Elon Musk is a pretty eccentric person, no one can deny that. But he’s also a visionary, and most of them are pretty eccentric. During his interview last night at Code Conference he talked about many things; Mars colonization, Tesla Motors, the current state of AI technology, and more. We gathered most interesting topics and put them all in one place, just for you. So, stay with us and find out what Elon Musk talked about in his interview with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.
We found out Elon Musk is closely watching the potential competition for Tesla Motors, and that his view is that Google isn’t a potential competitor, because although they have advanced greatly with their autonomous driving project, they aren’t really a car company. He said that “Google’s done a great job of showing the potential of autonomous transport, but they’re not a car company.”
Instead, other electric car companies will probably cooperate with Google, trying to bring their autonomous driving tech into other car models. This view of things is pretty realistic because although Google had great success, they haven’t yet decided to enter the electric (or petrol-powered) car business.
On the other hand, Apple could prove a worthy competitor to Tesla Motors. We know that they are advancing their smart car project and that they could make the move to produce their own cars. When asked if Apple could become a competition at some point, Elon Musk directly responded, “Apple, yeah, that’ll be more direct.”
He said, “I think they should have embarked on this project sooner. I don’t know… They don’t share with me the details. I don’t think they’ll be volume production sooner than 2020. It’s a missed opportunity. There’re a dozen car companies of significance in the world, the most any company has is approximately 10% market share.”
So it seems that Apple should start their project sooner, and since Musk has much more information about this, he’s probably right. The electric car industry is already exploding through the world, there are more and more models every day, and if this trend continues, by 2020 we will see electric cars everywhere. But, let’s not forget that Apple entered smartphone market relatively late when the market already formed and at the point where smartphones became the new man’s best friend. We all know how that ended up, with iPhone becoming the most popular smartphone in years to come, and with Apple becoming the most powerful company in the world. So, even if they run late to the electric car party, they could end up being the star of the show.
Of course, one of the biggest problems is manufacturing and a sturdy supply chain; Musk explained that “The sheer scale of automotive manufacturing, it’s hard to appreciate until you see the plants,” and Apple has great experience with creating strong supply chain, but we’ll see if they can actually produce their own car. At least Musk is supportive; when asked could Apple make their own car he responded: “I hope it works out.”
He also said that Tesla Model 3 is just six weeks from being completely designed, “Almost all of the Model 3 design is done, and we’re aiming for pencils down basically in six weeks, complete pencils down. And we’re tabling — you know, if there are ideas for future cool things, we’ll have it in version 2, version 3.”
So it seems that Model 3 will be ready for mass production stage by the end of summer and if Elon Musk is right we can expect the car to be ready for delivery by year’s end. Elon Musk also mentioned that a big event for Model 3 is planned for the last part of the year; this further proves that Model 3 will be ready on time.
Elon Musk On Mars Colonization
When talking about the potential manned mission to Mars, he hopes that a mission could arrive there by 2025 (if you read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, you remember that Ares arrived there in 2026), after it launches in 2024.
SpaceX plans to launch the second version of Dragon mission during next year; Dragon rocket can take up to 7 astronauts into space and if proves successful SpaceX could start launching missions to Mars by 2018. Elon Musk believes that launching the first Mars mission by 2018 is achievable, of course, without a human crew. “The 2018 mission will be a Dragon V2, I wouldn’t recommend traveling to Mars in that, it has the interior volume of an SUV. This will be a very big rocket. And it also doesn’t have the capability of getting back to Earth. We’ll put that in fine print.” Colonizing Mars could start in the next couple of decades, but even Elon Musk knows that first couple of manned missions could be one-way trips. He said that “If you gotta choose a place to die, then Mars is probably not a bad choice. It’s not some sort of Martian death wish.”
He said that his architecture for the colonization of Mars will be presented this September when Musk will show what we are going to need in order to transport all of the necessary infrastructure, hardware, and people to Mars. All of this will be required in order to build a self-sustained city on Mars; a city that will be able to function all by itself and that could grow when new colonists arrive. SpaceX plans to start first mission in 2018; after that the company plans to launch new missions at every opportunity (when the distance between Mars and Earth is shortest), meaning every 26 months.
He doesn’t plan for Mars to become a sort of replacement for Earth. When asked about that Musk said, “No, no, I think it’s great — why would we abandon Earth, it’s really nice here.” He also believes that future Mars colonies should have a direct democracy, and not representative, the one that’s most popular right now. He said that “Most likely the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, not representative. So it would be people voting directly on issues. And I think that’s probably better because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy.”
He finished Mars part of the interview with following words: “I believe is important to the future, ultimately be out there among the star. It’s not being a single planet species and moving planets, it’s about being a multi-planet species and have life extend beyond the solar system and ultimately to other star systems. That’s the future that’s exciting. You need things like that to be glad to wake up in the morning. Life can’t just be about solving problems, they have to be inspiring and make you glad to be alive.”
AI, Living In A Simulation And More
Elon Musk talked about the current state of AI research. He said that there’s only one company that worries him. And that company is probably Google because they have gone most far with their AI research. Musk stated that he founded the Open AI non-profit not because he wants to enter the AI research race; he just wants a future where humans aren’t controlled by some artificial intelligence master. “I don’t know a lot of people who love the idea of living under a despot,” he said, “It’s really just trying to increase the probability that the future will be good. If AI power is broadly distributed to the degree that we can link AI power to each individual’s will — you would have your AI agent, everybody would have their AI agent — then if somebody did try to something really terrible, then the collective will of others could overcome that bad actor.”
Talking on other subjects, Elon Musk also stated that there is a chance we are living in a simulated reality. He said that “There’s a billion to one chance we’re living in base reality,” and when looking at the matter from an objective standpoint, he could be right. Fermi paradox is just one of the reasons, maybe we are placed in a simulation, and space is just big, fancy background scenery. Elon Musk has a different argument; he said that if we just look at the video-game advancements we saw in the last 40 years, it is probable that in the future we’ll make some sort of simulated environment where people (or their minds) can actually live in. He said that “If you assume any rate of improvement at all then games will become indistinguishable from reality. Even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now, let’s just imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.”
All this is pretty logical, we already had literary works, like Charles Stross’s Accelerando, which dealt with the rise of AI through technological singularity. Among other, Stross presented a future where simulated environments are used so people can live in a familiar environment since the Earth and most of the planets in our solar system were used for building a massive Matrioshka brain.
Elon Musk also talked about how we are already cyborgs, and his view of the situation is very similar to that of Charles Stross, and the story of Accelerando. Musk said that “We’re already a cyborg.” He talked that “You have a digital version of yourself, a partial version of yourself online in the form of your emails, your social media, and all the things that you do. You have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago. You can answer any question; you can video conference with anyone, anywhere. You can send messages to millions of people instantly. Just do incredible things.”
Further talking, he said that the main problem of us becoming real cyborgs, that can connect their brains online and just have all the world’s knowledge is input/output. His solution is a merger of our brains with AI, to become connected and in some kind of control. If we fail that our future could be very dark. “If you assume any rate of advancement in AI, we’ll be left behind, by a lot. We would be so far below them in intelligence that we would be like a pet. Like a house cat,” Musk said.
We have finally come to an end. We hope you enjoyed this article and that it made you wonder about our future, and about how technology could make a wrong turn if we don’t control it enough. It seems that Elon Musk wants to do just that, because if we left technology to develop without any constraints, humans could become unnecessary in the not-so-far future.