In his most recent Ted Talk titled “Elon Musk: A future worth getting Excited about” Elon musk sits down with the Head of TED, Chris Anderson for an in-depth interview. Chris Anderson makes sure to cover all the fundamental questions, and discusses all topics related to the radical new innovations Elon is working on.
Elon Musk bettering humanity
For Elon, everything he does is to help maximize the lifespan of humanity, and although some may not see this as philanthropic, he explains his mere reasoning. “If philanthropy is love of humanity, then Space X, Tesla, Neurolink, and the Boring Company are all philanthropical. Space X is trying to ensure the long-term survival of humanity with multiple planet species, Tesla is accelerating sustainable energy, Neuro link is trying to solve brain injuries and existential risk with AI, and The Boring Company is trying to solve traffic, which is hell for most people and that is the love of humanity”. His statement is clear, whether it is how people want to perceive it or not.
Elon talks about being a billionaire, the stigma that comes with it, and the heaviness and responsibility he decides to take on and not use it for mere of his personal uses, but rather for his work and advancements in his innovations.
In this interview, he points out the lack of knowledge people have in terms of depopulation, explaining further that the birth rate has been extremely low for some time now and this collapse in population is one of the biggest threats facing human civilization.
Although not easy, what keeps him going is his need to make sure that there is a bright future for humanity, using his curiosity as the driving force to make people understand the deeper meaning as to why we are here on earth and understand nature of the universe.
Elon Musk talks about sustainability and AI
Being an optimist about the future, he doesn’t think climate catastrophe will happen, so long as people are aware, aren’t complacent, and continue to push hard. The future in terms of sustainable energy is bright. The 3 energy sources, wind, solar, stationary battery packs, and electric vehicles will be the driving force, with the one limiting factor being battery cell production, and although a very tough task, it’s already in the works and will get there in a couple of years. Elon musk says the world needs around 300 terawatt-hours of battery for sustainability, to transition not just current electricity production but heating and transport as well.
Once that is solved it will provide the world with low-cost energy, which can then be used to do carbon sequestration and can turn seawater into irrigation water, and so on…
Elon musk discusses Tesla self-driving cars and the challenges that come with them. For a car to be completely self-driving and relied on AI, one needs to solve the problems of AI in the real world, since the road designs network are designed to work with our brains and our vision. After a new architecture is incorporated, the car now has a 3d model of all that is surrounding and how fast they are moving; seeing a lot of improvement behind the scene allows Elon musk to believe that within a year the car will be able to drive without human interventions and will be safer.
After realizing the solution to solving AI for cars was to first solve AI in the real world, he knew a humanoid robot would well be underway since after all, a car is a robot on 4 legs. However, for the robot to maneuver around without explicit instructions, two things were missing real-world intelligence and scaling up manufacturing, two areas that Tesla just so happens to excel at. The aim is to eventually have these robots have a full understanding of the surrounding 3D architecture and have safety regulations to avoid any dystopian situation in people’s homes. Elon Musk knows this would be revolutionary and talks about the time Bill Gates said everyone would have a computer in their home and they did, Elon is certain everyone will have a robot at their side.
Elon Musk isn’t oblivious to the risk that comes with AI and taking a turn in a direction that for some reason we don’t like but he does believe AI and intelligence will create a world of abundance.
He goes on to further discuss the idea behind Neuralink, “try to more tightly couple collective human world to digital superintelligence” and explains that if AI is to be extremely intelligent the best way to benefit would be to be directly wired to them. Having a high-bandwidth neural interface that will allow for AI human symbiosis will take many years, but what he is looking forward to is potentially solving brain injuries including severe depression, morbid obesity, sleep, schizophrenia, and spinal injuries, as well as restoring memory to older people.
The future is full of uncertainties, and the direction in which the world has taken over the last couple of years has made even mere optimists question what kind of future we are headed towards. This Ted Talk interview restores one faith in a potentially good future for humanity. The dialogue on innovation, its impact, and the future leave one pondering on what’s coming. Although the future ahead may be seen as scary for some with technology at its forefront, this interview provides a better understanding of the use of AI and intelligence with its benefits as well as its risks.
- Musk, E. (1650). A future worth getting excited about. [online] www.ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_a_future_worth_getting_excited_about [Accessed 13 May 2022].