Lately, I have been a real big fan of the entrepreneur Elon Musk. If any of you don’t know, he is the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors and the former owner of PayPal. I think the reason that I have been so obsessed with him is because he took such big risks to become successful. I also appreciate that he didn’t pursue areas just for the sake of getting rich, but because they were areas he thought really needed to be explored.
I think it is incredible that SpaceX, a company that has only been around for 12 years, is the first private company to send a spacecraft into space, orbit it around the earth, and recover the vehicle… and dock with the ISS. In their own words, “SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” (http://www.spacex.com/about)
This is a pretty interesting interview of Elon from around a month ago. They discuss a lot of basics ideas with regards to SpaceX, Tesla, Solar Cities and Vicarious (two other companies he is invested in).
From the video above Elon says, “We’ll [humans] either be a multi-planet species and out there among the stars, or we will be a single planet species until some eventual extinction event, either natural or man-made.” I feel like this is such a ridiculous thing for the CEO of two multi-billion dollar companies to be talking about. Usually, it is next quarter’s earnings reports or something, but he’s talking about the problems that the whole of humanity are facing. And it seems like he’s thought about this a lot.
He created Tesla (apparently the most successful car company since Kaiser Motors(bought by American Motors (bought by Chrysler)) Gotta love horizontal integration!) to show people that we don’t need to rely on combustion engines anymore, in the hopes to reduce global warming. He’s even investing heavily into Solar Cities to facilitate the move from coal powered energy. Will it work? I don’t know, but if it doesn’t I think his plan is to just jump ship to Mars.
But what if it’s not global warming that’s our extinction event? What if it was… Robots? Elon’s thought of that too and invested in Vicarious, a company working on artificial intelligence. When asked about this investment he says, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” Pretty much he wants to keep an eye on AI just in case it leads to something dangerous. Check out around the 14 minute mark for more.
Man, that was convoluted, but I did it! I’ve been trying to get to the AI topic, because I plan on doing my final project on autonomous machines/robots. Elon’s fear of AI is one that has been portrayed countless times in sci-fi movies and books. I think that there is a ton of stuff that can be discussed on this topic using those mediums: ethics, emotions, what makes a human and, like others have mentioned, is it even possible to create real AI. I think I’m going to mainly stick to ethical discussions. Asking important questions like, when robots from Vicarious start putting us all in the matrix who’s to blame?