Elon Musk’s TED Talk 2017
The Future We’re Building and Boring
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Chris Anderson: You know Hey welcome back to TED. It’s great to have you here. (EM: Thank’s for having me) So, in the next half hour or so we’re going to spend some time exploring your vision for what an exciting future might look like which guess makes the first question a little ironic. Why are you boring?
Elon Musk: Yeah. I ask myself that frequently, the we’re trying to dig a hole under L.A. and this is to create the beginning of well hopefully be a 3-D network of tunnels. To alleviate congestion. So I mean right now one of the most soul destroying things is traffic and it affects people in every part of the world. It takes away so much of your life and your business. It’s horrible.
Population growth, GDP growth, decline in fuel prices, and an increase in car ownership. These are the main factors…www.forbes.com
Chris Anderson: And I think if you’ve brought with you the first visualization that’s been shown to this community.
Elon Musk: Yeah absolutely. So this is the first time we’re just sort of show what we’re talking about. So a couple of key things that are important in having a 3D tunnel network. First of all you have to be able to integrate the entrance and exit of the tunnel seamlessly into the fabric of the city. So by having a an elevator is a sort of a car skate that’s on on an elevator. You can integrate the entrances and exits to the toll network just by using two parking spaces and then the car gets on a skate. There’s no speed limit here. So we’re designing this to be able to operate 200 kilometers an hour about 130 200 kilometers an hour or about 130 mph. So you should be able to get from say Westwood to L.A.X. in six minutes five six minutes.
Chris Anderson: So possibly initially done it’s like on a sort of toll road type basis. Yeah. Which I guess alleviate some traffic from the surface streets as well.
Elon Musk: So I think if you will notice in the video but that there’s no real limit to how many levels of tunnel you can have that you can go much further deep than you can go up the deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings are tall. So you can alleviate any arbitrary level of congestion with the 3D tunnel network this is a very important point. So your rebuttal to the tunnel tunnels is that if you add one layer of tunnels then that will simply alleviate congestion and get used up and and then you’ll be back where you started back with congestion. But you can go to any arbitrary number of tunnels any number of levels.
Chris Anderson: But people seem traditionally it’s it’s incredibly expensive today. And that would block this idea.
New York is currently building a 3-kilometer tunnel between Brooklyn and Staten Island, using the same EPB method that…pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com
Elon Musk: Yeah. Well they’re right to give an example. The L.A. subway extension which is I think it’s a two or a half mile extension that was just completed for two billion dollars. So roughly a billion dollars a mile to do the subway extension in L.A. and this is not the highest utility subway in the world. So. Yeah it’s quite difficult to dig tunnels normally. I think we need to have at least a tenfold improvement in the cost per mile of tunneling.
Chris Anderson: And how did you achieve that.
Elon Musk: I guess actually if you just do two things you can get to approximately an order of magnitude improvement. And now you can go beyond that. So the first thing to do is to cut the total tunnel diameter by a factor of two or more.
So it’s a single road lane tunnel would a quick regulations it has to be 26 feet maybe 28 feet in diameter to allow for crashes and emergency vehicles and sufficient ventilation for a combustion engine cars. But if you if you shrink that diameter to what we were attempting which is 12 feet which is plenty to get an electric skate through you dropped the diameter by a factor or two and the cross-sectional area by a factor of four. So the tunneling cost scales with the cross-sectional area. So that’s roughly a half order improvement right there.
Then tunneling machines currently tunnel for half the time then they stop and then the rest of the time is putting in reinforcements for the tunnel wall. So if you have designed that machine instead to do continuous tunneling and reinforcing I would give you a factor of 2 improvement combined that is a factor of 8. Also these machines are far from being at their their power or thermal limit. So you can jack up the power to the machine substantially. I think you can get at least a factor of two maybe a factor of four or five improvement on the on top of that. So I think the there’s a fairly straightforward series of steps to get somewhere in excess of an order of magnitude improvement in the cost per mile. And our target actually is we’ve bought a pet snail called Gary from Gary the snail from South Park. Sorry and it’s SpongeBob Square Pants. So Gary is as capable of currently he’s capable of going 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine. Gary we want to beat Gary. He’s not a patient little fellow. And we want to. That will be victory. Victory is beating the snail.
Chris Anderson: But a lot of people imagining dreaming about Future Cities imagine that they actually the solution is is sort of flying cars drones etc. you take. You go above ground. Why isn’t that a better solution. You save all that tunneling cost.
In the 1950s, when America was hopeful and reckless conjecture was encouraged, prognosticators had some wild ideas…www.npr.org
Elon Musk: Right. I’m in favor of flying things. I do rockets so I I like things that fly. This is not some inherent bias against flying things but there is a challenge with flying cars in that they will be quite noisy. The wind force generated will be very high. They just say that if something is flying over your head there are a whole bunch of flying cars going all over the place. That is not an exciting and exciting reducing situation. You don’t think to yourself. Well I feel better about today. You’re thinking like did they service their hubcap or is it going to come off and guillotine me.
Chris Anderson: And so. So you see this vision of future cities with this rich 3D network of tunnels underneath. Is there a time here with the Hyperloop could you apply these tunnels to use for this Hyperloop idea you had just a few years ago.
From late 2012 until August 2013, a group of engineers from both Tesla and SpaceX worked on the conceptual modelling of…en.wikipedia.org
Elon Musk: Yes. You know we’ve been sort of puttering around with the Hyperloop stuff for a while. We built a Hyperloop Test Track adjacent to Space X just for student competition to encourage innovative ideas and transport and actually ends up being the biggest vacuum chamber in the world after the Large Hadron Collider. By volume so. So it’s sort of quite quite fun to do that kind of a hobby thing and then we think we might so we a little pusher car to push these student pods.
Hundreds of people jostle for a good view as engineers in matching t-shirts load a sleek capsule into what looks like a…www.wired.com
But we’re going to try seeing how fast we can make the pusher go if it’s not pushing something. So I mean. So cautiously optimistic we’ll be able to be faster than a bullet train even in a 0.8 mile stretch.
Good breaks. Yeah. I mean it’s going to smash into tiny pieces or go quiet fast.
Chris Anderson: You can you can go a picture then a hyperlink. In a tunnel. Running quite quite long distances.
Elon Musk: Exactly. So in looking at tunneling technology turns out that in order to make a tunnel you have to in order to seal against the water table you’ve got to typically design a tunnel wall to be a good to about five or six atmospheres.
So to go to a vacuum is only one atmosphere when you’re back here. So actually it sort of turns out that automatically if you build a tunnel that is good enough to resist the water table is automatically capable of holding vacuum. So yeah.
Chris Anderson: So you can actually picture this like like what kind of length Tunnel do is in Elon’s future. Yeah.
Elon Musk: I think there’s no there’s no real length limit. You could you could you could dig as much as you want. I think the if you were to do something like D.C. to New York Hyperloop I think you probably want to go underground the entire way because it’s a high density area that is going you’re going under a lot of buildings and houses.
And if you go deep enough you cannot detect the tunnel. And this is something that people think well it’s going to be pretty annoying to have a tunnel tucked under my house if that tunnel is down more than about three or four tunnels diameters beneath your house you will not be able to detect it being out at all.
In fact if you if you’re able to detect the tunnel being dug whatever device you are using you can get a lot of money for that device from the Israeli military who is trying to detect tunnels from Hamas and from the U.S. Customs Border Patrol it trying to check drug tunnels.
The US and Israel are each to invest $120 million into a tunnel detection system, which Israel says it needs to guard…www.rt.com
So if the reality is that Earth is incredibly good at absorbing the vibrations and once the tunnel death is below a certain level it is undetectable. Maybe you have a very sensitive seismic instrument you might be able to detect it.
Chris Anderson: So you start a new company to do this called the boring company. Very nice very very funny. How how how much of your time is this.
Elon Musk: It’s maybe two or three percent.
Chris Anderson: If you’ve bought a hobby this is what an Elon Musk hobby looks like.
Elon Musk: I mean it really is like we actually you know this is basically interns and people doing a part time. So this is like we bought you know some secondhand machinery and it’s just it’s kind of puttering along but it’s making good progress so.
Chris Anderson: So an even bigger part of your time is being spent on electrifying cars and transport through Tesla. Is one of the motivations for that for the tunneling project. The realization that actually in a world where cars are electric and weather and areself-driving that may end up being more cars on the roads on any given day than there are now.
The promise of automated cars is that they could eliminate human-error accidents and potentially enable more efficient…www.npr.org
Elon Musk: Yeah exactly. We got a lot of people think that once when you make cars autonomous that they’ll be able to go faster and that will alleviate congestion and to some degree that will be true. But once you have shared autonomy where it’s much cheaper to go by car you can go point to point the affordability of a bus.
Going in a car will be will be better than that of a bus like it would cost less than a bus ticket. So the amount of driving that will occur will be much greater with shared autonomy and actually traffic will get far worse.
Chris Anderson: When you start testing it with the goal of persuading the world to shift action was the future of cars. And a few years ago people were laughing at you now. Not so much.
I mean. I don’t mean that I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe some but isn’t it true that pretty much every auto manufacturer has announced serious electrification plans for the short to medium term future.
Ten years ago, the room where I'm standing would have been filled with a deafening roar. The air would have pealed with…www.wired.com
Even if the Trump administration eases U.S. gas mileage rules, Ford Motor Co. ( F) is pushing ahead with its plans to…www.cbsnews.com
While corporate average fuel-economy standards through 2021 remain in place in the U.S., automakers are preparing their…www.greencarreports.com
Elon Musk: Yeah yeah. The I think almost every automaker has has some electric vehicle program. They vary in seriousness some are some are very serious about transitioning entirely to electric and some are just dabbling in it and some amazingly are still pursuing fuel cells. But I think that won’t last much longer.
Chris Anderson: But isn’t there isn’t there a know you could not just declare victory and say you know we did it. Let the world electrifying. You’re going to focus on other stuff.
Elon Musk: Yeah. I tend to stay with Tesla as as far as the future is I can imagine. And there are a lot of exciting things that we have coming. I’ve got the model three it’s coming soon we’ll be unveiling the has a semi truck
Elon Musk made a few revelations about some his newer projects this week, including the electric semi-truck Tesla has…www.engadget.com
Chris Anderson: and a model 3 so it’s coming. Supposed to be coming in July ish.
Elon Musk: Yeah it’s looking quite good for starting production in July.
Chris Anderson: Wow. One of the things that people are excited about is the fact that it’s got autopilot and you put out this video. A lot of action. What that. What that technology looks like or would look like there’s an autopilot in Model S right now. Yeah what are we seeing here.
Take a ride in a Tesla with Full Self-Driving Hardware.www.tesla.com
Elon Musk: Yes. This is using only cameras and a Jeep. Yes. So there’s no LIDAR or radar being used here. This is just using passive optical which is essentially what a person uses the whole road system is meant to be navigated with. Has optical cameras. And so once you solve camera’s vision then autonomy is solved if you don’t solve vision it’s not solved. So that’s why our focus is so heavily on having a vision neural net that’s very effective for road conditions.
Chris Anderson: Right. Many other people are going to light our routes you want cameras plus radar as is most of it.
Spacecraft use it to measure distance. Farmers use it to work out which fields need fertilizer. Archaeologists use it…www.bloomberg.com
Elon Musk: You can absolutely be superhuman with just cameras but you could probably do ten times better than humans with just just cameras.
Chris Anderson: So the new cars being sold right now have 8 8 cameras in there that they can’t yet do. What that showed. When will they be able to.
Elon Musk: I think that we’re still on track for being able to go cross-country from L.A. to New York by the end of year fully autonomous.
Chris Anderson: And so by the end of the day you’re saying that someone is going to sit in a Tesla. Without touching the steering wheel. Tap In New York. Off it goes. Yeah. One have to ever touch the wheel. By the end of 2017
Elon Musk: Yeah essentially November or December of this year we should be able to go from all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York. No controls touched at any point during the entire journey.
Elon Musk: Yes. But the thing that was interesting is that I I’m I’m actually fairly confident it will be able to do that route. Even if you change the route dynamically so it gets it’s fairly easy. If you say I’m going to be really good at one specific route that’s one thing but it should be able to go really be very good. So once you enter a highway to go anywhere on the highway system in a given country it’s it’s not like it’s sort of limited to L.A. New York we can we could change and make it. Seattle Florida that that day or you know in real time so you are going from L.A. to New York now go from L.A. to Toronto.
Chris Anderson: So leaving aside regulation for a second in terms of the technology alone the time when someone will be able to buy one of your cars and literally just take the hands of the wheel and go to sleep and wake up and find that they’ve arrived. How far away is that?
Elon Musk: To do that. I say that’s what that’s about two years. So the real trick of it is not how do you make it work say nine nine point nine percent of the time because if a car crashes say one in a thousand times then you’re probably not going to be comfortable falling asleep. That’s you know it shouldn’t be. Certainly. But it’s not going to be it’s never going to be perfect. No system is going to be perfect. But as you say it’s perhaps it’s it is unlikely that a crash in a hundred lifetimes or a thousand lifetimes. Then people like OK wow. If I would live a thousand lives I would still most likely never experience a crash. And that’s probably OK.
Chris Anderson: I guess the concern of course is that people actually get seduced. Too early to think that this is safe and that you’ll have some horrible incident happen that puts things put things back.
How the Accident Happened The Tesla Model S crashed in northern Florida into a truck that was turning left in front of…www.nytimes.com
Elon Musk: Well I think that the autonomy system is likely to at least mitigate the of the crash except in rare circumstances that appreciate about vehicle safety is this is this is probabilistic so that there is there’s some chance that anytime a human driver gets in the car that they will have an accident. That is their fault. It’s never zero.
And so it really it’s the key threshold for autonomy is how much better is autonomy need to be then a person before you can rely on it.
Chris Anderson: But once you get that literally safe hands off driving the power to disrupt the whole industry seems massive because at that point you’ve spoken of people being able to buy a car drops off work and then you let it go and and provide a sort of uber like service to other people earn you money maybe even cover the cost of that car. Is the kind of get a car for free. It’s not really likely.
Elon Musk: Yeah absolutely this is what will happen.
So there will be a shared autonomy fleet where you buy your car and you can choose to use that car exclusively. You could choose to have it be used only by friends and family only by five star or the drivers for rated five star. You can choose to share it sometimes but not other times. That’s that’s that’s 100 percent what will occur. It’s just a question of when
As part of the reveal of his 'Master Plan Part 2', CEO Elon Musk elaborated on the automaker's plan for the role of car…electrek.co
Chris Anderson: You mentioned the semi and I think you’re plan to announce it in September. But I’m curious whether there’s anything you could show us today.
Elon Musk: I will show you a teaser shot of the truck. It’s live.
Now this is definitely a case we want to be cautious about the autonomy features because I.
Chris Anderson: Just can’t see that much of it. It doesn’t look like just a little. Friendly Neighborhood truck it looks kind of bad ass out. How what sort of. What sort of semi is this.
Elon Musk: So this is a heavy duty long range semi truck so it’s like the highest weight capability. And and with long range. So so essentially it’s meant to alleviate that the heavy duty trucking loads. And this is something which people do not today think is possible to think the truck doesn’t have enough power or it doesn’t have enough range. And then with those with the Tesla semi We want to show that no an electric truck actually can out torque any diesel semi and you know what if you had a tug of war competition like the Tesla semi will tug the diesel semi uphill.
Chris Anderson: And short term. These aren’t driverless these these are going to be trucks that truck drivers want to drive yes.
Elon Musk: So what’s really fun about this is you don’t have you have a flat torque RPM curve with an electric motor whereas with a diesel motor or any kind of passion engine car you’ve got to walk up a hill.
So this will be a very spry truck. You could drive this around like a sports car. There’s no gears. It’s like single speed.
Chris Anderson: So this is a great movie to be made here somewhere. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know where it ends well .
Elon Musk: I mean it’s quite bizarre test driving that you know when I was driving the test prototype for the first track it’s really weird because you’re driving around and you’re just you’re so nimble and you’re in this giant truck like
Chris Anderson: like you’ve you’ve already driven the prototype?
Elon Musk: I drove it around the parking lot. I was like This is crazy. This is no place like driving this giant truck and sort of making these mad maneuvers it’s coll.
Chris Anderson: OK. From a really bad ass picture to a kind of less bad picture. This is just a cute house from Desperate Housewives or something. What on earth is going on here.
Elon Musk: Well this illustrates the picture of the future that I think it is how how things will evolve. You’ve got an electric car in the driveway. If you look in between the electric car and the house there are actually three power walls stacked up against the side of the house and then that that house roof is a solid roof. So that’s the actual solar glass roof. OK. So those pictures have a real well. Admittedly it’s a it’s a real fake house. That’s a real fake house.
Chris Anderson: So this is roof tiles. Some of them have in them. Yeah.
Elon Musk: This is self-powered ability to get the tiles where you can adjust the texture and the color a very fine grain level.
And then there’s sort of micro louvers in the glass such that when you’re looking at the roof from street level the street level. All the tiles look look the same whether there is a solar panel behind it or a solar cell behind it or not. So you haven’t even even color from from the ground level. If you were to look at it from a helicopter you were actually able to look through and see that some of the glass tiles have a solar cell behind them and some drive.
Right. You put them in the that like a lot of sun.
Chris Anderson: Yes. And that that makes these super affordable right. Not that much more expensive than just touching the roof. Yeah. That the big.
Elon Musk: We’re very confident that the cost of the roof plus the cost of electricity that a solid glass roof will be less than the cost of a normal roof plastic the cost of electricity. So it’s this will be economically a no brainer.
It will look we think will look great and it will last me about like having the warranty be infinity. But then people thought that might sound like we were just talking about. But I actually like that this is like this is toughened glass. Like well after the house has collapsed and there’s nothing there.
The roof part tile glass tiles will still be there because
Chris Anderson: You see running out in a couple weeks time I think with like four different roofing types.
Elon Musk: You know we’re starting off with two to initially and the second two will be introduced early next year.
Chris Anderson: What’s the scale of ambition here. How how how many houses do you believe could end up having this type of roofing.
Elon Musk: I mean I think eventually I think eventually almost all houses will have a solar roof. Now the thing is to consider the time scale here to be probably on the order of 40 or 50 years on average the roof is replaced every 20 to 25 years. So but you don’t you don’t start replacing all roofs immediately but eventually if you say that we’re fast forward to say 15 years from now it will be unusual to have a roof that does not have solar.
Chris Anderson: Is there a mental model thing that people don’t get here that that term that is because of the shift in the cost the economics of solar power that like most houses actually have enough sunlight on there with pretty much to power all of that needs if you could capture the power. It could pretty much power all that needs right. But you could go off grid.
Elon Musk: Kind of depends on on on where you are and what the house size is relative to the roof area. But it is fair it’s a fair statement to say that most houses in the U.S. have enough roof area to power all the needs of the house.
Chris Anderson: So the key to the economics of of the cars the semi these houses is the falling price of lithium ion batteries which you’ve made a huge bet on is as Tesla many ways that was the core competency. And you’ve decided that to really like. Own that competency you just have to build the world’s largest manufacturer and double the world’s supply of lithium ion battery. Yeah. As with this guy what is this.
Elon Musk: Yes that’s the Gigafactory the progress so far in the Gigafactory. Eventually you could sort of roughly see that there’s sort of a diamond shape overall when it’s fully done it will be it looks like a giant diamond or that’s the idea behind it and it’s aligned on true north. There’s a small detail. And
Chris Anderson: I’m capable of pretty easily like 100 eventually 100 gigawatt hours of the batteries a year ago and
Elon Musk: I think probably more
Chris Anderson: They’re actually being produced right now already here. Right. This is because of this video. I mean is that speeded up?
Elon Musk: That’s the that’s the slowed down version.
Chris Anderson: Yeah. How fast does it actually go.
Elon Musk: Well when it’s running at full speed you can’t actually see the cells without a strobe light. They’re just blur.
Chris Anderson: I mean one of your one of your core ideas about what makes an exciting future is the future where we no longer feel guilty about energy. How. Help us picture this. I mean how many Gigafactory is if you like does it take to get is that.
Elon Musk: It’s about 100 roughly. It’s not ten thousand. Most likely 100
Chris Anderson: I can find it’s amazing what you can actually picture if that’s right you can picture what it would take to move the world of this vast fossil fuel thing. It’s like you’re building one. Cost five billion dollars maybe the next one or whatever. Five to ten billion dollars. Like it’s it it’s kind of cool that you can picture that. That project you’re planning to do. Tesla at least another two announced another two this year.
Elon Musk: I think I will announce locations for somewhere between 2 and 4 Gigafactory later this year probably 4.
Chris Anderson: Whoa. No more teasing from you for here. Like where. Continents.
Elon Musk: You can say no we need to address a global market.
Chris Anderson: OK. This is cool. I think we should. Talk for actually global market so I have to ask you one last question about politics only when I’m kind of saying I apologize but I didn’t ask you this. You’re your on a body now giving advice to a guy who has said he doesn’t really believe in climate change and there’s a lot of people out there who kind of think you shouldn’t be doing that. They’d like you to walk away from that. What would you say to them.
Elon Musk: Well I think that this first of all I’m just on two advisory councils where the format consists of going around the room and asking people’s opinion on things. And so it’s like a meeting every month or two. You know that’s the sum total of of of of my contributions by saying to agree that there are people in the room who are arguing in favor of doing something about climate change or you know other social issues. You know I mean if you use that the meetings I’ve had thus far to argue in favor of immigration and in favor of climate change and if I hadn’t done that there wouldn’t that wasn’t on the agenda before. So maybe nothing will happen but at least the words were said OK.
Chris Anderson: So. Let’s talk Space-X and Mars. Last time you were here you spoke about this what seemed like a kind of incredibly ambitious dream to develop rockets that are actually reusable and you’ve gone and done it. I mean it took us finally took us through this. Well it’s what we want to be looking at here.
Elon Musk: Yes. This is one of our rocket boosters coming back from very very high very high and fast in space. So just to live at the upper stage at at high velocity I think this may have been to sort of Mach 7 or so delivery of the of the upper stage.
That was set up that’s the slowed down version that was and that was the center of it.
Chris Anderson: But I mean that’s that’s amazing. And several of these fail before you finally figured out how to get it to do it. Now you’ve landed you’ve done this what five or six times.
Elon Musk: I think we’re and eight eight or nine or something.
Chris Anderson: Yeah. And for the first time she re flown one of the rockets landed.
Just before 6:30 pm ET, SpaceX -- run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk -- launched a used rocket. It marked the first time in the…money.cnn.com
Elon Musk: So landed the rocket booster then prepped up for flight again. It’s absurd. It’s the first real flight of an all over a booster where that refight is relevant so it’s one to appreciate that reusability is only relevant if it is rapid rapid and complete. Right. So like an aircraft or a car the reusability is rapidly complete. You do not send your aircraft into Boeing in between flights.
Chris Anderson: Right. This is like you to dream of this really ambitious idea of sending many many many people to Mars in 10 or 20 or 20 years time I guess. Yeah. And the next three years and you’ve designed this outrageous rocket to do it. Help us understand the scale of this thing.
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Elon Musk: Well visually you can see that’s a Person. And that’s the vehicle.
Chris Anderson: So was this a skyscraper. That’s like a. Foot or 40 stories.
Elon Musk: Yeah. So let’s get a little more here. Though. Yeah. The thrust level of this is really this configuration is about four times the thrust of this of the Saturn 5 moon rocket
Chris Anderson: four times the thrust of the biggest rocket humanity ever created before. Yeah yeah. I mean as one does. Yeah.
Elon Musk: I mean you know in units of 747 I guess in 747 is only about a quarter a quarter million pounds of thrust. So that’s. So there are probably 10 million pounds of thrust there’s 47 so this would be the thruster equivalent of 100 120 747s with all engines blazing.
Chris Anderson: And so even even with a machine designed to escape Earth’s gravity I think you told me last things actually take a fully loaded 747 people cargo everything into into into orbit.
Elon Musk: It’s like this thing take a fully loaded 77 with with maximum fuel maximum passengers maximum cargo on the 747 and take it as cargo.
Chris Anderson: So based on this you presented recently this interplanetary transport system which. Is visualized this way and this is a scene you picture a. And in that 30 years time 20 years time people walking into this This rocket.
Elon Musk: I mean I’m hopeful it’s sort of in the eight eight to 10 year timeframe as operationally that’s our target our internal targets are more aggressive. But I think it’s. So this is big seems quite large and it’s large by comparison with all the rockets. I think that the the future spacecraft will be will make this look like a rowboat. I mean this is. The future spaceships will be truly enormous.
Chris Anderson: Why. Because this because why do we need to build a city on Mars with a million people on it in your lifetime which I think is kind of what you’ve said you’d love to do.
Elon Musk: Yeah I think it’s important to have a future that is inspiring and appealing and I just think that they’re.
Like about the reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live like why do you want to live. What’s the point. What inspires you what what do you love about the future. And if we’re not out there if the future does not include being out there among the stars and being a multi-planet species I find that it’s incredibly depressing if that’s not the future that we’re going to have.
Chris Anderson: You go people what position is this an either or that there are so many desperate things happening on the planet now from climate to poverty. You know you pick your pick your issue and this feels like a distraction. You should be thinking about this you should be solving what’s what’s here now and to be fair. You’ve done a fair bit to actually do that with your you know work work on sustainable energy. But why not just do that.
Elon Musk: Well I think this. I mean look at the future from a standpoint of of the probabilities it’s like it’s like a branching stream of probabilities. And their actions that we can take that affect those probabilities or that accelerate one thing or slow down another thing or make you know introduce something new to the probability stream. Sustainable Energy will happen no matter what. If there was no Tesla Tesla there it never existed. It would have to happen out of necessity is tautological. If you if you don’t have sustainable energy it means you have to unsustainable energy eventually are run out and the the laws of economics will drive or drive civilization towards sustainable energy. Inevitably. That is the fundamental value of a company like Tesla is the degree which it accelerates the advent of sustainable energy faster than it would otherwise occur. So when I think like what is the fundamental good of company like Tesla I would say hopefully it is. If it if it accelerated that by a decade potentially more than a decade that would be quite a good thing to occur. That’s what I consider to be the fundamental sort of aspirational good of Tesla.
Then there’s becoming a multi planet species in spacefaring civilization. This is not inevitable. It’s very important to appreciate. This is not inevitable. The sustainable energy future I think is largely inevitable but being space faring civilization it is definitely not inevitable. If you look at the progress in space in 1969 are able to send somebody to the moon 1969 then we had the space shuttle that the space shuttle could only take people to low Earth orbit. Then the space shuttle retired and United States could take no one to orbit. So that’s the trend. It’s like down to nothing. This is not a mistake. When they think that technology just automatically improves it does not automatically improve it it only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better. And actually it will. I think it by itself degrade actually we look at great civilizations like ancient Egypt and they were able to make the pyramids and they forgot how to do that. And the Romans they built these incredible aqueducts. They forgot how to do it.
Chris Anderson: Elon it almost seems you know listening to a lot the different things you’ve done that you’ve got this unique double motivation on everything that I find so interesting we know which one is this desire to work for humanity is long term good.
The other is the desire to do something exciting and it’s it’s often it feels like you you feel like you need the one to drive the other. With Tesla you want to have sustainable energy so you make these super sexy exciting cars to do it you know solar energy we need to get that stuff we need to make these beautiful roofs.
We haven’t even spoken about your new thing which we don’t have time to do. But you want to save humanity from bad AI. And so you’re going to create this really cool brain machine interface to give us all infinite memory and telepathy and so forth.
And I’m on a mars it feels like what you’re saying is yeah we need we need to save humanity and have a have a backup plan but also we need to inspire humanity.
Elon Musk: And and this is this is a way to inspire I think I think of the value of an inspiration is very much under rated no question. But I want to be clear. I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. That is not to be. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.
Chris Anderson: I think everyone here would agree that it is not. None of this is going to happen inevitably. The fact that in your mind you dream the stuff. You dream stuff that no one else would would dare dream of all. No one else would be capable of dreaming at the level of complexity that you do. Elon Musk.You know my skill is a really remarkable thing. Thank you for helping us to dream bigger.
Elon Musk: But you told me if it ever starts getting genuinely insane right?