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Archives for elon musk

SpaceX has a “double-header” planned for the weekend — two separate launches, one set for later today and then another on Sunday. In what seems like a growing theme for SpaceX as of late, today’s launch will again be making history as the mission that put Bulgaria’s first communications satellite into orbit. Even more, this is only the second spacecraft Bulgaria has ever launched into space, the first being a weather satellite launched nearly 36 years ago.

Photo credit: Bulgaria Sat
Photo Credit: Bulgaria Sat

Today’s mission is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. EST and has a two hour window to allow for delays. Thus far, weather seems to be cooperating with these plans. Sunday’s launch is planned for take-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with a payload of Iridium satellites.

The Bulgarian satellite launch is the second instance of SpaceX reusing a rocket booster. The rapid succession for these launches in indicative of exactly what Elon Musk was hoping to achieve with reusable rockets. Not only does recycling rockets allow for cheaper launches, but it significantly cuts down on the time needed to prepare for each one.

SpaceX is continuing to make history and is cementing itself as the leading provider for the entire world’s extraterrestrial needs.

The post SpaceX is Gearing Up for Historic “Double-Header” Launches This Weekend appeared first on Futurism.

Facing the Music

When something bothers serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, it seems he just can’t help but come up with a solution. That’s how the Boring Company was born. Now, it looks like Musk is being true to one of the musings he voiced during Tesla’s shareholders meeting earlier this month.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
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At that time, Musk criticized existing music streaming algorithms and their bad playlist quality. He promised a music service feature for Tesla vehicles, which would suggest “the music you want to listen to.” Sources from the music industry are now confirming that that Tesla does, indeed, have interest in coming up with a music service. These sources confirmed to Recode that the company has already had talks about licensing proprietary music with all the major record labels.

“We believe it’s important to have an exceptional in-car experience so our customers can listen to the music they want from whatever source they choose,” a Tesla spokesperson told Recode. “Our goal is to simply achieve maximum happiness for our customers.”

While the sources aren’t clear yet about the scope of Tesla’s music service, it’s possible that the company would start by offering a Pandora-like web radio streaming. As Tesla’s vehicles come with a high-tech dashboard and full internet connectivity, this is highly possible. There’s also interest from the record label companies, as Tesla’s sales have been going up. They sold more than 100,000 cars last January and has already 400,000 preorders for the Model 3.

Embracing the Future

Let’s take a moment to look at Tesla, though. With its hand in electric vehicles, solar power, and next-generation batteries, Musk’s company is already a major player in the renewable energy market. It’s also an industry leader, in its own right, in autonomous vehicle technology. Tesla’s already grown past what its earliest critics expected.

Now, as Tesla expands into music streaming, it’s potentially turning into this generation’s monopoly. In the same way, Musk is becoming a truly versatile entrepreneur. He’s already building reusable rockets and planning to go to Mars, he’s digging a tunnel through L.A. traffic, and he’s also supporting the conscious development of artificial intelligence. Oh, and he also has that other venture to meld human beings with machines.

There seems to be nothing Musk doesn’t want to do. If you think about it, he’s just being a good innovator by providing a service to answer a particular need. The question is, is there a need for the kind of music service Musk envisions?

Getting into the streaming business might seem like a weird path for Tesla to take. By providing what promises to be a better music streaming service, however, Tesla’s simply improving the overall experience of driving its cars. Who wouldn’t want to listen to good music while your car drives itself?

The post Elon Musk’s Move Into Streaming Could Make Tesla This Generation’s Monopoly appeared first on Futurism.

Flying Cars by 2018

The Personal Air Land Vehicle (PAL-V) Liberty is looking likely to become the first flying car intended for general adoption and real world application — and it could be available soon. While the first model was developed in 2012, the company is aiming to deliver its first car to the first customer by the end of 2018. They hope to produce 50 to 100 models in 2019, and a few hundred by 2020.

The planned price is €299,000 EUR ($333, 340 USD) for the sport version and €499,000 EUR ($556, 310 USD) for the first edition. Of course, cost isn’t the only consideration: customers will need to acquire both a flying and driving license before using the vehicle, and each car will need to undergo 150 hours of flight testing before being approved.

The PAL-V is one of many flying cars in development at the moment. Other bids include Toyota’s plan to bring a flying car to the 2020 Toyko Olympics — although the end goal for this model would be carrying the Olympic torch, rather than being destined for mass production.

At the moment, the PAL-V’s main market competition are companies like AeroMobil, and another called Terrfugia. Both use plane-like propulsion systems, as opposed to the Pal-V’s gyrocopter technology, to take off. Aerombil has already started accepting pre-orders for 2020, while Terrafugia is expected to deliver their first Transition in 2019.

The Future of Transport?

It may well be that flying cars as the future of transport. They would provide a way to decrease traffic congestion, cut out airport flight times, provide alternatives for people living a long way from work, and give a means of transport to countries that lack the infrastructure for consistent large scale flights.

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment: Elon Musk isn’t so sure flying cars are the future of transport, as he told Bloomberg’s Max Chafkin: “Obviously, I like flying things, but it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”

Among the main criticisms of the technology are the fact that it would need to produce a lot of downforce to stay in the sky — which produces a lot of noise and wind — and that they may well be more dangerous than road cars: should they be involved in an accident, passengers and debris could quite literally end up falling from the sky. The PAL-V has handled the the first issue with its gyrocopte, which keeps speed in check and is a key safety feature.

While a future with flying cars is an exciting one to behold, there are some major obstacles the industry needs to overcome first. And while it’s certainly encouraging that there’s interest, we shouldn’t take the acceptance of pre-orders as being interchangeable with government policy or even approval.

The post Flying Cars Could Hit the Skies as Soon as 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

UBI — The Basics

Imagine a society in which everyone, regardless of economic status, age, household size, and location, was guaranteed a minimum income — a no-strings-attached safety net that was not affected by work income or anything else. That’s universal basic income (UBI), and the idea is gaining traction as trials of the idea are taking place around the world. Canada, India, Kenya, and Finland are all investigating how UBI for every citizen might work in practice.

Some of the most successful people in the world are getting behind the idea, although not everyone agrees about the utility or practical application of UBI. Here’s what some of the world’s most prominent individuals in the world think about UBI.

Elon Musk

Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, spoke about UBI at the World Government Summit in Dubai earlier this year. Musk said that, due to mass disruption in employment caused by automation, “I don’t think we’re going to have a choice. I think it’s going to be necessary. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better.”

Mark Cuban

Cuban, television personality and chairman of AXS TV, is no friend of UBI, and favors fixing current welfare programs more than creating UBI programs. Although he sees automation changing the job market as a serious problem, he calls UBI programs “one of the worst possible responses.”

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Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, told the audience for his speech at the Harvard commencement ceremony that he favors UBI as a driver of innovation. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,” he said as part of his speech.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton, former First Lady and U.S. presidential candidate, said of UBI that she was “not ready to go there,” but instead favored expanding earned income tax credit. She said in an interview with Daniel Roth last year that she was concerned about the many people who continue to be unemployed, and argued “we’ve got to help create better opportunities for them without just giving up and saying, ‘Okay, fine, […] you don’t really have to do anything anymore.’ I don’t think that works for a democracy and I don’t think it works for most people.”

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Bill Gates

Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, isn’t opposed to the UBI concept, but he doesn’t think the time is right to implement it. Gates feels that resources are too limited to make it happen now, and instead more targeted programs need to happen first. “Over time, countries will be rich enough to do this,” Gates said during a AMA on Reddit. “However, we still have a lot of work that should be done — helping older people, helping kids with special needs, having more adults helping in education.”

Steve Wozniak

Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, told Robin Paul he agrees that there ought to be a minimum standard of living for everyone and feels that material needs for all people should be met. However, he stressesdthat some people in society are in much more distress than others, and need more assistance. Since this is the case, UBI might not be enough for them.

Barack Obama

Former President Obama has not officially stated a position on UBI, although last October he told Wired that there was no question it will be part of the coming debate surrounding automation: “Whether a universal income is the right model — is it gonna be accepted by a broad base of people? — that’s a debate that we’ll be having over the next 10 or 20 years.”

The post Here’s What The Most Successful People in the World Think About UBI appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk claims that a Model S P100D could travel a distance of over 1,000 kilometers (~621 miles) if driven efficiently on a single charge as long as it had the right tires. Musk’s assertion was made after he retweeted a post by Electrek featuring a link to an article about a new Model S hypermiling record.

For the unfamiliar, hypermiling is done to test just how far a vehicle can go on a single tank of fuel — or, in the case of electric vehicles, a single charge — when driven to maximize efficiency.

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In the article, a hypermiling duo from Belgium drove a Model S P100D — currently the fastest Tesla car available — in a 26-km (16-mile) closed loop for nearly 24 hours. Traveling at speeds of 40 km/h (24mph), they were able to run the car for 901.2 km (roughly 560 miles) on a single charge.

The previous record was set by Casey Spencer, who drove a Model S 85D ~885 kilometers (550.3 miles) on one charge. The Model SP100D has a higher energy capacity, which accounts for Musk’s confidence that it could go even farther under ideal conditions.

While the average driver won’t be operating their Tesla under hypermiling conditions, the significance of this new record is clear: Tesla’s EVs are now more efficient than ever before. That’s a plus for anyone considering an electric car, as a primary obstacle to adoption has been concerns about limited range, and the more EVs we can get on the roads, the fewer of their fossil fuel-powered counterparts will be contributing to carbon emissions.

The post Elon Musk: With the Right Tires, a Tesla Could Travel 1,000+ Kilometers on a Single Charge appeared first on Futurism.

The Model S Record

Tesla Model S P100D has just been used to set a new record for distance driven on a single charge: 901.2 km (~560 miles). Steven Peeters and Joeri Cools managed to break the record for the lowest energy consumption for the vehicle as well, achieving 88 Wh/km (54.7 Wh/mile).

They did so by hypermiling (driving the vehicle with the specific goal of increasing efficiency). For example, because cars are not as efficient at high speeds, the drivers averaged only 40 km/h (24 mph) — a speed that wouldn’t be ideal for actual travel, but that’s great for breaking records.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Most previous approaches to hypermiling have focused on driving cars in a straight line, but Peeters and Cools opted for a different approach, following a 26 km (~16 mile) closed loop in Belgium in order to learn to optimize the car’s energy usage.

“By the time we finished the attempt, we knew perfectly how to take every turn and roundabout to make sure we drove with the least possible consumption,” Peeters explained in a blog post. They also learned how to drive under different temperature conditions as the attempt took them almost an entire day: 23 hours and 45 minutes.

A Tesla Just Drove a Record Breaking 900+ Kilometers on a Single Charge

In 2015, Elon Musk predicted that a Tesla with a 950 km+ (~600 mile) maximum range would be ready by 2017. This attempt was just shy of the prediction, but the drivers think they did the best they could under their circumstances and explained what would be necessary to break the 1,000 km (~621 miles) record: “That would have to be a perfect run in perfect circumstances, which I believe are not possible in our country.”

A Precedent for Electric Cars

Hypermiling is not the way the vast majority of people drive, but it is a good test to show just how efficient a car can be. We must also consider that this test was undertaken in the error-strewn landscape of human judgement. If the Model S’s Autopilot were adjusted to maximize efficiency, it could potentially learn more quickly than the drivers and make the appropriate adjustments.

The previous Tesla record holder, Casey Spencer, achieved an 885 km (550 mile) run last year, so this record-breaking run marks an impressive new milestone for the Model S’s efficiency.

While these scores are not particularly close to beating the records set by non-electric vehicles, we must remember that this is only the second Tesla car ever built (with the Model 3 coming soon), updates are arriving quickly, and a lower maximum milage is a happy sacrifice for a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

If Tesla’s cars continue progressing at this rate, it won’t be long before their environmentally unfriendly counterparts are matched in performance — the only category they’re really ahead in anymore. Electric cars are now closing in fast on their fossil fuel-powered counterparts, with other recent feats including a Nio EP9 achieving a staggering time of 6:45:9 around Germany’s Nürburgring track. Soon, they’ll be ready for full industry domination.

The post A Tesla Just Drove a Record Breaking 900+ Kilometers on a Single Charge appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk and others are certainly not slowing down in the pursuit to colonize Mars. Major changes to this plan are currently underway.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 17, 2017

The nature of these updates was confirmed in a media question session at the Kennedy Space Center in March, during which Musk said he would provide an update on the design of the Interplanetary Transport System, and by Interplanetary Transport System, that includes the propellant depot on Mars,” He also stated that the tension in the project is to “not just get it done technically, but figure out how to get this done without going bankrupt.” He is, however, hopeful about this new approach.

Despite multiple assertions that the updates will be arriving imminently — including an announcement at an Everyday Astronaut event two and a half months ago that he was coming up “with a number of design refinements and probably ready to put on the website within a month or so” — there has been frustratingly little follow-up.

So, while we wait on tenterhooks for more information — stewing in the meta position of waiting for update news about an update — we were also given, fortunately, a transcript from the talk in which he details his non-updated plan, and gives an exciting look behind the scenes of SpaceX.

The post Elon Musk to Reveal “Major Changes” to Plans for Colonizing Mars appeared first on Futurism.

Thermometers, Not Thermometer

Climate change is real, and according to a recent tweet from serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, all you need is a thermometer to confirm it. While the tweet about thermometers was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, there’s nothing to laugh about when it comes to the severity of climate change, which Musk gave attention to by linking to a recent article in Forbes. The article explained why certain airline flights in the Southwest U.S. have been canceled this week due to record high temperatures.

In reality, you’d need more than one thermometer — more like thousands of them, actually. And not your everyday type of thermometer, either. Ordinary thermometers placed in individual locations can’t prove that the warming trend our planet is following is due to man-made climate change, because you have to account for globalized cooling and warming patterns.

To be exact, one would need to get an average surface temperature reading using measurements from thousands of weather stations, as well as average sea surface temperatures from ship- and buoy-based observations. You’d get something similar to what NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showcased in this video from earlier this year, even which included temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.

And, of course, no matter how many thermometers you have, and how many places you can set them, you still need scientists to monitor global warming and its adverse effects.

A Clear Message

Musk’s point is clear, however: climate change is real. And despite the flack from some of his Twitter followers over the difference between weather and climate, climate change does lead to extreme weather conditions and rising global average temperatures. 

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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There are other indicators that clearly show the effects of climate change — from the unabated melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, to changes affecting even the world’s ecology. There’s even a town in the U.S. that’s now in danger of completely sinking into the Gulf of Mexico due to rising sea levels. Countless studies have shown the link between such events and climate change, so it’s not being an alarmist to simply point out the facts.

Keeping those facts in mind, efforts to combat climate change have become especially crucial. Thankfully, there are already many being implemented and even more in development, including various renewable energy projects, and even a plan to refreeze the Arctic.

The post Elon Musk’s Simple Message On Why Climate Change Is Real appeared first on Futurism.

Those who follow Elon Musk on Twitter have gotten used to the flurry of announcements and musings that often arrive in the wee hours of the night. The SpaceX founder and CEO once again rocked the Twittersphere Sunday when he revealed what could be a first for his space company: a launch doubleheader.

If everything works out, it seems SpaceX plans to launch two Falcon 9 rockets from its Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg launch sites this weekend. Musk included a link to a tweet from SpaceX’s Twitter, which indicated June 25 as the target date for the “weekend doubleheader.”

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The payload for Sunday’s launch will be from telecommunications company Iridium, for which SpaceX previously launched 10 low-Earth orbit satellites in January. Friday will be the rescheduled launch of a Bulgarian satellite that was originally supposed to launch today (Monday), but that was delayed so that SpaceX could replace a valve on the rocket booster.

If the weekend doubleheader goes as planned, SpaceX will have more proof that it’s capable of handling a significant volume of launches. 2017 isn’t even half over, and it’s already proving to be a great year for SpaceX.

The post SpaceX Announces Plans For a “Weekend Doubleheader” With Two Falcon 9 Launches appeared first on Futurism.

Often, legislation can either be an express lane or a roadblock (pun intended) for technological innovation that improves transportation. Getting government to support this type of development, such as Elon Musk’s famous Boring Company, is definitely a step in the right direction.

In a recent tweet, Boring founder and CEO Elon Musk linked an interview from ABC this past Sunday that featured Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. In the snippet, Garcetti was talking about potential solutions to improve the abysmal traffic to the city’s airport. In particular, he mentioned Musk’s tunnel solution. “Like many other cities have, I’d love to see maybe even with the new tunneling technology that people like Elon Musk is looking at, whether we could have a quick and direct route from LAX to Union Station,” Garcetti said.

While Musk noted Garcetti’s comment to be promising, the serial entrepreneur made an additional comment, saying that government permits are often harder to come by than developing technology. In order for a potentially disruptive technology like the Boring Company’s earthquake-proof tunnel system — which could potentially improve L.A. traffic — to become a reality, there must be more effective and efficient policy making.

The post Elon Musk Just Claimed That The LA Mayor is Open to His Controversial Boring Company appeared first on Futurism.

On Saturday, Elon Musk posted a video on Twitter giving us a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of  SpaceX. The video features shots of people working on both the inside and outside of multiple rockets at the Falcon Factory in Hawthorne, California. It also features some gorgeous frames of the technology, which Musks intends will help democratize space travel.

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An earlier tweet gave us an update on Musk’s plan to make humanity a “a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planetary species” by colonizing Mars. Although it provides insight into his logic and initial ideas, Musk did reveal on Twitter that there are “Major changes to the plan coming soon.”

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Musk’s SpaceX company is one of many currently developing the next generation of rockets. Thus far, these models appear primed to be cheaper alternatives to traditional space travel. One company, Blue Origin, similarly to Musk, is working on reusable rockets and another company, Rocket Lab (who recently had a successful launch), are aiming to create unprecedentedly cheap rockets capable of making frequent trips to space.

The post WATCH: Elon Musk Gives Behind the Scenes Look Inside Falcon Factory appeared first on Futurism.

SpaceX’s Progress So Far

In September 2016, Elon Musk humbly admitted that:

When starting SpaceX I thought the odds of success were less than 10%, and I just accepted that actually, probably, I would just lose everything but that I would maybe make some progress. If we could just move the ball forward, even if we died, maybe some other company could pick up the baton and keep moving forward, so we’d still do some good.

In 2017, he has exceeded just moving the ball forward in nearly every way possible — on top of becoming an industry leader in space flight, he has made major advances for humanity. Most of these concern space technology that can be used multiple times, reflecting his aim to address the conundrum of rockets being “the only form of transportation on Earth where the vehicle is built anew for each journey. What if you had to build a new plane for every flight?”

Dragon rocket launching for a second time. Image Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX’s first major landmark this year was to launch a satellite into space on a booster that had already been used before. In March, the company successfully propelled the SES-10 communications satellite into orbit by reusing the Falcon 9 rocket that had previously launched the CRS-8 satellite.

Next came flying the same Dragon rocket to the International Space Station for the second time; the company’s 11th supply mission in total. While the rocket had to undergo significant refurbishment, the mission on the 3rd of June was a seminal accomplishment that convinced NASA of the potential of reusable rockets — Kirk Shireman, Manager of the International Space Station Program, told CBS that “we expect to increase the amount of reflight as (NASA’s contracts with SpaceX) proceed.”

What the Future Has in Store

The next milestone SpaceX is set to cross is to launch the Falcon Heavy — the rocket that “was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.”

If Musk’s tweet that “All Falcon Heavy cores should be at the Cape in two to three months, so launch should happen a month after that” is true, we could see this goal realized as early as September. While the test flight will not carry a human passenger due to safety concerns, it will instead transport the “Silliest thing we can imagine!” into space: after the Dragon carried an enormous wheel of cheese on its first flight, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the Heavy’s cargo could be.

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
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SpaceX is also remarkable for the number of flights it is undertaking, not only their groundbreaking nature. So far this year, it has averaged a flight every three weeks; but the tempo of flights will increase even more. The launch calendar has flights planned on June 17th (BulgariaSat-1), June 25th (Iridium Next Flight-2), and July 1st (Intelsat 35E) — if all these go to plan, this would amount to three flights in two weeks.

SpaceX, then, is marching proudly into the future in terms of both the type and number of flights they are undertaking. While they had a challenging 2015 and 2016, their efforts and achievements in 2017 put them on the right path to achieving their most ambitious goal: putting humans on Mars by 2025.

The post 2017 Is Shaping up to Be SpaceX’s Best Year Yet appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla Enters the Indian Market

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’s in talks with India’s government to sell electric cars in the country, which is currently the fourth-largest auto market in the world.

Musk said on Twitter Thursday that he is currently negotiating a relief on import penalties until Tesla can build a local factory. This isn’t the first time Musk has announced he intends to enter the Indian market — Musk said in February he was hoping to launch in the country this summer.

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India could become one of the most important markets for Tesla given the country’s massive population size and focus on reducing emissions.

Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Vehicle adoption in India is expected to grow rapidly. At its current pace, the country is set to become the third-largest auto market in the world by 2020, according to a May report by the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian government’s resource center for economic information.

India’s passenger vehicle segment witnessed the most growth in the 2016 fiscal year, but two-wheelers still secure the most widespread adoption.

But some foreign automakers have so far struggled to increase sales in India, driven partially by a crackdown on diesel vehicles. General Motors put its $1 billion planned investment in India on hold last summer due to poor sales and the regulatory environment, Reuters reported at the time.

What could give Tesla an edge is that India is looking to promote electric and hybrid vehicle sales through its National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The initiative aims to have 6-7 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2020 by offering manufacturing and purchasing incentives. The country, however, will need to invest heavily in a charging infrastructure to make that vision a reality.

As Musk explores India, Tesla is also looking to further tap into the Chinese car market, the largest in the world, as the government pushes battery-powered vehicle adoption.

The post Elon Musk in Talks to Bring Electric Cars to India appeared first on Futurism.

Mars Planning

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, delivered an address at the International Astronautical Congress held in Guadalajara, Mexico last year outlining his vision of getting humans into space. This talk has now been adapted into a fifteen-page article that was published in this month’s issue of the journal New Space. Musk focuses on affordability as a major factor to ensuring the possibility of Mars colonization. He says “You cannot create a self-sustaining civilization if the ticket price is $10 billion per person.” He believes that the cost should be about $200,000; equivalent to the median price of a house in the United States.

Musk outlines the steps he considers essential to ensuring this relative affordability. The first step, developing fully reusable transport, is already well underway at SpaceX. The company has already proven the reliability of its reusable rockets, and have recently demonstrated the reusability of the Dragon spacecraft. Fueling is also a key factor in controlling costs: equipping any craft with additional fuel will significantly increase the weight of the craft. Musk proposes using methane — which is produced on Mars and would therefore allow for refueling via sources directly on the plant.

Going Multi-Planetary

Many experts believe that in order to ensure the survival of our species, we must work to be multi-planetary beings. Perhaps Musk’s vision to get us to Mars is the first step toward that goal. Musk’s enthusiasm for his Mars project is quite timely if we are to believe Stephen Hawking, who predicts humanity only has 100 years left on Earth.

But colonizing Mars is only a one possibility space has to offer. Space mining and manufacturing can help to decrease the burden on Earth’s resources and give us the capability to create products that would be impossible to manufacture on Earth.

We are at the beginning of an exciting crossroads for humanity. The space race of the mid-20th century brought about great change for humanity. It’s looking like this iteration will completely transform us.

The post Elon Musk Puts a Cap on Ticket Price to Mars Colony. Here’s How Much It Could Cost. appeared first on Futurism.

From 2008 and 2012, Tesla actually had a line of electric sports cars called the “Tesla Roadster,” which was the first-ever highway legal serial production of an all-electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries. Tesla has since discontinued its production, but it was announced three years ago that a second generation roadster is coming.

CEO Elon Musk plans for this Tesla Roadster 4.0, so to speak, to outdo the first version. It will be capable of a “Maximum Plaid” performance mode, as Musk would call it in reference to the movie Spaceballs. In a recent tweet, Musk hinted at just how fast this Maximum Plaid would be.

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If the first generation, had a “Ludicrous mode” capable of 0 to 97 km/h (60 mph) acceleration in just 2.5 seconds, the Tesla Roadster 4.0 might just hit 97 km/h (60 mph) in under two seconds. “That would [be] an interesting target,” Musk said in a tweet, replying to a question about the new roadster.

“Would, of course, only count if capable of doing so right off the production line with street legal tires,” Musk added, which Electrek’s Fred Lambert considers a possibility for the roadster to be faster with aftermarket components.

However, because Tesla is still busy with launching the Model 3 and perhaps working on the Model Y, and not to mention the highly-anticipated all-electric semi, the roadster is still “a few years away” — supposedly in 2019. But the Roadster still gives Tesla fans who love sports cars something to look forward to.

The post Elon Musk: The Next Generation Tesla Roadster May Achieve 60 MPH in Under 2 Seconds appeared first on Futurism.

Nuclear Powered Rockets

Princeton Satellite Systems, which is funded by NASA, has announced the possibility of fusion reactor rockets which could — according to the company’s president Michael Paluszek — “enable new and exciting science missions that are too expensive and difficult to do with today’s technology.” Such missions could include propelling spaceships towards planets and stars, exploring space deeper than we ever have before, and deflecting asteroids.

Fusion rockets are propelled by the same nuclear processes that power stars. They can produce more energy — and do so more efficiently — than traditional chemical propellant or ion drive designs. Princeton Satellite System’s design uses nuclear fusion by heating a mix of deuterium and helium-3 with low-frequency radio waves, then harnesses the energy produced with magnetic fields. This technique confines the resulting plasma in a ring. As the plasma spirals out of the ring, it can be directed towards the blasters.

While this system would prove expensive for bigger projects (around $20 billion), the smaller rocket — estimated to be 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) in diameter and 4 to 8 meters (13 to 26 feet) long — would only cost about $20 million per generator; ten times cheaper than the larger model.

Cost aside, there are still two other significant obstacles: first, the system would emit so much radiation that it would preclude the propulsion of any spacecraft with humans aboard, and second, while one generator may only cost the relatively small sum of $20 million, each ship would have to contain multiple generators to ensure both the stability of the plasma, and to make them capable of achieving the speeds the rockets aspire to.

Other Projects on the Horizon

Space travel has become a trend among the world’s tech elite, with many big names in technology working to develop canny ways explore the final frontier further, ideally by sending humans into outer space to guide those expeditions.

Paul Allen recently revealed the world’s largest plane, which aims to take spacecraft to the atmosphere, thereby reducing the amount of energy required to launch spacecraft from Earth.

Elon Musk has had a series of successful test runs for reusable rockets, including the Dragon spacecraft’s second landing at the International Space Station. He plans to test the Falcon Heavy rocket, designed to take people to the moon, in the next few months.

Related to one of the fission rocket’s goals of transporting robots to make observations of never-before seen parts of the galaxy is NASA’s mission to ‘touch the sun’ with its Parker Solar Probe. The probe will investigate solar wind and gather more data on our closest star than we’ve ever had before.

Gaining a deeper understanding of and visiting space has never been closer in our reach. Ideas like these are endlessly exciting and may be a sign that we may be entering the golden age of space travel.

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This Sunday afternoon, Elon Musk tweeted about the imminent Autopilot release for HW2 Suite Teslas which, as promised, will launch next weekend.

The update will be deployed only to HW2 Tesla cars (which have been in production since October, 2016), because the first-generation (HW1) cars lack sufficient computing power and sensors to handle it. This update will correct issues with the original control algorithm, which was “safe, but unpleasant,” to use Musk’s own words. Rain sensors and perpendicular parking may also be part of the update.

Image Credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Screenshot, Tesla
Tesla’s focus this time around has been on refining the control algorithm, not only to improve safety and add features like those in this update, but also to achieve the velvety smoothness that they have promised customers. It’s the finer points of the algorithm that control the tinier stops and starts, and those minor jolts are what have made the Autopilot ride less than perfect thus far. This version will hopefully prove to be both smoother and safer.

The post Tesla’s Updated Autopilot to Launch Next Weekend appeared first on Futurism.

Deep AI Vs. Automation

In an apparent attempt at a joke, a Twitter user sent a Business Insider tweet featuring a driverless Tesla car to Elon Musk, asking him to confirm that the development in “humanless automation” would not result in a “robotic apocalypse.” Musk replied via tweet, reaffirming his oft-repeated position that it is not automation per se, but deep AI, that poses more of an “apocalyptic” risk to humanity:

Disruption may cause us discomfort, but it’s not a threat in and of itself. However, Musk and others do see the potential for deep AI to be world-shattering, at least for humans.

Image Credit: OpenClipArtVectors/Pixabay
Image Credit: OpenClipArtVectors/Pixabay

Preparing For Deep Learning

It’s easy to understand why some are worried about this; AIs are learning how to encrypt messages efficiently. Jürgen Schmidhuber, considered to be the father of deep learning, believes that there will be trillions of self-replicating robot factories along our Solar System’s asteroid belt by 2050. He also thinks that robots will eventually explore the galaxy by themselves, motivated by their own curiosity, capable of deciding their own agenda without much human oversight. And, perhaps most disturbing, scientists working with Google’s DeepMind AI tested whether or not AI are more prone to cooperation or competition — and found that it can go either way, and AI are even capable of developing “killer instincts,” or a cooperative mindset, depending on the situation.

Musk’s solution to this potential threat is his famous neural lace concept. In brief, this ambitious project would use easily injectable electrodes to form a neural lace over the brain. The lace could both stimulate and interpret the brain’s electrical activity, and would eventually merge with the brain entirely, making human and AI part of the same organism.

The key isn’t halting progress, or even fearing AI — it’s learning how to merge with it successfully.

The post Elon Musk Says Deep AI, Not Automation, Poses the Real Risk for Humanity appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk and Tesla are taking the expanding Supercharger network off-grid, with an end goal of one day running almost completely off of solar power and batteries. Since the electric grid is still mostly powered by coal and natural gas, disconnecting from allows them to go green in a more meaningful way, at least for now. The Supercharger network is a critical selling point for Tesla customers, giving them a way to completely power a vehicle within 30 minutes.

Image Credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Tesla
Musk tweeted about this issue Friday in response to recent criticism of Tesla’s plan, which powers the network of Superchargers, slated to double by the end of 2017, with the fossil fuel-based energy of the grid.

Now, it’s still better for overall vehicle emission levels to drive an electric vehicle rather than one that burns traditional fossil fuels. However, charging EVs with natural gas, coal, and nuclear power is a clear weakness on the road to fighting climate change. Decarbonizing the grid is a longer-term goal than Tesla’s plan to go off-grid, but luckily Tesla drivers will probably be able to drive without the grid long before it’s decarbonized.

The post Elon Musk: All Superchargers Are Being Converted to Battery and Solar Power appeared first on Futurism.

It’s been a great week for Tesla. The company has been enjoying favorable coverage in the news cycle — from its highly successful launch of pre-orders for their solar roofing technology to a number of exciting developments they announced  at their shareholder’s meeting. Now, the company’s stock prices are reaping the benefits: Fred Lambert at Electrek reports that as of Thursday, Tesla’s stock reached an intraday high of $360 per share — setting the valuation of the company at $60 billion.

This healthy trend has led to the company being added to the Fortune 500 list for the first time. Currently, Tesla is listed at the 383rd position on the list.

Image credit: TeslaImage Credit: Tesla[/caption]This most recent surge is likely thanks to the strong focus on the future the company displayed at their shareholder’s meeting. Tesla has a clear vision for its future and a solid plan to get them there, and their list of upcoming projects is exciting enough to keep interest in the company’s workings high. The world is readily awaiting the arrival of the first solar roofing tiles, a new Tesla car model, and the Tesla Semi, as well as a host of new Gigafactories (which may be going international) to ramp up production and help meet the high demand.

The post Tesla Just Landed on the Fortune 500 List for the First Time appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk is having a rather good week. He put on an excellent showing at Tesla’s annual shareholder’s meeting, and today, the news broke that Tesla’s stock price has surged. The company is listed on the Fortune 500 list for the first time ever. But of course, we cannot forget about another of Musk’s revolutionary outfits: SpaceX.

Musk’s space company has a number of milestone event planned for the coming months. Case in point, a few moments ago, a question from a Twitter user sparked an update from Musk on the company’s plans to launch the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX’s massive rocket that will one day take humans to the Moon.

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In the tweet, Musk confirmed that we will be seeing the rocket launch in just four months, at the end of the summer.

The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in the world, capable of launching 54 metric tons (119,000 lb) of cargo and crew into space. The rocket will be used to boost the first space tourists to the Moon in a launch expected to take place in 2018. The entire journey is expected to take about six to seven days.

The Falcon Heavy will likely also play a role in preparing SpaceX for the highly anticipated first manned missions to Mars, set to happen by 2025.

We look forward to the upcoming launch and all the promise that its success will bring.

The post Elon Musk: The Rocket That Will Eventually Take Humans to the Moon Will Launch in 4 Months appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla’s new Vice President of Solar Products is aggressively confident about his company’s solar roofing product. In a recent interview with Austin Carr from Fast Company, the former CTO and co-founder of  SolarCity, acquired by Tesla, said that the Tesla/SolarCity combo is the only one that can pull off the technology successfully. He said, “If you just created a solar shingle, you’re kind of f****d. I don’t think anybody but the combination of SolarCity and Tesla can pull this off.”

Orders for the technology have been through the roof (pun intended), selling out well into the next year. Still, none of these pre-orders have shipped, so we will have to wait to see if the technology actually does live up to the hype.

Image credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Tesla
The market may not be saturated with competition, but it does exist. Fred Lambert at Electrek discusses Forward Labs‘ offering which was announced shortly before Tesla unveiled their roofing tech. Their tech is modeled after steel roofing, which is an entirely different market than Tesla’s products would serve. Both technologies still have to prove themselves, but Tesla’s option does have a leg up with its vertical integration capabilities. Tesla’s technology fully integrates into their home battery storage systems, the Powerpack and the Powerwall.

The post Tesla’s VP of Solar Products Claims Their Competitors Don’t Stand a Chance appeared first on Futurism.

An Annual Update

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is a showman, perhaps on par with Apple’s Steve Jobs when it comes to big reveals during public appearances.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

His usual platform is Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, but yesterday, he didn’t deliver much by way of reveals. Still, Musk did paint the general direction Tesla would be taking in the next several months while addressing the shareholders and responding to questions from Twitter.

If you missed the livestream of the presentation, don’t fret. Here’s everything you need to know from it.

An SUV, a Semi, and…an Airplane?

Musk mentioned three upcoming vehicles that Tesla has been working on: the Model 3, the Model Y, and an electric semi truck (that last one’s so exciting it deserved an article all to itself).

The Model 3 is expected to be released by the end of the month, and Musk emphasized the vehicle’s relative simplicity. “I should say that we’ve kept the initial configurations of the Model 3 very simple,” said the CEO. “A big mistake we made with the X, which is primarily my responsibility — there was way too much complexity right at the beginning. That was very foolish.”

Attendees were then treated to a first look at the Model Y, Tesla’s electric crossover SUV. The image is decidedly lacking in detail, so we still have very little to go on with this model, but we do know that it’s slated for a 2019 release and would be built on a completely new platform. In fact, Tesla would build an entirely new factory for its production.

Oh, and an electric plane somewhere down the road is also not “inconceivable,” according to Musk.

*5* Here’s What Elon Musk Talked About at Tuesday’s Shareholder’s Meeting

Autopilot Updates

Musk also offered updates on Tesla’s Autopilot, claiming that the company will be rolling out improvements to the system for its Hardware 2 vehicles. Since its split with Mobileye — the Israeli software maker responsible for the earlier versions of Tesla’s self-driving system — Tesla has been developing its own semi-autonomous software. While some consumers have had some issues with the autonomous system in Tesla’s new vehicles, Musk said that it’s now almost better than the Mobileye version.

Tesla Music?

Usually, after Musk points out a problem, he shares a solution for it (see: traffic and the Boring Company). At yesterday’s meeting, Musk shared his criticisms of today’s music algorithms and playlist quality, and in typical Musk fashion, he plans to do something about it. He says Tesla will release a music service or feature later this year, and “it’s gonna be the music you want to listen to.”

A Busy Man

After being asked about how he spends his time, Musk made reference to his late-night tweets. He admitted that he would “sometimes go crazy” on Twitter, but he blames it on music, wine, and a sedative. “You know, [when] there’s a little red wine, a vintage record player, some Ambien. Magic. Magic happens,” he said, later echoing the sentiment (where else?) in a tweet.

Musk also explained that he generally spends 90 percent of his time working on Tesla and SpaceX, while dividing the rest between Neuralink (3 to 5 percent), the Boring Company (2 percent), and Open AI (less than 2 percent).

Something More in September

Like a true showman, Musk was sure to include a cliffhanger in his presentation to keep the people wanting mroe. “There’s a few other things I haven’t mentioned here. I just like, really recommend showing up for the semi truck unveiling,” he said. “Maybe there’s a little more than we’re saying here. Maybe. Could be. Who knows?”

The post Here’s Everything You Missed From Tesla’s Annual Shareholder Meeting appeared first on Futurism.

Yesterday, CEO Elon Musk shared details about future Tesla products at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Perhaps most exciting of all was what he had to say about Tesla’s forthcoming electric semi truck.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

“A lot of people don’t think you can do a heavy-duty, long-range truck that’s electric, but we’re confident that this can be done, so we’ll be showing off a working prototype … at the end of September,” he told an enthusiastic audience.

Tesla has already shown the prototype to a number of buyers in the industry, and “they’ve all loved it,” according to Musk. “They want to know how many they can buy, and how soon,” the CEO claims.

Musk told shareholders that potential buyers were getting “closely” involved in the final stages of the design process to ensure that Tesla’s electric semi will be “specified to their needs.” He continued, “So, it’s not a mystery; they already know that it’s going to meet their needs…because they’ve told us what those needs are, so it’s really just going to be a question of scaling volume to make as many as we can.”

It seems that long-haul trucking will have a new, electric option in just three short months, and really, we need that option as soon as possible. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heavy duty trucks account for roughly 20 percent of the U.S. transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and oil use, and they’re on track to be the country’s primary source of such emissions by 2030. Replacing those vehicles with ones powered by electricity will go a long way toward alleviate their burden on the environment.

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Elon Musk and Tesla are holding their annual shareholder meeting today, June 6th. Musk kicked the party off a little early yesterday on Twitter, soliciting questions from users that ranged from silliness to truly important topics that may point to the trajectory of the company.

The upcoming questions will likely veer a little closer to the serious side of the spectrum. Tesla’s rapid growth in the last year will likely leave plenty for shareholders to inquire about.

You can watch live here.

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Likely topics of discussion will be updates on the upcoming Tesla Model 3, the company’s most affordable option to date, its electric truck plans (which Musk recently gave a sneak peek at a TED conference), the resounding demand for their solar roofing technology, and any plans to expand production by building more Gigafactories.

Shareholders will also get a chance to vote whether board members will have to be re-elected each year.

Whatever is discussed at the meeting will likely give a clearer view as to the vision of the company for the future. Tesla is rapidly becoming a driving force in the push away from fossil fuels. Their products —from the electric cars, solar roofing tiles, to the battery packs to store that power — are already revolutionizing the way people generate and use energy.

The post Elon Musk is About to Unveil the Future of Tesla appeared first on Futurism.

Euro-Hyperloop

Europe already enjoys an extensive and diverse system of railways. Still, there is always room for improvement, and an Elon Musk-inspired company is looking to introduce the continent to the next generation of travel.

Hyperloop One has unveiled their shortlist of potential European routes for their high-speed transportation project. Shervin Pishevar, the company’s co-founder and executive chairman, told CNBC, “Our vision is to, one day, connect all of Europe with our Hyperloop One system, networking the entire continent.”

The list was compiled through a global challenge initiated by Hyperloop One to find the cities that would benefit the most from the cutting-edge transportation system. According to CNBC, the proposed cities would “…connect more than 75 million people in 44 cities, spanning 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).”

The nine finalists range from a 1,991 km (1,237 mile) route through Germany to a 90 km (56 mile) route connecting Estonia to Finland. Other proposed routes would connect parts of Poland, cities in the Netherlands, the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, Spain and the north African country of Morocco, and several points in the United Kingdom.

Global Loop

Hyperloop One shared 11 potential locations in the United States for Hyperloop routes a few months ago, and in March, the company announced talks with India, adding yet another country into the fortuitous futuristic fold.

This Infographic Highlights All You Need to Know about the Hyperloop
Click to View Full Infographic

It’s no wonder so many countries are eager to welcome this technology to their regions. If the system can perform as promised, it would revolutionize how we transport not only people but also cargo. At its peak speed, a Hyperloop is expected to be capable of traveling more than 1,000 kmh (700 mph). The company boasts on its website that a trip between the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney, a distance of 878 km (546 miles), would take only 55 minutes.

A system of Hyperloops would not only make traveling easier, it would also have a positive impact on a region’s environment and economy. Ideally, the system will be able to generate more solar power than it consumes, making it an excellent green travel alternative to automobiles, trains, and airplanes. Tickets to ride could also cost as little as $25, often making the clean choice easily the best choice for travelers.

The post One of These Nine Routes Could Be Home to the First European Hyperloop appeared first on Futurism.

In the Winning Corner: AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly. From revolutionizing transportation to disrupting the workplace, the technology is poised to completely transform how we live and work in the future, and Elon Musk has claimed that AI will be better than us at everything by 2030.

All About IBM’s Watson [Infographic]
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However the future turns out, though, we already have proof that AI can utterly dominate humans within the world of gaming.

AI systems are becoming more and more adept at beating humans at games we have been playing for decades or even centuries. The below are just five such examples of AI’s domination in the world of gaming.

Chess: IBM’s Deep Blue vs. Garry Kasparov

When Gary Kasparov, widely considered the greatest chess player in history, faced off with IBM’s chess-playing computer Deep Blue in 1996, he beat the computer 4-2 to the ringing applause of believers in human exceptionalism everywhere.

Despite his win, Kasparov wrote the following in Time soon after the match: “I could feel — I could smell — a new kind of intelligence across the table.” The next year, that new kind of intelligence bested him, with Kasparov falling 3½–2½ in a match against the colloquially named Deeper Blue. The event is widely considered the first time a computer beat a world champion at a game.

Backgammon: BKG 9.8 vs. Luigi Villa

In fact, the first time a computer beat a human world champion was around 20 years before. In 1979, Hans J. Berliner watched his backgammon-playing program BKG 9.8 wreck Luigi Villa, the world’s number one player at the time, by a score of 7-1.

Go: Deepmind’s AlphaGo vs. Five Top Players

On to a more recent and multifaceted victory: AlphaGo defeating five of the world’s top players — not one at a time, but simultaneously — at the 2,500-year-old game of Go earlier this year. In the process, AlphaGo showed it was better at the game than multiple humans. The players in the game, though, were not devastated. Instead, they seemed to enjoy adapting to the moves of the computer and learning its style of play.

Poker: Libratus vs. Four Top Players

In another multi-party encounter,  an AI named Libratus convincingly beat four professional poker players at no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em in February. This particular form of poker has no upper limit on betting and gives players the ability to bet all of their chips at any time. The game incorporates bluffing and spontaneity, two traits that seem far more suited for a human player than an AI, and yet the system built by two Carnegie Mellon computer scientists was still able to claim a victory.

Dong Kim, one of the best players in the world, told Wired during the tournament, “I didn’t realize how good it was until today. I felt like I was playing against someone who was cheating, like it could see my cards. I’m not accusing it of cheating. It was just that good.”

Checkers: Chinook vs. Marion Tinsley

On a slightly more optimistic note is the competition between an AI called Chinook and former 37-year-straight checkers world champion Marion Tinsley. In their first encounter in 1992, Tinsley won, finding the single strategy that could have defeated Chinook from a point 64 moves ahead. In their second series, in 1994, after drawing six games, Tinsley had to retire due to pancreatic cancer.

Chinook beat the world’s second best player, Don Lafferty, who was still leagues below Tinsley, and so the AI was awarded the win. While Tinsley’s condition was tragic, it means that the AI did not truly beat the world’s best checker player. Later, in 2007, Jonathan Schaeffer, a computer-games expert from the University of Alberta, updated Chinook to the level of unbeatable by finding a perfect way to play the game that would always result in a draw.

The Future of AI Gamers?

AI is getting stronger and stronger at all types of games, but members of the gaming community will truly turn their heads when it is capable of beating humans at StarCraft II. The game is considered the ultimate benchmark due to its complexity. Oriol Vinyals, a Deepmind researcher and former top player, told The Verge that an AI win would have implications beyond the game: “The skills required for an agent to progress through the environment and play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks.”

While StarCraft II is the current white whale for AI, the victories detailed above are a testament to the technology’s rapid development, and the systems are getting exceeding better at more intuitive and traditionally human activities like composing music and surrealist art. Thankfully, we still have the option of responding the same way Kurt Russell’s character did in The Thing when faced with an unbeatable AI gaming opponent:

The post Five Examples of AI Dominating Humans in the World of Gaming appeared first on Futurism.

History in the Making

SpaceX is wasting no time on their mission to reinvent and revitalize space travel. The company has once again made history by successfully launching the previously-flown Dragon Cargo ship. The craft’s first mission, back in September 21, 2014, successfully delivered 2.5 tons of cargo to the International Space Station.

According to CBS News, for today’s launch, the craft was filled with nearly 6,000 pounds of cargo including supplies, equipment, special telescopes to study neutron stars, mice, and even thousands of fruit flies. The craft launched from the historic Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, the same pad from which the Apollo 11 mission launched in 1969.

The craft was successfully launched today, June 3rd at 5:07 PM EDT. Falcon 9 has just touched back down at the time of publishing and Dragon is well on its way in its two and a half day journey to the ISS.

The Dragon spacecraft now joins a prestigious group of multi-orbit space flight craft like NASA’s Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, and Endeavour  – firmly planting SpaceX as a formidable force in the new space race.

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
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Hauler on a Budget

This is just the latest move by SpaceX that is poised to completely transform spaceflight. In March, the company made history by successfully launching and landing a recycled rocket for the first time. The relaunch of the Dragon has proven that SpaceX can continue to make missions to space cheaper, and therefore, more accessible.

SpaceX’s plans don’t just stop at restocking the ISS. The company has much bigger plans involving putting people back on the moon next year and sending the first humans to Mars by 2025. While SpaceX is no doubt celebrating this latest achievement, they are hard at work preparing their next feat: launching the Falcon Heavy rocket this summer.

The SpaceX team is truly revolutionizing space travel for the betterment of all of humanity. With a clear goal to make history and push the boundaries of what’s possible on Earth and in space, SpaceX is rapidly cementing its legacy while becoming a forerunner in the race toward the future.

The post The Launch was Successful. SpaceX Just Made History. appeared first on Futurism.

Doubling Their Efforts

Yesterday was a particularly glum day for climate scientists, with President Donald Trump withdrawing U.S. support for the Paris Climate Agreement, an action that resulted in the resignation of serial entrepreneur Elon Musk from his government advisory posts. The move was widely criticized by experts, other nations, and the majority of Americans as a major setback in the global fight against climate change.

But as the U.S. deals with these developments, the world’s second most populated nation is making its own set of changes, and it’s caught the attention of Musk.

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The Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted an article posted by the World Economic Forum about India’s recent commitment to sell only electric cars in 13 years or sooner. Musk also noted, “It is already the largest market for solar power,” to highlight two separate efforts by India as it takes the fight against carbon emissions seriously. Both of these initiatives are indicative of the transformation India has recently been undergoing.

India’s Turn

Those who’ve seen that Leonardo DiCaprio documentary on climate change might remember that bit during the actor’s interview with India’s energy minister. After DiCaprio pointed out that India’s among the leading contributor for climate-warming gasses, the minister made a reply that stumped the actor.

She said that before talking about India, one has to look at the more developed nations and how they are serious about cutting down on their carbon footprint. Besides, India lives with what it has, and it couldn’t afford the alternative energy at that time.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
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This no longer is the case, however, as India is finally working on means to change things. There’s the commitment to selling only electric vehicles, and more recently, India’s push for more renewable energy sources by scrapping a major coal project.

More promising still, the country now seems to be the biggest market for solar power with the opening of the world’s largest solar plant. Cost is no longer a problem for India to shift to renewable sources, with solar power now already cheaper than coal.

These efforts are vital to halting humanity’s negative impact on our world, according to environmental experts. Whatever the U.S.’s future involvement in the Paris accord may be, the nation must continue to transition to renewable energy if the globe is to avoid major repercussions from greenhouse gas emissions.

The post An End to Fossil Fuels: India Commits to Sell Only Electric Cars by 2030 appeared first on Futurism.

Musk Comments On China

On Thursday Elon Musk pushed back on some of President Donald Trump’s claims in the wake of the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Musk placed the new American stance in the context of the ongoing Chinese commitment to producing clean power in a tweet.

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Musk is referring to a set of data on China’s current and predicted performance under the accord, which it has pledged to uphold. This information contradicts some of President Trump’s claims that the Paris agreement gives China a free pass to use fossil fuels.

In fact, China has already been outpacing the U.S. in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. According to The Washington Post, “[E]xperts now predict that China’s carbon emissions will peak, and then begin to decline, significantly earlier than the country’s 2030 target, and the country is investing more in renewable energy than any other nation in the world, pledging a further $360 billion by 2020.”

Impact Of Paris Withdrawal

The U.S. withdrawal will make it harder for the rest of the world to reach the Paris goals, not only because the U.S. produces about 15 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, but also because the nation has been an important source of energy technology and financing for developing countries. The dropping of the agreement will also likely have international diplomatic fallout, as nearly all other nations have agreed to the accord.

“No one should be left behind, but the EU and China have decided to move forward,” EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete told the BCC.

Sci-Tech Priorities in China’s Latest Five Year Plan
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Domestic problems may also arise. Corporate America has strongly supported the Paris accord, including tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Tesla, and even fossil fuel producers such as Exxon Mobil. This support is based in the recognition that the U.S. will be less competitive on the global stage when it loses its place at the negotiating table — which this withdrawal may ensure. Meanwhile, coal jobs will not be coming back, and industries like solar continue to grow.

In the end, emissions from the U.S. will keep falling, because the green energy paradigm shift can’t be stopped by a single person or political move. However, in the meantime, the U.S. may miss out on this critical opportunity to invest in renewable technology, and the world will struggle to meet the Paris goals in the fight to save our planet.

The post China Will Make as Much Clean Electricity by 2030 as the U.S. Does From All Sources Today appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk is a man of his word. After today’s announcement that the Trump administration is pulling out of the historic Paris climate agreement, Musk sent a tweet out confirming that he will be resigning from the presidential advisory councils on which he sits, as he promised yesterday.

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Musk reiterated the idea that is rapidly being accepted by more and more deniers around the world: that climate change is real.

Yesterday, Musk also expressed that he has done all he could to dutifully advise the president on this matter, tweeting: “Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain.”

According to a November 2016 poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, nearly 70 percent of Americans were in favor of the Paris agreement. The decision to remove the United States from the accords deals a significant blow to international efforts to reduce carbon emissions and quell or reverse the impact of climate change. This decision will also give China the opportunity to emerge as the world’s climate leader ahead of the U.S., as the country said prior to Trump’s decision that they intended to remain committed to the agreement.

Elon Musk’s Tesla is at the forefront of the clean energy revolution building popular electric vehicles, solar roofs, and battery packs to integrate energy consumption.

The post Elon Musk Just Made Good On His Word. He’s Officially Leaving Trump’s Council. appeared first on Futurism.

Why Is This Dragon Special?

Tomorrow (June 1, 2017) will be a landmark date for commercial space travel. SpaceX is set to become the first privately owned company to perform multiple orbital flights to space using the same aircraft. On 21st September 2014, using the Falcon 9 rocket, this same Dragon CRS-4 delivered 2.5 tons of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

Since, this time, it has been refurbished and the launch window for its second cargo flight opens at 5:55pm ET.

CRS-4 Dragon About to Land. Image Credit: SpaceX, Wikimedia
CRS-4 Dragon About to Land. Image Credit: SpaceX, Wikimedia

It is one of only a handful of previous multi-orbit space flights — and all of the others were undertaken by governments. They include: the NASA orbiters Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, and Endeavour, which made dozens of missions but were hideously expensive to repair. There was also the X-37B, which Boeing built under commission by the U.S Air Force, and the Soviet VA spacecraft, which only orbited the Earth once on its second voyage.

While it is unclear how much the Dragon CRS-4 has had to be repaired, and exactly how much it cost, the savings are expected to be considerable. Moreover, this is nonetheless a landmark in breaching the final frontier, as private individuals are truly entering the space race, and this will play a major role in making space both commercially available and also affordable.

What Are SPACEX’S Other Plans?

However, ultimately, SpaceX is about far more than just making spaceflight affordable. SpaceX started with the “ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets” — the first planet Musk’s space company aims to colonize is Mars. In order to do so, Musk plans to build the BFR . This stands for, in his own words, the Big F*cking Rocket, which will ferry the reusable Mars Colonial Transporter to the Red Planet.

He has stated previously that he plans to put the first person on Mars by 2025. A test launch of the Falcon Heavy, the rocket that bridges the gap between the Falcon 9 and the BFR was recently test launched, and its first full launch is planned for sometime this summer.

Musk argues that humanity reaching Mars and other planets is pivotal. As He stated in an interview with aeon: “I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary”, and that this has to start with Mars because, “if we can establish a Mars colony, we can almost certainly colonise the whole Solar System, because we’ll have created a strong economic forcing function for the improvement of space travel.”

The process, though, has to move in gradations — and this relaunch of the Dragon is a major milestone in Musk’s plan.

The post Tomorrow, SpaceX Will Forever Transform Spaceflight appeared first on Futurism.

Amidst reports that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, serial entrepreneur and White House adviser Elon Musk has made his thoughts on the matter clearly known.

Earlier today, Musk took to Twitter, threatening to leave the White House advisory councils if Trump drops from the Paris accord. He began by outlining that he has done everything he can to show Trump that the U.S. must take a strong stance on climate change and keep to the agreement. In a subsequent tweet, he said he would resign as an adviser if his words were not heeded.

When asked what he would do if the U.S. did leave, Musk responded, “Will have no choice but to depart councils in that case.”

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According to the New York Times, three officials with knowledge of Trump’s decision regarding the historic climate agreement have confirmed that the president is intent on backing out. It’s a stance that’s consistent with how the current administration has previously expressed their beliefs regarding climate change, and if he does follow through, Trump will simply be making good on one of his campaign promises.

Naturally, for a man who owns a company that develops climate-friendly technology—Tesla’s electric vehicles and solar roofs—working with a government that refuses to recognize the reality of climate change would be a contradiction. If it comes down to it, as Musk pointed out, he would have no choice but to leave his advisory post in the administration.

Musk has previously taken flack for his decision to stay as an adviser to Trump, but it seems like he won’t be able to tolerate the administration’s stance on climate change any longer.

The post Musk To Resign From Trump Government if U.S. Withdraws From Paris Climate Agreement appeared first on Futurism.

The AI Debate

Our technology prophets are talking in the lexicon of magic, gods, and monsters when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). They predict every scenario from utopias to apocalypses, overlords to angels.

Elon Musk stated at an MIT Symposium in 2014 that with AI we are “summoning the demon,” but, as with Faust’s Mephistopheles, the demon may help before it hates. Musk believes the AI-mediated extinction of humanity might be an “unintended consequence” rather than a deliberate aim.

Musk envisions an AI being given the utility function of getting rid of spam mail, and perhaps the AI thinks “the best way to get rid of spam is to get rid of humans.” Likewise, he has postulated to Vanity Fair an AI designed to pick strawberries that gets “better and better at picking…and it is self-improving, so all it really wants to do is pick strawberries. So then it would have all the world be strawberry fields,” leaving no room for human beings.

Recently he worked with Sam Altman to establish Open AI , a billion-dollar non-profit research company that aims to work for safer AI. Altman told Vanity Fair that this is to prepare for the next decade in which AI will reign and huge amounts of investment be given to a few “wizards” who know the “incantations.” That magical lexicon again.

Elon Musk’s view represents the pessimist and apocalyptic end of the spectrum when it comes to AI. He is joined by Bill Gates, who warns against AI supplanting humans in the workplace, and Stephen Hawking, who told the BBC in 2014 that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

AI Allies

Many other technology giants, though, expect a far more utopian scenario. Mark Zuckerberg said in 2016 Facebook post that “I think we can build AI so it works for us and helps us,” and encouraged humanity to “choose hope over fear” at a F8 2016 Keynote. Larry Page, co-founder of Google, predicts a world in which AI allow people to “have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests.”

Steve Wozniak summarized the possibilities by pondering in an interview with Australian Financial Review: “Will we be the gods? Will we be the family pets? Or will we be ants that get stepped on?” Among the grand predictions there is one line of thought that is hard to dispute, though, and it is that which of Eliezer Yudkowsky, a Research Fellow at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, told Vanity Fair: “It’s impossible for me to predict…because the A.I. will be smarter than I am.”

The Top Artificial Intelligence Movies of All Time
Click to View Full Infographic

The progress of AI is stepping confidently and firmly through the whirlwind of verbiage. Closest to home, it is being used as facial recognition software on Facebook and as a digital assistant in the form of Siri and Cortana.

It also has the potential to revolutionize other sectors. Harpreet Buttar, analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said in a company press release that, “By 2025, AI systems could be involved in everything from population health management, to digital avatars capable of answering specific patient queries.” In addition, AI is being used to improve automobile transport. Recently, the University of Illinois has shown it has the potential to prevent traffic jams from forming — soon, it could make car crashes a thing of the past.

AI, like any technology, is not morally good or bad in itself — it all depends on how it is used. While the technology community is split on the direction we should take with AI, what ultimately matters is that these conversations are occurring. This is a powerful technology, and whatever impact on our lives it has, it’s bound to be a powerful one.

The post Tech Experts Disagree Wildly on the Future Impact of AI appeared first on Futurism.

Mission to Mars

Mars’ relative closeness to the Earth and ample distance from the Sun have made it humanity’s best target for off-world colonization. While a number of institutions are working hard to make a Mars colony a reality, SpaceX was the first to reveal a concrete plan to get to the Red Planet.

That plan has been outlined pretty clearly, but two important parts still lack detail: the spaceship that will transport humanity to Mars and the rocket that would launch that spaceship. While the plan is short on details, it includes plenty of acronyms, specifically MCT, ITS, and BFR.

The first two are actually one and the same. The Interplanetary Transport System, formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter, is the supposedly reusable spacecraft that would ferry people to Mars for $200,000 a head.

That transporter would reach space via the BFR, which stands for — no joke — Big F*cking Rocket, which should live up to its name. It’s expected to be bigger than the Falcon 9 and more powerful than the Falcon Heavy, which would make it the most powerful rocket ever built.

Coming Soon

Right now, we don’t know too much about the ITS and the BFR. Thanks to a recent Twitter conversation, however, we do know that answers are forthcoming.

When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was asked for updates about the architectural changes for the ITS and the BFR by Twitter user @RITSPEX, he responded with a promising timeline of “a few month.” As Inverse pointed out, that timeframe would place the announcement in September, one year after Musk first revealed his plans for Mars.

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In the months since SpaceX’s plans were revealed, other agencies have been working on their own missions to Mars. NASA has recently detailed its two-phased plan to get to the Red Planet. Elsewhere, China has shared its plans to reach the Mars by the end of the decade, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also joined the race. Among private space agencies, veteran aeronautics firm Boeing is intent on going head-to-head with SpaceX in getting to Mars.

All these efforts are varied, of course, but one thing is for sure. To get to Mars, we’ll need more than just a big f*cking rocket.

The post Elon Musk: SpaceX Is Almost Ready to Update the World on Its Plan to Get Humans to Mars appeared first on Futurism.

Update Possibilities

Today on Twitter, Elon Musk got into an interesting conversation with some Tesla fans. First, he was asked about the possibility of adding a wireless hotspot:

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The idea was popular, and led to an additional request for a 360-degree view:

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This function, which is already in development, could allow for a complete 360-degree view while driving. And, as Electrek reports, the idea of the hotspot is not new, but fan popularity might give it more traction.

Image Credit: Tesla Motors
Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Next For Tesla

Musk has also been talking about Tesla updates to the Autopilot system that are coming soon.

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Originally, Musk’s plan was to have every Tesla fully autonomous by sometime in 2017. Tesla will be conducting a coast to coast test drive this year, during which the human driver is expected not to take over control at all. At TED 2017, Musk confirmed that future Teslas on the road may be as autonomous as the coast to coast test car.

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According to Inverse, Musk has already stated that if autonomous driving demands upgrades to the computers in any of the Tesla models, the design should make the process simple. The updates are going to make Teslas even safer, so it’s easy to see why fans are so excited.

The post Tesla’s Next Update Could Include In-Car WiFi and a 360-Degree View appeared first on Futurism.

Coast-To-Coast

In a Twitter session earlier, Elon Musk revealed new details concerning the coast-to-coast test of Tesla’s autonomous cars and updates to existing Tesla software.

He said that the coast-to-coast test is still on track to take place at the end of the year, and that all Tesla cars built since October 2016 would be updated. The plan, announced in a Ted Talk last month, is to “go all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York with no controls touched in the entire journey.”

There are also updates concerning the autonomous driving system for Tesla vehicles. In response to some finding the driving experience uncomfortable after the speed limit was lifted last month, the company has updated the software for a smoother ride, and now the experience is “as smooth as silk.”

The speed limit on the vehicles was limited to 145 km per hour (90 mph) on highways and no more than 8 km per hour (5 mph) over the speed limit when off highway. In addition to this, the new update should feature a perpendicular parking capability and auto windshield-wipers.

Driverless Cars

This is the latest in a series of updates concerning Musk’s plans for a driverless future. Earlier this month, he revealed that he wants beat traffic by digging tunnels under Los Angeles with his Boring Company.

7 Benefits of Driverless Cars
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Musk is adamant about the safety of autonomous vehicles, saying at a press conference that people who opposes them are “killing people.” His vision was  reinforced by Morgan Stanley’s Tesla analyst Adam Jonas, who said to Electrek, “if the company achieves its goal, [it would] be an order of magnitude (i.e. 10x) safer than the average car on the road.”

Musk’s goal is to give his Tesla vehicles completely autonomy in order to make them safer and faster: the test at the end of the year and the new software updates move him — and us — closer to that future.

The post Elon Musk: Tesla’s Autonomous Car Will Drive Coast-To-Coast by 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

Mining Our Way to Mars

Every other year since 2011, 32 of the brightest young minds from across the globe are invited to participate in the Caltech Space Challenge. They’re split into two teams and given five days to come up with a plan to address a mission statement. This year’s directive was to design a launch and supply station on the Moon to support missions into deep space.

Living Off The Land: A Guide To Settling Mars [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

In a post on The Conversation, five of the students involved in the challenge have shared their insights on the benefits of such a station and how we could make it happen. They explain that the presence of a lunar refueling station would decrease the energy needed to leave Earth’s atmosphere. The speed required to break out of the atmosphere is 11 kilometers per second (25,000 miles per hour), which is far easier to achieve without the added weight of excess fuel. Launching with just enough to fuel to get to a lunar “gas station” with a weaker gravitational pull and then heading on to Mars from there would save both time and money.

The fuel that would power these missions would be drawn from the Moon’s ice, which could be processed into a hydrogen-oxygen propellant that is already used in many rockets. The students propose using three types of rovers on the Moon to perform this task. The Prospector would seek out ice, the Constructor would build a launch pad and roads, and the Miner would collect ice and deliver it to storage tanks connected to electrolysis processing plants, which would transform it into usable energy. From there, the fuel would be transported to a location in stable orbit between the Earth and the Moon where spacecraft could refuel.

Why Go To Mars?

The race to get people to Mars has been heating up in recent years, with both governments and private companies competing to be the first to reach the Red Planet. Elon Musk, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and NASA have all stated their intentions, and stopping by the Moon first plays a big part in many of these efforts. NASA plans to build a new space station, the Deep Space Gateway (DSG), in lunar orbit to act as a pit stop on the way to Mars, and the agency has already laid the groundwork for a space fueling station of sorts with their Robotic Refueling Mission launch in November 2016.

Reaching Mars isn’t some Mount Everest/”because it’s there” situation for space explorers. The planet could prove instrumental in the survival of the human species. Stephen Hawking has said he believes we only have another hundred years or so on Earth, and right now, Mars is the closest thing we have to a back-up plan. The problem is, we haven’t even come close to actually stepping foot on it — yet. Between the people already in the space industry and students like those who participated in the Caltech Space Challenge, we have no shortage of great minds working to transform humanity into a multi-planetary species.

The post A “Gas Station in Space” Could Allow Us to Reach Other Worlds appeared first on Futurism.

In March, Elon Musk announced his gambit to merge human and machine with a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) called Neuralink. For a full report on the announcement, click here.

This technology would take the form of an injectable “neural lace” — composed of a mesh of electrodes — that would augment the human brain, adding another layer to the cortex and limbic system that is capable of communicating with a computer (essentially creating cyborgs). This, hypothetically, creates an upgradable, updatable interface that could be applied in countless ways. Some of these include:

Controlling Computers With Your Mind

Brains and technology both operate using the same vectors: electricity and data. Musk’s Neural Lace would be a system that provides a way for them to communicate directly with each other. To borrow a simile from Phillip Alvelda, the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program manager (another nascent BCI), “Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem […] Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools.” Applications could stretch from the remote operation of technology to the completely hands free and voiceless operation of computers. Researchers in Korea have already used a BCI to control turtles.

Updating Your Mind or Communicating With Someone Else’s

Elon Musk’s idea could both initiate brain activity and monitor it. The technology does not necessarily have to be a one-way communication stream, it is capable of both sending messages and creating information in the brain. The high-bandwidth interface could allow you to wirelessly transmit information to the cloud, to computers, or even directly to the brains of other people with a similar interface in their head. There is also the possibility of downloading content to augment your consciousness: think Neo learning kung-fu in the Matrix. While initial tests to improve intelligence haven’t been too successful, if brains and computers speak the same language, then computers can impart information to the brain. The technology is currently being used to allow paralyzed people to communicate, but its uses could extend far beyond that.

Bionic Limbs That Feel Like Real Limbs

As part of this two-way communication stream, robotic arms could communicate fleshy messages by being connected to existing nerve structures. Rather than making the brain learn how to use a new part of the nervous system, robotic limbs could be quickly and easily integrated into the system. This has the potential to revolutionize prosthetic limbs for the disabled, but may also encourage people to rid themselves of their biological arms in favour of mechanical super limbs. Who knows!

Emotionally Aware Technology

As computers and brains would essentially be speaking the same language, emotions could be read as data using electrodes. This would shift technology’s perception of humans from basic recognition to complex understanding. Robot helpers would be able to adapt to your emotional state rather than just responding to commands. Photos and videos could also be implanted with emotional metadata, meaning that one could feel what it would be like to be in any given scenario, rather than just trying to imagine it.

Next Generation Adaptable Gaming

One issue with the lifespan of games is repetition; people become accustomed, know what to expect, or are limited by the programmed narrative. A BCI could improve this situation by having games respond to what your brain is feeling, remaining one step ahead and endlessly diverse. This would be most applicable to the horror genre, in which enemies could come at you when and where you least expect it, providing constant shocks, jumps, and thrills. The Black Mirror episode Playtest is an hour long exploration of just how terrifying this could be. Since AI has been shown to be as creative as a human composer, this reality could be surprisingly close.

The post Five Ways Elon Musk’s Brain-Computer Interface Could Transform the World appeared first on Futurism.

Fatal Fumes

A study by the Environmental Health Analytics, LLC has revealed that diesel exhaust gasses can be linked to 38,000 early deaths worldwide. If action isn’t taken, this figure will climbing as high as an annual death rate of 183,600 in 23 years. A key problem in both measuring and regulating exhaust is the abuse of the testing system by manufacturers such as Volkswagen.

Researcher Daven Henze from the University of Colorado, said in an interview for a press release “It shows that in addition to tightening emissions standards, we need to be attaining the standards that already exist in real-world driving conditions.”

*2* Study Reveals That Diesel Causes 38,000 Deaths Annually

The new research is the latest in a long series of damning studies that have highlighted the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that a quarter of the deaths of children under the age of five are attributable to pollution — that’s 1.7 million deaths a year. The WHO also found in 2014 that seven million deaths a year were caused by outdoor air pollution.

Humans are not the only ones paying a price for pollution. It was shown recently that climate change caused by car emissions disturbs the seasonal clock of nine species of North American song birds.

Turning the Tide

Recently, though, breakthroughs have been made in environmentally friendly technology. Elon Musk has encouraged a crusade against carbon emissions by stating at the World Energy Innovation Forum in 2016 that “We need a revolt against the fossil fuel industry.” He has reinforced his convictions by ramping up production for solar panels and new Tesla models.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

In addition, the University of Antwerp has developed a piece of technology that could produce hydrogen fuel from polluted air. Wind energy has also been proceeding in leaps and bounds: the installation of a wind farm in Block Island, Rhode Island has nullified the need for a diesel plant that would have burnt about one million gallons of diesel annually, and energy derived from wind farms could be cheaper than fossil fuel energy in 10 years time.

These advances in renewable energy technology could not only save the environment, but hundreds of thousands of lives as well.

The post Study Reveals That Diesel Causes 38,000 Deaths Annually appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk has boldly claimed that within 10 years, Tesla could be as big as Apple, with a market cap of $700 Billion. He stated, “If we’re able to maintain a 50% growth rate for 10 years and achieve 10% profitability number and have a 20 P/E, our market cap would be basically the same as Apple’s is today.” His prediction is based on the technology he is releasing this year, which includes battery and solar panel production lines as well as the more affordable Tesla Model 3.

His plan is not to outsource production to other countries, as Apple does. Rather, he wants Tesla to construct the “machine that builds the machine.” His determination is shown by the 467 weird and wonderful Kuka robots that form the “alien dreadnought” which will build the model 3.

*2* Elon Musk: Robot software will make Tesla worth as much as Apple

Despite these bold claims, futuristic robots,  huge production lines, and Tesla’s ascension to America’s most valuable car manufacturer, Musk still has an awful lot of catching up to do. Apple’s quarterly profit, announced this past Tuesday, eclipsed Tesla’s total profit for 2016, and to date, they have sold over a billion iPhones. In contrast, Musk hasn’t yet sold a million cars. In fact, Tesla is struggling to reach its production goal of 1 million by 2020. Especially because of Apple’s recently acquired “cash pile,” it seems like Tesla might have a long way to go. Musk may have been right when he followed up his claims by saying, “I could be delusional.”

The post Elon Musk: Robot Software Will Make Tesla Worth as Much as Apple appeared first on Futurism.

Boring Through Traffic

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk is ready to conquer space, roads, roofs, and now even tunnels. What started out as a simple musing on Twitter has become a full-blown startup aptly named The Boring Company. Today (May 17), the company added a FAQ page to their website, which offers an abundance of new information about their specific goals.

The most notable announcement that was finally confirmed? The Hyperloop.

The FAQ explains that Musk’s initial inspiration was: “to solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic.” The solution is to go three-dimensional, which could be done using flying cars — an idea Musk doesn’t think is very viable — or to go underground. “The other option is to ‘go down’ and build tunnels,” the website states, as these provide a fair amount of perks, including weatherproofing and the practically limitless layers of tunnels that could be built…much better than malfunctioning cars potentially plummeting from the sky.

But there is a problem. First, there’s the cost. Second, existing tunnels can’t support the Hyperloop pods. Musk’s new company is out to fix this.

“Currently, tunnels are really expensive to dig, with some projects costing as much as $1 billion per mile. In order to make a tunnel network feasible, tunneling costs must be reduced by a factor of more than 10,” explains the new FAQ. To make the tunnel more cost effective and efficient, its diameter is going to be less than 4 meters (14 feet) — whereas normal tunnels (one-lane road tunnels) are usually about 8.5 meters (28 feet) in diameter. To do this, Musk’s tunnel company would use what it calls an “electric sled.”

Musk’s Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) — or Godot — is ready to start digging the first among these network of tunnels. However, as the TBM isn’t even as fast as a snail yet, Musk is determined to find ways to make tunnel digging faster — “to defeat the snail in a race” by increasing the TBM’s speed, which will also cut down costs.

Hyperloop Confirmed

So, there’s now a place to start digging this tunnel under Los Angeles and a machine to do it. But what is this tunnel really meant for? At first, many thought Musk’s tunnels would be like every other tunnel – except they would be longer and could potentially connect “LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks,” as Musk said in an Instagram post.

However, as mentioned above, more details have come to light.

This Infographic Highlights All You Need to Know about the Hyperloop
Click to View Full Infographic

Since the company’s introduction, many (including Futurism) have speculated that the tunnels’ true purpose was to work in tandem with the Hyperloop. This is the real clincher here. It seems like The Boring Company isn’t just going to be for cars. “The electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour,” the site explains.

The Hyperloop is another idea from Musk that is set to revolutionize transportation. It promises to connect individuals around the globe, making long-distance travel both speedy and remarkably affordable.

Initially discussed in 2013, the transport system would use a propulsion based on electromagnetism that could propel pods forward in vacuum-sealed steel tunnel at unprecedented speeds.

Cities in Europe, America, and the Middle East have expressed interest in adopting their own Hyperloop tracks, and study groups are at work making the concept a reality.While he doesn’t have a company working directly on Hyperloop technology, Musk has been behind several initiatives to turn it into a reality. Now, with The Boring Company, Musk is building a platform to launch and test the various Hyperloop efforts he helped put into motion.

The post Elon Musk Has Finally Confirmed What the Boring Tunnels He’s Making Are For appeared first on Futurism.

One Smart Bot

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, OpenAI’s newest robot system should leave humanity blushing. Not only can it successfully replicate human behaviors, it can do so after just a single demonstration of the task.

The  research company co-founded and chaired by Elon Musk used two separate neural networks to develop its one-shot imitation learning system.

The first, a vision network, analyzes an image from the robot’s camera to determine the location of objects in reality (in OpenAI’s video example, these objects are blocks of wood on a table). The network is able to do this despite never having seen the actual table or blocks before. Instead, the researchers trained it using hundreds of thousands of simulated images, each featuring various permutations of lighting, textures, and objects.

The second, an imitation network, determines the intent of a task it observes a human demonstrating via a virtual simulation. It then imitates the task in the real-world setting. Again, this network was trained on thousands of virtual demonstrations, but none that took place in reality.

By the time the system was called upon to imitate a simulated demonstration in reality, it could do so after viewing the demonstration only once. Even more remarkably, the system was able to complete the task even if the starting parameters didn’t quite match up. For example, the blocks didn’t need to be in the exact same location as the demonstration for the system to know how to stack them. If a blue block went on top of a white block in the demonstration, the system replicated that task, even if the starting locations of the blocks wasn’t identical.

New Ways of Learning

Unlike Musk’s numerous other endeavors, OpenAI is a non-profit. Its purpose isn’t to make money, but to support and guide AI innovation. To that end, it’s already quite successful.

In December, the company launched Universe, an open source platform where users could measure and train their AI using games, web browsers, and various software. Essentially, the platform gives AI the ability to replicate how humans use computers, which allows developers to train their systems to complete any computer-based tasks humans can do.

This week, OpenAI followed that up with Roboschool, open-source software for robot simulation. It features a dozen environments in which users can test their robots, and it’s integrated with OpenAI Gym, a toolkit that gives developers the ability to give and receive feedback on their work, providing them with an online community to support development in AI.

Beyond OpenAI, researchers are already finding ways to teach robots to do everything from read to dream. They’ve created AI systems that can learn on their own and even ones that can teach each other. Education is being reinvented from the ground up to meet the needs of this new technology, and as our mechanical counterparts get smarter, our lives will get easier, safer, and maybe even a little more entertaining.

The post Elon Musk Just Unveiled Breakthrough AI Research. Here’s What You Need to Know. appeared first on Futurism.

So Boring

Our modern-day DaVinci, Elon Musk, is hard at work bringing his latest venture, the Boring Company, to fruition. The company’s aim is to create a network of tunnels to accommodate a high-speed transit system, and Musk just sent out a torrent of updates via Twitter and Instagram containing pictures and video of its latest achievements.

His first tweet signaled that the beginnings of the tunnel are complete. The tunneling machine, Boring 1 (or Godot), now has a proper entry hole, staging area, and starting tunnel.

Entry hole, staging area and starting tunnel for Boring Machine 1 (aka Godot) now complete

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 12, 2017 at 5:25am PDT

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Musk plans for the first tunnel to “run from LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks” and for future extensions to cover the entirety of greater Los Angeles, an area spanning 87,940 square kilometers (33,954 square miles).

Naturally, given the nature of the geography of Southern California, many commenters are concerned about how the tunnels would stand up to earthquakes. Musk allayed those fears by responding in the affirmative when asked if the tunnels will be “earthquake-proof.”

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Godot is a massive machine whose speed has been compared to that of a snail. However, Musk has plans to ratchet up its pace by a factor of ten. The machine, once completely assembled, will be more than 100 feet long.

Cutterhead in operation at standard industry speed. Planning to jack this up by a factor of ten or more.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 12, 2017 at 5:35am PDT

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Tunnel Skates

The purpose of the Boring Company is to cut travel time in the notoriously congested Los Angeles area. To that end, Musk claims the tunnel will allow travel between the L.A. neighborhood of Westwood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in only five minutes.

Vehicles will be transported through the tunnels on platforms, called skates or sleds, powered by electricity at speeds of up to 200 kmh (125 mph). He posted a video of a skate at work.

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It seems like Musk is a man of his word. Less than six months after tweeting that he was going to “build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…,” he has done just that. At the beginning, even he emphatically admitted, “We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.” Now, he is well on his way to making this dream a reality.

With a hand in SpaceX, Tesla, Hyperloop, and now the Boring Company, Musk seems poised to monopolize the future of ground (and apparently underground) transportation.

The post Elon Musk Just Released Breakthrough Updates About His New Company appeared first on Futurism.

Major Static Fire Test

SpaceX conducted its first test of the Falcon Heavy’s main core this week, with a successful result. SpaceX took to Twitter to release the video of the event. The rocket itself was strapped down for the static fire test as the engines of the rocket’s boosters were ignited. The Falcon Heavy uses three Falcon 9 boosters to power its larger rocket, which SpaceX hopes will make commercial space travel a reality.

While the original plan was to have everything operational for carrying space travelers and cargo into orbit by 2013, the latest incarnation of the plan calls for a launch in late summer of 2017. This successful test may indicate that this date is possible, although the SpaceX subreddit lists the test flight in Q4.

Take Off?

It’s possible that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and his team are waiting to see how much progress they make between now and then — or that they just can’t decide yet. However, as Inverse reports, since Musk tweeted the late summer date in March and the subreddit says something different now, it’s possible that they’ve made the decision to push back the date even later, but haven’t announced it yet.

The Falcon Heavy is essential to Musk’s plan to send two private citizens into orbit around the Moon by late 2018. The spacecraft will “buzz” low over the Moon’s surface, although it will not land, and then allow the Moon’s gravity to fling it back to Earth. This week-long adventure would be more than an amazing first for humanity — it would also usher in era of commercial space travel.

The post SpaceX Just Broke a Major Milestone in Commercial Space Travel appeared first on Futurism.

A Notable Announcement

Last night, Elon Musk announced via Twitter that orders would begin today (May 10th, 2017) for his revolutionary solar roof hardware. In another tweet, he promised that ordering would be available in most countries throughout the world. He also clarified that people could expect to see delivery begin in the United States in late 2017, and that deliveries would roll out sometime next year for overseas locations.

But another announcement just came in that’s even more revolutionary: The solar roofs will have an infinity warranty.

Elon Musk: Tesla’s Solar Roofs Will Be Cheaper Than Regular Roofs & Have “Infinity Warranty”

Yes, you read that right. The Tesla website just released all the information that you will need regarding how to order their new solar roof tiles and, remarkably, the site states that the tiles are guaranteed literally forever: “Glass solar tiles are so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”

In the above gif, you can see Tesla’s solar roof (on the left) and traditional roofs (on the right). The test video is for the highest FM 4473 hail rating, and Tesla asserts that the video was filmed at a staggering 2,500 frames per second. Each five-centimeter (two-inch) hailstone traveling at approximately 177 kph (110 mph) on impact.

Ultimately, this absurd warranty lends authority to Musk’s previous claims that the solar roofs would be cheaper than traditional roofs, which is notable because cost efficiency is one of the primary hurdles when it comes to renewable energy.

The website also clarifies that other energy solutions could be used alongside the solar roofs to help decrease energy bills and allow individuals to truly go “off the grid.” As the site outlines, “With an integrated Powerwall battery, energy collected during the day is stored and made available any time, effectively turning your home into a personal utility.”

A New Age in Energy

In the end, disruptions like these are precisely why Tesla acquired SolarCity in November of 2016. Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity allows for a completely integrated home energy experience — all housed under one company. And the revolution that Tesla is leading is remarkably promising. As we previously reported, studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and others suggest that 25 percent of the United States’ energy needs could be filled by rooftop solar installations alone.

The Energy of the Future: Harnessing the Power of Earth
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Of course, not every rooftop is ideal for solar paneling, and a combination of many factors determine how much electricity any given rooftop can generate. These factors include average sunlight of the area, as well as how much of that sunlight is allowed to reach the roof, uninhibited by pesky tall buildings, trees, or other shade-throwing structures.

To that end, Tesla allows you to take a look at your cost vs. savings. If you live in the United States, you can use get an estimate based on data obtained from Google’s Sunroof project.

The post Elon Musk: Tesla’s Solar Roofs Will Be Cheaper Than Regular Roofs & Have “Infinity Warranty” appeared first on Futurism.

Highly Unlikely

Back in 2015, an investor made a bold claim that Apple would buy Tesla within 18 months. It’s been more than two years since that prediction was made, and Tesla and Apple are still independent entities — and it looks like they will stay that way.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
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During yesterday’s first-quarter earnings call with investors, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared his thoughts on the chances of Tesla working with Apple on an electric car. “Yeah, I don’t think they want to have that conversation,” he said, according to Business Insider. “I’ve at least not heard any indication that they do.”

Musk was reiterating a point he made back in February in an interview with Bloomberg about how a merger with Apple was highly unlikely: “I’d be very concerned in any kind of acquisition scenario, whoever it is, that we would become distracted from that task which has always been the driving goal of Tesla.”

Their Own Separate Ways…and Cars?

Analysts and journalists have made comments about how a merger or a collaboration with Apple would be beneficial for Tesla and vice versa. Tesla, largely due to Musk, has the innovative mind that Apple seems to sorely lack these days. At the same time, Apple has the earnings and capital that Tesla is arguably in need of.

Hopes for such a pairing, which has the potential to be one of the best combos in the tech industry, have been fueled by Apple’s recent progress in the autonomous vehicle game. The Cupertino-based company has already received approval to test self-driving vehicles on California roads, which was confirmation that Apple is working on an autonomous car. Tesla is also busy working on its newest electric vehicle, the Model 3, with production well on its way and a final unveiling slated for July.

For now, Apple and Tesla seem content to continue forging their own paths with separate vehicles, but whether those paths will intersect in the future is anybody’s guess.

The post Elon Musk Is Setting the Record Straight on Rumors Regarding a Major Tesla Collaboration appeared first on Futurism.

A New Model Y

We’ve heard a lot of talk about Tesla’s plans for an electric crossover SUV, dubbed the Model Y, but so far, that’s all it’s been: talk. We’ve gotten the occasional tease tweet from CEO Elon Musk about the electric crossover, but overall, Tesla’s been secretive about the Model Y. That’s finally changing as Musk revealed more details about the highly anticipated vehicle during Tesla’s investor call yesterday.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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The biggest surprise? Tesla plans to build an entirely new vehicle platform for the Model Y. This means that the crossover EV won’t be built using the Model 3 or Model S as a basis — Tesla is making something entirely new.

Musk shared a few details on the kinds of changes we can expect from the Model Y: “The wiring harness on Model S is about 3 km, on the Model 3 it’s about 1.5 km in length. The wiring harness on the Model Y will be 100m.”

No one knows for sure whether or not the Model Y will have the divisive falcon-wing doors of the Model X, but Musk did voice his expectation that it will be out “sometime in 2020 or, aspirationally, sometime in 2019.”

Tesla Spells S.3.X.Y.

By building an entirely new platform for the Model Y, Tesla can take advantage of the latest technologies, as well as prepare for perhaps a new lineup of vehicles — its next generation of autonomous EVs. As such, a new version of the Model S or the Model X isn’t likely before the Model Y is released.

With this electric CUV, Tesla isn’t just playfully spelling S.3.X.Y. with its EV lineup, it’s also moving forward on its quest to revolutionize modern transportation. Musk has long placed his bets on EVs and how they’ll eventually dominate the market. That day may still be some ways off, true, but we’re already on the path toward it. Other automakers, including industry veterans like Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and Volvo, see EVs as the future, too.

What’s clear right now is that the transportation sector is committed to getting greener, which is great news for the environment and those who don’t want to contribute to its destruction but still have places to be.

The post Elon Musk Just Revealed Key Details About Tesla’s Next Breakthrough Car appeared first on Futurism.

A Worldwide Network

The fact that you’re able to read this article means you are one of the more than 3.77 billion people in the world that has access to the internet. While that’s already a good number — more than half of the world’s population, in fact — some 3 billion others don’t have such access. Thankfully, a number of efforts are underway to bring the internet to the farthest corners of the globe, and one of those is being put forth by SpaceX.

This is the Fastest Internet on Earth
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Back in November, Elon Musk’s company filed an application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of its plan to create a high-speed, global internet network. At yesterday’s Senate hearing on U.S. broadband infrastructure, SpaceX confirmed this plan.

“SpaceX plans to bring high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband service to consumers in the U.S. and around the world, including areas underserved or currently unserved by existing networks,” explained Patricia Cooper, SpaceX’s VP for satellite government affairs, in a prepared statement during the hearing.

SpaceX plans to improve internet speeds and overall connectivity in the U.S. and the rest of the world by putting 4,425 satellites into orbit between 2019 and 2024. The satellites will be transported into space in multiple batches via the company’s Falcon 9 rockets.

A Basic Human Right

The United Nations recently declared internet access a basic human right, and because it bypasses some existing complications to bringing internet service to far-flung areas, SpaceX’s endeavor would be a huge step forward in the effort to ensure all of the world’s citizens enjoy that right. “In large measure, the disparity in available service to rural and ‘hard-to-reach’ areas is the result of the heavy, up-front capital expenditures necessary to achieve connectivity to these locations,” Cooper said.

Image credit: NASA Johnson/Photopin
Image credit: NASA Johnson/Photopin

However, Elon Musk’s company isn’t the only one working toward global interconnectivity through improved internet service. Facebook is using massive, solar-powered drones to beam internet to the farthest corners of the world, AT&T wants to deliver wifi through existing power lines, and governments are getting in on the action, too, with New York and Canada planning initiatives to bring broadband to all citizens.

SpaceX is eager to contribute to the cause. “SpaceX looks forward to being part of the solution to expand access to high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband internet connectivity in the United States and worldwide,” Cooper said. The web of satellites proposed by SpaceX would bring faster and more robust web access to more people, so now it’s just a matter of whether or not they’ll get the governments go-ahead.

The post SpaceX Just Laid out a Plan to Give Everyone Internet Access appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company is already digging its network of tunnels beneath Los Angeles. When completed, the system will speed cars at various depths to destinations all over the city.

The post Elon Musk On The Future We’re Building appeared first on Futurism.

Batteries are so cheap that Hydrogen Fuel cells just aren’t competitive anymore. A recent announcement hints that this technological direction has been abandoned.

The post The Future of Automobiles Is Electrifying appeared first on Futurism.

This past weekend, the tech world was abuzz with the most recent developments discussed by mega-CEO Elon Musk at the annual TED conference in Vancouver.

During his talk, Musk updated the crowd on some of his most anticipated projects, including his future vision for The Boring Company, the all-electric semi-truck from Tesla, as well as developments regarding the Gigafactory. This progress was already covered over the weekend, but now we have a video of his entire talk.

https://embed.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_the_future_we_re_building_and_boring

Musk dazzled audiences with a video presentation that displayed a network of underground tunnels. Vehicles were skirted through the tunnels at high speeds on proprietary platforms, dubbed skates. During the talk, Musk stated that “There’s no real limit to how many levels of tunnels you can have. The deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings are tall,” suggesting that his plans for the company are titanic in scale.

Musk also gave the audience a glimpse into Tesla’s new heavy-duty electric truck. The all-electric vehicle is said to be capable of rivaling or surpassing sports cars in terms of performance.

He also, of course, discussed SpaceX and his vision of putting humans on Mars.

To the uninitiated, Musk can look a lot like a ‘Wizard of Oz’ type figure. However, unlike the wizard, Musk’s magic is being backed up by both action and verifiable science.

The post Elon Musk Just Unveiled His Plans for the Future in a Ted Talk appeared first on Futurism.

A Boring New Project

Last year, Elon Musk announced via Twitter his intention to “build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging” as a way to avoid traffic. He later shared a clever name for the initiative — The Boring Company — and though information is still scarce, the project does seem to be coming along nicely.

It now has a website with a futuristic concept video, and this week, what appears to be massive, branded proof of the Boring Company’s first drilling machine hit the internet. The image should go a long way toward alleviating lingering doubts that The Boring Company is anything more than a billionaire’s idea of a joke or a cover-up for Musk to work on a Hyperloop in secret.

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Solution to Traffic

When Musk spoke on the concept of tunneling at the Hyperloop Pod Competition’s first phase in 2016, he called it “a really simple and obvious idea.” He later explained to Bloomberg that he considers it a more practical solution to traffic congestion than airborne vehicles, which would require more infrastructure and regulatory approval — though those obstacles aren’t stoping companies like Uber and E-Volo from pursuing the tech.

How Musk’s Tunnel Boring Would Work
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While it may not be as cool as SpaceX’s plans to colonize Mars, Tesla’s tech to power self-driving cars, or Neuralink’s goal of merging our brains with machines, you can’t deny what a simple hole in the ground could do to manage vehicle congestion in urban areas.

Given Musk’s track record when it comes to introducing practical innovations built on remarkable tech, it certainly looks like it won’t be long before Musk’s Boring Company starts creating as much buzz as any of his other ventures. Clearly, the first step to that is adding a store to the website so they can start selling some of that cool merch Musk showed off last month.

The post Elon Musk Just Released the First Ever Video of His Boring Tunnel appeared first on Futurism.

BREAKING: Elon Musk has finally unveiled the Boring Machine. Say goodbye to traffic.

The post BREAKING: Elon Musk Has Revealed The Boring Machine appeared first on Futurism.

Stocking Up

Tesla’s recent stock market surges placed Elon Musk’s company above some of the car industry’s veterans, including General Motors and Ford. Though its reign as the highest valued automaker in the United States was relatively short-lived, the momentary victory was a clear sign of Tesla’s current place in the industry, and Musk has boasted that it was also a sign of even better times ahead.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

In a letter sent to its German automation subsidiary, Tesla Grohmann, a copy of which was obtained by Fred Lambert at Electrek, Musk explained to the somewhat disgruntled employees why the raise they were asking for wasn’t better than the stock he was offering:

Unlike other automotive manufacturers, each Tesla employee receives Tesla shares in addition to salary. These shares can be easily sold for money, but they also open up the possibility of earning much more through stock appreciation. The tenfold increase in our share price over the past five years has made shareholding exceptionally profitable for our Tesla employees. I firmly believe that we have the potential for a further ten-fold increase over the next five to ten years. That would make a total value of € 100,000 from the € 10,000 in stock.

If his calculations were to come true, Tesla’s current valuation could grow to about $500 billion, which could make Musk the richest man in the world thanks to his 22 percent share.

Confidence Booster

While some have criticized Tesla as being overvalued, Musk’s optimism seems grounded in both experience and confidence in his company’s products. Tesla’s no stranger to criticism, and naysayers have been barking at Musk since its formation. However, if the past five years are any indication, Tesla has a knack for proving critics wrong.

Tesla has grown to be more than just an automaker. The company’s current product line includes its Powerwall and its recently launched new solar roof tiles. As for new products, the Model 3 electric vehicle is at the top of the list.

“After the Model 3, many other vehicle products will come, for which Tesla Grohmann will play a key role,” Musk wrote in his letter. “To name just a few, which have already publicly announced (there will be many more): We are developing Model Y (an affordable mid-range SUV), a heavy-duty semi-trailer, a pickup and the next generation of the roadster sports car.”

How ever the situation with Tesla Grohmann plays out, the next five years should confirm whether Musk or Tesla’s critics are right in their predictions about the company’s future.

The post Elon Musk: Tesla Could Be One of the Most Valuable Companies in the World in 5 Years appeared first on Futurism.

Risky Business

Tesla seems set on taking over the world, and after their most recent market surge, they might be on track to do it — that is, if the supposedly inflated financial bubble they’re in doesn’t, well, burst.

This month, Tesla’s market cap hit a value of $51 billion, which was higher than General Motor’s at the time and $15 billion higher than Tesla’s own value in 2016. While Elon Musk disagrees, in the eyes of many experts, the company is overvalued, perhaps dangerously so.

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Tesla will undoubtedly, as any company does, face roadblocks in new design and innovation. While they will most likely continue to produce incredibly popular, inventive, and successful vehicle models, some say the overvalued bubble in which they currently reside is heading for bursting.

Innovation Is Key

For Tesla to keep up with its upward-trending market value, they will need to continue innovating at the tremendous rate that they have been.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

From designing the first autonomous semi truck to driving down the price of their electric vehicles (EVs), Tesla has been keeping pace with, and moving ahead of, customer requests and demands. However, with other EV options costing a fraction of a Tesla vehicle, the company will have to get even further ahead of the game in terms of innovation if they want to maintain their value.

Elon Musk and his team aren’t the only ones hoping for Tesla’s continued success. If Tesla were to go under or begin to fail financially, more than just a luxury car company would suffer — SpaceX, Neuralink, the Gigafactory, and more would be at risk of feeling the hit. The future of space travel and exploration, the advancement of alternative energy sources and usage, and the fight against climate change hang in the balance, so let’s all hope that this bubble doesn’t burst.

The post The Age of Elon: Can Tesla Really Take Over the World? appeared first on Futurism.

Neuralink Has Arrived

After weeks of anticipation, details on Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company Neuralink have finally been revealed. In a detailed report on the website Wait But Why, Tim Urban recounts insights gleaned from his weeks meeting with Musk and his Neuralink team at their San Francisco headquarters. He offers an incredibly detailed and informative overview of both Musk’s latest venture and its place in humanity’s evolution, but for those of you interested in just the big picture, here’s what you really need to know about Neuralink.

Your Brain Will Get Another “Layer”

Right now, you have two primary “layers” to your brain: the limbic system, which controls things like your emotions, long-term memory, and behavior; and the cortex, which handles your complex thoughts, reasoning, and long-term planning. Musk wants his brain interface to be a third layer that will complement the other two. The weirdest thing about that goal may be that he thinks we actually already have this third layer — we just don’t have the best interface for it:

We already have a digital tertiary layer in a sense, in that you have your computer or your phone or your applications…The thing that people, I think, don’t appreciate right now is that they are already a cyborg…If you leave your phone behind, it’s like missing limb syndrome. I think people—they’re already kind of merged with their phone and their laptop and their applications and everything.

The goal of Neuralink, then, is eliminating the middleman and putting that power we currently have at our fingertips directly into our brains. Instead of one person using their phone to transmit a thought to another person (“Dinner at 8?”), the thought would just go from one brain to the other directly.

Thankfully, we’ll be able to control this completely, Musk tells Urban: “People won’t be able to read your thoughts — you would have to will it. If you don’t will it, it doesn’t happen. Just like if you don’t will your mouth to talk, it doesn’t talk.”

Musk Is Working with Some Very Smart People

Musk met with more than 1,000 people before deciding on the eight who would help him shape the future of humanity at Neuralink. He claims assembling the right team was a challenge in and of itself, as he needed to find people capable of working in a cross-disciplinary field that includes everything from brain surgery to microscopic electronics.

The crew he landed is a veritable supergroup of smarties. They have backgrounds from MIT, Duke, and IBM, and their bios include phrases like “neural dust,” “cortical physiology,” and “human psychophysics.” They’re engineers, neurosurgeons, and chip designers, and if anyone can bring Elon Musk’s vision to life, it’s them.

The Timeline For Adoption Is Hazy…

Neuralink won’t come out the gate with a BMI that transforms you into a walking computer. The first product the company will focus on releasing will be much more targeted. “We are aiming to bring something to market that helps with certain severe brain injuries (stroke, cancer lesion, congenital) in about four years,” said Musk.

I think we are about 8 to 10 years away from this being usable by people with no disability.” – Musk

The same way SpaceX was able to fund its research on reusable rockets by making deliveries to the ISS or Tesla was able to use profits from its early car sales to fund battery research, these earliest BMIs to treat diseases or the disabled will keep Neuralink afloat as it works on its truly mind-bending technologies.

As for when those technologies, the ones that allow healthy people to channel their inner telepaths, will arrive, Musk’s fairly optimistic timeline comes with several contingencies: “I think we are about 8 to 10 years away from this being usable by people with no disability…It is important to note that this depends heavily on regulatory approval timing and how well our devices work on people with disabilities.”

…Because The Hurdles are Many

Those are just two of the hurdles Neuralink faces. Elon Musk might make innovation look easy, but even going to Mars seems relatively straightforward in comparison to his plans for his latest company.

First, there are the engineering hurdles to overcome. The company has to deal with the problems of biocompatibility, wirelessness, power, and — the big one — bandwidth. To date, we’ve never put more than roughly 200 electrodes in a person’s brain at one time. When talking about a world-changing interface, the Neuralink team told Urban they were thinking something like “one million simultaneously recorded neurons.” Not only would they need to find a way to ensure that the brain could effectively communicate with that many electrodes, they also need to overcome the very practical problem of where to physically put them.

The Evolution of Brain-Computer Interfaces [INFOGRAPHIC]
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The engineering is only half the battle, though. Like Musk mentioned, regulatory approval will be a big factor in the development and adoption of Neuralink’s tech. The company also faces potential skepticism and even fear from a public that doesn’t want anyone cutting into their brains to install some high-tech machinery — according to a recent Pew survey, the public is even more worried about brain computer interfaces than gene editing. There’s also the not-entirely-unfounded fear that these computers could be hacked.

Add to all that our still very, very incomplete understanding of how the brain ticks exactly, and you can see that the Neuralink team has its work cut out for them.

Neuralink Won’t Exist in a Vacuum

Thankfully, they won’t be working to remake our minds alone — many other universities and research institutes are pushing brain interface technology forward. Facebook’s Building 8 is working on its own BCI, MIT is creating super-thin wires for use in brain implants, and other cyborg devices are already in the works to help the paralyzed walk again and the blind regain their sight. Each new development will push the field forward, and the team at Neuralink will be able to learn from the mistakes and successes of others in the field.

Just like other electric cars were on the road before Tesla came along, brain computer interfaces are not new — the tech might just need a visionary like Musk to elevate it (and us) to the next level.

The post Here’s Everything You Need to Know about Elon Musk’s Human/AI Brain Merge appeared first on Futurism.

Musk’s History of AI Concerns

Elon Musk has made it clear that he is concerned about the extreme advancements being made in artificial intelligence (AI) research. Ultimately, he fears that AI will, one day, overtake humanity. Over the years, this fear has pushed Musk to make moves that will help ensure that our artificial intelligences don’t turn humans into second class citizens.

One of the first instances of such action was back in 2015, when Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institue, an organization that gives money to researchers who are working to mitigate the existential risks facing humanity, particularly, existential risks from advanced artificial intelligence.

“It’s best to try to prevent a negative circumstance from occurring than to wait for them to occur and then be reactive.” –Musk

Around the same time, Musk, Stephen Hawking, and more than 20,000 other experts signed an open letter calling for an autonomous weapons ban. The letter explains, “If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable.” And this was just the beginning of Musk’s work.

[Don’t Edit] Elon Musk Finally Reveals His Plan to “Save” Humanity

In December 2015, Musk took his first major action, and announced the formation of OpenAI, a non-profit AI research company that hopes to advance digital intelligence in a way that will benefit humanity as a whole. Less than a year later, Musk spoke out against AI on Twitter. In this instance, he noted the ways in which super-advanced AI could be used to target the internet through DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. calling it a great threat to the internet. He claimed that it’s only a matter of time until we see a massive AI attack on internet infrastructure.

At the time, Musk spoke out and called artificial intelligence it a major threat to the internet itself. He also claimed that it’s only a matter of time until we see a massive AI attack on internet infrastructure.

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A Plan to “Save” Humanity

So what’s Musk’s plan for saving us from killer robots? Ironically, it’s becoming one with the AI.

Just a few weeks ago, details leaked asserting that Musk is backing a brain-computer interface venture that was founded in order to allow humans to keep up with the advancements made in machine intelligence. At the time of the leak, the company – called Neuralink – was still in the earliest stages of development. To that end, it had no public presence at all.

What we did know is that the company’s ultimate goal is to develop a device (a brain-computer interface, to be exact) that could be implanted into the brain in order to augment (see: improve) human intelligence. It’s a controversial idea Musk initially put forward back in 2016. At the time, he called it a “neural lace;” an idea he revisited earlier this year at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Since the computing powers of AI are expected to surpass that of humans in rather quick order, the neural lace is meant to push our cognitive performance to a level that is comparable to that of AI.

“Creating a neural lace is the thing that really matters for humanity to achieve symbiosis with machines.” -Musk

Shortly after details leaked regarding the new venture, Musk took to Twitter to acknowledge that the reports were true. Musk confirmed his plan via a tweet in which he also promised more details – details which would be coming the week of April 10th thanks to Tim Urban at the the website Wait But Why.

Today, those details finally came to light (This summary highlights key points directly from Urban’s post):

  • The business side of Neuralink is a brain-machine interface development company. They want to create cutting-edge BMIs—what one of them referred to as “micron-sized devices.” Doing this will support the growth of the company while also providing a perfect vehicle for putting their innovations to use (kind of the way SpaceX uses their launches both to sustain the company and experiment with their newest engineering developments). As for what kind of interface they’re planning to work on first, here’s what Elon said: “We are aiming to bring something to market that helps with certain severe brain injuries (stroke, cancer lesion, congenital) in about four years.”
  • He said that he met with literally over 1,000 people in order to assemble this group, and that part of the challenge was the large number of totally separate areas of expertise required when you’re working on technology that involves neuroscience, brain surgery, microscopic electronics, clinical trials, etc. Because it was such a cross-disciplinary area, he looked for cross-disciplinary experts. Key people include Paul Merolla, who spent the last seven years as the lead chip designer at IBM on their SyNAPSE program; Vanessa Tolosa, Neuralink’s microfabrication expert and one of the world’s foremost researchers on biocompatible materials; and Max Hodak, who worked on the development of some groundbreaking BMI technology at Miguel Nicolelis’s lab at Duke.
  • Musk has an 8 to 10 year timeline for use: “I think we are about 8 to 10 years away from this being usable by people with no disability … It is important to note that this depends heavily on regulatory approval timing and how well our devices work on people with disabilities.”

More Than Musk

As previously mentioned, Musk isn’t the only one concerned about the impact that AI will have on the future of humanity. Many experts and tech giants have spoken extensively about their fears regarding the development of synthetic intelligence.

In a video posted by Big Think, Michael Vassar – the chief science officer of MetaMed Research – stated that, unless we are careful, any truly sentient AI that we develop will likely kill us all (literally): “If greater-than-human artificial general intelligence is invented without due caution, it is all but certain that the human species will be extinct in very short order.” Similarly, Stephen Hawking famously stated that AI is one of the biggest threats to humanity:

The development of AI could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.

[Don’t Edit] Elon Musk Finally Reveals His Plan to “Save” Humanity

And this is just the start of the experts who are concerned with AI. Like Musk, Braintree founder Bryan Johnson’s company Kernal is currently working on a neuroprosthesis that can mimic, repair, and improve human cognition. If it comes to fruition, that tech could be a solid defense against the worst case AI scenarios. After all, if we are able to upgrade our brains to a level that is equal to that of AI, we may be able to at least stay on par with the machines.

“Being able to systematically and intelligently work with our neural code is the most consequential and pressing opportunity in the world today.  All that we are, all that we do, all that we become will be a result of our progress,” explains Johnson.

Notably, while advancements like those that Johnson and Musk are working on could allow us to merge with machines, they could also allow us to literally program (or reprogram) our neural code, which would allow us to transform ourselves in ways that we can’t even imagine. In short, we could program ourselves into the people that we want to be. The experts are ready. The question is, are humans prepared to adopt the technology?


Disclosure: Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.

The post Elon Musk Just Outlined How He’ll Merge The Human Brain and AI appeared first on Futurism.

Disruption Ahead

Last week, Elon Musk announced that the “seriously next-level” Tesla semi truck would be coming this September. In response, Piper Jaffray analyst Alex Potter published a note on April 18 indicating that he is downgrading truck makers Paccar and Cummins, partly because “their valuations already reflect cyclical optimism, but also because we think TSLA’s impending arrival could pressure valuations.”

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Potter’s vote of confidence in Tesla’s potential impact on transportation was met with incredulity from some in the auto making industry, as neither the Tesla Model 3 or its semi have launched yet. According to CNBC, Potter further clarified his position in a separate note strictly on Cummins:

“Cummins makes diesel engines, but companies like Tesla (among others) are aiming to supplant CMI’s products. These Silicon Valley disrupters are not confining their ambitions to sedans; instead, they have announced plans for electric semis, electric pickups, electric buses, and various other products that defy the preeminence of diesel engines. CMI enthusiasts will note that EVs won’t replace diesel trucks in the coming 2 years (not in a material way, at least) and we agree. But when/if electric drivetrains are proven viable in the first commercial vehicle segments, we think incumbents’ valuations could fall rapidly thereafter.”

Laugh All You Want

And in a separate note dealing solely with Paccar, Potter reportedly wrote,

“Tesla’s presence looms large; laugh all you want, but this trend cannot be ignored. In the automotive segment, Tesla and others have wrought substantial disruption, forcing incumbents to change their hiring practices, increase R&D spending, and ultimately, suffer lower multiples. PCAR may be less at risk than others — and it’s probably too early to start ringing alarm bells — but with the stock trading near the high-end of its historical valuation range, we wouldn’t be adding to positions.”

Although Potter acknowledged both that Tesla is not the first to produce an electric truck and that details about the truck remain unknown, he made it clear that he believes investors should consider Tesla’s disruptive potential in the market now. Potter forecast Tesla shares at $368 on Monday, April 10 — the highest price forecast it had ever received from an analyst at a major firm.

The post Expert Asserts That Tesla’s Electric Semi Will Totally Disrupt the Auto Industry appeared first on Futurism.

The Gigafactory

The Tesla Gigafactory produces lithium ion batteries, supporting the Tesla vehicles and providing low-cost batteries using alternative energy sources. And, in a recent video, CEO and founder Elon Musk was actually quoted as saying:

“We actually did the calculations to figure out what it would take to transition the whole world to sustainable energy. You’d need 100 Gigafactories.”

Leonardo DiCaprio met with Musk at the Gigafactory this past year to discuss renewable resources and the future of energy as it relates to climate change. Leo is no stranger to discussions about alternative energy and climate change. In fact, he recently used his first Oscar acceptance speech as an opportunity to discuss the grave realities of our changing climate and warming planet.

One main goal of the Gigafactory is to reach and maintain net zero energy. A leader in advancement and innovation, they claim that “By 2018, the Gigafactory will reach full capacity and produce more lithium ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013.” The Gigafactory also aims to continue to drive down the price of these batteries, financially incentivizing the use of alternative energy sources.

As Leo enters the factory, he is struck by the sleek efficiency, exclaiming, “Holy crap, that’s a good robot.” He and Musk continue on, with Musk emphasizing that “the sooner we can take action, the less harm will result,” in regards to man-made climate change.

Battery Life

As put simply by Musk in the video, “the sun doesn’t shine all the time, so you’ve got to store it in a battery.” And, if we are able to shift more completely towards alternative and renewable energy sources, Musk claims that, “you could avoid building electricity plants at all.”

When some people think about alternative energy, they think of outdated, bulky solar panels that lack efficiency and are a massive financial drain. However, alternative energy technology is far beyond that. As the realities of climate change set in, it is becoming more and more obvious that we cannot wait. We cannot go another ten years using fossil fuels at the rate that we currently do and not experience the effects.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
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Solar cells are more efficient than ever. In fact, inspired by photosynthesis, researchers recently combined the principles of quantum physics and biology to drastically improve current solar capabilities. Solar cells are no longer even necessary to capture solar energy, as scientists have created a synthetic leaf that does just that, while converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide.

There is no question: alternative energy is the future. We will not progress without it, and, as recent advancements have shown, it is becoming a more possible and powerful option with each passing day. If Musk is right, and these low-cost, green batteries could help to support a future where alternative energy is the majority, then his Gigafactory could be one of many steps in the right direction.

The post Elon Musk: 100 Tesla Gigafactories Could Power the Entire World appeared first on Futurism.

Word just came straight from Elon Musk himself: Tesla will unveil the production version of the Model 3 in July.

It will be the third and final part of the unveiling for the highly anticipated mass market Tesla vehicle, and this is the first time the Tesla CEO has announced a definitive month for its arrival. His announcement came as a reply to an inquiry made on Twitter.

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Demand for Tesla’s mass market model has been unprecedented. The Model 3 is priced at $35,000 before tax incentives and will have a range of at least 346 kilometers (215 miles) per charge. Right now, around 400,000 people have signed up for pre-order, prompting Tesla to set ambitious production targets.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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According to the company, they are planning to produce 500,000 cars annually by 2018 and reach one million by 2020. To date, Tesla has only been able to produce 76,000 vehicles since 2016. But given that the Model 3 is actually easier to produce than any of their higher-end models, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Tesla to achieve this objective.

The Model 3’s arrival in the market will also be a milestone in the mass adoption of autonomous electric vehicles. Once they’re fully integrated into our society, electric self-driving cars will not only help Musk in his pursuit of a fully sustainable world, but also significantly improve road safety.

The post Elon Musk Finally Announced a Release Date for the Model 3 appeared first on Futurism.

Simulation Hypothesis

While many people take reality at face value, others believe the far more intriguing theory that we are living in a computer simulation. It’s a concept straight out of “The Matrix” (though its origin reaches much further back), and one of its supporters is Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

10 Things About the Future Sci-Fi Writers Got Right
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During an interview at Code Conference 2016, Musk said, “There’s a one in billions chance we’re in base reality.” This essentially means that he believes that more likely than not (by a lot), the world that we know is just a very sophisticated computer simulation. Neil deGrasse Tyson feels similarly, putting our odds of living in a simulation at around 50/50.

Musk elaborated on the idea during the interview:

The strongest argument for us being in a simulation, probably being in a simulation, is the following: 40 years ago, we had Pong, two rectangles and a dot…That is what games were. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, augmented reality. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, the games will become indistinguishable from reality.

The contemporary version of the simulation hypothesis was introduced by Nicholas Bostrom, a British philosopher, in 2003. Simply put, the hypothesis states that there is a likelihood that advanced future civilizations would run equally advanced computer simulations of past civilizations. So, much like we play video games about ancient populations, they might do something similar, just much more technologically advanced. Some people even think that the events of the 2017 Oscars are proof of this theory.

The Matrix…Unraveled

While the idea of a simulated universe was officially described by Bostrom and recently brought to headlines by Musk and Tyson, it is not a new idea. This concept has been around for decades, and if you count its predecessor, the idea that everything around you is just a dream, the concept is much, much older than that.

However, even though the idea is old and debated heavily by both scientists and philosophers, it might not hold much actual weight.

For starters, a simulation is, by definition, an “imitation of a situation or process.” And so, if we were living in a simulation, how would we exist and interact with our physical world as we know it? Unless our physical interactions with food, humans, air, and the like are all elaborate programs to trick the brain in every which way to perceive the physical as such, the concept in and of itself is inherently flawed. Once a “simulated” object becomes physical, then does it, conceptually, stop being a simulation?

Another argument against the notion of a simulated reality is the limitations of computing. No matter how powerful quantum computers grow to be over the years, decades, and centuries, using them to create a real physical world, or “simulation,” might still be a technological impossibility. Unless information technology is radically and rapidly changed, it just might never be possible.

Essentially, unless life as we know it completely changes and the way that computers operate is turned on its head, the only way that the type of simulation Musk is talking about would be possible is through some higher level of reality. Some even argue that, because human beings aren’t expected to survive on planet Earth for that much longer (relatively speaking), a civilization could never advance to the point that such a simulation would be possible.

Ultimately, there is no definitive evidence confirming either side of this theory. There are possibilities, and within each possibility, there are scientific limitations.

If Musk and his fellow believers turn out to be correct, there could be multiple existing levels of reality and parallel technologies that we could somehow learn about one day. But, then there’s the equally plausible chance that there is one base reality, and we’re living in it. If this is the actual universe (or part of the Multiverse, but that’s another conversation entirely), then all of the scientific principles that we know of apply, which means a simulated universe would be an impossibility.

Again, neither is known for sure, so unless new information surfaces, you’ll probably want to assume what you see in life is what you get.

The post Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Elon Musk Thinks So. appeared first on Futurism.

Keep On Trucking

Today, Elon Musk officially confirmed that a “seriously next level” Tesla semi-truck is coming this September. He also praised the Tesla team for doing an “amazing job,” and he mentioned a convertible roadster and a pickup truck that should be to market in just 18 to 24 months.

This development is really no surprise to many, as rumors and speculations have long suggested that Tesla trucks were on the way. Still, the confirmation reveals that Musk is serious about disrupting the transportation industry.

It’s easy to see why he’d be feeling pretty proud of the Tesla team at this point. They company is now the most valuable automaker in the U.S.. But keep in mind, the comparison only goes so far, as Tesla is not just an automaker. Rather, it’s a one-stop shop for sustainable energy and innovation.

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A New Energy Age

The work they do at the “gigafactory” goes beyond designing cars. The company is working on energy storage with the Tesla Powerwall. They are working on solar roofs with Panasonic. And this is just the beginning. As explained in their mission statement:

The gigafactory will also produce battery packs intended for use in stationary storage, helping to improve robustness of the electrical grid, reduce energy costs for businesses and residences, and provide a backup supply of power.

In short,  Musk’s vision is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As a result, all of Tesla’s efforts are focused on developing the company to innovate new ways to produce and use renewable energy.

To that end, Musk has identified semi trucks as a critical focal point for safety and energy, and rightly so. Heavy-duty semi trucks that are electric will reduce environmental costs while increasing safety—especially with new AI technologies on board.

The post Elon Musk Just Said That Tesla’s Making An Electric 18-Wheeler and Pickup Truck appeared first on Futurism.

Details Coming Monday

A few weeks ago, details leaked that Elon Musk had backed a brain-computer interface venture founded to allow humans to keep up with the advancements made in machine intelligence. The company – Neuralink – is still in the earliest stages of development. To that end, we don’t know very much about it (at all).

However, we aren’t entirely in the dark. We know a few things. For example, we know that the company’s ultimate goal is to develop a device (a brain-computer interface, to be exact) that could be implanted into the brain in order to augment (see: improve) human intelligence. It could allow us to store memories externally, learn new skills and languages in seconds, and bring an end to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Of course, such work will take time. But Musk hopes to expedite this development through his work.

For a meaningful partial brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away. -Elon Musk

Shortly after details leaked, Musk confirmed his plan in a tweet (he is well known for unveiling ideas and key company details via short Twitter posts). In this same tweet, he also promised more details – details which would be coming in April courtesy of the website Wait But Why. Must stated, “Long Neuralink piece coming out on Wait But Why in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to.”

Today, Wait But Why author, Tim Urban, announced that his 36,000-word post (which he affectionately refers to as the “800-pound hippo”) is scheduled to be released Monday, April 17.

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Urban also wrote an update on his website noting that the full information would soon be here. He stated: “The post will be up Monday 4/17. It’s long. I’m me it’s shi**y.” Just between you and I, we seriously doubt that last part.

Are We Ready?

In case you weren’t aware, Musk isn’t the only one concerned about the future of humanity. Considering the rate at which AI research is accelerating, the fears seem justifiable. Like Musk, Braintree founder Bryan Johnson’s company, Kernal, is currently working on a neuroprosthesis that can mimic, repair, and improve human cognition.

“Being able to systematically and intelligently work with our neural code is the most consequential and pressing opportunity in the world today. All that we are, all that we do, all that we become will be a result of our progress,” explained Johnson in an interview with Futurism.

The Evolution of Brain-Computer Interfaces [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Notably, while advancements like those that Johnson and Musk are working on could allow us to merge with machines, they could also allow us to literally program (or reprogram) our neural code, which would allow us to transform ourselves in ways that we can’t even imagine.

In short, we could alter our brains and our cognition in order to engineer ourselves into the people that we want to be. The experts are ready. The question is, are humans prepared to adopt the technology?

Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.

The post Get Ready: Elon Musk Is Releasing Details on His Plan to Unite Our Brains With AI appeared first on Futurism.

Can Elon Musk merge minds with machines?

The post Neuralink Could Help Humans Keep Up With AI appeared first on Futurism.

Apple: A Bit Lost

Elon Musk is the unstoppable innovation juggernaut of our time. He has taken us to space, and is single-handedly leading us into a new age in energy. However his company, Tesla, is plagued by issues related to capital. Conversely, Apple is a powerhouse of stability. Their sales are steady, probably because they continually pour out the same tired products that (they know) people are willing to buy. They also don’t take risks. Ever.

This is why Apple should buy Tesla and make Elon Musk the CEO—Apple lacks innovation and growth, and Tesla lacks cash and financial stability. To understand this rationale you only need to turn to Apple’s stock.

Apple has tremendously priced stock, thanks to the success of the iPhone, iPad, and to a lesser extent, the Apple Watch. This gives the company an amazingly high budget to work with. The choice that they now face is how to best invest that budget. To this end, what Apple needs is to produce something new and inventive, which it hasn’t done in a very long time.

Who says Apple doesn’t innovate anymore? Well, almost everyone. Just Google search, “Apple is no longer innovative.” On the first page alone you get this:

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The Observer: “Last week, Apple unveiled iPhone 7 — or, rather, the company’s Twitter account accidentally leaked the release video before CEO Tim Cook could make the announcement. It’s no big deal because iPhone 7’s most noteworthy upgrades are that it comes in black, is water resistant and no longer has a headphone jack. Nothing earth-shaking.”

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The Conversation (John Rice, Professor of Management, University of New England and Nigel Martin, College of Business and Economics, Australian National University): “Not only is Apple suffering from a major lack of hardware innovation but it’s also being outdone in software and online, where apps reign supreme. It quite possibly signals the company’s eventual demise.”

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Dezeen: “Has Apple lost its touch? Dezeen readers are unconvinced by the tech giant’s latest product announcements and feel the company has lost its way. This special edition of our regular comments update looks at reactions to its controversial new wireless headphones (pictured), updated Apple Watch and the iPhone 7.”

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Forbes: “[Like] previous years we have grown to accept that the polish and style of delivery masks a growing problem at Cupertino: Apple has run out of juice.”

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CNBC: “’There’s no real world shocking innovation happening anymore from Apple,’ the fellow at Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, told ‘Closing Bell.’ ‘It was nine years ago that the iPhone came out … since then it’s been giving us bigger screens and smaller screens … and we go along,’ he noted, before adding that Apple’s series imitates Netflix.”

Ouch.

Even friendlies will agree that Apple is much stronger when it comes to customer experience and selling its own ecosystem than it is at generating new products. But just keeping your existing customers happy isn’t enough. Perhaps most telling is the fact that Apple is losing out to other companies in contests that it started. For example, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Survey, customers like Microsoft’s Surface tablets more than iPads.

Tesla: Dynamism is Costly

Meanwhile, Tesla is amazingly innovative, transforming our society in a number of sectors, all united by a future-facing commitment to clean energy and better design. The company makes cars, energy storage systems, solar roofs—and they likely won’t stop there. It seems like every few months, they come out with a new major R&D announcement. This is because Tesla places an enormous emphasis on new ideas, and although not all of them work, enough of them do that investors are inspired to buy Tesla.

Musk’s company is also growing at a staggering rate, but it is also unstable – vacillating between stocks that surge and plummet (and all the while, they are hemorrhaging cash). When you search “Tesla losing money,” you get a slightly more mixed result:

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Forbes wants you to know that, although Tesla is, in fact, losing money, people like its CEO.

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CNBC: “Wall Street sees Tesla, not classic companies like Ford, as the future of cars. Tesla is aiming to be the Apple of the car business.”

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MarketWatch: “But even the average investor can tell the difference between a profitable and unprofitable company, and Tesla is definitely the latter.”

Several outlets reveal just how much Tesla has fluctuated over the years in relation to its sales and figures. Particularly telling is the conversation regarding how much money the company loses on every car it sells.

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Reuters: “It’s crunch time for Tesla Motors. The Silicon Valley automaker is losing more than $4,000 on every Model S electric sedan it sells, using its reckoning of operating losses, and it burned $359 million in cash last quarter in a bull market for luxury vehicles.”

And a few other notable examples from Seeking Alpha and Investopedia showcase that the debate is still raging:

Why Apple Should Buy Tesla and Make Elon Musk CEO

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Of course, saying that Tesla has money problems raises some (rather fair) questions. Case in point, if Tesla is losing so much money, why is their stock still worth so much? Just this past week, Elon Musk responded to critics that called Tesla “overvalued,” pointing out that its value is based not only on cash flow, but also on the innovation consumers see in its products.

In other words, investors see the work that Tesla does as being highly relevant in the future. They feel confident that it will hold its value and grow. But that’s betting on the future, and it doesn’t help Tesla achieve stability today.

The Blend

Apple will find itself in an increasingly precarious position unless it chooses another course. The company has benefitted from Samsung’s woes (what with all the phones exploding and catching fire), but that isn’t going to last. Samsung may, and very likely will, recover. The company unveiled a new smartphone at the end of March, for example, and similar ventures indicate that it is working hard to rectify its current, troubled reputation. Thus, Apple will soon (once again) find itself going head-to-head with competitors that are just as capable of turning out devices with the most notable “new” feature being that they come in a new color.

Imagine you’re one of the best and brightest new minds, and you’re graduating from the best engineering and science programs in existence. You can write your own ticket. Would you rather work on never-before-seen breakthroughs in technology or endless iterations of the same products?

No one is called to create the latest version of the same passable earbuds; that’s not a calling. It’s just a job. Transforming the way people think about storing solar power? Creating entirely new ways to produce enough power to get off-grid? Disrupting the automobile industry? Those are callings.

If Apple buys Tesla, Apple will be able to attract the kind of talent they want (and need) to regain their place at the forefront of new technologies.

Tesla and Elon Musk have already seen that the future demands diversified product lines. This seems rather obvious, as we can’t predict what will happen in the world of tomorrow: what we will want and need, or how new generations of people will think, live, work, and play. The longer Apple stays within its narrow computer/tablet/smartphone lanes, the tougher it will be to break free and diversify.

Alright, so one final question: why does Musk have to be the one who runs this mega technology machine? Because Tim Cook is a careful, strategic, incremental manager of assets focused on protecting what’s there and coaxing slow growth. That’s what he does, and he’s extremely skilled at that. However, that’s not what’s called for in this pairing. And while that kind of strategic management might provide a very useful counterpoint to Musk’s style of leadership, it seems unlikely that both would stick around.

Of course, it is very unlikely that Cook will step down (very unlikely). Yet, in all probability, the only way Elon Musk would even dream about accepting this offer is if he is offered the CEO position. As a result, the only way that this proposition is truly feasible is if Apple’s Board goes after this option and, essentially, pushes Tim Cook out. It’s an interesting idea—one that could be very beneficial for both companies—but don’t hold your breath.

The post Why Apple Should Buy Tesla and Make Elon Musk CEO appeared first on Futurism.

Leading the Revolution

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is currently basking in the light of its latest achievement. The company succeeded in starting a spaceflight revolution by being the first entity to launch a mission into space using recycled rockets. The success of this historic mission will significantly lower the cost of space travel. Estimates say the launches could cost up to 30 percent less, saving companies or other organizations millions of dollars.

Musk may still be celebrating the launch, but he’s not at all content with just being the first. In a tweet sent out shortly after the successful landing of the refurbished Falcon 9 rocket, he revealed the company’s next goal for its rocket line: 24-hour turnaround.

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SpaceX is looking to make space travel akin to air travel.  “We’re really looking for true operational reusability, like an aircraft,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said prior to the launch. “An aircraft lands, goes to the gate, passengers come off, passengers go on, you refuel, and then you fly again. What we’re looking to do is exactly that. We land and relaunch on the same day.”

Flight: The Future

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
Click to View Full Infographic

Even after this goal is achieved, SpaceX isn’t going to be done wowing the world. In fact, they’ll be more concerned about impressing other worlds. The company is planning to put a human on the Red Planet possibly as soon as 2025.

Not only will more economical rockets make it easier for SpaceX to get to Mars, they will also fast-track the ability of humans to stay there, setting up colonies beyond Earth. Musk wants to launch an Interplanetary Transit System (ITS) to keep a steady supply line operational between the planets.

As SpaceX is a private, not government-operated, company, it can achieve greater levels of collaboration with other countries to make the mission to colonize Mars a truly international effort. Cheaper flights will be a huge part of that.

The post Elon Musk Has Announced a New Goal for SpaceX, and It’s Utterly Revolutionary appeared first on Futurism.

The most valuable US automaker isn’t a car company.

The post Tesla Is One Step Closer to Becoming a Power Company appeared first on Futurism.

Musk’s Neural Lace

When Elon Musk confirmed last week that he’s working on a way to combine humans and machines, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has long been in favor of a human-machine merger in order to keep up with artificial intelligence (AI) development. Not to mention avoiding the end of humankind at the hands of machines.

Neuralink is Musk’s unconventional proposal for preempting that fear. The budding company will build a device to be implanted into the human brain. This device — which is likely to be called a “neural lace” —would give the human brain the ability to directly interface with gadgets and other devices. It could also improve the human brain’s memory by increasing its storage capacity. Such brain-computer implants could also lead to improved treatments for neurological diseases and cognitive disorders. If that wasn’t impressive enough, such a device could potentially be used to reprogram a person’s neural code.

Social Inequality

In an piece he wrote for CNBC, Dustin McKissen wondered aloud how such a technology would be introduced — quite literally — into the public consciousness: “one question Musk hasn’t answered (and in fairness, it may not be his responsibility to answer) is who will have the privilege of getting a neural lace?” McKissen is the founder and CEO of PR and strategy firm McKissen + Company, whose work includes analyzing the effects of politics in the U.S. business climate.

“If the essentialness of maternity care is up for debate, it goes without saying Elon Musk’s neural lace probably won’t be covered under your insurance plan,” McKissen wrote, referring to the Obamacare repeal that has been at the forefront of U.S. political debate as of late. “In other words, not only do the rich seem to get richer—they may get the benefit of having a computer-enhanced brain.”

McKissen warns of how social inequality could render Musk’s neural lace beneficial only to a select few, rather than the human race on the whole. “What will income inequality look like if only the very wealthy get an upgrade? And will children be able to get a neural lace?,” he asked. Such a society is reminiscent of one featured in the science fiction film Elysium, where only the privileged few had access to technology’s benefits.

McKissen added: “Research has shown there is already a digital divide contributing to chronic poverty in low-income and rural communities. That digital divide will only grow when some of us can afford a brain enhanced with artificial intelligence. […] most of us are going to have to compete with computer-enhanced peers in an already unequal world.”

McKissen isn’t arguing that some people would be more deserving of access to advanced technology like a neural lace, but rather, he points out the need to improve the “current playing field” — which one could argue extends beyond the question of who gets a neural lace.

As he said, “In a world that’s growing increasingly class conscious, the ability for a relatively small number of people to become more than human could be a disaster for everyone—especially if that technology arrives in a time when income inequality is even worse than it is today.”

The post Elon Musk’s Attempt to Merge to the Human Brain With AI May Have Serious Problems appeared first on Futurism.

A Cheaper Space

On March 30, SpaceX managed to launch and land a previously used Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. The company has long claimed that its Falcon 9 would prove to be the world’s first fully reusable orbital rocket and that such rockets would be a game-changer in space exploration. After last week’s success, those predictions are starting to come true.

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
Click to View Full Infographic

Prior to reusable rockets, space flight missions relied on rockets built for single use. These “disposable rockets,” so to speak, were used in NASA’s space shuttle missions, but they were costly — for every mission, a new rocket had to be made.

Now, SpaceX’s cost-saving rockets are poised to usher in a new, cheaper era of space exploration. “At this point, I’m highly confident that it’s possible to achieve at least 100-fold reduction in the cost of space access,” SpaceX’s founder and CEO Elon Musk said after the historic SES-10 mission last week.

Reusability Is Key

SpaceX has proven its mettle when it comes to space missions. On its website, the private space company has logged more than 70 flights in its manifest. These include numerous missions funded by NASA, such as SpaceX’s 10 resupply runs to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX’s 2012 mission to the ISS marked the first time a private spacecraft docked on the space station, and the latest of its supply missions just took place on February 19. SpaceX has also completed a number of landing tests using its Falcon 9 rockets, as well as missions that launched private satellites into orbit.

Image credit: SpaceX
Image credit: SpaceX

Now, with the Falcon 9’s reusability confirmed, things are moving forward for SpaceX. The next step is successfully reusing a Falcon 9, after an inspection and a re-fuel, within 24 hours after landing. According to Musk, “Rapid and complete reusability of rockets is really the key to opening up space and becoming a space-faring civilization.”

The Falcon 9 is powerful and massive enough to reach orbital speeds, and it’s tough enough to survive re-entry. It’s also currently the only truly reusable orbital rocket available. However, it likely won’t be the only one for long as Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin is well on its way to developing its own reusable rocket. The more of these game-changing rockets we have available, the better the future looks for humanity’s exploration of Mars and other off-world wonders.

The post Elon Musk Says His Reusable Rockets Will Make Space Access 100-Times Cheaper appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla v. Ford

Tesla’s stock went up almost 6 percent this week — an all-time high for the automaker — after it reported strong sales for its Model S and Model X vehicles. Concurrently, competing automaker Ford — one of the consistently leading automakers in the world — saw shares dip to 3 percent at the end of a weak first quarter. As a result, Tesla’s market value is now at $48 billion compared to Ford’s $45 billion — making Tesla the most valuable U.S. automaker according to stock market standards.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Tesla overtaking Ford’s stock market value is a remarkable achievement, especially since Tesla was only founded in 2003. Ford, on the other hand, is a 114-year-old company. Another major U.S. automobile manufacturer, General Motors (GM), is also well over 100 years old and is valued at around $50.8 billion — a benchmark Tesla could be fast-approaching.

It could be argued that Tesla’s strong numbers are largely being driven by the company’s potential. This year, Tesla is preparing for the launch of its $35,000 Model 3 electric vehicle (EV). Demand for the new model is strong–and with consistent reports ensuring the company’s timely delivery of the product.

More Than An Automaker

It’s also worth noting that despite Tesla’s unprecedented success in the automotive industry, the company is actually a lot more than than an car manufacturer. That being said, comparing Tesla to companies that only concern themselves with vehicles “apples to apples” might be a little misleading. The work they do at the “gigafactory” goes beyond designing cars — even electric ones.

As explained in their mission statement:

The gigafactory will also produce battery packs intended for use in stationary storage, helping to improve robustness of the electrical grid, reduce energy costs for businesses and residences, and provide a backup supply of power.

Following CEO Elon Musk’s vision, the goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. To that end, all their efforts are focused on developing the company to further achieve — by leaps and bounds, it seems — a strong focus on energy innovation, technology, and design.

The post Tesla Is Now the Most Valuable U.S. Automaker, but It’s More Than Just a Car Company appeared first on Futurism.

Value: Past Versus Future

On Twitter today, Elon Musk responded to critics who were skeptical of Tesla’s hot streak in the stock market. The Wall Street Journal tweet that began the debate noted that Tesla passed up Ford by market cap. Christopher Mims, a tech columnist at the WSJ, took this opportunity to comment:

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Walt Mossberg, executive editor for The Verge, responded to Mims with a tweet of his own:

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Twitter user ForIn2020 then responded to both critics, eliciting agreement from Musk himself:

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Betting on the Future

The Twitter debate brings up two important points. The first is exactly what Musk noted. In a free market, value isn’t focused on the past. To do so would not only limit innovation, it would be foolhardy.

Value is based on what investors can see happening in the future. Past performance plays a part in that, but so do many other factors. It’s one of the reasons the stock market is risky. Not only can you not control what other investors will do, you also can never be sure what anything will actually end up being worth when you make an investment.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

The second point is this: Ford is just a car company. Tesla is a technology and energy innovation company that creates solar roofs, electric cars, power storage solutions, and other breakthroughs. The company even changed its name from Tesla Motors Inc. to simply Tesla Inc. earlier this year to make this distinction clear.

That focus on widespread energy innovation is why Tesla is poised to reach its ambitious target goal of delivering 47,000 to 50,000 vehicles in the first half of 2017 and why the Powerwall is going to come standard in all new Arden homes in Australia. The Tesla “one stop shop” model for sustainable energy is only going to become more relevant as non-renewable sources of energy get more expensive and eventually completely fall out of favor.

It’s easy to understand why investors see a high earnings future for Tesla. Failing to see that the company is going to continue to shape the future is perhaps short-sighted. Failing to understand how the market values companies is a bit more mystifying. Either way, Tesla and its investors are going to be laughing all the way to the bank — whatever form “the bank” takes a few decades from now.

The post Elon Musk Responds to Criticism, Says Tesla is Not “Overvalued” appeared first on Futurism.

Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a little wary of Elon Musk’s ability to send humans to Mars, but he does like what he’s seeing from SpaceX overall.

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
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During a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, Redditor patopc1999 asked, “Hi Neil! Just wanted to know your thoughts on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 relaunch and landing, and what do you think it means for the future of space travel?”

Tyson replied that “any demonstration of rocket reusability is a good thing,” and he even asserted that “reusability is arguably the most fundamental feature of affordable expensive things.”

The Redditor also wanted to know if Tyson would ever consider joining a future one-way trip to Mars, which prompted a less optimistic response: “I really like Earth. So any space trip I take, I’m double checking that there’s sufficient funds for me to return.” He candidly added, “Also, I’m not taking that trip until Elon Musk send[s] his mother and brings her back alive. Then I’m good for it.”

Image Credit: Reddit AMA

Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently made history by successfully launching and landing a used Falcon 9 rocket booster for the first time. The CEO has announced his intent to bring humans back to the Moon, as well, and SpaceX is looking to add hundreds of new employees to its ranks to help Musk make all these projects happen.

Given Musk’s track record for actually coming through on his plans, it could be simply a matter of time before Tyson boards a SpaceX rocket, with or without Musk’s mother riding one first.

The post Neil deGrasse Tyson Seems Skeptical of Elon Musk’s Mars Plans appeared first on Futurism.

Help Wanted

If you simply walked past SpaceX’s headquarters, you may not realize that Elon Musk’s space travel project is looking for more staff — the futuristic company is way too cool to display an archaic “Help Wanted” sign out front. Those of you who do your job searches digitally, however, will find a wide array of job openings across 41 departments on the company’s careers website.

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
Click to View Full Infographic

SpaceX is looking to fill a whopping 473 open positions at posts around the United States. A great majority, 313, of these positions are at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Other locations include posts on both coasts of the U.S., as well as in Texas and Washington D.C.

The jobs run the gamut of experience, from highly skilled engineering positions that require advanced degrees in astronautics, mechanical engineering, or physics to experienced line cooks looking to feed the bodies that hold the brains of rocket scientists. According to Business Insider, “About half of the positions call for engineers, 33% for technicians, 5% for machinists, 5% for specialists, 5% for managers, and 1% for directors,” so there are a lot of ways to play a part in the future of space travel.

Business Is Booming

It’s no wonder that SpaceX is currently looking to ramp up operations. Late last week the company made history by being the first to launch a mission into space using reusable rocket parts.

This achievement is going to revolutionize the way we get to space, and we will likely see a boost across the entire space travel sector as a result of it. In addition to keeping those already involved with SpaceX inspired, this recent success should motivate competitors like Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to up their own games.

Now that reusing rocket parts is a proven concept, we should see a greater push to get technology and even humans up into space. These rockets will save considerable money, allowing space tourists, companies, and other entities greater access to that final frontier.

The post Elon Musk’s SpaceX Just Announced Hundreds of Open Positions appeared first on Futurism.

Keeping It Up

Tesla has proven yet again that its share of the electric car market is no joke. According to the company’s earnings report for the first quarter (Q1) of 2017, it delivered approximately 13,450 Model S sedans and around 11,550 Model X sport utility vehicles. That total of more than 25,000 deliveries to date brings Tesla closer to hitting its goal of delivering 47,000 to 50,000 vehicles in the first half of 2017.

Tesla noted that these numbers could vary by up to 5 percent as they “only count a car as delivered if it is transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct.” By the end of Q1, some 4,650 more vehicles were in transit to customers. Those will be counted under Q2 deliveries.

Image credit: Tesla
Image credit: Tesla

According to NASDAQ, this is the highest Q1 on record for Tesla, and it’s about a 69 percent increase over the same period in 2016. In terms of first-quarter production, Tesla built about 25,418 vehicles, which is another quarterly record for the company.

These numbers are good for Tesla, and the company expects to grow even more substantially as its lower-priced Model 3 draws closer to release. For now, its two existing vehicle models are doing fairly well in the market, and they may indeed help CEO Elon Musk hit his goals of delivering 200,000 cars by the end of 2017 and 500,000 by the end of 2018. For the latter target, the Model 3’s 200,000 pre-orders should make a significant contribution.

An Industry Leader

Building Tesla was no easy task for Musk, who was often met with skepticism over his famously optimistic goals. Over the years, he has repeatedly proven critics wrong, while simultaneously surprising Tesla enthusiasts. Though originally created as a vehicle manufacturer, Tesla has since grown into something greater — it’s become a renewable energy powerhouse.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

“Tesla is not just an automotive company; it’s an energy innovation company,” according to its website. “Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation.”

To that end, Tesla has built an ecosystem of energy products that include not just vehicles but also a home-battery system, the Powerwall, and a commercial energy storage system, the Powerpack. The company is also transforming energy on a utility-wide scale with an advanced microgrid model that combines its batteries with solar energy. That system has been tested to power an entire island.

Tesla is currently gearing up to roll out its solar roof shingles, a product of the company’s acquisition of SolarCity late in 2016. “We would be the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to our customers,” Musk said during the SolarCity acquisition offer announcement, and now they are.

Indeed, Tesla is no longer just a car maker. It’s become a leader in the renewable energy industry, working to putting an end to the use of fossil fuels, one car, roof, or battery at a time.

The post Tesla Just Smashed Through Another Record-Breaking Milestone appeared first on Futurism.

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SpaceX has long said it would like to make its entire Falcon 9 rocket reusable. Today, Elon Musk’s company made history by successfully relaunching and re-landing a used Falcon 9 rocket booster for the first time. The SES-10 mission marks a “historic milestone on the road to full and rapid reusability as the world’s first re-flight of an orbital class rocket.” Falcon 9’s first stage for the SES-10 mission previously supported the successful CRS-8 mission in April 2016.

In an interview after the launch, Musk called it a “huge revolution in spaceflight.”

SpaceX’s Historic Launch Proves Recycled Rockets Are the Future of Space Exploration
SpaceX

The recycled rocket carried a satellite into orbit for SES, a Luxembourg-based telecommunications company, which will provide internet and television service for Central and South America.

In order for commercial space travel to be viable, companies like SpaceX have to make it more affordable. Currently, the Falcon 9 costs about $62 million. However, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s COO, says reusing a rocket booster could result in a 30 percent discount per launch, saving companies more than $18 million.

“This is an amazing day for space as a whole,” said Musk post-landing, “for the space industry it means you can fly and re-fly an orbital class booster, the most expensive part of the rocket.”

“This is potentially revolutionary,” John Logsdon, a space policy expert and historian at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, told Business Insider. “Reusability has been the Holy Grail in access to space for a long, long time.”

The post SpaceX’s Historic Launch Proves Recycled Rockets Are the Future of Space Exploration appeared first on Futurism.

The Gigafactory

Tesla is making some major moves with its massive Gigafactory in Nevada. The approximately 455,225 square meter (4.9 million square feet) operational space is inching closer to completion. The space is already being used to manufacture Powerpack 3 and Powerwall 2 battery units. It will soon also start churning out Tesla Model 3 vehicles.

Thanks to a powerline project taking place near the factory, we now have an update on the progress of the its construction from an aerial photo provided by NM Group. The last look we had was taken at the beginning of the year and showed a partially incomplete exterior. The new photo appears to show a completed structure.

Here is a side by side view of the progress, thus far.

NM Group

Renewably Powering Renewables

While the factory is helping to create products that promote and allow the proliferation of renewable energy, it is going to be doing so with sustainability in mind. Tesla is hoping to power the factory using “100 percent sustainable energy.” The roof will be outfitted with a 70 MW solar array and additional solar panels will be constructed on the ground.

Further, powering the factory isn’t the only place where Tesla is focusing on sustainability. The factory’s water will come from a closed-loop water supply system. According to Tesla, “Gigafactory’s closed-loop water supply system uses six different treatment systems to efficiently re-circulate about 1.5 million liters of water, representing an 80% reduction in fresh water usage compared with standard processes.” They are also working on a state-of-the-art climate control system to save even more energy.

By 2020, the plant is expected to reach full production with 150 GWh of battery pack output. This would go a long way to making the world much safer by providing the means to store renewable energy.

The post New Photos Show Construction on Tesla’s Gigafactory is Nearly Complete appeared first on Futurism.

Neuralink

Elon Musk is a very future-oriented tech entrepreneur, as evidenced by Tesla and SpaceX. Even so, Musk has always been vocal about his fear of a world take over by artificial intelligence (AI). Curiously enough, his solution to keep the AI doomsday away is to merge the human brain with machines.

On Monday, Futurism reported on Musk’s new venture to turn his proposed brain-computer interface into a reality. Musk confirmed his plan Tuesday via Twitter, saying more details about it are coming next week.

Musk’s brain-hacking company is called Neuralink, which was founded to help human beings keep up with the cascading advancements in AI technology. This company will develop a device, or even a series of devices, that could be implanted into the human brain. It’s similar to a controversial idea Musk put forward back in  2016 called a “neural lace,”; an idea he revisited earlier this year at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Meta-Intelligent Humans

Musk isn’t the only one who sees the future of humanity as being one with machines: Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, had previously expressed his vision for meta-intelligent human beings. As our brains merge with machines, a new kind of intelligence would emerge.

“Such a massive interconnection will lead to the emergence of a new global consciousness, and a new organism I call the Meta-Intelligence.” — Peter Diamandis

Efforts to realize this human-machine merger are also on the way — and not just with Neuralink. The U.S. Defense Department’s research arm, DARPA, is also working on similar technologies. “We are giving our physiology the opportunity to work with machines in a different way,” said Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office.

Instead of being completely overrun by intelligent machines, why not let our intelligence be merged with machines? Armed with a whole new kind of intelligence, we may be capable of far more than avoiding an AI doomsday scenario. Though, that’s not a bad place to start.

The post Elon Musk Just Confirmed That He’s Making Tech To Merge Human Brains and Computers appeared first on Futurism.

In case you missed it, Elon Musk is rather concerned about the fate of humanity, given the extreme advancements being made in artificial intelligence (AI). Ultimately, he fears that our AI will, one day, overtake us. When this happens, he claims that humans will likely become second class citizens (or slaves, or something even worse).

Now, reports have surfaced which assert that he is backing a brain-computer interface venture that was founded to allow humans to keep up with the advancements made in machines. The interface is intended to work by augmenting that which makes us human: our brains.

The find comes from The Wall Street Journal. According to them, the company – which is called Neuralink – is still in the earliest stages of development. To that end, it has no public presence at all.

For a meaningful partial brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away. -Elon Musk

What we do know is that its ultimate goal is to create a device (or possibly a series of devices) that can be implanted in the human brain. These will serve a multitude of purposes — the final end being to help humans merge with our software and keep pace with artificial intelligences so we don’t get left in the dust.

Initially, these enhancements will likely assist in smaller ways, such as helping us improve our memories by creating additional, removable storage components.

Notably, this is not the first that we have heard of Musk working on such a device. Previously, he mentioned a device called the “neural lace.” He explained how he imagined it would work at the 2016 Code Conference, which you can see below:

The Race to Beat AI

Unsurprisingly,  Musk isn’t the only one worried about AI. In a video posted by Big Think, Michael Vassar, the chief science officer of MetaMed Research, stated that AI will likely kill us all (literally): “If greater-than-human artificial general intelligence is invented without due caution, it is all but certain that the human species will be extinct in very short order.” Essentially, he is warning that an unchecked AI could eradicate humanity in the future.

Similarly, Stephen Hawking famously stated that AI is one of the biggest threats to humanity: “The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

To that end, Musk isn’t the only person working to ensure that humanity can keep up with AI. Braintree founder Bryan Johnson is investing $100 million to make a neuroprosthesis to unlock the power of the human brain and, ultimately, make our neural code programmable.

Johnson outlines the purpose of his work, stating that it’s all about co-evolution:

Our connection with our new creations of intelligence is limited by screens, keyboards, gestural interfaces, and voice commands — constrained input/output modalities. We have very little access to our own brains, limiting our ability to co-evolve with silicon-based machines in powerful ways.

He is working to change this and ensure that we have a seamless interface with our technologies (and our AI).

Johnson is clear that his company, Kernel, will begin by researching the brain and figuring out exactly how it works. This research, Johnson states, is the first step in helping humans achieve permanent equality with machines.

Of course, such technologies will do a lot more than just allow humans to interface with machines. Neuroprostheses could also repair our cognitive abilities – which will allow us to combat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and other conditions that destroy our brains…and our lives.

This is just the beginning.

Reprogramming the Human Mind: Here’s How We’ll Make Humanity 2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Such advancements could allow us to merge with machines, yes, but they can also allow us to literally program our neural code, which would allow us to transform ourselves in ways that we can’t even imagine. In short, we could program ourselves into the people that we want to be. As Johnson states, “Our biology and genetics have become increasingly programmable; our neural code is next in line.”

It sounds like something out of science fiction, but it is based on remarkable scientific work.

In short, the devices under development work by replicating the way that our brain cells communicate with one another. The tech envisioned is based on 15 years of academic research that was funded by the NIH and DARPA. So get ready. Human superintelligence is only a matter of time.

Disclosure: Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.

The post Elon Musk Just Launched A Company To Merge Your Brain With A Computer appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla recently beat the Motor Trend all-time world record for acceleration. The Model S P100D was able to go from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 2.28 seconds. Still, that may not be good enough for CEO Elon Musk. He recently hinted at an upcoming new model of Roadster within the next few years.

The original Tesla Roadster. Photo credit: theregeneration/Flickr

Reports are saying that the new model could be coming as soon as 2019. Tesla’s Nordic Countries Manager Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen said that the new car “…will look a little different, a little faster and a little bigger.”

When released in 2008, the first Roadster was Tesla’s crowning jewel. Unfortunately, the vehicle had a fair share of problems, including constant breakdowns and gear sticking that was later attributed by Musk in 2016 to “unsafe” chassis design. The design was improved and the car has since enjoyed a worldwide fanbase.

The new model of Roadster could improve on all the successes of the previous model. A bigger, faster, more powerful electric vehicle could help push the electric car revolution to entirely new levels.

The post Elon Musk Says Tesla is Building a Next-Gen Roadster appeared first on Futurism.

It’s been a busy day for Elon Musk on Twitter. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been actively replying to tweets, answering questions about the latest developments for his multiple companies. So far, Musk has given updates on the Tesla Model 3, his Boring Company, and now, Tesla’s solar roofs.

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When asked about an arrival date for Tesla’s new solar roof shingles, Musk replied that the company would begin accepting orders in April. With production of these solar tiles expected to kick off this summer at the Tesla Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, opening up for orders in April makes sense.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Tesla’s solar roof tiles, courtesy of Musk’s newly acquired renewable energy company SolarCity, are expected to be tougher than regular shingles, but cost less. Tesla has previously revealed plans for four different styles for their solar tiles, but production will begin with just one type. New styles will be added gradually every few months, if all goes according to plan.

With its solar roof tiles and Powerwall 2, Tesla is creating a sustainable energy ecosystem for the home. It’s a revolutionary idea. Making renewable energy available to every home could go a long way toward reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, which would do a world of good in the global fight against climate change.

The post Elon Musk Says Solar Roofs Will Be Available for Purchase in April appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk initially floated the idea of going under traffic instead of over it during the first phase of the Hyperloop Pod Competition in January 2016. Then, in December 2016, he confirmed a tunnel-digging project via Twitter. A series of tweets and a change in his professional headline on Twitter soon followed, and now Musk’s Boring Company is almost ready to begin digging under the streets of Los Angeles.

His most recent update about the tunnel came earlier today, March 24, as a reply to someone’s tweet comparing the boring machine to the Tesla Model 3.

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Things seem to be moving fast for Musk’s anti-traffic tunnel, despite the CEO previously telling Wired that they “have no idea” what they’re doing. L.A. is the most traffic congested city in the U.S., so if everything goes as planned, the tunnel could provide a solution to very a significant problem.

At the very least, Musk sees his efforts in digging one as a chance to improve tunneling speed. “[B]etter tunneling tech improves everything: road, subway, Hyperloop,” Musk said. Indeed, this boring machine could have very exciting consequences.

The post Elon Musk: We Start Digging the Tunnel Under L.A. Next Month appeared first on Futurism.

Everyone is waiting for Tesla’s Model 3, and it seems that some amazing progress is being made at the company. This morning, Elon Musk tweeted out a video showing the “first drive of a release candidate version of Model 3.”

But don’t get too excited. As we previously reported, Tesla is gunning to release the vehicle this year, but it should be noted that the company has a long history of product delays, which means there could be a chance that the release will be pushed back. Nevertheless,  Musk has gone on record as saying that the Model 3 requires a simpler manufacturing process, which should make it easier to ensure quality control for its production.

You can see it in action in the video below:

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This tweet prompted a slew of questions from Musk’s followers, which resulted in some important clarifications from the Tesla CEO. Musk asserted that the more affordable $35,000 Model 3 isn’t the “next version” of a Tesla. People refer to it “like iPhone 2 vs 3;” however, Musk says, “this is not true.”

The Model 3, according to Musk, is actually just a smaller, more affordable version of the $70k Model S, with less range, power, and fewer features. This sounds like a bit of a letdown, but it really isn’t. Notably, the affordability is key to the whole project, as it means making renewable energy available to the masses—not just the wealthy elite.

The more advanced Model S, says Musk, “will always be the fastest Tesla until next gen Roadster, which is a few years away.”

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Musk also said that the Model 3 will have the option for dual engines, but customers will have to wait about “6-9 months.” With this timeline, Tesla can minimize “configuration complexity to keep the production ramp on schedule.”

While Tesla had some major setbacks last year, the company has since improved their Autopilot software system, hitting a 40 percent reduction in crashes. But Musk wants to push these advancements even further. As Tesla works on achieving Level 4 automation—truly autonomous cars—the company will continually improve on the Autopilot system, and Musk has set a goal of a staggering 90 percent reduction in crashes by the time the software fully matures.

The post Elon Musk Just Unveiled The First Release Candidate Version of The Model 3 appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla Motors is at it again by pushing the energy-efficient, all-electric envelope even further. After breaking records, building solar farms, and remapping the global auto industry, the company still has plenty in store. Primarily because the company has been teasing consumers with its 8.1 update for several months now, heightening anticipation with each passing day.

The 8.1 update will feature an advanced hardware 2 platform dedicated to delivering fully autonomous driving to consumers — a goal that the company has been determined to achieve by the end of 2017. Several updates that were expected to be in 8.1, like improvements to Autopilot 2.0, were actually released as enhancements to the 8.0 software. Additional updates expected include: a new Linux kernel upgrade to Tesla’s operating system, AI improvements like Autosteer beta version, forward collision warning, and traffic-aware cruise control.

Will Autonomous Driving Save Lives?

Autonomous vehicles have been met with limited acceptance in society for a few reasons, mostly to do with autopilot technology. Most people understand that autonomous vehicles mark an important milestone in recent human history in terms of technological advancement, but people are still concerned about safety when it comes to getting behind an autonomous vehicle — let alone buying one.

But the data is quite clear: autonomous vehicles can actually save lives. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safet Administration (NHTSA) estimated that in 2014, over 32,675 people died in car crashes, costing the government almost $400 billion (2% of our national GDP). The analysis shows that 90% of these crashes were directly caused by “driver error.”  If 100% of vehicles on the road were autonomous, it’s predicted that fatalities would decrease from 95 to 99.99%. Another benefit with an intelligent autopilot is that it would accelerate and brake the vehicle efficiently, gradually reducing a vehicle’s environmental impact.

Tesla’s plan to implement fully autonomous driving by 2017 is ambitious, but it may be possible with the update to 8.1 — all while saving lives and the environment.

The post Elon Musk Says A Major Tesla Update is Coming Next Week appeared first on Futurism.

“This Is Not It”

Today, President Trump signed legislation S.442, giving NASA more than $19.5 billion in funding as well as an ultimatum – get to Mars by 2033. Notably, NASA isn’t going to be dealing with the same cuts as other science and medical agencies (they are set to lose enormous portions of their budget).

This prompted Recode co-founder Kara Swisher to enthusiastically tweet at Musk, “Somewhere is smiling.” Musk, however, seemed anything but happy at the claim, responding: “I am not. This bill changes almost nothing about what NASA is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars.”

He continued, “Perhaps there will be some future bill that makes a difference for Mars, but this is not it.”

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Other experts tend to agree with this assesment—that this budget is not a great leap forward, but maintaining the status quo. “I think it’s really more of a vote for stability,” notes Scott Pace, who is the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Space

On the surface, this bill may seem promising. Trump has expressed support for a crewed exploration of Mars, and in his inauguration speech he said he’s “ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” The 146-page legislation document calls for several missions in addition to the following:

    • Journey to Mars — asks NASA for a roadmap to send people to Mars by 2033; also steers the space agency away from pursuing the Asteroid Redirect Mission (a plan to capture an asteroid, tow it into orbit around Earth, and have astronauts explore the space rock).
    • Aeronautics — calls on NASA to be a leader in aviation and hypersonic aircraft research; also asks the space agency to look into supersonic-aircraft research that would “open new global markets and enable new transportation capabilities.”
    • Radioisotope power systems — implores NASA to deliver a report on how it plans to make plutonium-238 — an exceedingly rare nuclear fuel for deep-space robots — and detail what its nuclear-powered exploration plans are.
    • Congressional declaration of policy and purpose — amends previous laws to make it part of NASA’s mission to “search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe.”

However, in addition to not securing added funds for Mars, the Trump administration recently came under fire about the ways in which new budgets cut NASA’s Earth Science funds. According to

According to Business Insider, “if enacted, that budget would cut several major space agency initiatives, including the Office of Education, and seeks to terminate the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE), Orbital Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3), Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), and CLARREO Pathfinder missions.” Notably, all of these missions are directly related to Earth and its environment.

To this end, Musk—who is a strong advocate for the environment and renewable energy—has been taking some heat regarding his involvement with Trump’s science advisory board. In a 2015 speech at the Sorbonne University, he urged students to “talk to your politicians, ask them to enact a carbon tax” and to “fight the propaganda from the carbon industry.”

We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history.

And this was not his only call to action. At the end of the day, Musk is as much a proponent for the environment as he is for Mars. In a 2013 interview for USA Today’s Innovators and Icons series, Musk stated that the current climate struggle is literally life or death: “We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.”

It now seems that, despite Musk’s involvement with the Trump administration, even he cannot influence the White House in the ways he’d like…and he’s not happy.

The post Elon Musk Is “Not Smiling” Over Trump’s New NASA Budget appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla’s Risk Reducing Public Offering

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Tesla Model 3 launch for quite some time now. From 200,000 pre-orders in the first thirty-six hours of the announcement to its $35,000 price tag, the Tesla Model 3 is already exceeding expectations. In anticipation of the launch, Tesla has set out to raise the funds it will need ahead of time.

They plan to raise $1.15 billion, which would be the culmination of $250 million in common stock and $750 million in convertible senior notes, available from their 968,993 available shares. Elon Musk actually plans on buying 96,900 shares himself, valued at $25 million according to the public offering price. Tesla wants to use the proceeds to strengthen the company’s financial situation overall, and reduce risk in the Model 3’s production.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank Securities are currently leading the stock offering. With such big name investors, Musk is confident that not only is Tesla leading the Model 3 launch with initial capital raised for production, but that production and launch will likely be carried off with less risk.

The Tesla Model 3

Tesla prototypes have already been cruising through the streets of California since February 25 — the $35,000 sedan is being tested ahead of its launch later this year. The all-electric vehicle has a 215-mile range per charge and a 0 to 60 time of six seconds. As for autonomous driving, the Model 3 will have Tesla autopilot 2.0, inching Tesla closer to its goal of full autonomy by the end of 2018.

All eyes are currently on Tesla as they unveil the next generation of vehicles that marries energy and efficiency for everyone. And with full autonomy on the horizon, you might soon be able to set your destination — and take a quick nap.

The post Now’s Your Chance To Buy Stock in Tesla appeared first on Futurism.

The world’s largest solar storage facility is up and running.

The post Tesla’s 55,000 Solar Panel Farm Will Change Kauai appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk’s Pledge

For Elon Musk, Australia’s energy crisis is nothing that can’t be sorted by installing 100 to 300 megawatts of battery storage. Granted, he doesn’t have the storage set up just yet, but since he has been given the go signal to start building it, Musk is confident that his team can complete it in just 100 days.

Storms in across Australia caused serious damage to infrastructure and a series of blackouts throughout the continent. This prompted energy companies to raise their rates to meet demand for electricity in the region. After Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive, suggested the battery storage as a solution for South Australia, Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO of Atlassian, asked for more information.

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Cannon-Brookes tweeted Rive and Musk if he was serious about the offer — to which Musk replied that not only was he serious, he was going to do it in the time frame he suggested or it’s free. On Cannon-Brookes’ end, he asked the Tesla CEO for seven days to “sort out politics and funding.”

For anyone who doubts that Tesla can complete the project in time, note that Tesla took on a similar project last year in California. The project was only slightly smaller in scale than the one being planned for South Australia, and yet the 80-MW farm intended to provide grid scale power in response to the state’s power shortages was completed in just 90 days.

Around the World

Musk’s Twitter promise was applauded by many Australians, including the country’s Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, who thanked the Tesla CEO after an in-depth discussion about how energy storage can continue to deliver affordable and reliable electricity. It also caught the attention of other countries who are in the midst of dealing with their own energy crisis.

Several Twitter users from Ukraine asked Musk to bring a similar project to their country and inquired as to how much it would cost, to which Musk offered the same figure he quoted for the Australia — $250 per kWh to produce over 100 MWh. Musk’s reply prompted Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to discuss the project in further detail.

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Meanwhile, in New Zealand, co-founder of agricultural technology firm Acuris Systems Matthew Warner asked Musk if he could visit the country, implying interest for a similar storage project.

Given the interest that world leaders are starting to show for Tesla’s energy storage technology, it certainly seems like Musk’s vision of a future anchored on sustainable and renewable energy sources is definitely within reach.

The post World Leaders Are Asking Elon Musk to Solve Their Energy Crises appeared first on Futurism.

Musk & Trump

Earlier this week, Elon Musk dined at the White House with the president to discuss his infrastructure plan for the country, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal. President Trump in turn expressed his interest in the Hyperloop.

While no concrete plans have been provided, the administration has stated their intentions to dedicate significant budget towards improving America’s roads and bridges. That certainly could include the latest technologies, like the Hyperloop. That being said, Trump’s curiosity for Musk’s ambitious transportation project doesn’t necessarily mean it come to fruition under his administration. According to The American Society of Civil Engineersthe U.S. would need $3.6 trillion to update the entire country’s infrastructure — and that’s not counting the Hyperloop.

Of course, apart from Musk sitting down with the President, there aren’t any concrete details that would suggest Trump could allot trillions from the federal budget for the project. Still, Trump’s interest could hint that the administration is looking towards privatizing American transportation infrastructure.

The Hyperloop

Hyperloop One has been in the headlines quite a bit recently, particularly after images of the Nevada test track surfaced online.

While it’s only a third of a mile (and has yet to be tested using actual pods or undergo public trials) the track is the first full-scale Hyperloop track. It also managed to complete a public trial of its propulsion system last year — however, it fell short of targets.

Ideally, the Hyperloop should be able to travel at 750 mph. The five-second, podless rail test only managed to hit 300 mph.

According to Musk, it would cost around $6 billion to create a Hyperloop line from Los Angeles to San Francisco. If that sounds like a lot, when you look at the cost per mile ($11.5 million) it actually works out to be less than a high-speed rail, according to Forbes. Musk’s intention to build the system in tunnels is putting more focus on additional costs, however. Of course, this all rests on the premise that a perfectly working Hyperloop can be built —  and it’s still up for debate whether that, and the projected cost, is actually feasible.

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Ahead of the much-anticipated Tesla Model 3 launch later this year, a prototype for the carmaker’s $35,000 sedan was spotted cruising around California streets.

A video of the vehicle in motion was posted online by Unplugged Performance, a Tesla-centric mod shop located near Tesla’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, California. According to the Unplugged team, the vehicle appeared to be conducting test runs around Jack Northrop Avenue, which is where the Model 3 did its test rides when it was first unveiled in 2016.

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Pilot production for the Model 3 only began in February, which means that the Model 3 in the video was likely hand-built specifically for the unveiling held in March 2016. Model 3 battery cell production is set to begin in the second quarter of this year, implying that sightings of Model 3 test units will become more common later in 2017 as production continues to ramp up.

While Tesla is gunning to release the vehicle this year, it should be noted that the company has a long history of product delays, which means there could be a chance the release will be pushed. Nevertheless, Elon Musk has gone on record as saying that the Model 3 requires a simpler manufacturing process, which should make it easier to ensure quality control for its production.

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Update 8.1 for Autopilot 2.0

2017 has already been a busy year for Tesla, which has been focused on bringing its latest Autopilot system to parity with the features of its first generation system. Earlier this year, the company began rolling out an enhanced version of its Autopilot software. That version include a number of new features, such as traffic aware cruise control, a forward collision warning, and an Autosteer beta version.

Now, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed in a tweet that the long-awaited Update 8.1, which promises to be the next big step for all Tesla owners, will be available in “10 days or so.” Musk added that the 8.1 update is dependent on the improvements made with Autopilot 2.0 — “full speed autosteer test results,” to be exact.

Get Ready. Elon Musk Says a Tesla Update is Coming in 10 Days.

What’s in 8.1?

Tesla has recently been pushing for updates on vehicles that are equipped with its advanced Hardware 2 platform, and all these updates are geared toward making Tesla’s vehicles capable of fully autonomous driving, which the company hopes to achieve by the end of 2017. Version 17.7.2 of its Autopilot firmware was released last month, and it introduced autonomous parallel parking. Two weeks ago, the company rolled out Version 17.9.3, which raised the speed limit for autonomous driving on undivided roads from approximately 80 to 88 km/h (50 to 55 mph).

Previously, it was believed that 8.1’s updates would just be Autopilot 2.0 improvements geared toward first generation parity. However, many of those updates have been pushed in iterations of 8.0. So, what can be expected from 8.1?

Get Ready. Elon Musk Says a Tesla Update is Coming in 10 Days.
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Some believe that it could contain the full-speed update lacking in Version 17.9.3. However, Tesla is still attempting to make those features work safely via its very own image processing system, Tesla-Vision. Other possible updates included in 8.1 would be the new Linux kernel as an upgrade to Tesla’s operating system. That would introduce several improvements to the UI of the control hub of Tesla vehicles — the 17-inch touchscreen in the central consoles of its Model S and Model X cars. It would also introduce a more usable internet browser.

Whatever 8.1 has to offer, it’s sure to continue moving Tesla (and the rest of the world) forward on the path to a future of fully autonomous transportation.

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A Serious Tweet

Elon Musk is never shy about making grand announcements and declaring his ambitious plans, especially when they’re anchored in his vision for a more sustainable future. His latest promise is to help South Australia create a solar farm that will address the their energy issues in just one hundred days — or he’ll do the work for free.

In South Australia, energy prices continue to surge, and local companies remain unable to meet public energy demand — mostly due to environmental concerns. Last year, storms led to a state-wide blackout that shut down operations for numerous ports and public transportation, as well as disrupting business operations in the fifth most populous state in the country.

To that end, co-founder of SolarCity (and Musk’s cousin) Lyndon Rive says they’re capable of installing 100 to 300 megawatt per hour battery storage, which could solve South Australia’s energy issues. And while Rive doesn’t “have 300 MWh sitting there ready to go,” he told AFR that he can certainly get them.

After making this statement, Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO of Atlassian, tweeted Lyndon and Musk if they were indeed serious about the offer.

Musk replied:

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Making It Happen

On Cannon-Brookes’ end, he asked for seven days to “sort out politics and funding,” at which point he also requested that the Tesla CEO send an approximate quote on how much a 100MW battery farm — at “mates rates” — would cost.

According to Musk, it would cost $250 per kWh to produce over 100MWh. He’s confident that Tesla could get the system installed and working within one hundred days of signing a contract.

Assuming that Cannon-Brookes can indeed secure the paperwork needed to get the project underway, Tesla certainly has a reputation when it comes to delivering on its promises. Last year, Tesla took on a similar project in California: a 80MW farm that was completed in just 90 days that provided grid-scale power in response to possible power shortages.

The post Musk Just Promised To Solve This Country’s Energy Crisis in 100 Days or It’s Free appeared first on Futurism.

Tend Your Own Garden

If immortality is the Holy Grail of Futurism then the colonization of Mars is its Holy Sepulchre—a big empty tomb. Both attract their pilgrims: the former is a fairytale; the latter is a real place just out of reach, a sort of tantalizing inspiration to hungry dreamers everywhere salivating for land that doesn’t belong to them. These days, from the promises of Elon Musk to the heroics of Matt Damon, we positively fetishize Mars. Yet my advice to the 11th century crusader and the 21st century Martian colonist would be the same: tend your own garden.

I’m afraid that this is blasphemy from someone who calls himself a Transhumanist. After all, the colonization of space is tangentially connected enough to other themes associated with technological progress that they’re ordinarily all lumped together under the general banner of Futurism. In an increasingly divisive political climate, the promises of SpaceX and Mars One shine like the hope of some long-awaited escape from ourselves.

We might not have cities on the moon, but the fruits of space programs enrich our lives immeasurably.

More fundamentally, the allure of space colonization is at the heart of some of our most beloved cultural narratives, shaping the aspirations of explorers since the first days of NASA and the Soviet Space Program. Even the earliest films lionized astronauts. The moon landing was the greatest collective lived experience of the twentieth century, this perfect human achievement more majestic than the pyramids and just as pointless only to the cynical.

Today, we might not have cities on the moon, but the fruits of space programs enrich our lives immeasurably. And given our recklessness when it comes to the fragile environment of this planet, perhaps we could use another world as a backup, just in case. We already have the technology to achieve the goal of getting to Mars, though for a perfect storm of reasons, it has yet to happen. But isn’t getting there a worthy goal? And won’t the journey there (and not only the physical journey, but the technical refinements forged along the way) benefit the cause of Progress with a capital P? Then what the hell am I complaining about?

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Space X JCSAT-14 long exposure launch. Credit: SpaceX

Colonization Problems

My intention here isn’t to trash space exploration or regale you with clickbait about the top eleven reasons why the colonization of Mars would be a tragic mistake at this juncture in time. However, I want to seriously problematize the prospective colonization, if you’ll excuse a word that academics tend to overuse. I don’t want to focus on the hackneyed and frankly shortsighted idea that the money spent on getting to Mars could be better employed for services here on earth.

My critique has to do with the repercussions of contemporary attitudes about the seemingly unrelated topics of imperialism in outer space on the one hand and Transhumanism on the other. Cultural prejudices enshrining heroic astronauts blazing across the sky and mad scientists forging abominations pose serious problems for Transhumanists of all stripes and would-be Martian colonists alike.

If the predominant image of space colonizers enshrined in our zeitgeist is heroic pioneers soaring across the galaxy in the name of science and adventure, the narratives surrounding genetic engineering and cyborgs are positively apocalyptic by comparison—just think of Frankenstein, the Terminator, and GATTACA.

Somehow, an astronaut’s 400 million kilometer journey from Earth to a theoretical outpost in a faraway wasteland seems less terrifying than a head’s four-meter journey from its body to a theoretical apparatus capable of supporting its consciousness.

The reasons for this difference in our intuitions are varied. They partly have to do with the genealogy of our ideas about imperialism in outer space, which are grounded in discourse about the benefits of the exploration and exploitation of underdeveloped foreign lands, exotic travelogues, Cold War propaganda, epic films, etc. They also have to do with the attitudes that surround Transhumanism, grounded in skepticism about discredited fields like galvanism, the abuses of the eugenicists, deep-seated fears surrounding physiological dislocation and dismemberment, etc.

Heroes and Monsters

The end result of all this discourse is that, right now in the popular imagination, would-be cyborgs are monsters and would-be Martian colonists are heroes. Let’s take it for granted that the exploration of Mars would provide net benefits for society at large. Nevertheless, whether from the vantage point of someone who wants to investigate Mars and preserve its landscape (let’s call this the environmentalist perspective) or someone who wants to colonize and terraform it (the imperialist perspective, which incidentally seems to completely dominate the environmentalist one), the problem inherent in this tension is immense.

First, imagine you were an environmentalist who felt strongly against the radical transformation of Mars. Your reasons might be varied. To you, the urge to dominate nature with the clutter of terrestrial civilization might seem arrogant and intrusive. True, there are no indigenous Martians to despoil. But the process of terraforming the planet’s surface would still seem to be hugely rapacious.

Mars, Tomb of Futurism: The Hopes of Success Are Dependent on Cyborg HumansMars, Tomb of Futurism: The Hopes of Success Are Dependent on Cyborg Humans

Imagine drowning its pristine scarlet valleys in water and clouding its translucent atmosphere with chemicals. Wouldn’t even the most single-minded developer preserve some of the planet’s original landscape rather than transform it all? Doesn’t this intuition concede that there is inherent value and beauty in the wild state of the place? If advanced aliens exist within visitable distance of our planet, they are evidently the type to silently observe or ignore us rather than actively intervene in our affairs. How primitive it might seem to them that our conception of space travel in 2017 is still bound to the small-minded earthly impulse to barge in, dominate nature, and claim random parcels of it as our own.

From this perspective, the only visits to Mars should be undertaken for the sake of exploration rather than colonization. The best agents to do so would be robots and cyborgs rather than unenhanced human beings, whose imprint on the environment would be immense by comparison. Yet until the development of cyborgs, we are doomed to either only know Mars indirectly or permanently scar its landscape as successive generations of pioneers perish on its inhospitable surface.

Now, consider the imperialist perspective. To you, between climate change, nuclear war, plague, and pestilence, the existential threats to human civilization are great enough that you feel we need to colonize Mars as soon as possible or face the potential extermination of civilization as we know it. The preservation of the beauty of nature is all well and good, after all, but human interests come first.

Yet the conditions on Mars for the colonizers would be like something out of Dante; indeed, the first Martian immigrants should be “prepared to die,” warns Elon Musk.

As it is, we can’t even control the weather yet here on Earth, let alone create a colony on another planet with an inhospitable atmosphere. The bright eyed and bushy tailed original colonists would be like Joseph Conrad’s Mr. Kurtz, fantasizing about the march of civilization but ending up the lonely dupes of capitalism wallowing in lunacy in a dark place where they shouldn’t have ventured in the first place.

On closer reflection, the imperialist would realize that until it became feasible to travel to Mars on a mass scale, the original colonies could only remain pitiable outposts for misguided dying settlers and insanely rich tourists rather than anything like a safety net for civilization at large. The fastest and most efficient way to transform the landscape would be by the sweat of cyborgs. And yet ironically, with the advent of cyborgs, the need to terraform the environment to suit un-enhanced human needs would perhaps be moot.

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Great Respect

While I might have misgivings about the subjugation of a planet ironically named for the god of conquest, I don’t want to disparage a journey there as an admirable Futurist goal. But whether you are an advocate of peaceful exploration or large-scale colonization, the time has come to think realistically about the requisite intermediate steps. We need to make heroes of the pioneers who are willing to risk their lives and careers to overcome the hurdles on the way to our destination “in this dark march toward whatever it is we’re approaching.”

Cyborgs and space explorers are entirely akin in their willingness to risk their lives for the sake of challenging the boundaries of conceivability. Yet in 2017, we call volunteers for the journey to Mars heroes, and there are no volunteers at all for brain implants because no doctor would ever dream of performing such an operation or convening a conference to discuss plans for one.

If a prominent surgeon called for volunteers and warned, as Musk did, that they must be prepared to die, I wonder if the public would meet the declaration with the same resigned sigh in recognition of the heroism of all involved. The principle is precisely the same: a human life is at stake. Yet we are willing to sanctify the sacrifice of the astronaut and glorify him, but would rather reverse engineer a machine analogous to a human brain than implant a machine into one

Investment in Mars in the absence of Transhumanism as a vigorous social ideology doesn’t necessarily come at the expense of Transhumanism, but it does come at the expense of the future of Mars. The most widespread current projections of the next century of human development imagine the needs of unenhanced humans predominating as a matter of course. Hence, long-term plans for Mars call for terraforming the planet to create a second Earth. Yet this limitation in our imaginations augurs great brutality and a great deal of human blood spilled along the way as we struggle to dominate conditions not meant for our bodies.

This, of course, does not mean I think there should be no exploration of Mars, or even that I am dead-set against eventual colonization. But I would hope that any such colonization would be undertaken in a spirit of great respect for nature, imposing upon it, let alone uprooting it, as little as possible. And I would also pray that the path toward colonization would be blazed with as few deaths as possible along the way.

Yet this can only take place after the ascendancy of Transhumanism and not a moment before it. For the time being, I would no more recommend a journey to Mars than I would a voyage across the Atlantic to an ancient Roman armed with nothing but a leaky trireme and his copy of Ptolemy.


David Vincent Kimel is a doctoral student in History at Yale. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram (spqrkimel). Visit his blog at earthasitis.com.

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Commercial Space Travel

Early this week, Elon Musk of SpaceX made an exciting announcement: humans are going back to the Moon next year. An interesting detail of the plan is that the crew is expected to include two private citizens who have apparently “already paid a significant deposit” to become part of the first Moon mission in more than 45 years.

The journey will take about a week, reaching around 480,000 to 640,00 km (300,000 to 400,000 miles) into space — extending past the 401,000-km (249,000-mile) record set by the Apollo 13 astronauts back in the 1970s.

Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX

There have been significant advances in space travel in the decades since the U.S. managed to put a man on the Moon. Even so, this private Moon mission is not without risks, especially to its paying passengers.

Customer (Life) Support

On their mission, the space travelers will likely experience severe motion sickness because zero gravity confuses the balance sensors in the inner ear. The absence of gravity also causes biological tissues to expand, so while the space tourists will be able to snap a selfie with the Moon in the background, they’ll have to deal with puffy faces in their post. More serious concerns could come from radiation exposure. This risk will be partially mitigated by the spaceship’s built-in protection against radiation, as well as the short time-frame of the mission, but these do not completely eliminate the danger.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of space travel are the circumstances that we can’t yet predict. For instance, spacecraft failure and other technical difficulties that could take place during blastoff, over the journey, or even upon reentry into Earth, could prove to be dangerous.

Consider also that, up until now, only extremely healthy people have been sent to space — and they still went through rigorous  training and health checks to ensure their bodies were up to the task. A burgeoning space tourism industry means we might one day be sending relatively unhealthy people into space — people who could require medication to travel. Their health will be subjected to a completely new environment, and, should a medical complication arise, the medicine and equipment necessary to treat it could be hundreds of thousands of kilometers away.

Nevertheless, private companies like SpaceX continue to look for solutions for these potential problems. This year, SpaceX will launch the unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, followed by a manned mission in the second quarter of 2018. The next stop after that will be the Moon. And then, if everything goes as planned, we will finally make our way to Mars.

As it has in the past, space exploration continues to demonstrate that humanity is willing to take a few risky steps in order to make that next giant leap.

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To the Moon and Back, Again

On Monday, SpaceX revealed plans to fly two private citizens around the Moon by late 2018, 45 years after NASA’s astronauts last embarked on a lunar mission. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about it.

First Private Tickets to Space

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It’s a private endeavor. The two passengers actually approached SpaceX and have already paid a significant deposit for the first private space tickets to ever be sold. The passengers will be trained and prepared for this mission, of course. “We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Though a private mission, it has NASA’s approval. “NASA commends its industry partners for reaching higher. We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station,” NASA said in a statement released after Monday’s announcement.

A Dragon and a Heavy

SpaceX will use its Crew Dragon spacecraft for this mission. It will be launched via a Falcon Heavy rocket, which is still currently in development but will blast off for a test flight this summer.

A Dragon aboard a Falcon Heavy is set for a crew-less maiden voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of this year as part of a program with NASA. SpaceX’s first crewed flight is slated for the spring of 2018, and the Moon mission will be just the second time the rocket venture company launches people into space.

A Giant Loop for Mankind

It’s not a landing mission, really. It’s more like a cruise during which the Crew Dragon spacecraft will loop around the Moon.

During the announcement, Musk said the Crew Dragon “would skim the surface of the moon” before heading “further out into deep space” to be thrust back to Earth. According to Time, the mission will follow a “circumlunar trajectory, in which the ship simply swings around the far side of the moon and allows lunar gravity to fling it home, rather than settling into orbit.”

The journey will probably take around six to seven days: two to three days going to the Moon and another two to three coming back. Extra supplies of propellants, oxygen, water, etc., will be on board to sustain the passengers.

Futurism
Futurism

Crucial Challenges

The biggest hurdle is the launch. SpaceX has had some troubles with those in the past, and this time, people will be on board. The company has been taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of its launches, and it hasn’t experienced any mishaps since its Falcon 9 rocket explosion in September.

Reentering the atmosphere is another challenge. Though designed for a touchdown, SpaceX has said previously that its Dragon spacecrafts can safely land anywhere, even on water.

The success of SpaceX’s private lunar mission is in everyone’s best interests, of course. “Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon spacecraft already has a long flight heritage. These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars,” SpaceX said.

This mission has the potential to usher in an era of deep space tourism — as long as you have the money to pay SpaceX for the tickets, of course.

The post Everything You Need to Know About SpaceX’s Trip to the Moon appeared first on Futurism.

On The List

Every year, Consumer Reports releases its auto brand report. And every year, European and Asian car manufacturers tend to dominate the top 10. This year, however, an American brand has earned a spot near the top: Tesla.

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On the 2017 edition of Consumer Report’s prestigious list, Tesla ranks eighth. This marks the first time Tesla has made the list at all, and it managed to beat out all other American car brands thanks to its improved reliability and high level of owner satisfaction. The company was also recognized for having the highest road test score.

While Consumer Reports has cited Tesla’s Model S sedan as the best car they have ever road tested, the vehicle’s reliability was an issue. This led to the publication withdrawing its “recommended” rating for the car back in 2015, but after updates by Tesla, the rating was reinstated in 2016. That same year, the publication reviewed the Model X SUV, again commending its performance but noting it was disappointed by the vehicle’s functionality and reliability.

Beyond Vehicles

Tesla’s innovation in the transportation industry is not only setting new records for quality and performance, it’s also making it possible for more people to invest in cars that are better for the environment. However, everyone knows by now that Tesla’s game plan isn’t just centered on perfecting the technology behind its electric vehicles (EVs). The company’s cars are part and parcel of a larger vision with a strong focus on sustainability.

Tesla’s investments in renewable energy and partnerships forged with like-minded companies since speaks volumes about where the Elon Musk-led brand is headed. Since 2015, Tesla has been invested in energy with the production of the Powerwall and Powerpack, both of which continue to see growth and application across various scales, from residential installations to industrial. Last year, the company added solar roofs to its repertoire, and they hope to seamlessly integrate those with their battery storage system.

As Musk himself has said, “The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good.”

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His incredible innovations have completely changed our world.

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This year has already been a rather epic one for SpaceX and Elon Musk, and it’s only February. Just last week, we saw the Falcon 9’s third successful landing on solid ground, a landing which took place alongside SpaceX’s first commercial rocket launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The significance of these reusable rocket landings cannot be overstated.

Successfully reusing boosters is a critical part of bringing down the cost of launches, as we won’t have to build a completely new rocket for every single mission. According to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, reusability is expected to lower the cost of launches by a staggering 30 percent.

This would allow for more frequent launches and, as a result, faster progress in both commercial spaceflight and our off-world research and exploration. But it seems that Elon Musk has something else up his sleeve.

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“SpaceX announcement coming at 1 p.m. PST,” Musk wrote on Twitter yesterday. If you need some translation, that means that the reveal is set for 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT).

Unfortunately, SpaceX representatives won’t say anything more than simply “stay tuned.” As a result, speculation abounds. Do they have an update on their mission to get humans Mars? News about the development of the Falcon Heavy rocket? Are they launching a new kind of program? Do they have a new major contract?

We will have to wait until this afternoon to see.

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