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Elon Musk: A future worth getting excited about | TED | Tesla Texas Gigafactory interview

elon musk great to see you how are you good how are you i mean we’re here at the texas gigafactory the day before this thing opens it’s been pretty crazy out there thank you so much for making time very busy day i would love you to help us kind of cast our minds i don’t know 10 20 maybe 30 years into the future and and help us try to picture what it would take to build a future that’s worth getting excited about you’ve often said the last time you spoke at ted you said that that was really just a big driver it’s you know you talk about lots of other reasons to do the what you’re doing but fundamentally you want to think about the future and not think that it sucks yeah absolutely i think in general um you know there’s there’s a lot of discussion of like this problem with that problem and a lot of people are uh sad about the future and then that they’re uh pessimistic and and i think uh this is this is uh this is not not great i mean we really want to wake up in the morning and and look forward to the future we want to be excited about uh what’s going to happen um and um and and life cannot simply be about uh sort of solving one miserable problem after another so if you look forward 30 years you know this year 20 the year 2050 has been labeled by scientists as this kind of almost like this doomsday deadline on climate there’s a consensus of scientists at large consensus of scientists who believe that if we haven’t completely uh eliminated greenhouse gases or offset them completely by 2050 effectively we’re inviting climate catastrophe do you believe there is a pathway to avoid that catastrophe and what would it look like yeah yeah so um i am not one of the doomsday people which makes price uh i i actually think we’re on a good path um i but at the same time i i want to want us to caution against complacency so so long as we are not complacent as long as we are have a high sense of urgency about moving towards a sustainable uh energy economy then i think things will be fine um so i i can’t emphasize that enough so long as we uh push hard uh and i’m not complacent um the future’s gonna be great don’t worry about it i mean worry about it but if you worry about it ironically it will be a self-unfulfilling prophecy um so like there are there are three elements to a sustainable energy future uh one is of sustainable energy generation which is primarily wind and solar there’s also hydro geothermal i’m actually pro nuclear i think i think beautifully is fine and that but it’s going to be primarily solar and wind as these uh the the primary generators advantage the second part is you need batteries to store uh the solar and wind energy because the sun doesn’t shine all the time the wind doesn’t blow all the time so you need a lot of stationary battery packs and then you need electric transport so electric cars electric planes boats and then uh ultimately it’s not really possible to make electric rockets but you can make the propellant used in in rockets uh using sustainable energy right so ultimately we can have a fully sustainable energy economy uh and um and it’s those three things solar wind uh stationary battery pack electric vehicles so so then like what what are the limiting factors on progress the limiting factor really will be uh battery cell production so that’s that’s gonna that’s gonna really be the fundamental rate driver and then whatever the slowest element of the whole uh lithium-ion battery cell supply chain from mining and the many steps of refining to ultimately creating a battery cell and putting it into a pack that will be the limiting factor on progress towards sustainability all right so we need to talk more about batteries because the key thing that i want to understand like there seems to be a scaling issue here that is kind of amazing and alarming you have said that you have calculated that the amount of battery production that the world needs for sustainability is 300 terawatt hours of batteries if that’s the rough very rough numbers then i certainly would invite others to check our calculations because they may arrive at a different at different conclusions but in order to transition uh not just current electricity production but also uh heating and transport which roughly triples the amount of electricity that you need uh it amounts to approximately 300 terawatt hours of installed capacity so we need to give people a sense of how big a task that is i mean here we are the gigafactory you know this is what this is one of the biggest buildings in the world um when what i’ve read and tell me if this is still right is that the goal here is to eventually produce um 100 gigawatt hours of batteries here a year we’ll probably do more than that but yes that’s hopefully we get there within a couple of years right but i mean that so that is 1.

1 terawatt hours but that’s still 1 100th of what’s needed how much of the rest of that 100 is is tesla planning to take on between let’s say between now and 20 30 20 40 when when uh you know we really need to see the scale up happen i mean these are just guesses i mean um so please position hold me to these things it’s not like this is like uh some what does happen is i’ll i’ll i’ll make some like you know best guess and then people will in five years there’ll be some jerk that writes an article elon said this would happen and it didn’t happen he’s a liar and a fool yeah it’s very annoying when that happens uh so these are just guesses this is a conversation right um i i like i think tesla probably ends up doing 10 of that uh roughly 20 let’s say 2050 we have this amazing you know 100 sustainable electric grid made up of you know some mixture of the the sustainable energy sources you talked about that that same grid probably is offering the world really low cost energy isn’t it compared compared with now yeah and i’m curious about like should people are people entitled to get a little bit excited about the possibilities of that that world people should be optimistic about the future the humanity will solve sustainable energy it will happen if we are you know continue to to push hard the future is bright um and good from an energy standpoint and then it will be possible to also use that that energy to do carbon sequestration uh it takes a lot of energy to pull carbon out of the atmosphere just as a because in in putting it in the atmosphere it release energy so now you know obviously in order to pull it out you need to use a lot of energy but if you’ve got a lot of sustainable energy from wind and solar uh you can actually sequester carbon so you can reverse the co2 uh parts per million of the atmosphere and and oceans um and and also uh you can really have as much freshwater freshwater as you want earth is mostly water we should call earth water it’s 70 water by surface area now most that seawater but it’s still it’s like uh we just haven’t been on the bit that’s land right and with energy you can turn sea water into yes irrigating water or whatever water absolutely yeah um at very low cost um things will be good things things will be good yes and also there’s other benefits right to this non-fossil fuel world where where the air is cleaner and uh yes exactly yeah yeah because like like when you when you burn fossil fuels there’s al there’s all these like uh side reactions and and and toxic gases of various kinds um and like like sort of uh little particulates that that are bad for your lungs like there’s all sorts of bad things that are happening that will go away and and the sky will be cleaner and quieter uh fear’s gonna be good i want us to switch now to to think a bit about artificial intelligence and but the segway there look you mentioned how annoying it is when people call you up for bad predictions in the past so i’m i’m possibly going to be um uh annoying now but um i i i’m curious about your timelines and how you predict and how come some things are so amazingly on the money and some aren’t so when it comes to predicting sales of tesla vehicles for example i mean you’ve kind of been amazing i think in 2014 when tesla had sold that year 60 000 cars you said 2020 i think we will do half a million a year yeah we did almost exactly half a million you did almost exactly half a minute you were scoffed in 2014 because no one yeah since henry ford with the model t had had come close to that kind of growth rate yeah for four cars you were scoffed and you actually hit 500 000 cars and 510 000 or whatever produced but five years ago last time you came to ted we um i asked you about full self driving and um you said yep this very year where i am confident that we will have a car going from la to new york without any intervention yeah i i don’t want to blow your mind but i’m not always right um so talk talk what’s the difference between those two why why has full self driving in particular been so hard to predict i mean the thing that really got me and i think is going to get a lot of other people is that there are just so many false stones with with self-driving um where you think you think you got the problem uh have a handle on the problem and then it nope uh it turns out uh you just hit a ceiling um and and uh uh because what happened if you if you were to plot the progress that the progress looks like a log curve so it’s like yeah a series of log curves so uh most people don’t like groupies i suppose but it it shows that it it it goes it goes up sort of if you know sort of a fairly straight way and then it starts tailing off right and and and you start and there’s a kind of ocean getting diminishing returns uh yeah and you’re like oh this it was trending up and now it’s sort of curving over and not and and you you start getting to these what i call a local local maxima uh where uh you don’t realize basically how dumb you were uh that’s uh and then and then and then it happens again so um and uh ultimately um i know these things in you know in retrospect they seem obvious but uh in in order to solve uh full self-driving uh properly you actually just you have to solve real-world ai um because you said like what are the road networks designed to to work with they’re designed to work with a biological neural net to our brains um and with uh vision our eyes and so in order to make it work uh with computers you basically need uh to solve real world ai uh and vision because because we we we need uh we need cameras and silicon neural nets uh in order to have to have self-driving work for a system that was designed for eyes and biological neural nets it you know when you i guess when you put it that way it’s sort of like quite obvious that the only way to solve full self-driving is to solve real world uh ai and sophisticated vision what do you feel about the current architecture do you think you have an architecture now where where there is a chance for the logarithmic curve not to tail off any any time soon well i mean admittedly these these uh may be an infamous uh last words but i i actually am confident that we will solve it this year uh that we will exceed uh you’re like what the probability of an accident at what point should you exceed that of the average person right um i think we will exceed that this year what are you seeing behind the scenes that gives you that confidence we’re almost at the point we have a high quality unified vector space like in the beginning we’re trying to do this with image recognition on individual uh images but if you look at one image out of a video it’s actually quite hard to see what’s going on with without a ambiguity but if you look at it at a video segment of a few seconds of video that ambiguity resolves um so the so the first thing we have to do is sort of tie all eight cameras together so they are synchronized so that all the frames are looked at simultaneously and labeled simultaneously by by a one person because we still need human labeling um so so at least they’re not labeled at different times by different people in different ways um and then so it’s sort of a surround picture then then a very important part is to add the time dimension so so that you you’re looking at surround video and your labeling surround video and this is actually quite difficult to do from a software standpoint we had to write our own labeling tools and then create [Music] an order labeling uh create order labeling software is to amplify the efficiency of human labelers because it’s quite hard to label but it takes in the beginning it was taking several hours to label a 10 second video clip this is not scalable uh so so basically what you have to have is you have to have surround video and the that surround video has to be primarily uh automatically labeled with humans just being editors of it and making slight corrections to the to the the labeling of the video and then feeding back those corrections into the future auto labeler so you get this this flywheel eventually where the auto labeler is able to take in vast amounts of video and with high accuracy automatically label uh the video for uh you know cars lane lines drive space what you’re saying is that though that you you think that i mean the result of this is that you’re effectively giving the car a 3d model of the actual objects that are all around it it knows what they are and it knows how fast they are moving and the remaining task is to yes is to predict what the quirky behaviors are that that you know that when a pedestrian is walking down the road with a smaller pedestrian that maybe that smaller pedestrian might do something unpredictable or like things like that you have to build into it before you can really call it safe you basically you need to have um uh memory across time and space uh so what i mean by that is um if if you uh because you you can’t the memory can’t be infinite because it’s using up a lot of of the computers around basically uh so you have to say how much are you going to try to remember um but like if it’s very common for things to be occluded so like if you talk about see a pedestrian walking past a truck where you saw the pedestrian um stop on one side of the truck then they then they’re occluded by the truck right uh you need but but you need to you would know intuitively okay there’s that pressure is going to pop out the other side most likely and and it doesn’t know so you need to slow down i mean a skeptic is going to say that every year for the last five years you’ve you’ve kind of said well no this is the year well we’re confident that it will be there in a year or two or you know like it’s it’s always been about that that far away but you’re we’ve got a new architecture now you’re you’re seeing enough improvement behind the scenes to to make you not certain but but pretty confident that that this by by the end of this year what in most not in every city in every circumstance but in many cities and circumstances basically the car will be able to drive without interventions safer than a human um yes i mean the car currently drives me around austin most the time with no interventions so it’s not like um and and we have uh over 100 000 people in our uh full-self driving beta program uh so you can look at the videos that they post online um okay great um and uh some of them are great and some of them are a little terrifying i mean occasionally the car seems to sort of like veer off and scare the hell out of people um but um it’s still better but but you put that number but you’re behind the scenes looking at the data you’re seeing enough improvement to to to believe that at this year timeline is real yes that’s what it seems like i mean like i said you know we could be here talking again in a year it’s like well yeah another year went by and it didn’t happen but i think this i think this is the year and so in general when when people talk about elon elon time i mean it sounds like like you can’t just have a general rule that if you predict that something will be done in six months actually what you what we should imagine is it’s going to be a year or it’s like 2x or 3x it depends on the type of prediction some things i guess things involving software you know ai or whatever are fundamentally harder to predict than than others is there an element that you actually deliberately make aggressive prediction timelines to drive people to be ambitious and without that nothing gets done well i generally believe in terms of internal timelines that we want to set set the most aggressive timeline that we can um because it’s sort of like a low of gases expansion where for schedules where whatever time you set it’s it’s not going to be less than that it’s very rare there will be less than that um but as far as my predictions are concerned um what tends to happen in the media is that they will report all the wrong ones and ignore all the right ones right um and uh or you know when writing an article about me i’ve had a long career in multiple industries if you if you list my sins i sound like the worst person on earth but if you put those against the my you know the things i’ve done right it makes much more sense you know so it’s essentially like the longer you do anything the the more mistakes that that you will make cumulatively which if you sum up those mistakes will sound like uh i’m the worst predictor ever but for example for the tesla vehicle growth uh i i said i think we’ll do 50 percent and we’ve we’ve done 80 yes so uh but they don’t mention that one uh so i mean i’m not sure what my exact track record is on predictions they’re more optimistic than pessimistic but they’re not all optimistic um some of them uh are exceeded uh probably more or later um but they uh they they do come true it’s very rare that they do not come true it’s sort of like uh you know uh you know if if there’s some radical technology prediction uh the point is not that it was a few years late but that it happened at all that’s the that’s the more important part so it’s it feels like at some point in the last year seeing the progress on understanding that your the ai the tesla ai understanding the world around it led to a kind of an aha moment in tesla because you really surprised people recently when you said probably the most important product development going on at tesla this year is this robot optimus yes many companies out there have tried to put out these robots they’ve been working on them for years and so far no one has really cracked it there’s no mass adoption robot in people’s homes there are some in in manufacturing but it like i would say no one’s kind of really cracked it what is it something that happened in the development of full self-driving that gave you the confidence to say you know what we could do something special here yeah exactly so you know it took me a while to sort of realize that that in order to solve self-driving you really needed to solve real world ai um and at the point which you solve real world ai for a car which is really a robot on four wheels uh you can then generalize that to a robot on legs as well the the two hard parts i think like it’s not obviously companies like boston dynamics have shown that it’s possible to make uh quite compelling sometimes alarming robots right um you know so this is from a sensor as an actuator standpoint it’s certainly uh been demonstrated by many that it’s possible to make a humanoid robot the thing that the things that are currently missing are uh enough intelligence enough intel intelligence for the robot to navigate the real world and do useful things um without being uh explicitly instructed it is so the missing things are basically real-world intelligence and scaling up manufacturing those are two things that tesla is very good at and so then we basically just need to design the the specialized actuators and sensors that are needed for a humanoid robot people have no idea this is going to be bigger than the car so let’s dig into exactly that i mean in one way it’s actually an easier problem than full self-driving because you instead of an object going along at 60 miles an hour which if it gets it wrong someone will die this is an object that’s engineered to only go what three or four or five miles an hour walking speed basically and so a mistake isn’t there aren’t lives at stake there might be embarrassment at stake it’s almost like that yeah it doesn’t take it over and uh uh right and murderous now sleep or something right but um um but so talk about i mean i i think the first applications you’ve mentioned are probably going to be manufacturing but eventually the vision is to to have these available for people at home correct if you had a robot that really understood the 3d architecture of your house and knew where every object in that house was or was supposed to be and could recognize all those objects i mean that that’s kind of amazing isn’t it like that the kind of thing that you could ask a robot to do would be what like tidy up yeah um absolutely or make make dinner i guess mow the lawn take take a cup of tea to grandma and show her family pictures and exactly take care of my grandmother and make sure yeah exactly when it could recognize obviously recognize everyone in the home yeah could play catch with your kids yes i mean obviously we need to be careful this doesn’t uh become a dystopian situation um like i think one of the things that’s going to be important is to have a localized rom chip on the robot that cannot be updated uh over the air uh where if you for example were to say stop stop stop that would if anyone said that then the robot would stop you know type of thing and that’s not updatable remotely um i think it’s going to be important to have safety features like that yeah that sounds wise and i do think there should be a regulatory agency for ai i’ve said this for many years i don’t love being regulated but i you know i think this is an important thing for public safety let’s come back to that but i’m just i i don’t think many people have really sort of taken seriously the notion of you know a a robot at home i mean at the start of the computing revolution you know bill gates said there’s going to be a computer in every home and people at the time said yeah whatever who would even want that did you know in our pocket do you think there will be basically like in say 2050 or whatever that like a a robot in most homes is what they will be and people will i think they’ll probably count on them you’ll have your own butler basically yeah you’ll have your sort of buddy robot probably yeah i mean how much of a buddy do like do you do how many applications do you thought is there you know can you have a romantic partner a sex partner i mean a lot of them probably inevitable i mean i did promise the internet that i would make cat girls we’ll have we could make a robot cackle i mean because everyone’s into that so yeah i i guess uh it’ll be what what whatever people want really you know so what sort of timeline should we be thinking about of the first the first models that are actually made and sold well you know the first units that that we tend to make are um for jobs that are dangerous boring repetitive and things that people don’t want to do and you know i think we’ll have like an interesting prototype sometime this year we might have something useful next year but i think quite likely within at least two years and then we’ll see rapid growth year over year of the usefulness of the humanoid robots a decrease in cost and scaling up production initially just selling to businesses or when you picture you you’ll sell you’ll start selling them where you can buy your parents one for christmas or something i’d say less than 10 years yeah how how how help me on the economics of this so what what do you picture the cost of one of these being well i think the cost is actually not going to be crazy high um like less than a car initially things will be expensive because it’ll be new technology at low production volume the complexity and cost of a car is greater than that of a humanoid robot so i would expect that it’s going to be less than a car or at least equivalent to a cheap car so even if it starts at 50k within a few years it’s down to 20k or lower or whatever to and and maybe for home they’ll get much cheaper still but yeah but but think about the economics of this if you can replace a 30 000 40 000 a year worker which you have to pay every year with a one-time payment of 25 000 for a robot that can work longer hours a pretty rapid replacement of certain types of jobs how worried should the world be about that i wouldn’t worry about the the sort of putting people out of a job thing um i think we’re actually going to have and already do have a massive shortage of labor so i i i think we will have um uh not not people out of work but actually still a shortage labor even in the future uh but this really will be a world of abundance any goods and services uh will be available to anyone who wants them that it’ll be so cheap to have goods and services it’ll be ridiculous and presumably it should be possible to imagine a bunch of goods and services that can’t profitably be made now but could be made in in that world courtesy of of legions of robots yeah um it will be a world of abundance the only scarcity that will exist in the future is that which we decide to create ourselves as humans okay so ai is is allowing us to imagine a a differently powered economy that that will create this abundance what are you most worried about going wrong well like i said ai and robotics will will bring um bring out what might be termed the age of abundance um other people have used this word um and and that this is my prediction i’ll be an age of abundance um for everyone um the the that i guess there’s uh the the dangers would be the artificial general intelligence or digital super intelligence uh decouples from a collective human will and uh goes in a direction that for some reason we don’t like of whatever whatever direction it might go um you know that’s what sort of the idea behind neural link is to try to more tightly couple a collective human world to the to digital uh super intelligence um and also along the way solve and a lot of um brain injuries and spinal injuries and that kind of thing so even if it doesn’t succeed in the greater goal it will i think it will succeed in in the uh goal of alleviating uh brain and spine damage so the the spirit there is that if we’re going to make these ais that are so vastly intelligent we ought to be wired directly to them so that we ourselves can have the superpowers more more directly but that doesn’t seem to avoid the risk that those superpowers might um turn ugly in an unintended way no i think it’s a risk i agree i i i don’t i’m not saying that i have some certain uh answer to that risk i’m i’m just saying like like maybe one of the things that would be good for ensuring that the future is one that we want is to more tightly couple uh the human world collective human world to digital intelligence um the the issue that we face here is that we’re already um a cyborg if you think about it the computers uh are an extension of ourselves um and when we die there’s like we have like a digital ghost you know all of our text messages and social media emails and it’s quite eerie actually when someone dies and they’re but everything online is still there but but you say like what what’s the limitation what what is it that um inhibits human machine symbiosis it’s the data rate when you communicate especially with a phone you’re moving your thumbs right very slowly so you’re moving your two little meat sticks right at a rate that’s maybe 10 bits per second optimistically 100 bits per second and computers are are communicating at the gigabit uh level and beyond have you seen evidence that the technology is actually working that you’ve got you’ve got a richer sort of higher bandwidth connection if you like between like external electronics and a brain that has been possible before uh yeah so the i mean the fundamental principles of uh of reading neurons uh sort of doing read write on neurons with tiny electrodes um have been demonstrated for decades um so it’s not like uh this is uh the concept is new what the the problem is that there’s no product uh that works well that you can go and uh and buy so it’s it’s all sort of in research labs right um and it’s it’s not it’s uh like there’s always like some cord sticking out of your your head and it it’s quite gruesome and it’s it’s really um there’s no good product uh that that that actually does a good job and is high bandwidth and safe and something you’d actually that you could buy and would want to buy so um but in it the the way to think of the neurologic device is kind of like a fitbit or an apple watch um that’s uh where we we take out a sort of a small section of skull about the size of a quarter replace that with uh what in many ways really is very much like um uh a fitbit apple watch or or some kind of smartwatch thing um uh and um and but with with tiny tiny wires very very very tiny wires tied to wires so tiny it’s hard to even see them um and it’s very important to have very tiny wires that you uh when they’re implanted they don’t they don’t damage the brain how far are you from putting these into humans i i well we we have um put in our fda application uh to have the uh aspirationally do to the first uh human implant this year the first uses will be for neurological injuries of different kinds yes but running the clock forward and imagining when when people are actually using these for their own enhancement let’s say and for the enhancement of the world how clear are you in your mind as to what it will feel like to have one of these inside your head well i i do want to emphasize we’re we’re at a at an early stage and so um it really will be many years before we have anything approximating a high bandwidth neural interface that allows for ai human symbiosis for many years we will just be solving uh brain injuries and spinal injuries from probably a decade um that this is not something that will suddenly one day it’ll will have this incredible sort of whole brain interface it’s going to be like i said at least a decade of really just solving um brain injuries and spinal injuries um and really i think you can solve a very wide range of brain injuries including severe depression uh morbid obesity uh sleep uh potentially schizophrenia like a lot of things that cause great stress to people uh restoring uh memory in in all the people if you can pull that off that is that that’s the app i will sign up for absolutely i would please hurry actually yeah i mean the the the emails that we get at neurolink um are heartbreaking um i mean that they’ll send us just tragic you know you know where someone was was sort of in the prime of life and and and they had an accident on a motorcycle and and and someone who’s 25 is is you know it can’t even feed themselves and and this is something we could fix um but but you have you have said that ai is one of the things you’re most worried about and that neuralink may be one of the ways where we can keep abreast of it or yes it’s it’s there’s there’s the short-term thing which i think is helpful on an individual human level um with injuries and then the long-term thing is an attempt to uh address the civilizational risk of of ai by bringing bringing digital intelligence and biological intelligence closer together i mean if you think of how the brain works today they’re really kind of two layers to the brain there’s the limbic system and the the cortex you’ve got the kind of animal brain where it’s kind of like the fun part really um and that’s where most of twitter operates by the way um yeah i mean we’re i think like tim urban said this like we’re we’re like we’re like somebody’s you know stuck a computer on a monkey right um you know so we’re like if you gave a monkey a computer that’s our cortex but we still have a lot of monkey instincts right so uh we should then try to rationalize us no it’s not a monkey instinct it’s something more important than that but it’s often just really a monkey instinct we’re in this we’re we’re just monkeys with a computer style so stuck in our brain um so um but even though the cortex is sort of the smart or the intelligent part of the brain the thinking part of the brain um people are quite i’ve not yet yet met anyone who wants to delete their limbic system or their cortex they’re quite happy having both everyone wants both parts of their brain and um and people really want their their phones and their computers which are really the the tertiary the third part of of your intelligence it’s just that it’s it’s like so the the bandwidth the rate of communication with that tertiary layer is uh is slow and it’s just a very tiny stroll to this tertiary layer and and we want to make that tiny straw a big highway um and i i’m definitely not saying that this is going to solve everything or this is you know it’s the only thing it’s it’s something that that that might be helpful um and and worst case scenario i think we we solve some important brain injury spinal injury issues and that’s still a great outcome right best case scenario we may discover new human possibility telepathy you’ve spoken of in a social connection with with with with a loved one you know full memory yeah um and and much faster thought process maybe yeah these things it’s very cool if ai were to take down earth we need a plan b let’s let’s shift attention to to space we spoke last time we talked about reusability and you just demonstrated that spectacularly for the first time since then you’ve gone on to build this monster rocket starship um which kind of changes the rules of the game in in spectacular ways tell us tell us about starship yes social is extremely fundamental so the the holy grail of of rocketry uh or space transport is full and rapid reusability this has never been achieved the closest that um anything’s come is our falcon 9 rocket where we uh are able to recover the the pres the first stage the boost stage which is probably about 60 percent of the cost of the vehicle um or of the whole launch uh maybe seventy percent um and uh we’ve not done that over a hundred times so uh with starship uh we will be recovering um the entire thing that’s at least that’s the goal right um and and and moreover recovering it in such a way that it can be immediately reflowed uh whereas with falcon 9 we still need to do some amount of refurbishment to the booster and to the the fairing windows nose cone so um but with starship the design uh goal is uh immediate reflight right so you just you just refill propellants and and go again and the this is gigantic it just just as it would be in in any other mode of transport and this and the main design is is and is to basically take what 100 plus people at a time plus a bunch of things that they need to mars so talk first of all talk about that piece what what is your latest timeline one for the first time a starship goes to mars presumably without people but just equipment two with people three the sort of okay 100 people at a time let’s let’s go sure well and and just put the the cost thing into perspective um the the cost of expected cost of starship putting 100 tons into orbit um is significantly less than what um it would have cost or what it did cost to put out our tiny falcon 1 rocket into orbit just as the cost of flying a 747 around the world uh is is less than the cost of a small airplane oh you know it’s a smaller print that was thrown away um so it’s really pretty mind-boggling um that the giant thing costs less way less than the small thing so it it doesn’t use sort of exotic propellants or things that are difficult to obtain on mars it uses methane is fuel and it’s primarily oxygen it’s sort of roughly 77 78 oxygen by weight um and mars has a co2 atmosphere and has water ice which is co2 plus h2o so you can make ch4 methane and o2 oxygen on mars presumably one of the first tassel mars will be to create a fuel plant that can create the fuel for the trips of many starships yes and actually it’s it’s mostly going to be an oxygen plant but but it’s it’s because it’s um it’s it’s called 78 oxygen 22 fuel um but but but the fuel is a simple fuel that is is easy to create on mars um and and many other parts of the solar system so basically um it’s and it’s all propulsive landing no parachutes um uh nothing thrown away uh uh it has a heat shield that’s capable of entering on earth or mars um we could even potentially go to venus but it’s not you don’t want to go there um venus is hell almost literally um but you you could it’s a generalized method of transport to to anywhere in the solar system um because the point which have a propellant deep on mars you can then travel to the asteroid belt uh and to the moons of jupiter and then to saturn and and ultimately anywhere in the solar system right but you’re made for your main for focus and spacex’s main focus is still mars like that that is that is the that is the mission that is that is where most of the effort will go imagining a much broader array of uses even in the coming you know the first decade or so of uses of this where we could go for example to other places in the solar system to explore perhaps nasa wants to use the rocket for that reason yeah now so nasa is planning to use a starship to return to the moon to return people to the moon um and uh so we’re very honored that nasa’s has chosen us to do this um uh so uh but i’m saying it it is it is a generalized uh it’s a it’s a general solution to uh getting anywhere in the greater uh solar system it’s not suitable for going to another star system but it is a general solution for transport anywhere in the in the solar system before it can do any of that it’s got to demonstrate it can get into orbit you know around earth what’s what’s what’s what’s your latest advice on the on the timeline for that it’s looking promising for us to have an orbital launch attempt uh in in a few months um so uh we’re actually integrating the uh we’ll be integrating the engines uh into the booster for the first orbital flight uh starting in about a week or two um and um the the the launch complex itself is uh ready to go so assuming we get regulatory approval i think we could have a uh an orbital launch attempt uh within a few months and a radical new technology like this presumably there is real risk on those early yeah yeah like i mean the joke i make all the time is that uh uh excitement is guaranteed success is not guaranteed but excitement certainly is but the last lesson on your timeline you’ve slightly put back the expected date to put the first human on mars till 2029 i want to say um yeah i mean so so uh let’s see i mean we we are we have built a production system for starships so we’re we’re we’re making a lot of ships and boosters and how many are you planning to make actually well we’re currently expecting to um make a a booster and a ship roughly uh every well initially roughly every couple months and hopefully by by the end of this year um one every month so it’s giant rockets but a lot and a lot of them just in terms of talking in terms of rough orders of magnitude in order to create a self-sustaining city on mars i i think the you will need something on the order of a thousand ships then we just need a we just need a helen of of of sparta uh i guess on the on mars this this is not in most people’s heads the plan was that launched a thousand ships that’s that’s nice but this is not in most people’s heads this picture that you have in your mind that so there’s there’s basically a two year window you can only really fly to mars conveniently every two years yes you are still you are picturing that during doing the 2030s every couple years something like a thousand starships take off each containing 100 or more people that that that picture is just completely mind-blowing to me yeah that that sense of this armada of humans going yeah like battlestar galactica the fleet of departs and you think that that it can basically be funded by people spending maybe a half a couple hundred grand on a ticket to mars is that is that price about where where it has been well i think if you say like what’s what’s net what’s required in order to get enough people and enough cargo to mars to build a self-sustaining city um and it’s where you have an intersection of sets of people who want to go because i think only a small percentage of humanity will want to go and can afford to go or get sponsorship in some manner that intersection of sets i think needs to be a million people or something like that um and so it’s what what can a million people afford or get sponsorship for or because i think governance will also pay for it and people can take out loans and but but i think at the point of which um you say okay okay like if if moving to mars costs are for arguments take um a hundred thousand dollars then i think um you know almost anyone can can work and save up and and eventually have a hundred thousand dollars and be able to go to mars if they want we want to make it available to anyone who wants to go yeah um so it and and very important to emphasize that mars especially in the beginning will not be luxurious it will be dangerous uh cramped difficult hard work it’s kind of like that shackleton ad for going to the antarctic which i think is actually not real but it sounds real and it’s cool it’s sort of like the the the sales pitch for going to mars is it’s it’s it’s dangerous it’s cramped uh you might not make it back uh it’s difficult it’s hard work that’s the sales pitch right you will make history but it’ll be glorious right also on that kind of launch rate you’re talking about over two decades you could get your million people to to mars essentially who city is it is it nasa city is it space existence it’s the people of mars the city the the the reason for this i mean i have to say like what we feel like well why why do this thing it’s i i think this is important uh for maximizing the probable lifespan of of humanity or consciousness human civilization could come to an end for external reasons like giant meteor or super volcanoes or extreme climate change uh or or world war three or you know any one of a number of reasons um and and um but the probable lifespan of of civilizational consciousness as we know it which we should really view as this very delicate thing like a small candle in a vast darkness that’s that’s caught that that is what appears to be the case um we’re in this vast darkness of space and there’s this little candle of consciousness that’s only really come about um after four and a half billion years yeah and um it could just go out i think that’s powerful and i think i think a lot of people will be inspired by that vision and and the reason so the reason you need the million people is because they has to be enough people there to do everything that you need to survive really like the the critical threshold is um if the ships from earth stop coming for any reason right um does it does the mars city die out or or not right and and so we have to pass that that’s you know people talk about like these the sort of the great filters the things that perhaps um uh you know we talk about the fermi paradox and where are the aliens and like well maybe the aliens didn’t there is various great filters that the aliens didn’t pass and and so they eventually just ceased to exist and one of the great filters is becoming a multi-planet species so we want to pass that filter and and uh i’ll be long dead before this is uh you know a real real thing before before it happens but i’d like i’d like to at least see us make a great progress in this direction given how tortured the earth is right now how much we’re beating each other up shouldn’t there be discussions going on with everyone who is dreaming about mars to try to say we’ve got a once once in a civilization’s chance yes to make some new rules here is that should someone be trying to lead those discussions to figure out what it what it means for this to be the people of mars this city well i think ultimately this will be up to the people of mars to decide what uh how they want to rethink society yet there’s certainly risk there um and uh hopefully the people of mars will be more enlightened and will not fight amongst each other too much i mean i have some recommendations but which people of mars may choose to listen to or not and i would advocate for more of a direct democracy not a representative democracy and laws that are short enough for people to understand um and where it is is harder to create laws than to get rid of them coming back a bit nearer term i’d love you to talk a bit so about some of the other possibility space that starship um seems to have created so given given suddenly we’ve got this ability to move 100 tons plus into orbit yes so we’ve just spent we’ve just launched the james webb telescope which is an incredible thing it’s an unbelievable absolutely exquisite piece of technology exquisite piece of technology but people spent two years trying to figure out how to fold up this thing it’s a three-ton it’s a three-ton telescope we can make it a lot easier if you’ve got more volume and mass well so but let’s let’s ask a different question which is what what what how much more powerful a telescope could someone design based on using starship for example um i mean roughly i would say it’s probably an order of magnitude more resolution if you’ve got 100 tons and a thousand cubic meters volume which is roughly what we have and what about other exploration through the solar system i mean i’m i’m you know europa you’re well europe is a great question mark right so so there’s an ocean there right and what you really want to do is to drop a submarine into the yeah i mean maybe there’s like some squid civilization uh under cephalopod civilization under the ice of europa that would be pretty interesting i mean you know if you could take a submarine to europa and we see pictures of this thing being devoured by a squid that would honestly be the happiest moment of my life very well yeah that would be what what other possibilities are out there like it feels like if you’re gonna create a thousand of these things they can only fly to mars every two years what are they doing the rest of the time it feels like there’s this this right explosion of possibility that i don’t think people are really thinking about i mean i don’t know if we’ve certainly got a long way to go as you alluded to earlier we still have to get to orbit uh and and then um after we get to orbit we have to um really prove out and refine uh full and rapid reusability uh that’ll take a moment um and um but i do think we will solve this i am i highly confident we will solve this at this point um do you ever wake up with the fear that there’s going to be this hindenburg moment for spacex where we’ve had many hindenburg well we’ve never had hindenburg moments with people uh which is very important big difference right there is we’ve blown up quite a few rockets so this we have a there’s a whole compilation online that we’ve put together and let’s put together uh it’s showing rockets are hard um yeah i mean the sheer amount of energy going through rocket is it boggles the mind so yeah you know getting out of both gravity well is difficult we have a strong gravity and a thick atmosphere and and um and and mars which is uh less than 40 it’s like i think 37 of earth’s gravity um and has a thin atmosphere uh the ship alone can go all the way from the surface to mars to the surface of earth whereas getting two mars requires a giant booster and orbital refilling so elon so think more about this incredible array of things that you’re involved with i keep seeing these synergies to use a horrible word um but between them you know for example the robots you’re building from tesla could possibly be pretty handy on mars sure um doing some of the dangerous work and so forth i mean maybe there’s a scenario where your city on mars doesn’t need a million people it needs half a million people and half a million robots sure and um that’s a possibility maybe the boring company could play a role helping create some of the subterranean dwelling spaces that you might need yeah um back on planet earth it seems like a partnership between boring company and tesla could offer an unbelievable deal to a city to say we we will create view a 3d network of tunnels populated by robo taxis yeah that will offer fast low-cost transport to anyone you know full self-driving may or may not be done this year and then and in some cities like someone like mumbai i suspect won’t be done for a decade some places are more challenging than others but today today with what you’ve got you could put a 3d network of tunnels under that oh it was just an internal that’s a sole problem basically exactly full self-driving is itself problem so so to me there’s there’s amazing synergy there um you’re with with with the starship you know quinn shot well talked about by 2028 having from city to city you know transport on planet yeah this is a a real possibility it’s it’s a uh yeah the the fastest way to get from one place to another it’s a long distance is is a rocket it’s right it’s basically icbm right with the but it has to happen landing delete the nuke because it’s an icbm it has to land probably offshore yes it’s loud so so why not have a tunnel that then connects to the city yeah i mean if you’re going to go to mars having a telepathic connection with loved ones back home even if there’s a time delay i mean if these are not intended to be connected by the way they just but i there certainly could be some synergies yeah surely there is a growing argument that you should actually put all these things together into one company and just just have a company devoted to creating a future that’s exciting and let a thousand flowers bloom have you have you been thinking about that i mean it is tricky because tesla is a publicly traded company and the the investor base of tesla and spacex and and certainly boring company and neural link are quite different and when we come to new york link are our tiny companies just right comparison the audience yeah tesla’s got 110 000 people uh spacex i think is around 12 000 people uh boring company and neurolink are both under 200 people so uh they’re little little tiny companies but they will probably get bigger in the future they will get bigger in the future not that easy to sort of combine these things um traditionally you’ve said that for spacex especially you don’t you wouldn’t want to public because public investors wouldn’t support um the craziness of the idea of going to mars or whatever and yeah you want to you know making life multi-planetaries is outside of this the normal uh time horizon of wall street analysts say the least i think something’s changed though um what’s changed is that tesla is now so powerful and so big and throws off so much cash that you actually could connect the dots here just tell the public that x billion dollars a year whatever your number is will be diverted to the mars mission i i suspect you’d have massive interest in that company and it might it might unlock a lot more possibility for you now i mean i would like to give the public access to uh ownership of spacex uh but i mean the thing that like the the overhead associated with public company uh is high um so i mean as a public company you’re just constantly sued it does occupy like a fair bit of um you know time and effort to uh deal with these things right but you would still only have one public company it would be bigger and have more things going on but instead of being on four boards you’d be on one i’m actually not even on the the neural link or boring company board oh well yeah and i i don’t really attend the spacex board meetings we only have two a year and i i just stopped by and chat for an hour um so uh the board overhead for a public company is much higher right i think some investors probably worry about how your time is being split and they would be they might be excited by you know that that’s anyway i am i just i just woke up the other day think thinking just there are so many ways in which these things connect and and and you know that just the note the simplicity of that mission of building a future that is worth getting excited about might might appeal to um an awful lot of people um elon you are reported by forbes and everyone else’s as now you know the world’s richest person that’s not a sovereign you know i think it’s fair to say that uh if somebody is like the king or de facto uh king of a country they’re wealthier than i am so but but it’s just harder to measure but what people do so 300 billion dollars i mean your your net worth on any given day is rising or falling by several billion dollars how inside how insane is that yeah i mean does that how do you how do you handle that psychologically there aren’t many people in the world who have to even think about that i i actually don’t think about that too much but the the the thing that is actually more more difficult and and that does make sleeping difficult is that um you know every good hour uh or even minute of thinking about uh tesla and spacex has such a big effect on the company that i really try to work as as much as possible you know to the edge of sanity basically because the you know tesla’s getting to the point where uh probably we’ll get to the point later this year where every good every high quality minute of thinking um is a million dollars to impact on on tesla so uh which is insane um so um i mean the basic you know if tesla is doing you know of a sort of two billion dollars a week let’s say in revenues sort of 300 million dollars a day seven days a week you know it’s if you can change that by five percent in an hour’s brainstorm um that those those are very valuable that’s a pretty valuable hour i mean there are many many instances where a a half hour meeting the finale i was able to improve the financial outcome of the company um by 100 million dollars in a half hour meeting there are many other people out there who who who can’t stand this world of of billionaires like they are hugely offended by the notion that an individual can have the same wealth as say a billion or more of the the world’s poorest people if if they examine sort of the sort of i think there’s some axiomatic flaws um that that are leading to them to that conclusion if for sure it would be very problematic if i was consuming uh you know billions of dollars a year in personal consumption but that is not the case um in fact i don’t even own a home right now i’m literally staying at friends places i if i travel to the bay area which where most of tesla engineering is i stay in my i basically rotate through friends spare bedrooms um i don’t have a yacht i really don’t take vacations uh so um it’s not it’s not as though there’s um that that my personal consumption is is high uh i mean the one exception is a plane but if i don’t use the plane then i have less hours to work so um i mean i i personally think you have shown that you are mostly driven by really quite a deep sense of moral purpose i like you you’ve tried your your attempts to solve the climate problem have have been as powerful as anyone else on the planet that i’m aware of and i actually can’t understand personally i can’t understand the fact that you get all this criticism from the left about oh my god he’s so rich that’s disgusting um when when climate is their issue um philanthropy is a topic that some people go to philanthropy is a hard topic like how how do you think about that um i i think if you care about the reality of goodness instead of the perception of it philanthropy is extremely difficult spacex tesla neurolink boring company are philanthropy if you say philanthropy is love of humanity they are philanthropy they’re tesla is accelerating sustainable energy this is a love of full anthropy right spacex is trying to ensure the long-term survival of humanity with multi-planet species this is love of humanity um you know neurolink is is to help solve uh brain injuries and uh existential risk with ai love of humanity foreign company is trying to solve traffic which is health for most people and uh that also it’s like community it’s like how how upsetting is it to you to hear this constant drum beat of billionaires my god elon musk oh my god like is that do you do you do you just shrug that off or does it does it actually hurt i i mean at this point it’s water if it talks back you know i’d like to as we wrap up now just pull the camera back and just think you’re a father now of seven surviving kids and and well i i mean i’m trying to set a good example because the birth rate on earth is so low that we’re facing civilizational collapse unless the birth uh sustainable level yeah you’ve talked about this a lot that depopulation is a big problem and we we yes people don’t understand population collapse is uh one of the biggest threats to the future of human civilization and that is what is going on right now how what what drives you on a day-to-day basis to do what you do i guess like i i really want to make sure that there is a good future for humanity and that we’re on a path to understanding the nature of the universe um the meaning of life why are we here how do we get here um and in order to understand the nature of the universe and all these fundamental questions um we must expand the scope and scale of consciousness uh certainly it must not diminish or go out or we we certainly wouldn’t understand this so i i always say i’m motivated by curiosity more than anything and just a desire to think about the future and not be sad you know and um and are you are you not sad i’m sometimes sad i i mostly i’m i’m i mean i’m feeling i guess relatively optimistic about the future these days um there are certainly um some big risks that humanity faces uh i think the population collapse is a really big deal that um i wish more people would would think about um because the birth rate is far below uh what’s needed to sustain civilization it’s current at its current level and uh you know there’s obviously we need to take action on climate sustainability which is is being done um and we need to secure the future of consciousness by being a multi-planet species we need to address the essentially we it’s important to take whatever actions we can think of to address the existential risks that affect the the future of consciousness there’s a there’s a whole generation coming through who seem really sad about the future what would you say to them well i think if you want the future to be good you must make it so take action to make it good and it will be elon thank you for all this time um that is a beautiful place to end thanks for all that you’re doing you’re welcome

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