ll have like about 180 million people. I thought you know I’ll allocate half of that to Space X and Tesla and Silver City and that should be fine. I’ll have 90 million likes lots to do. But but then what happens is things cost more took longer than I thought. So I had a choice of either put the rest of the money into or the companies are going to die. And so I ended up putting all the money in and and borrowing money or rent from friends. 2008 was brutal. We had 2008 we had the third consecutive failure of the Falcon rocket for SpaceX Tesla almost went bankrupt. We closed our financing around 6 p.m. Christmas Eve 2008. It was the last hour of the last day that it was possible we were going bankrupt two days after Christmas. And like but of course that was a gruff man that got us into it it poses a question or maybe you just answered the question of why is no one else doing these attacks. Pain threshold is real high. So yeah.
Space X is alive but it’s good to see those Tesla things just going on a little bit the other way. Both companies will be dead and I like one of the most difficult choices I’ve ever faced in life. This was in 2008 and I think it had a company maybe 30 million dollars left on 30 40 minute deals after 2008. I had two choices I could put it all into one company and then the other company would definitely die or split between the two companies and if I split up between two companies that both might die and when you put your blood sweat and tears into creating something or something it’s like a child. So it’s like which one I’m going to let one starve to death. I can write myself to do it. So I put ice. I split the money between two fortunately. Thank goodness they both came through. We’ve got a question for the audience to build on that. What was your biggest failure and how did it change. What was your biggest failure and how did that change author really think hard about that failure. There’s your answer. Well there’s a ton of failures along the way that’s for sure. I said as was a support for SpaceX the first three launches failed and we were just barely able to scrape together enough parts and money to do the the fourth launch that fourth launch had failed. We would have been dead so multiple failures along the way. I tried very hard to get the right expertise in for SpaceX.
I tried hard to find a great chief engineer for the rocket but at that the good Chief Engineers wouldn’t join. And the bad ones will there’s no point in hiring them. So I ended up being chief engineer of the rocket. So if I could found somebody better then we would have maybe had less than three failures. How do you how do you how do you plan a business where you know the rocket business. You know some of these things are going to blow up on the launch pad. How does the business plan. I don’t really have a business plan. I had it. I had a business plan a way back and the of today’s but these things are just always wrong. So it’s just been business plans after that. It’s I mean I think you know wishful thinking for sure is a source of many problems and many walks life business or personal business most of wishful thinking causes a lot of a lot of trouble. You really have to ask whether something is true or not that doesn’t make sense. And if it ever feels like too easy it probably is. You know at the before all the drama of Space X I think Tesla’s actually been probably 2000 my total melodrama. Those that were time protesters drove drama magnet. It’s crazy. How do you get a lot of people want to know you know you’re managing three or four companies now. Each of them trying to do something revolutionary each of them challenging business that has historically been regarded as impossible to challenge or disrupt. How do you how do you prioritize how do you how do you how do you prioritize between the different companies.
How do you measure time and how you spend your time. Absolutely. Actually controlling for water. I’ve got a bitter cold is voices bit horse it is a high priority for business time. Almost all of it is really dedicated to Space X and Tesla. That may sound like I but a lot of different endeavors but it’s overwhelmingly SpaceX and Tesla in terms of time allocation. So and then on business stuff it’s entirely good stuff my kids are here. It actually took them to South by southwest of there had a good time. Saw the Westworld of it all. It’s just really amazing you haven’t seen the West will call it exhibit or a I don’t know what you call it theme park. It’s really incredibly well done two kids yesterday had a great time. I think probably one of the biggest stars that it is that I’m actually not an investor. So you’ll think I’m an investor to invest in things I don’t actually think back the only public security that I want of any kind is Tesla. And then the next biggest is SpaceX and and then the parent company kind of started it more as a joke because that would be a funny name for a company. You know we put we put the zero in bring. I mean it’s sort of like that made sense. But when we when we when we it when you first told me that you were thinking about tunnels I must tell you about that. Years ago it was like a long time ago like I thought you were joking. Yeah it was. I was joking about it.
It’s not because of some epiphany that I had one day driving on before a fire. That’s how it gets translated somehow. I was over tunnels for years and years for probably five years or four years at least. Whenever I give a talk and people ask me about what opportunities you see in the world I’d say tunnels can someone please build tunnels. So after four or five years of begging people to build tunnels and still no tunnels. OK. Out of all the title like me I’m missing something here. So yes I was like basically talking people’s ears of tunnels for several years and then said Well let’s find out what it takes to build a tunnel and you know so so starting a tunnel I want to stop the tunnel from where I could see it from my office space x. So I said well let’s just carve up a part of the parking lot across the road so I can see if anything’s happening or not. And the renamed office boring machine. Goodo I kept waiting for it that never came finally and got it going. And now we’re making good progress and we’re fighting the company from merchandise sales. So thank you for anyone who has bought a flame thrower. You will not be sorry. Or maybe you will. Won’t be boring.
We have a video I think here Dilys vision for the Boin company Tuesday we you that I am delivering this great edits and I think you know when we were first talking about the concept you know tunnels feel like a resolutely old school solution to a prankster that I invented tunnels and I was still holding out hope for the flying car and you ask me one simple question that answer the question for me about selling cars kind of forever which was would you want your neighbor to have a flying car. Yes exactly. This is exactly the question. Oh you would like or how about everyone around you has a flying car too. Oh that doesn’t sound so good. Yeah and I think one of the interesting things about tunneling is that it’s one of these things that there’s not a lot of more competition there. It’s not that you know it’s something that’s ripe for change. So how do you. You talked about the philosophy with Goudeau was to just keep running it basically until you figured out why it can’t run any faster. Yes. I mean the warning coming should be clear it’s. It’s like literally 2 percent of my time. It’s probably 20 percent of my tweets tweets do not correlate to actual time spent. I mean I just have fun with the boring company. But my time allocation is about. It’s literally about 2 percent of your time allocation. I think one of the things you spend an awful lot of time thinking about or know is artificial intelligence it’s something that you and I have as a shared interest and it’s something that audience is interested in as well. The question here is a lot of experts and I don’t share the same level of concern that you do about the draft. What’s the last word. What’s what specifically do you believe that they don’t.
Well the base issue I see with so-called experts is that they think they know more than they do and they think they’re smarter than they actually are. In general we are all much smarter than we think we are much less smart and dumber than we think we are by a lot. So this is this tends to plague plagues more people because just can’t they define themselves by their intelligence and they they don’t like the idea that a machine could be way smarter than them so they discount the idea which is fundamentally flawed. Thus the wishful thinking situation I’m really quite close to and very close to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me. It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential. You can see this in things like Alpha go which went from in the span of maybe 6 to 9 months it went from being unable to beat even a reasonably good go player. So then beating the European world champion who was ranked 600 then beating least adult 4 5. What would be the world champion for many years then beating the current world champion and beating everyone while playing simultaneously. Then then there was alpha zero which crushed ælfric go 100 0 and Elfers 0. Just learned by playing itself and it can play basically any game that you put the rules and for whatever rules you give it literally read the rules. Play the game and be super human for any game. Nobody expected the rate of improvement to gas those so those same experts who think AI is not progressing at the rate that I’m saying.
I think you’ll find that their predictions for things like go and other and other departments have their batting average is quite weak. It’s not good that we’ll see this. Also with self driving I think probably by the end of next year self driving will be will the compass essentially all modes driving and be at least 100 200 percent safer than a person. By the end of next year we’re talking 18 months from now. Nitsa this study on Tesla’s autopilot. Version 1 which is relatively primitive and found that it was a 45 percent reduction in highway accidents. And that’s despite or about one being just pushing one version two I think will be at least two or three times that’s the current version that’s running right now. So the improvement is really dramatic. We have to figure out some way to ensure that the advent of digital superintelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity. I think that’s the single biggest existential crisis that we face and the most pressing one. And how do we do that. I mean if we take it that it’s inevitable at this point that some version of the eye is coming down. How do we steer through that. Well I’m not normally an advocate of regulation and oversight. I think what you generally are on the side of minimizing those things but this is a case where you have a very serious danger to the public and therefore there needs to be a public body that has insight and oversight on to confirm that everyone is developing AI safely. This is extremely important. I think the danger of AI is much greater than that.
The danger of nuclear warheads by a lot and nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to just build nuclear warheads if they want that would be insane. And mark my words is far more dangerous than nukes far. So why do we have no regulatory oversight. Doesn’t say what’s you ask for a long time. I think it’s a question that’s come to the forefront of last year. We begin to realize that it doesn’t necessarily stick. We’ve all been focused in on the idea of artificial superintelligence right which is clearly a danger that maybe you know a little further out what’s happened last year as you’ve seen artificial calling artificial stupidity. Talking about you know algorithmic manipulation of social media like we’re in it now it’s starting it’s starting to happen how do we how do we. Is it what’s the intervention at this point. I’m not really all that worried about the short term stuff things that are like narrow AI it’s not a species level risk. It will result in dislocation in lost jobs. And you know that sort of better weaponry and that kind of thing. But it is not a fundamental species level rose whereas digital superintelligence is. So it’s really all about laying the groundwork to make sure that if humanity collectively decides that creating digital super intelligence is the right move. Van we should do so very very carefully. Very very carefully. This is the most important thing that we could possibly do. Building on that other than AI and the the other issues that you’re tackling transportation energy production aerospace what issues should our next generation of leaders be focused on solving.
What else is coming out on well I mean there are other things that are on a longer timescale. And obviously the things that I believe in extending life beyond earth making life altering planetary I believe are in a sort of Asmas Foundation series on the principle that you really want to regret reading the Foundation series. But it’s like if you if you know that there’s a there’s likely to be you don’t know that there’s likely to be another dark energy which it seems my guess is there probably will be at some point. I’m not predicting that we’re about to enter a dark ages but that there’s some probability that we will particularly if there is a third world war then we will make sure that there’s enough of us of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back and perhaps shorten the length of the Dark Ages. I think that’s why it’s important to get a self-sustaining base ideally on Mars because Mars is far enough away from Earth that warrant earth mars base might survive. It’s more like this that a moon base. But I think a moon base and a Mars base that that could have helped regenerate life back here on Earth would be really important to get that done before a possible world war 3. You know last century we had two massive world wars three if you count the Cold War. I think it’s unlikely that we will never have another world war again. That probably will be at some point or if we have another one it will be the last. Yeah it just could be radioactive rubble.
So again I’m not predicting it seems like well if you say given enough time will it be most likely given enough time because this has been our pattern in the past. So like you really believe in the zeroth law of Asimov’s Earth Law you take the set of actions most likely to support humanity in the future. But I think sustainable energy is obviously really important as tautological if it’s not sustainable it’s unsustainable. How close are we to solving the problem. Well I think that the core technologies are are there with the Wind Solar with batteries. The fundamental problem is that there’s an unpriced x tonality in the cost of CO2. The market economics works very well if things are priced correctly but when there is when things are not priced correctly. And something that has has a real cost has zero cost then that’s where you get distortions in the market that inhibit the progress of other technologies. So essentially anything that that produces carbon put carbon into the atmosphere which includes rockets by the way. So I’m not excluding rockets from. There has to be a price and that you can start off with a low price but then that price and then depending upon whether the price has any effect on the possibility of possibility of CO2 in the atmosphere you can adjust that price up or down to but in the absence of a price we sort of pretend that digging trillions of tonnes of bits of fossil fuels from deep under the earth and putting it into the atmosphere or pretending that that that that that has no probability of bad outcome and the entire scientific community is saying obviously it’s going to have a bad outcome.
Obviously you’re just you’re changing the chemical constituency the atmosphere so it’s really up to people and governments to put to put a price on carbon and then automatically the right thing happens. It’s really straightforward what do we do with the carbon. I actually think we can manage with the current carbon level or even a little bit higher. It’s going to sound sound like I’m backtracking but there’s actually an argument that more carbon in the atmosphere is actually good. But up to a point so white actually arguably have been a little carbon starved if you go back 200 years ago and say OK well 50 years ago like we had like 200 and a tour of 90 parts per million of carbon were probably a little carbon starved. Now we’re about 400 just past 400 mark I think somewhere in the hundreds probably OK. We don’t have to worry about sequestering carbon or anything like that. But if this momentum keeps going and we start going up to six hundred eight hundred thousand. Fifteen hundred that’s where things get really squirrelly. And the sheer momentum of the world’s energy infrastructure is leading us in that direction. So it’s just very important that the public and the government push to ensure the correct price of carbon is paid so that that will be the thing that that that matters. Yeah our audience is very interested in knowing how many hours of sleep you got last night. I don’t know about six five or six I think. I feel like you know part of the answer is this because you’re trapped in Westwood for a while.
But but on a regular day for you when you are you are you sleep you’re not stay the light. I looked at that. You look great. Just imagine with the amount of responsibilities and the amount of you know what you got going on do these problems still keep you up at night or do you think we’re on our way to solving the boring other things that are really stressing me out in a big way or AI. Obviously that’s like always there and end up working really hard on Tesla Model 3 production and we’re making good progress but it’s usually hard work for those the two most stressful things in my life. Our audience really wants to know we hope the world will look like for children when they when they’re your age. Winter what do you hope for the world to look like. What’s the best case scenario saying we solve these problems. What’s that world look like. Well I think the picture would look like we’re really substantially transferred to sustainable generation and consumption of electricity so that the CO2 risk in the ocean rising risk is mitigated. We’re not looking at like you know having Florida sort of large portions of the world underwater be great not to have addressed that risk very very nervous for us to have a base on the moon base on Mars. Big Other exploring the solar system. So the industry on essentially having human civilization go out there and have research that anyone can go to the moon or Mars or up the solar system if they want to make it really affordable.
I do think it’s important that there’s competition that there are multiple companies doing as much as Space X and that a high risk is that I guess is the sort of a benign AI that we’re able to achieve a symbiosis with that AI ideally be somebody who remember his name but had a good suggestion for what the optimization of the area should be. What’s its utility function. You have to be careful about this because you say maximize happiness and the ad concludes that happiness is folks are doping and serotonin says captures all human subjects you brain with large amounts of dope means that are Tonin like OK so we. It sounds pretty good. You will love it I like that. You like that I should try to maximize the freedom of action of humanity maximize the freedom of action maximize freedom. Essentially I like that definition. We do want to close coupling between collective human intelligence and digital intelligence. NewLink has tried to help in that regard by creating an interface between the hypergrowth interface between AI and and human brain. There were already were ready Cibot in the sense that your phone and your computer are a kind of extension of you just lo being with them now. Exactly it’s just low bandwidth particularly me two thumbs. Basically how do we solve that problem the bandwidth within the band with this. I mean we’ve all we’ve all succumbed to it. Now we’re all we’re all cyborgs we’re just low efficiency cyborgs so how do we how do we make it better.
I think we’ve got to build a we’ve got that interface like we didn’t evolve to have a communications Jack you know or some would say that there’s got to be essentially vast numbers of tiny electrodes that are able to read right from your brain of course you know security is pretty important to the situation say the least as they say I’m not come with them my brain air gapped. Yeah well I think a lot of people will choose to do that but it’s a bit like in Banks’s new place. But in that case you realize it’s sort of that that’s from when you’re born or it’s sort of it’s not. It’s more of a threat to back to back up because. This is a digital extension of you that isn’t AI the extension of a tertiary layer of intelligence. So you get your limbic system your cortex and the tertiary layer which is the digital extension of you and that high bandwidth connection is what achieves a tight symbiosis. I think that’s the best outcome. I hope so if it always gets better ideas to hear and talking about another project you are working on or at least wants to know more about. Stanley tell us anything during Skynet hopefully Nonsuch the Internet in the sky. Well we don’t talk that much about StarLink but essentially it’s intended to provide low latency high bandwidth Internet connectivity throughout the world that actually will not be enough cognitive processing car onboard the satellite system to to in any way be a Skynet thing like its digital A.I. requires a lot of superintelligence requires a lot of big servers on the ground to power intensive. This is intended to be to provide people with.
You don’t have any internet connectivity with Internet connectivity and it’s very good for sports and sparsely populated and moderate moderately sparsely quiet populated areas and forgiving people in cities a choice of a you know a low cost choice of Internet access. But I do think it’s going to important the stalling system will be important in providing the funding necessary for SpaceX to develop interplanetary spacecraft. And at the same time helping people who have either no or superconscious connectivity and giving people in urban areas more of a competitive choice. Cool and I have to ask you because it’s the number one question. Just going back to Mars. What kind of government you envision for the first Martian colony. We’re at war. And what’s your title. Zachary Emperor oh god emperor. It might be too much. If you want to watch my jokes here. Not everyone gets irony and must remember. So I think the most likely form of government on Mars would be somewhat of a direct democracy where you vote on issues where people vote directly on issues instead of going through representative government in a year when the United States was formed representative government was the only thing that was logistically feasible because there’s no way to communicate instantly. A lot of people don’t even have really access to mailboxes or there wasn’t even the post office with very very primitive lot of people could write. So you had to have some form of representative democracy or things just wouldn’t work at all. But I think most of us like it’s going to be people everyone votes on every issue and that’s how it goes. There are few things I’d recommend which is keep blower’s short long laws. It’s like that’s that something suspicious is going on if there’s a long law.
You know if the size of low exceeds the word count of Lord of the Rings signs which it does amazingly then it’s like something’s wrong. So there should be a limit to the size of the law that you should be able to digest it. Like Huckabee you can read the Constitution and all of the amendments like you can read those and you get our and and we govern so much of our civilization by that and yet modern law is up to us super boring tome that’s indecipherable towards anyone. So I think direct democracy laws laws that are comprehensible. I think having some kind of history says on like it should be easier to remove a law than create one because things just get to inertia. You have to have something that’s kind of come inertia. So probably I don’t what the right number be. Maybe it’s like 60 40 maybe it requires 60 percent to get a law in place but any number above 40 percent can remove a low level it that you just get laws just accumulate over time and over time and it it’s sort of like Gulliver where you just get trapped by all these tiny strings and you can’t move. You get hardening of the arteries of civilization with rules and rules rules rules. So it’d be just easier to get rid of a rule then put one in. Maybe that should even have like a kind of sunset clause so that they just automatically expire unless there’s enough of an impetus to keep them around. I know I know there’s a feminine image that I’m interested in hearing a little bit more about the very early days with Tesla and how it came together.
Brother Kimball is here that we bring you guys could talk a little bit about you guys might get lucky tonight. I notice you have a guitar. I’m going to ignore that. We got we’re good guitar but I guess there are a fair number of entrepreneurs here today and a fair number of people interested looking at Tesla which now extraordinary extraordinary success. How did this come together when you guys were looking at. I know famously you know you guys when you were looking at problems you could solve it were these conversations look like yeah. So the it’s a very casual fix coming on about the things that I thought would be most port to work on for all time or back to college days and electric cars are so or better. So since I was 18 19. When do you first record here. We talk about electric cars. Your first time was while you talked about in the 90s a lot. We used to brainstorm a lot randomly even and I think we were 20 20 years old and the first thing I remember was brainstorming was solving connectivity amongst doctors. And we were on a road trip from a long time ago.
We allowed doctors in the family so we had the information but the idea was really to solve that problem where we are from Silicon Valley to Philadelphia brainstorming how you do this before the internet so we know in our minds designing network computers doctors talking this will happen of course of a 25 years but it is sort of the first time I remember us really trying to solve a world problem and unless it was a world problem that was really important it just wasn’t that interesting to us. Electric cars you talked about for a long time but I remember walking into your house once in 2000 to 2003 and you had these plans laid out that the team at Tesla had the earlier guys had basically said you know we’re going to take this lotus leaves we’re going to convert it into electric car. And we sat down and talked about it for a bit and it wasn’t so much that it could be done. I think we all believe it could be done. It was more just the attitude that it should be done. And it went from there. Yeah. Well the the first internships that I had that were interesting were on ultra capacitors. We use electric cars. So what wipers came out to Silicon Valley in like 93 or made to us that was we’re going to go pedicle research on advanced ultra capacitors with the idea that this could be a solution to the energy storage problem. Electric vehicles. And then when a graduate from Penn was going to be doing a Ph.D. in Stanford and material science and physics try to figure out if there’s a way to solve for an ultra high density solid state capacitor that would have enough range to power electric vehicle. So it’s an fact. So that’s that’s that’s in 95. And then I wasn’t sure that’s one of those things where you could work at it for a long time and discover that there’s no actually no good solution. You publish a paper and you get a Ph.D. in a lab but it would be academic and its value.
So if I had a choice of either work on this energy storage system for electric vehicles or try to play a role in pulling the Internet. But the Internet stuff was happening right then and there. Whereas the electric vehicle technology was going to progress slowly on its own. Whether I was there or not. So I thought well put the right size on hold and do something to help build the Internet or do something useful on the Internet. And that’s why I talked to. And you’re working in Canada at the time and said hey I want to introduce this company in Silicon Valley. That’s pretty cool we bought that. We were the first to see maps and direction be built by company Navteq never and never been on the Internet and was so cool to be the first two humans to see it. You can do a map type in an address get directions and you probably all did about 50 times today each. And we were the first to see that on the internet so it was really cool. Was the first maps and directions yellow pages and pages on the Internet. So we ended up helping bring our publications online. So we’re as investors and customers. The New York Times Company Knight-Ridder Hearst and number of others. And yeah but I always wanted to get back to electric vehicles because that was a primary interest of mine from undergrad and grad days and so after too. So the more Internet company is thought to had not achieved its its full potential. We would this incredible technology but it wasn’t being used by the customers in the right way.
It’s a bit like building you know F 22 fighter jets. And then and then you sell to people and they roll them down the hill at each other like really not the way to use it. OK. That’s where I decide you really want to go to the end consumer if you’ve got great technology. You want to go all the way to the end consumer. Don’t tell it to some bonehead legacy company that doesn’t understand how to use it. So yeah. So with X.com which became PayPal that’s what that’s what we’re trying to do something significant with the with the Internet. And it got sort of part of the way towards its objective after PayPal went public and then quote by eBay in 2002. That actually freed up me and a bunch of other people to go and create companies and so debating between either solar electric car or space. I thought space was like the least likely to have somebody the least likely to attract arboreal I like like nobody is going to be crazy enough to space. So I better do space. So I start off with space first and then about a year and a half later in 2003 I had lunch with J.V. Straubel and held Rosen and it was that was like fish restaurant in El Segundo. And how Rosen had been involved in space and electric vehicles and MJB was just just graduated from college was working with him and the conversation turned to electric vehicles because a lot of the court of motors which was like an attempted startup.
And I said Well I’ve always been super interested electric vehicles I was going to do my Ph.D. on advanced energy use energy storage I was going to do studies on advanced energy storage techniques for electric vehicles and J.B. said Well have you heard of this company called AC Propulsion. Because they had created the zero electric sports car as a prototype. I was like wow it’s great. Lithium ion batteries had really achieved a level of energy density that for the first time could allow you to have a significant range electric car and they had a sports car that had zero to 60 in under four seconds of a 50 mile range and it’s pretty cool. That was just made of. It was just a kit car. So it didn’t have a roof or airbags or animal control system and it was extremely reliable. It wasn’t productize but it was a proof of concept. So I got the test drive from AC repulsion and was like wow you guys should really commercialize this. This would show people what electric cars can do. I tried for months to get AC Propulsion to go into production with the zero. And like they just went on an interest in doing that. Amazingly they wanted to do an electric sign on. You don’t like that boxy car. But the problem is like the electric sound rocket would cost seventy thousand dollars. Or you could build a sports car for a hundred thousand dollars. But like nobody could buy the electric sound but fueled by the electric sports car. So after counting them for four months I finally said look if you guys are not going to commercialize the teaser would you mind if I did that and they said no no no problem go ahead.
So great. So I’m going to do that with chavy. And I said if you’re if you’re going to do. You can get it going. Apartheids are there some other teams you talk to that also interest in doing that. So that’s where we don’t have a hard mark topping the right came in. And I think that was probably the biggest mistake of my career quite frankly. The I think whenever you think you can have your cake and eat it too. That’s something you’re probably wrong. So I thought I could keep wanting SpaceX. I’ll dedicate 20 percent of my time to Tesla and that will be fine. But actually it didn’t. Things really melted down went through hell which recapitalized the company. Q What was the scene in real time. Silicon Valley. Accurate or not accurate that the show the source to get very accurate around around episode four. So it took a few episodes to kind of get it grounded. The first episode struck me as Hollywood making fun of Hollywood’s idea of Silicon Valley which is like not you know not a point but then by about the fourth or fifth episode Season 1 it really does get good and then by season 2 It’s amazing. In fact reality but the truth is stranger than fiction. All the crazy stuff you see in that show Silicon Valley. The reality is way crazier than CO2 right. Yeah I was like wow. What won’t have to be a story for another time. We’ve been asked wrapping up I got one last question from the audience. It is.
What is your favorite song for a new movie. Three Amigos. Well we don’t need any do it of if you guys are willing to sing along. So John Ashley is the dancer of the three of us have been we’ve been playing and singing and dancing this song since we were kids and so we’re going to do that onstage. And do you guys sing along. Well the first verse and then you just sing along the second verse. Let’s give it real bad. I said terrible terrible I’m nixing the dancey thing. Come with me when Moomba hits the sky you will walk with me. Bye bye bye. Ok all together now my little smile my little buttercup. Where do you stay while you stay. Me Well is really winning.