NASA has confirmed that SpaceX is making changes to their previously announced timeline for a manned mission to Mars. Jim Green, head of the agency’s planetary science division, acknowledged that NASA had been informed that Red Dragon was being put “on the back burner.”
SpaceX was originally planning to make the journey to Mars in 2018, with NASA providing assistance with regards to navigation and communications as part of a Space Act Agreement between the two organizations. “We’d agreed to navigate to Mars, get [Elon Musk] to the top of the atmosphere, and then it was up to him to land,” said Green.
Initially, Red Dragon was expected to use a propulsion landing system to make its controlled descent onto the surface of Mars. However, when SpaceX confirmed in July 2017 that the craft would no longer have these capabilities, many observers wondered whether the Mars mission might miss its launch date.
It looks like there is a lot of action going on at Tesla‘s giant Gigafactory.
The factory, which is located in Sparks, Nevada, is where Tesla is producing the battery cells for its electric cars and drivetrains for its Model 3, the company’s first mass-market electric car.
Tesla aims to ramp up production of its Model 3 to some 20,000 units per month by December and some 10,000 units per week in 2018, CEO Elon Musk has said.
But in order for the company to meet these lofty goals, it must also ramp up battery cell production.
That’s where the Gigafactory comes in.
New drone footage posted by YouTube user California Phantom last Thursday captures the factory’s massive size, but it also appears to show a lot of work happening at the factory. Scroll down for a closer look:
Tesla’s Gigafactory is located on a 3,000-acre lot of land in Sparks, Nevada.
And as you can see, the company needs that land not only for its giant factory, but also for parking so that it can accommodate its growing number of employees.
Construction at the factory has come a long way in just a few months. This shot of the factory’s roof was taken in December.
It doesn’t look like there’s been much more expansion of the main building externally since December, but the footage does appear to show a much busier atmosphere, suggesting there’s some expansion going on inside.
The Gigafactory will be more than five million square feet (including several floors) once it’s completed, and it will be capable of producing more battery cells than any other lithium ion battery factory in the world, Musk has said.
Check out more footage of the factory in the video below:
This past weekend, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk promised to reveal photos of the space suit his company has been developing for NASA. Musk revealed the first of these photos on his Instagram earlier today, and promised to show “[m]ore in days to follow.” First announced in 2015, it’s taken SpaceX almost two years to preview the design.
Musk says that what’s in the photo is an actual working space suit and not a mock up — perhaps referring to the one he wore in that Vogue photoshoot two years ago. The suit is also white rather than gray like the design Musk wore for the shoot.
While Musk admitted it was difficult to “balance esthetics and function,” the suit we see in the photo seems to fit the bill — if not slightly reminiscent of the suits worn by soldiers in the video game Halo. Further evidence that SpaceX is making good on its promise to develop a space suit that looks like it belongs in the 21st century.
First picture of SpaceX spacesuit. More in days to follow. Worth noting that this actually works… https://t.co/5ZtqkKiTQX
In terms of function, Musk said the suit has already passed double vacuum pressure tests and “ocean landing mobility/safety tests” are underway. To be sure, SpaceX wants to have this space suit ready for what could be its first manned mission slated for 2018 — that lunar round trip paid for by two people. It’s also expected to see use for SpaceX’s missions under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
It might seem odd for tech entrepreneurs to take an interest in income distribution policy. But an increasing number of high-profile Silicon Valley executives are endorsing universal basic income(UBI), a system in which everyone receives a standard amount of money just for being alive.
Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson became the latest mogul to endorse the radical idea, writing in a blog post that “most countries can afford to make sure that everybody has their basic needs covered.”
On the one hand, basic income is a way to reduce poverty, but tech folks like Branson also see it as a way to solve the growing problem of robot automation, which they themselves are helping to create.
Here are some of the highest-profile entrepreneurs who have endorsed UBI.
Basic income advocates have long argued that the security of getting regular income would encourage people to take risks and invest.
Butterfield, CEO of the messaging app Slack, seemed to agree when he wrote on Twitter in early August that “giving people even a very small safety net would unlock a huge amount of entrepreneurialism.”
In February, the eBay founder donated$493,000 through his philanthropic organization, Omidyar Network, to an experiment in basic income taking place in Kenya later this year.
The experiment is put on by GiveDirectly, a charity that delivers cash transfers to people in East Africa as a means to lift the from poverty.
The findings will be “unlike those of any past study and provide evidence-based arguments to shed light on the discussions around the future of work and poverty alleviation policies,” according to a February statement.
In the wake of Donald Trump winning the US election, Ng, co-founder of Coursera and chief scientist at Baidu, wrote on Twitterthat “More than ever, we need basic income to limit everyone’s downside, and better education to give everyone an upside.”
Ng has expressed his support for basic income before. In January, he said at the Deep Learning Summit that basic income deserves serious consideration. He also claimed the government should help fund lifelong education to keep the workforce strong.
The president of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s largest start-up incubator, Altman has repeatedly come out in favor of basic income, arguing that the robot-run economy will almost certainly materialize this century.
Y Combinator has launched a basic income experiment in Oakland, California to see how the system works in reality. Roughly 100 people are receiving $2,000 a month, no matter what.
Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, told CNBC in a recent interviewthat “there’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation.”
He added that he couldn’t foresee any other solutions to the threat of robots taking everyone’s jobs than a system of basic income. Since automation would make cause both unemployment and economic output to rise, society might have no choice but to distribute a portion of the money to everyone equally.
In his May 2016 investment outlook, Gross, co-founder of investment advisory firm Pacific Investment Management, suggested the US should spend money on “a revolutionary new idea called UBI — universal basic income.”
UBI emerged in the 1960s, so technically it isn’t new, but Gross understands that it’s still radical to most people. “If more and more workers are going to be displaced by robots, then they will need money to live on, will they not? And if that strikes you as a form of socialism, I would suggest we get used to it,” he said.
Kurzweil, a futurist and the co-founder of Singularity University, has expressed an interest in UBI to cover the basic necessities in life.
“You’ll do something that you enjoy,” he said. “That you have a passion for. Why don’t we just call that work?”
A founder of several companies and now a partner at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, Wenger has written extensively about the benefits of UBI on his blog.
Most people, Wenger wrote in May, “have resigned themselves to the fact that their earlier dreams of what they wanted to do in life will not be realized.” He says economic inequality is to blame, and a future of basic income could help rectify those missed opportunities.
O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media, has said he doesn’t necessarily believe the hype that automation will threaten US employment. But he does acknowledge that UBI is a good idea and “just the beginning of the discussion.”
For O’Reilly, what’s important is that work gives people both meaning and identity.
That’s how a basic income system could truly be successful, he says. It would reshape the definition of work itself, and give people more flexibility to do the things that feel most personally fulfilling.
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is an active supporter of UBI, telling NPR in September that the system could go a long way toward rebuilding Americans’ faith in an economy many people see as “broken in many ways.”
“Rather than try to restructure our economy so it looks like the 1950s, I think we have to be honest with ourselves,” he said.
Since jobs are already disappearing, Hughes urges people to consider what systems we’ll need to create if millions more follow.
As part of its effort to find better ways to develop and train “safe artificial general intelligence,” OpenAI has been releasing its own versions of reinforcement learning algorithms. They call these OpenAI Baselines, and the most recent additions to these algorithms are two baselines that are meant to enhance machine learning performance by making it more efficient.
The first is a baseline implementation called Actor Critic using Kronecker-factored Trust Region (ACKTR). Developed by researchers from the University of Toronto (UofT) and New York University (NYU), ACKTR improves on the way AI policies perform deep reinforcement learning — learning that is accomplished only by trial and error, and obtained only through raw observation. In a paper published online, the UofT and NYU researchers used simulated robots and Atari games to test how ACKTR learns control policies.
“For machine learning algorithms, two costs are important to consider: sample complexity and computational complexity,” according to an OpenAI Research blog. “Sample complexity refers to the number of timesteps of interaction between the agent and its environment, and computational complexity refers to the amount of numerical operations that must be performed.” ACKTR is able to perform deep reinforcement learning faster by improving both sample and computational complexities.
Usually, machine learning algorithms are taught by feeding them tons of data. In deep reinforcement learning, AI policies are trained to adjust and learn depending on raw inputs. It works on its own by “trial and error” to achieve certain rewards. Using ACKTR and another baseline called A2C, the researchers at OpenAI managed to improve how deep reinforcement learning is done.
Compare: Agents trained with ACKTR (above) attain higher scores in a shorter amount of time than those trained with other algorithms, such as A2C (below).
If ACKTR focused on reducing the number of steps it takes for an AI to interact with an environment, A2C improved the efficiency of processor use to perform reinforcement learning with batches of AI agents. “One advantage of this method is that it can more effectively use … GPUs, which perform best with large batch sizes. This algorithm is naturally called A2C, short for advantage actor critic,” they wrote. “This A2C implementation is more cost-effective than A3C when using single-GPU machines, and is faster than a CPU-only A3C implementation when using larger policies.”
These achievements notwithstanding, OpenAI continues to work in keeping with how its founder Elon Musk views AI — i.e., with great caution. Musk has been an advocate of developing safe AI and even calling for sound policies to regulate it. OpenAI is his way of contributing directly to that need.
Elon Musk has teased a major new feature for Tesla vehicles via his Twitter account. The company is planning to switch to a profile-based system that would allow drivers to access their preferences from any vehicle in the world.
A Tesla owner tweeted Musk a question about the possibility of setting a different work location for separate drivers sharing the same car. The CEO responded with talk of a plan to move “all info and settings” to a cloud-based server, making them accessible from anywhere and any vehicle.
We are going to move all info and settings to the “cloud” (aka server) so any Tesla you drive in the world automatically adjusts to you
However, in this case, he stopped short of announcing when this functionality would be made available. Now, in the past, Musk has used Twitter to brief drivers on when new firmware updates would be distributed, so it’s likely that this information will be dispersed on twitter when the time is right.
Much of the buzz we’ve been hearing about SpaceX recently has been about unmanned spaceflights — including last week’s International Space Station re-supply mission for NASA. Indeed, the company has been so busy working on perfecting its reusable rocket technology that we may have forgotten it’s also preparing for the eventuality of sending humans to space.
In a Reddit AMA back in October of 2015, Musk said that SpaceX’s space suit “needs to both look like a 21st century spacesuit and work well.” If what Musk modeled in an interview with fashion magazine Vogue back in 2015 was similar to the prototype, then we can expect the suit to look very cool indeed. As for function, SpaceX is still conducting tests — as Musk mentioned in the tweet.
Could the “ocean landing mobility/safety tests” mean the suit is designed for exploration beyond the inside of a spacecraft? We’ll have to wait and see. SpaceX is slated for a loop around the Moon in 2018, which has already been paid for by two space tourists. If all goes according to plan, that trip could be the first time SpaceX’s suits will grace space.
Elon Musk has long been warning us against the dangers he believes to be inherent to unregulated artificial intelligence (AI) development. He’s called the threat humankind’s biggest risk, and even said that it’s greater than any threat posed by North Korea. While some AI experts have criticized Musk for this, the OpenAI CEO is hardly the only one in the industry that’s offered warnings about the potential danger of AI systems.
In fact, 115 other experts — including DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman – have joined Musk in calling for stronger regulation for AI. “As companies building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm,” the group wrote in an open letter to the United Nations’ Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). “Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare.”
The UN has just created the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), which will discuss and study the implications of modern weapons powered by AI. Musk, Suleyman, and the other experts urge the UN to act decisively and clearly on the matter, urging them to “work hard at finding means to prevent an arms race in these weapons, to protect civilians from their misuse, and to avoid the destabilizing effects of these technologies.”
The group of experts, obviously, aren’t against developing AI — after all, they’re all involved in AI work from 26 countries. The problem is how AI is used: the group is wary of is using the technology to build autonomous weapon systems, a trend that’s already begun.
“Unlike other potential manifestations of AI which still remain in the realm of science fiction, autonomous weapons systems are on the cusp of development right now and have a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people along with global instability,” Clearpath Robotics founder and one of the signatories Ryan Gariepy told The Guardian.
Their letter continues: “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”
And as Musk has been saying in regards to AI all along — now’s the best time do implement all the regulation necessary. “We do not have long to act,” he said earlier this month, “Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”
PC Mag recently interviewed Rob High, IBM Watson’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Thanks to High’s experience with Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputer, he is one of the preeminent thinkers in the AI space. In his interview, High spoke about how technology, and AI in particular, is transforming jobs, culture, and life for humanity.
For High, one of the biggest misconceptions the public holds about AI is the sort of dystopian worldview we see in Hollywood and, in some cases, from other thinkers in the field.
He points out that AI is not replacing the human mind, but augmenting human intelligence and amplifying its reach: “[I]f you look at almost every other tool that has ever been created, our tools tend to be most valuable when they’re amplifying us, when they’re extending our reach, when they’re increasing our strength, when they’re allowing us to do things that we can’t do by ourselves as human beings.”
Watson is designed to leverage machine learning and massive data analysis at scale in service to humans and our enterprises. The system is available as a set of open APIs and SaaS products for use by just about anyone. Whereas Watson can and probably will take over some jobs that include many repetitive tasks, such as reviewing medical images, it will be doing so for the benefit of humanity.
In the medical field, Watson’s system helps doctors sift through huge quantities of data in order to make a diagnosis. High explained that this system democratizes expertise, capturing and distributing it all over the world so that doctors and patients everywhere benefit from the latest and best medical expertise available. And in cases where the AI does take over the tasks that include reviewing thousands of similar images for diagnostic purposes, it will be doing so in service to helping medical professionals do their jobs more effectively.
Just as advances in cars and later airplanes put some passenger railway workers out of work in service to more efficient transportation, AI may take away tasks from humans that we really don’t need to be doing anymore. We can learn new tasks, and continue to teach our AIs.
Minutes ago, as SpaceX’s Dragon took off atop the Falcon 9 toward the ISS, an era ended. Concurrently, another was ushered in as smoke (don’t worry, it was the good kind) engulfed Launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the same Pad that will be the center point for the Falcon Heavy, crewed flights, and potentially even the future Interplanetary Transport System.
Today’s launch – which brought more than 6,400 pounds of supplies, equipment, and science experiments to the Expedition 52 crew – was the first for SpaceX in more than a month. While it may just sound like another resupply mission for Elon Musk’s spaceflight company, it truly marked a shift in focus.
The craft used today will be the last new first-generation Dragon spacecraft to fly. In a NASA advisory meeting, Sam Scimemi, NASA Director for the ISS, discussed the upcoming SpaceX missions for 2017. He noted that all future CRS-1 launches from SpaceX will be conducted with reused capsules. After today, there are eight more contracted cargo missions through the first CRS program, which means eight more opportunities to reuse the Dragon 2.
Since SpaceX will no longer be making the Dragon 1 spacecraft, resources can be reallocated toward the Dragon 2. This craft is designed to transport up to seven humans to the ISS or, someday, the Red Planet as a part of the Red Dragon Mission.
There was a time that I thought the Dragon approach to landing Mars, where you’ve got a base heat shield and side-mounted thrusters, would be the right way to land on Mars. Now I’m pretty confident that is not the right way and there’s a far better approach.
Musk’s tweet hints that the Red Dragon mission could be pushed back, or even cancelled from the original 2018 date. Even if the Dragon 2 won’t be taking the most precious cargo (i.e. humans) to the Red Planet, SpaceX is expected to have a cargo-only version of the craft for future resupply missions.
Suffice it to say, SpaceX fans have quite a bit to look forward to throughout the rest of the year, with the excitement (arguably) culminating in the maiden Falcon Heavy launch. The Dragon 1 that launched today will attempt to land on the LZ-1 pad, which is already being prepped for the dual booster landing of the Falcon Heavy this November. While the side boosters land on LZ-1, the core booster will attempt to touch down on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You.”
If all goes well, the most powerful operational rocket in the world will restore the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars in the very near future.
Late Friday night, Elon Musk tweeted a photo reigniting the debate over AI safety. The tongue-in-cheek post contained a picture of a gambling addiction ad stating “In the end the machines will win,” — not so obviously referring to gambling machines. On a more serious note, Musk said that the danger AI poses is more of a risk than the threat posed by North Korea.
In an accompanying tweet, Musk elaborated on the need for regulation in the development of artificially intelligent systems. This echoes his remarks earlier this month when he said, “AI just something that I think anything that represents a risk to the public deserves at least insight from the government because one of the mandates of the government is the public well-being.”
Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.
From scanning the comments on the tweets, it seems that most people agree with Musk’s assessment — to varying degrees of snark. One user, Daniel Pedraza, expressed a need for adaptability in any regulatory efforts. “[We] need a framework that’s adaptable – no single fixed set of rules, laws, or principles that will be good for governing AI. [The] field is changing and adapting continually and any fixed set of rules that are incorporated risk being ineffective quite quickly.”
Many experts are leery of developing AI too quickly. The possible threats it could pose may sound like science fiction, but they could ultimately prove to be valid concerns.
Hold the Skynet
Experts like Stephen Hawking have long warned about the potential for AI to destroy humanity. In a 2014 interview, the renowned physicist stated that “The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Even more, he sees the proliferation of automation as a detrimental force to the middle class. Another expert, Michael Vassar, chief science officer of MetaMed Research, stated: “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.”
It’s clear, at least in the scientific community, that unfettered development of AI may not be in humanity’s best interest. Efforts are already underway to begin to formulate some of these rules to ensure the development of “ethically aligned” AI. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers presented their first draft of guidelines which they hope will steer developers in the correct direction.
“The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” — Stephen Hawking
Additionally, the biggest names in tech are also coming together to self-regulate before government steps in. Researchers and scientists from large tech companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Facebook have already initiated discussions to ensure that AI is a benefit to humanity and not a threat.
Artificial Intelligence has a long way to go before it can get anywhere near advanced enough to pose a threat. However, progress is moving forward by leaps and bounds. One expert, Ray Kurzweil, predicts that computers will be smarter than humans by 2045 — a paradigm shift known as The Singularity. However, he does not think that this is anything to fear. Perhaps tech companies self-policing will be enough to ensure those fears are unfounded, or perhaps the government’s hand will ultimately be needed. Whichever way you feel, it’s not too early to begin having these conversations. In the meantime, though, try not to worry too much — unless, of course, you’re a competitive gamer.
eSports are growing in popularity and quickly becoming a surprisingly lucrative sport. eSports are a form of competition where “the action” takes place in an electronic system, usually a video game. There are a ton of formal competitions and tournaments for a wide range of games, such as StarCraft 2, Overwatch, and Defense of the Ancients (Dota) 2.
One way that developers of artificially intelligent systems teach their creations is through gaming. Google’s AI, AlphaGo, became so advanced at playing the ancient game of Go, that it was able to beat whatever human master was thrown at it. This was quite the achievement, as Go involves much more complexity than games like chess — which the Deep Blue computer system was able to master in 1996.
Now, AI systems are coming for the best that eSports have to offer. Elon Musk’s OpenAI software has become the first AI to beat the world greatest eSports athletes. Musk took to Twitter to announce this achievement.
OpenAI first ever to defeat world’s best players in competitive eSports. Vastly more complex than traditional board games like chess & Go.
OpenAI published an accompanying blog post explaining the significance of what they’ve built. “Dota 1v1 is a complex game with hidden information. Agents must learn to plan, attack, trick, and deceive their opponents. The correlation between player skill and actions-per-minute is not strong, and in fact, our AI’s actions-per-minute are comparable to that of an average human player.”
The software taught itself how to play the game by playing itself. “Our bot has learned—entirely via self-play—to predict where other players will move, to improvise in response to unfamiliar situations, and how to influence the other player’s allied units to help it succeed.”
OpenAI has a history of using novel approaches to train its AI. Last year, they let their system loose on Reddit, where it processed nearly two billion comments. It may be unclear what is in store for the future of OpenAI and other AI projects, but professional gamers are seemingly out of luck for a while.
The Hyperloop One’srecent speed record of 308 kmh (192 mph) is an important step (however small) toward surpassing the first goal of the Hyperloop: to achieve quicker transit than other alternatives. But, while the hyperloop was initially designed to achieve 1,200 km/h (750 mph) with a chic micro-craft built for three passengers, it is developing into something quite different.
In his original outline, Musk illuminated some glaring problems at the conceptual stage of several other “high speed” rail systems — namely the high expense per mile, the cost of operation, and that other propositions were less safe than flying by two orders of magnitude.
No one thought the proposal would come so far a mere four years after Elon Musk released his initial plans for Hyperloop system. But with tubes 3.3 meters (11 feet) in diameter, the craft looks more like the cargo version from Musk’s original concept. Instead of a bobsled, we’re seeing something more like an ordinary train. Additionally, the thin concrete pylons planned for minimal terrestrial footprint will be significantly larger. Since this is more on the scale of a train or highway, the disruptive potential of compact tubes would seem, alas, reneged.
The environmental pitch of Hyperloop was simple. Having speed, high acceleration and deceleration, and a high frequency of available stops would give the world’s population centers incentive to switch away from “traditional” modes of transportation. This would mean less greenhouse gases emitted, potentially slowing the advance of global climate change.
However, the recent Hyperloop One test shows multiple branching routes that resemble more of a linear track than a loop, which was a key factor for energy efficiency of the system. Without high-speed winds that travel in a constant direction, the main form of propulsion would seem to default to the magnetic levitation system, omitting the complex on-boarding/off-boarding feature that made Hyperloop feel not only innovative, but feasible.
But last month Musk moved back towards that feasible direction when he announced that Boring Company’s boring (if not mysterious) tunnels could create a Hyperloop vacuum-tunnel betwixt New York and Washington, D.C., with a transit time of 29 minutes. He then met with Hawthorne, Calif., Mayor Alex Vargas to explain the physics, and (presumably) the economics of implementing the Hyperloop, which on the scale of the state of California, was estimated to cost $7.5 billion.
It may sound cynical, but — at its core — engineering is physics with compromise. And as these compromises mount, it’s difficult to keep sight of the final goal. But as with any technological revolution, it takes a prolonged and sober engagement with the real-world drawbacks, and even failures, to predict the final outcome.
At this point, everyone has heard about Tesla, the company that specializes in electric cars, energy storage, and solar panels. Elon Musk, the CEO, is a respected figure in the tech world, and is paving the way for electric cars to enter the mainstream as part of an ambitious plan to save our environment. But what is the reality behind the headlines and the hype — is Tesla all it’s cracked up to be?
Tesla’s market capitalization reached $51 billion in April, and the company has now surpassed numerous other major manufacturers, including BMW, GM Motors, and Ford, despite all of those companies selling thousands more cars than Tesla and actually making a profit.
Numerous experts have reported on this discrepancy: Christopher Mims, a tech columnist at the Wall Street Journal, tweeted: “Tesla: delivered 76,000 cars last year, deeply in debt. Ford: 20x more revenue, billions in profits on millions of cars each year. And yet,” referring to Tesla passing Ford on market cap. Walt Mossberg, executive director of The Verge replied, agreeing with Mims, “I admire Tesla and @elonmusk, but this is the billionth example of why stock market valuations don’t reflect reality.”
Elon Musk himself stated, “I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve,” in an interview with The Guardian. However, on Twitter, he pointed out that Tesla’s stock price represents possible future cash flow.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson sums up the spectrum of where Tesla could go in the future, saying that the company is “either one of the greatest Ponzi schemes of all time or it’s gonna work out.” A Ponzi scheme is when investment is generated by false claims, and each round of investment pays the return for the previous generation.
David Einhorn, a Wall Street investor, sits on the skeptical end of this spectrum, comparing the enterprise to the “March 2000 dot-com bubble” in a conference call by saying, “while we don’t know exactly when the bubble will pop, it eventually will.” Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note that choosing the company is like taking the “blue pill” in The Matrix — it is not facing up to the company’s many problems.
Likewise, Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley’s Tesla analyst, claimed in a research note in March that Tesla has the potential to become a key player in the future of transport. He wrote, “we think the Model 3 will feature hardware and software that provide a level of active safety that could significantly lead all other cars on sale today.”
Tesla Breaking Barriers
Whether Tesla is overhyped in terms of its market cap is still undecided. But what we do know is that, if nothing else, Tesla has broken barriers down in the electric vehicle and clean energy sectors, and for that it should be praised.
BMW Executive Ian Robertsontold Car and Driver that, “I’m very supportive of what Tesla has done. The world needs that sort of new competitor.” Whether or not it can live up to the hype concerning itself, it has created public interest for environmental solutions to our transport and energy needs — and encouraged other companies to do the same through the competition it has generated, driving them forward to better, greener, innovations.
Elon Musk’s explanation to Goalcast of what he hoped he could do with SpaceX — his space company — is the kernel of what he has achieved with Tesla. He said, “If we could just move the ball forward, even if we died, some other company could pick up the baton and keep moving it forward […] that would still do some good.” Tesla may remain unprofitable, it may crash in spite of its high market cap, but at the very least it has changed the playing field for the better.
In the same interview, Musk went on to state that, “there are just times when something is important enough, you believe in it enough, that you do it in spite of fear” and “if you just accept the probabilities, then that diminishes fear.” It is an attitude like this that Musk, and Tesla, should be lauded for, because it is belief in strong ideals that will drive us forward into a better future, rather than the clumsy and dangerous mechanisms of amassing profit.
When we cut through the speculation, the debate, and the verbiage we realize that charismatic, idealistic individuals who are willing to put their fortunes and reputations on the line are necessary, even if they may be valued incorrectly or overhyped. Elon Musk is one such individual; let us hope for many more. As Walter Lippman once said, “when all think alike, then no one is thinking.”
Elon Musk’s Gigafactories are not even complete and they are already making huge waves in the field of energy storage. Sources talking to Fred Lambert of Electrek commented that Elon Musk recently stated that Gigafactory 1 in Nevada is “…already producing more batteries than any other factory in the world.” The 455,22 square meter (4.9 million square foot) facility began producing Powerwall and Powerpack battery cells back in January and then began production on Model 3 battery cells in June. The facility is said to be only at about 30 percent capacity.
The goal for the finished Gigafactory is to be able to produce 35 GWh’s worth of storage capacity within 2018.
Giles Keating, the chairman of Werthstein Institute, an investment consultancy, told CNBC, “There’s a kind of arms race on batteries around the world. We know that Elon Musk with Tesla has got this Gigafactory. The Chinese are racing to overtake him; they’ll have three times the capacity. And then in Germany, we’ve just heard announcement of a new plan for a $1 billion factory on batteries.”
It is clear that the competition is stiff in the battery business and, while this may not be welcome news to Mr. Musk, the rest of us, and the Earth will benefit immensely from the increased capacity to store clean energy. This competition will drive companies to create safer, higher capacity, and more efficient batteries that will continue to help us wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.
With respect to the release of the Tesla Model 3, Elon Musk has been playing his cards close to his chest. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently made public the electric vehicle’s EPA certification, which provided our first look at the highly anticipated EV’s specs, but Teslawas quick to note that the numbers from the EPA report do not fully represent the pack’s capacity.
However, we may finally have a definitive answer as sources present during a conference call hosted by Goldman Sachs have told Electrek’s Fred Lambertthat Elon Musk revealed the battery pack options for the vehicle during the call.
These sources say that customers will be able to choose between two battery options. The first will have a capacity of “just over 50 kWH,” equating to a range of about 354 kilometers (220 miles), while the second will have a capacity of roughly 75 kWH and a longer range of about 499 kilometers (310 miles).
Customers with access to Tesla’s new online design studio will notice that only the “long range” option is currently available, which puts the vehicle at a much higher sales price than the promised $35,000. Customers interested in the standard (cheaper) battery pack have the option to be put on a separate waiting list.
Last week was a busy one for Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk. On Friday, the first 30 Model 3 units were handed over to their excited new owners — though one of them was Musk himself. And, while Musk already said that the coming months would be a “production hell” for Tesla to meet the 500,000 demand for the Model 3, he’s since updated the figure to an annual demand of over 700,000 units.
Musk mentioned that the updated demand during a conference call on Monday, at an investors meeting hosted by Goldman Sachs, where Tesla discussed raising $1.5 million in bonds to fund production. During the event, two sources confirmed to Electrekthat Musk projects Model 3 demand to reach “700,000 units per year,” and could even go higher.
In order to meet this demand, Musk is considering moving Model S and Model X drive unit production from Tesla’s Fremont factory to the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. The former, which is already capable of producing 500,000 units per year, could then focus on just the Model 3.
A Growing Demand
Musk also updated the average sale price for the new electric sedan. Previously pegged at $35,000 to $42,000, Musk told the investors that it’s going to be priced closer to $45,000. At any rate, the Model 3 is going to be both costly and beneficial for Tesla. Production will be tedious and expensive, which is why Musk is asking for investors to dedicate funding. The high demand, however, will obviously increase Tesla’s revenue. Musk believes, without a doubt, that Tesla’s up to the task.
The Hyperloop’s story is going full circle, returning to the man who first encouraged the idea: Elon Musk. Four years after releasing the white paper that started the modern Hyperloop frenzy, the entrepreneur and innovator has confirmed that his Boring Company is working on their own version of the high-speed transport system.
This is a bit of a surprise as for four years, the CEO had been encouraging others to pursue the technology through various initiatives. These included a competition run by SpaceX, which previously noted on their website that they won’t be developing a Hyperloop themselves — a message that disappeared this year.
The news isn’t entirely unexpected, though, as clues that Musk was working on a Hyperloop have been surfacing recently. The first was the Boring Company’s website, which stated that the electric skates that would run through their tunnels could easily be transformed to support a Hyperloop by adding a vacuum shell. Then Musk announced via Twitter in July that he’d received “verbal permission” for a DC to New York Hyperloop.
Now, both Bloomberg and WIRED say they’ve received confirmation from sources close to Musk that he plans to pursue a Boring Company Hyperloop.
“At the Boring Company, we plan to build low cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems,” a Boring Company spokesperson told WIRED. “Most will be standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph. For long distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).”
All these efforts have received considerable attention and financial support thanks in part to Musk’s encouragement. Now, some are anxious that the Boring Company CEO might snuff out the competition.
“You would at least have wanted Musk to say, ‘OK guys, how can we do this together?’ or ‘How can I help?’, rather than saying ‘Hey, I’m just gonna do it, thank you for making this known worldwide even more than it was before and showing the progress and making sure that people believe in it,’” Dirk Ahlborn, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies’ CEO, told WIRED.
Perhaps Musk found that other Hyperloop plans weren’t moving fast enough. “He said at the time [he released his white paper] that he would only seek to commercialize Hyperloop if after a few years other companies were not moving quickly enough,” a Boring Company spokesperson said in a statement, according to WIRED. “While we’re encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible.”
Brogan BamBrogan, founder of Hyperloop company Arrivo, believes the move could spark industry-wide progress. “The industry can’t get built by any one company, and to have a heavyweight like Elon put his hat in the ring says a lot of good things,” he told WIRED. “It validates the market and the idea that the tech can create some real value for people.”
One thing is for sure. With Musk officially in the Hyperloop game, the futuristic transport may see commercial use sooner rather than later.
Experts have agreed with Musk’s position. Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of Pioneer Astronautics and a key figure in NASA’s plan to send a manned mission to Mars, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “my prediction would be that Falcon 9 will fail at least twice before it fully succeeds, but that Musk will push on regardless until it does. He’s got the right stuff.”
The problem with the Falcon Heavy is that it has to ignite three times as many cores simultaneously as its predecessor, the Falcon 9 — which itself failed five times before it landed successfully. In addition, it is extremely difficult to model how every component of the rocket will respond to the power, g-force, and vibration that such a launch requires — its a hairsbreadth art, which Musk stated at the ISS meeting is “really difficult to test on the ground.”
The Cost of Failure
Perhaps the more important question, though, is what would the consequences be if the project did fail — what would a less-than-perfect launch mean for SpaceX’s ambitions and Musk’s cosmic dreams?
A Reddit post has been discussing the implications, with interesting and varied answers. A common thread is that the worst scenario would be losing a launch pad. The SLC-40 launchpad repairs are still ongoing, so losing another launch pad has the potential not only to impair the Falcon Heavy’s launch schedule, but SpaceX’s entire launch manifest.
Gen_Zion pointed out that, “this is the only pad which is being prepared for Crew launch” — meaning that it would also cause problems for SpaceX’s highly anticipated human missions to the moon and Mars.
Some users, however, argue that Musk’s comments are part of a game of expectation management and, due to the potentially colossal scope of failure, that “they won’t launch FH unless they have a high confidence in its success,” as Euro_Snob wrote.
User bumblyburg’s argument goes that if they weren’t confident that the rocket would move away from the launchpad, “the risk-reward ratio is just foolish.” A testament to this view is that one or two more launches have been planned for April 30th, 2018.
Despite what happens in November, the single resolving factor will be that the company will learn from failure and subsequently be able improve the technology. As the late, great, Henry Ford, once said in an interview with The Magazine of Business, “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Elon Musk’s plans for the coming decade are nothing short of ambitious.
Among other things, Tesla‘s CEO has promised to dramatically increase car production, launch several completely new cars, and conquer self-driving vehicles by 2020.
Here’s a closer look at what exactly Musk has promised Tesla will accomplish during the next few years.
Complete its giant Gigafactory.
Musk’s giant battery factory in Nevada is key to Tesla’s future because it is expected to help the company cut the cost of its batteries by as much as 30%.
The Gigafactory, about 5.5 million square feet, would help the company dramatically cut the cost of its batteries once it’s fully operational in 2018 by “using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof.”
In fact, Tesla has said it will create more battery cells at the Gigafactory than all of the lithium-ion battery makers combined did in 2013.
Bring the Model 3 into production.
The batteries created at the Gigafactory would enable Tesla to produce its first mass-market car, the Model 3.
It will be about $35,000 and have a range of more than 200 miles per charge.
Tesla started production of the Model 3 earlier this month and planned to begin deliveries at a company event on Friday, July 28.
Launch a compact SUV, dubbed the Model Y, by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
In July 2016, Musk confirmed Tesla planned to bring to market a new compact SUV, dubbed the Model Y.
But a timeline for the vehicle wasn’t disclosed until May, when Musk said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call that it would arrive by late 2019 or 2020. He also said the vehicle would be built on a platform separate from the Model 3.
“We are showing off a working prototype at the end of September, but we have shown it to people who buy heavy-duty trucking, and they all love it,” Musk said during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting. “They just want to know how many can they buy and how soon.”
While we will most likely get a look at the electric semi in a few months, it’s still not clear when the truck would be available.
…and an electric pickup truck before the close of 2019.
Musk said in April that Tesla would reveal its semitruck in September and its consumer pickup truck in 18 months to two years, meaning sometime between October 2018 and April 2019.
Increase the range of Tesla cars to 1,000 kilometers per charge.
Tesla’s cars already boast the best range on the market, but Musk has said he aims to dramatically increase how far Tesla’s cars travel on a single charge.
“The record right now for the Model S is 800 kilometers (497 miles). That is the furthest that anyone has driven a Model S,” Musk told the Danish news site Borsen in September 2015. “My guess is probably we could break 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) within a year or two. I’d say 2017 for sure.”
Tesla began rolling out its new Enhanced Autopilot hardware in October. Musk said at the time that the hardware would enable full autonomy once the software was ready.
However, Musk has said it’s unlikely regulators will have laws in place by the time Tesla’s autonomous cars are ready, so drivers may have to wait a little longer before getting to go hands-free.
While the company plans to do a demo drive in a Tesla in self-driving mode from Los Angeles to New York City by the end of this year, Musk said during a TED Talk in April that it would most likely be 2019 before a driver could take a nap behind the wheel of a Tesla.
To help put this in perspective, Tesla delivered a little more than 76,000 vehicles in 2016.
Tesla has acknowledged this is an aggressive target, but it’s not shying away from the challenge.
“Increasing production fivefold over the next two years will be challenging and will likely require some additional capital, but this is our goal, and we will be working hard to achieve it,” the company said in its 2016 letter to investors.
Why? Demand for the Model 3 was greater than expected, forcing Tesla to reassess its goals. The company had about 325,000 reservations for the Model 3 during the first week of taking deposits.
While it’s no doubt an ambitious plan, Musk has said he is confident Tesla can achieve such aggressive growth.
Double the number of Superchargers by 2018.
With more Tesla vehicles on the road, Musk is also aiming to build out Tesla’s charging infrastructure.
During the Model 3 unveiling in March 2016, Musk said the company planned to expand its Supercharging network. Superchargers are stations that can charge a Tesla enough almost 200 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
Musk said during the Model 3 event that Tesla would double the number of its Superchargers worldwide, from 3,600 to more than 7,000, by 2018.
As of July, Tesla had increased the number of Superchargers to just over 6,000.
Turn Tesla into an energy company.
Musk doesn’t just want Tesla to make electric cars — he also wants the company to produce the energy that powers the cars.
In November, Tesla acquired SolarCity, a solar-power company founded by Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive.
Musk has made clear that his long-term vision for Tesla is a full-service sustainable-energy company.
“The opportunity here is to have a highly innovative sustainable-energy company that answers the whole energy question from power generation and storage to transport,” Musk told reporters during a call shortly after the announcement in June 2016.
“We are a sustainable-energy company,” he added. “This is, broadly speaking, right in line with that. In order to solve the sustainable-energy problem you need generation, storage, and electric cars.”
In October, right before shareholders voted on the SolarCity acquisition, Musk revealed the Tesla Solar Roof. It’s composed of solar shingles and is Tesla’s energy-generation solution.
The company began taking orders in May for its Solar Roof, which costs about $21.85 per square foot.
The company is expected to disclose details about its Tesla Network, a mobility service, sometime this year.
At the time, Musk said that once Tesla vehicles were fully autonomous, the company would set up a program for owners to make money off their car by letting other people use it.
“You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and, at times, potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost,” he said.
In October, the company said Tesla owners who wanted to make money from ride-hailing or ride-sharing could do so only on its ride-hailing network and that it would disclose more details about it this year.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk took to Instagram earlier today to post the first draft animation video showing a Falcon Heavy launching into space. “[Falcon Heavy] is twice the thrust of the next largest rocket currently flying and ~2/3 thrust of the Saturn V moon rocket,” Musk wrote in the Instagram post.
Nearly three times as powerful as the Falcon 9, the Heavy features three rocket cores, with two acting as strap-on boosters on the sides. Each booster carries nine Merlin engines, enough to generate “more than five million pounds [2.3 million kg] of thrust at lift-off,” according to SpaceX. And, as the animation video shows, these cores are all built to be fully reusable.
As Musk previously announced in July, the Falcon Heavy is set for its highly anticipated maiden launch this November. When it successfully lifts off, it’ll become the most powerful rocket available today.
However, as Musk noted in his post, there’s a “lot that can go wrong in the November launch.” For instance, each rocket core has to be able to return and land successfully. That’s like landing three Falcon 9s at the same time, and we all know how difficult it has been to perfect just one landing.
Still, the world looks forward with hope as the success of the Falcon Heavy launch would put SpaceX one step closer to realizing their plans for missions to Mars.
Sometimes a clean energy innovation is on par with the standard version, so choosing between the two can be tough. When it comes to Tesla’s newest solar product, however, the choice is clear.
The first Tesla solar roofs have been installed, and they are beautiful. Ask the most high-profile owner of the roof: Elon Musk. On the Q2 August 2 earnings call for Tesla, Musk said that both he and Tesla CTO Jeffrey B. Straubel already have working solar roofs installed. He also provided unretouched photos of the installed solar tiles to showcase their aesthetic appeal.
Tesla’s second-quarter earnings for 2017 are in. That means there’s also a bunch of updates and sneak-peaks inside the company’s world of innovation. These tidbits more often than not come from CEO and founder Elon Musk himself, and this time, he revealed an interesting detail about SpaceX.
Yes, that’s no typo. After some investors asked how innovation at SpaceX (which is also run by Musk) could be applied to Tesla, Musk recalled a particular instance when it actually happened. It’s not about rocket propulsion or anything of the sort, of course. Instead, Musk talked about how SpaceX helped fix a major issue in Tesla cars that resulted in saving eight hours of work per vehicle.
Jon McNeill, Tesla President of Global Sales and Services, supplied the details. “We had a challenge in service just over the past week where we needed to determine the quality of an object deep within our structure, an aluminum casting. That’s something that SpaceX knows how to do,” he said during the earnings call. “Our team reached out to the SpaceX team, the SpaceX team provided us with some ultrasonic sensors so we could quickly take corrective action.”
The Perks of Running Both
This was made possible because both SpaceX and Tesla are run by the same person. But just as much as this collaboration is about Musk, it’s due due to the kind of work being done by both companies. Each one’s determined to build better products — cars for Tesla and rockets for SpaceX. That determination makes it necessary, and even inevitable, for both to share research behind building their materials.
“This cross-fertilization of knowledge from the rocket and spacecraft industry to auto and back and forth I think has really been quite valuable,” Musk said during the call. It’s a shortcut, really. Tesla and SpaceX need not look far for support when it comes to the “high-volume manufacturing of something that has to be extremely reliable,” Musk said. The same can be seen in how Musk’s relatively newer tunnel-digging venture has been depending on SpaceX for its tunneling machine.
For Tesla and SpaceX, this combination of minds is obviously a benefit — one that could help ensure the quality of materials and products developed by both. It’s certainly not impossible for SpaceX’s rockets to run a similar autonomous system found in Tesla’s vehicles. Who knows?
One can argue that the differences are minimal, at best. However, now that Tesla has begun deliveries of their new Model 3 line, some are concerned the company won’t be able to meet the overwhelming demand for the electric vehicle (EV). Founder and CEO Elon Musk assured investors during an earnings call for the company’s second-quarter of 2017 on Wednesday that that will not be the case.
“What people should absolutely have zero concern about, and I mean zero, is that Tesla will achieve a 10,000 unit production week by the end of next year,” said Musk. “I think people should really not have any concerns that we won’t reach that outcome from a production rate.”
The CEO was referring to plans to ramp up Model 3 production by significant increments over the rest of this year, from 100 cars in August to more than 1,500 in September. That number is predicted to grow to 20,000 cars a month by December.
This is a surprisingly strong statement, Electrek reports, given that Musk has always tended to flavor predictions with phrases like “best guess” or “I might be wrong.” He has previously admitted that the next few months would be a “production hell” for Tesla, but he appears confident they will be able to deliver.
“I’m not advocating we stop development of AI or any of the straw man hyperbole things that have been written,” Musk said, in response to a question raised during the conference call. In fact, he’s the chairman and co-founder of OpenAI, a non-profit dedicated to “discovering and enacting the path to safe artificial general intelligence.”
Just like OpenAI’s goals, Musk’s warnings have all been about the need for clear standards in developing AI. Musk said, “AI just something that I think anything that represents a risk to the public deserves at least insight from the government, because one of the mandates of the government is the public wellbeing.”
The concern, as Musk clarified, is more with how people use AI. “I do think there are many great benefits to AI, we just need to make sure that they are indeed benefits and we don’t do something really dumb,” he said during the call.
In case things do go wrong, OpenAI isn’t Musk’s only option to give humanity a fighting chance. His new Neuralink venture, for instance, wants to meld the human mind with machines. If that also doesn’t cut it, SpaceX is working towards getting humankind to Mars — an option considered by physicist Stephen Hawking to be a potential escape from an AI doomsday.
For Musk, however, the more immediate need is for government to understand AI better and to develop clear guidelines. “Insight is different from oversight,” he said during the call. “At least if the government can gain insight to understand what’s going on and then decide what rules are appropriate to ensure public safety, that is what I’m advocating for.”
On an August 2 earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said efforts to bring the forthcoming Model Y electric crossover vehicle to market sooner rather than later are underway. Part of those efforts include building the Model Y on a similar architecture as the new Model 3.
“Upon the council of my executive team to reel me back from the cliffs of insanity, the Model Y will, in fact, be using substantial carry over from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster,” Musk said, according to The Verge.
Musk may still ditch the 12-volt battery architecture used in other Teslas to reduce the wiring requirements and pare down the production process. The Model Y is also likely to share certain features with other models, such as the falcon-wing doors of the Model X. However, the single vehicle architecture shared with the Model 3 will mean more automation, a simplified process, and lower costs.
Tesla needs the Model Y to be produced more quickly and easily if it wants to meet its 1 million cars delivered by 2020 goal. Previously, Musk said the Model Y wouldn’t be in production until late 2019 or early 2020 — so this development indicates the cars could go into production sooner.
In Q2, Tesla delivered 22,026 Model S and Model X vehicles, bringing the 2017 total to 47,077 so far.
Good news for those who like their Teslas cranked up to 11. Elon Musk has tweeted that a performance version of the Model 3 should be arriving about a year from now. The news came as the response to a recent tweet:
Probably middle of next year. Focus now is on getting out of Model 3 production hell. More versions = deeper in hell.
This latest response regarding a performance version of the Model 3 is not the first time Musk has mentioned the “production hell” surrounding the vehicle — he used the same phrase at a press briefing Friday night. Meeting the 500,000 unit annual production target for the Model 3, ensuring that the car has “mass appeal,” and piecing together the 10,000 individual components of the car are all contributing to the difficulty producing the highly anticipated vehicle.
While no specifics have been released explaining exactly what a performance version on the Model 3 would entail — beyond its faster speed than the standard model — several sources have made educated guesses.
Jalopnik predicts that the upgraded electric car would be “a dual motor car with all-wheel-drive, a sub-four-second 0-60 mph time, and a top speed not likely higher than around 155 mph,” while Electrek wrote that they expect it “to be equipped with a dual motor all-wheel-drive system, and if it turns out like the performance versions of the Model S and Model X, it should have as [sic] new high-power performance rear motor with higher amperage connection to the battery pack.”
Whatever the performance version may look like, the release of the Model 3 is already a phenomenal achievement. Since Tesla’s humble startup beginnings, the company has not only created a series of cars that are gorgeous, functional, and futuristic, they’ve also helped start an electric car revolution that will benefit the planet.
But, behind the grand designs, consumer interest, and seductive new cars is a real world question of how to reify his zero-emission transport dreams. Writing in the MIT technology review, James Temple has given a three part argument discussing Musk’s recent prediction that “in 10 years, more than a half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States.”
An Awful Lot of Batteries
Temple’s first is an argument of scale. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates, if half the vehicle demand in 2027 is for electric vehicles, this would come to around 9.1 million vehicles in America alone. In order to supply this demand, 546 gigawatt-hours’ worth of battery packs would have to be created annually if every vehicle ran on the 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery packs that the Model 3 uses.
The final and maximum capacity of the gigafatory will be 150 gigawatt-hours, meaning that four will have to made to meet demand. Given that the first one took six years to construct, the idea that four more will be created in the next decade is ludicrously optimistic.
A Matter of Taste
Second, Temple argues that the introduction of electric cars will be hampered by consumer tastes and the simple economics of supply and demand. Jeremy Michalek, director of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University, explained incisively to MIT that electric vehicles are “more expensive, they don’t drive as far, and it takes time to recharge.” Although the electric car has enthusiasts, “for mainstream consumers it’s still just an inferior product.”
While estimates vary, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that it won’t be until 2025 that electric vehicles achieve price and quality parity, which will provide a practical and economic reason for people to buy them rather than the current ideological one. Given that this is eight years away, and not everyone will want a new car at this point, Musk’s prediction of a decade again seems highly optimistic.
Polluting to Go Green
Finally, Temple picks up on the irony embedded in the introduction of electric vehicles — that they require emission-belching machines to introduce. Electric cars are often billed as better for the environment, but in order for them to be adopted, charging stations need to be a lot more common. Because there are no electric construction vehicles yet, creating the infrastructure is, in part, counterintuitive to the eventual aim.
In six short words on an Instagram post Elon Musk announced the next step of SpaceX’s plan to eventually fly humans to Mars: “Falcon Heavy maiden launch this November.” The announcement means that the launch will be a little later than earlier predictions: Musk tweeted in June that “all Falcon Heavy cores should be at the Cape [Canaveral Air Force Station] in two to three months, so launch should happen a month after that.”
If the Falcon Heavy test is successful it will become the most powerful operational rocket in the world: using 27 Merlin rocket engines spread across three falcon 9 cores, it would have a liftoff thrust of 2.3 million kg (5 million lb) that is capable of carrying 54,000 kg (119,000 lb) into orbit — this is twice the payload of the next largest rocket, Delta IV Heavy, and SpaceX claim it will cost 66 percent less to deliver.
Musk followed his announcement by divulging a few extra details via Twitter. He clarified SpaceX’s plans to retrieve and potentially reuse the rocket’s boosters, later qualifying the ambitious goals by adding, “If we are lucky”
Side booster rockets return to Cape Canaveral. Center lands on droneship.
Musk’s cautious optimism mirrored his previous remarks to a crowd at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, “There’s a real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit. I want to make sure to set expectations accordingly.”
The next few months should be exciting for Musk on a number of other fronts as well: he has identified September as when updates on his plan to reach Mars will arrive, the Tesla Model 3 will continue to ramp up production, and the Boring Company will continue to make progress towards decreasing congestion in Los Angeles after its first elevator test earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Elon Musk shared a video showing The Boring Company’s first car elevator being tested. The elevator, installed on June 30, is part of the Boring Company’s electric sled concept, which was designed to ferry vehicles — and eventually even people — down to the tunnel system.
According to the Boring Company’s website, the electric sleds are capable of traveling at speeds of 200 k/h (125 mph). The sleds are a critical component of Musk’s revolutionary transportation concept, and would also allow the Boring Company to construct tunnels that are supposedly smaller in diameter than regular tunnels in order to reduce costs.
Musk already has his hands full this year, with the recent release of the Tesla Model 3 and SpaceX’s reusable rocket launches and ever-evolving plans for Mars. Musk also recently stated that he’d received verbal approval from a federal official to build a DC-New York Hyperloop — which would also make use of the Boring Company’s tunnels — but that plan is still a long way off.
A conversation has been going on between proponents of artificial intelligence (AI) and those wary of the technology. The former proclaim the wonders of AI, while the latter see future problems that these intelligent systems could cause. Some of the world’s leading innovators and tech industry moguls have weighed in on both sides of the argument, and one of the more prominent voices warning about the dangers of AI is Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.
Recently, Musk told a group of U.S. governors that unchecked AI is potentially the “biggest risk we face as a civilization,” and he has previously warned that researchers must not lose sight of the potential ramifications of their AI endeavors. To say that Musk is against AI is inaccurate, however — he’s actually working diligently to improve the technology and ensure that it’s used responsibly (see: OpenAI).
Nevertheless, experts have been quick to call out Musk for being too alarmist about AI, and now, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed his own disappointment in Musk’s comments. “I have pretty strong opinions on [AI]. I am optimistic,” Zuckerberg said during a Facebook Live broadcast, responding to a question posted by one user. “And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I just, I don’t understand it. It’s really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”
A Balancing Act
Zuckerberg pointed out during his broadcast that AI systems make self-driving cars possible, something Musk is very much aware of. AI has proven very helpful in industries like healthcare and transportation as well, and as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted, AI is an “enabler” for many industries. “It will empower and improve every business, every government organization, every philanthropy,” he said at a conference in Washington.
If we know that AI can be a big help, where does all the fear come from? Right now, some people may be drawing their opinions of AI from what they see in works of science fiction, like Terminator. While such an extreme evolution for the tech is highly unlikely, Musk has a point: AI can present problems in the future.
Whether these problems come to fruition depends on how we choose to use AI. Zuckerberg acknowledged this, saying, “Technology can generally always be used for good and bad, and you need to be careful about how you build it and you need to be careful about what you build and how it is going to be used.”
The best course of action at this point is to continue developing and studying AI. Then, we must incorporate what we learn into smart policies and regulations that will guide this incredibly important work. The IEEE has taken the lead in coming up with guidelines for ethical AI, and groups like the Partnership on AI, which Facebook and Amazon are a part of, is engaged in similar work.
As long as we are smart about how we use artificial intelligence, we should have nothing to fear.
Tesla’s big party for the Model 3 kicks off on Friday.
The electric automaker will reveal the production version of its long-awaited sedan to the first 30 customers who ordered one at a handover party. Tesla will then kick Model 3 production into high gear with the goal of producing 1,500 sedans in September and 20,000 cars in December.
We decided to take a look back at just how far Tesla cars have progressed, and within just the last year there’s been a lot of change. Scroll down for a closer look.
Tesla garnered a lot of attention in 2008 when it released its very first electric car — the wildly sexy Tesla Roadster.
The Roadster Sport boasted a range of 245 miles and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. Its base price in 2008 was $98,000, according to Car and Driver.
Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters across 30 countries, the company wrote on its webpage.
In 2012, Tesla released its Model S — the first luxury electric sedan on the market.
But the car was pricey at $106,900 before federal tax exemptions.
In late 2014, Tesla released two dual motor all-wheel drive configurations for the Model S, the world’s first dual electric motor car.
It was also the first time Tesla made Autopilot, its semi-autonomous package, standard on every car. The car came in three versions — the 60D, 85D and the top-of-the-line P85D. Above you see the P85D.
The P85D could reach a top speed of 155 mph and could accelerate to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, outperforming the McLaren F1 supercar, Tesla wrote on its blog at the time.
The P85D had a range of about 285 miles and cost $71,200 MSRP, according to Car and Driver. But that model was discontinued in February 2016.
Tesla offered three new versions of the Model S in early 2015, the 70D, 90D, and P90D. At the time, the P90D was coveted for its Ludicrous mode.
The P90D could go from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds while driving in Ludicrous mode. When it first came out, people went bananas for the new feature. It also had a range of 253 miles and could reach a top speed of 155 mph.
At the time, the Model S started at around $68,000.
Tesla introduced its Model X with its stylish falcon wings to the world in September 2015.
Like the Model S, the Model X comes in three different versions. At the time, the vehicle started at $74,000 before tax incentives.
The highest performance version at the time of its release was the P90D. It came with a range of 250 miles and could reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds in ludicrous mode and had a top speed of 155 mph.
Tesla rolled out its 7.1 software update at the beginning of 2016 — giving the Model S and Model X several cool new semi-autonomous features.
The software update offers safety features like automatic braking, lane switching, and blind-spot warnings. The cars also gained the ability to autosteer without a center divider, self-parallel park, and manage speed using traffic-aware cruise control.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the new update was giving drivers the power to summon their cars at the click of a button — it’s like a personal, robotic valet. At the time of its release, the Autopilot package cost an extra $2,500.
Since the 7.1 software release, Autopilot has gotten another massive upgrade. Cars built after October 2016 are equipped with a suite of new hardware that advances Autopilot’s capabilities.
The software hasn’t been fully released yet, but it will eventually allow cars to match their speed to traffic conditions, automatically change lanes without driver input, merge on and off highways, and park itself. It will also be able to maneuver around objects in a more complex environment than it could before when you summon it.
The software costs $5,000 at the time of purchase. Tesla says the hardware will also support full, self-driving capabilities, which will cost an additional $8,000 at the time of purchase.
The Model S and Model X got a major battery upgrade to extend their ranges.
In August 2016, Musk announced the new 100-kilowatt-hour battery upgrade for the Model S and Model X cars that have Ludicrous modes last August.
The new battery option extends the range of the Model S to 315 miles per charge, making it the first electric car on the market to exceed 300 miles of range. The new battery option also extends the range of the Model X with Ludicrous mode to 289 miles.
The upgrade also enables the Model S P100D Ludicrous to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, making it the world’s third-fastest production car. The larger battery pack also makes the Model X the world’s quickest SUV with the ability to accelerate to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.
But the upgrade isn’t cheap — those who already own the car can upgrade for $20,000. If you don’t own it yet, it will tack an extra $10,000 on the price.
All of these releases have led up to Tesla’s biggest car launch yet: The Model 3. the sedan was first unveiled in March 2016 and it got almost 325,000 pre-orders.
The Model 3 will start at $35,000 without federal tax exemptions, making it a huge competitor in the EV market. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 6 seconds and will boast a range of at least 215 miles.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that these are baseline specs Tesla hopes to exceed.
We got a glimpse of a pre-production version of Tesla’s Model 3 on Interstate 680 in the San Francisco Bay Area last week.
The Model 3 has a very smooth and restrained design, which is the handiwork of Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen. The sedan has a more subtle rear haunch than the Model S and a continuous glass roof that starts at the windshield and run through the rear spoiler.
We’ll get to see more soon!
Tesla has a lot more in the works. The automaker is working on an electric truck and another SUV that would be dubbed Model Y.
When its founder and CEO, Elon Musk, confirmed that SpaceX is abandoning the plan to use a powered Dragon landings for Mars, it didn’t come as a surprise. Musk had previously announced that the initial ideas for SpaceX’s Mars mission had been reviewed and changes were coming.
The original plan included testing a Dragon 2 capsule for surface landings on Mars, supposedly by 2020. Last week, Musk announced during the International Space Station Research and Development Conference that SpaceX has scrapped the design that put landing legs on the Dragon 2 capsule. However, this didn’t mean that SpaceX would no longer do power landings on Mars.
“[The] plan is to do powered landings on Mars for sure, but with a vastly bigger ship,” Musk said on a tweet. Currently, SpaceX’s space capsules are capable of splashdown landings, but surface landings are more ideal for missions to Mars.
Throwing a bone to SpaceX redditors, Musk revealed yet another detail.
A 9m diameter vehicle fits in our existing factories …
The cryptic post has been making a buzz on the SpaceX Reddit, and some have offered their interpretations as to what this nine-meter (30-foot) diameter machine could be. One possibility is that it could be the Boring Company’s tunneling machine, as the current standard tunnel diameter is roughly 8.53 meters (28 ft).
However, it’s highly unlikely that Musk was referring to a tunneling machine. Keep in mind that the Boring Company’s plan is to reduce the standard tunnel diameter in half or “less than 14 feet,” as it says in its website. “Reducing the diameter in half reduces tunneling costs by 3-4 times.”
A Surprise for September
So, if not a tunneling machine, what else could it be? A more interesting suggestion is that SpaceX may be building a smaller version of its Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). Musk has said that they plan on keeping the costs of making and maintaining rockets reasonable — or, at the very least, at par with the $200,000 per person cost of getting on a flight to the Red Planet. Could a mini-ITS be that solution?
“[Nine] meters is 3/4 of the size of the 12 meter full sized ITS,” one redditor commented. “There also happened to be 4 layers of engines in the original ITS design. I would guess that this is basically an ITS with the outer layer of 21 engines removed. A 50 percent scale vehicle. Still the most powerful rocket in history, and [roughly] 50 percent more powerful than [the Space Launch System].”
Whether Musk is building a smaller ITS, the Boring Company’s tunneling machine, or something else entirely, we won’t know for sure until he reveals what this really is all about. We need not wait that long, though, as Musk said that all will be revealed at this year’s International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in September.
Yes, I postponed publishing in order to present the updated interplanetary rocket & spaceship design in Adelaide. Will be on the final day.
The serial entrepreneur is scheduled to speak on the final day (Sept. 29) of this event to be held in Adelaide, Australia. It was during the IAC back in 2016 that Musk first unveiled SpaceX’s plans to make humanity into a multi-planetary species.
But, in order for this machine to successfully complete such a monumental task, the physics of tunnels must, obviously, be well understood. This is why Musk recently met with Hawthorne Mayor Alex Vargas, who has a lengthy background in physics, to discuss the matter.
Discussing physics of tunnels with Mayor Vargas (who has a physics background). Hawthorne support for The Boring Company much appreciated. https://t.co/UAOCildbnT
Mayor Vargas told The Daily Breeze, “It’s an awesome feeling knowing that the future of transportation is being developed here in Hawthorne, in particular this underground tunneling project…Hawthorne is booming because of SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Co. [Musk] basically reaffirmed his commitment to helping the community.”
Reporter Sandy Mazza of The Daily Breeze shared images from the meeting via a tweet.
These tunnels will be a feat of physics and engineering. Musk has previously suggested that you could potentially “have 30 layers of tunnels.” His TBM would act as a sort of “mole,” boring through practically anything that would realistically be found in its path, from soft sand to hard rock.
Layers upon layers of tunnels, weighed down by a wide variety of vehicles, will be an ambitious creation, but they could be a game-changer in the future of transportation.
Elon Musk shocked the internet Thursday when he announced that The Boring Company had received “verbal governmental approval” to build the DC-New York Hyperloop with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia. A flurry of speculations on what this might mean quickly arose, fanned by the fact that there is no such thing as “verbal governmental approval” — municipal projects cannot be commenced without written approvals, contracts, and other more formal measures.
If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.
Officials in those four cities were even more surprised than everyone else.
“Nobody in City Hall, or any of our city agencies, has heard from Mr. Musk or any representatives of his company,” deputy press secretary for the New York’s mayor office, Ben Sarle, told Business Insider. Philadelphia’s deputy communications director for the city of Philadelphia, Mike Dunn, told the publication, “We do not what he means when he says he received ‘verbal government approval.’ There are numerous hurdles for this unproven ‘hyperloop’ technology before it can become reality.”
The Guardian reports that a spokesman with the Maryland department of transportation asked, “Who gave him permission to do that?”
Musk finally answered that question early this morning on Twitter.
Verbal approval was at Federal level. Still a lot of work before formal, written approval, but this opens door for state & city discussions.
Musk’s revelation is confirmation what Business Insider was told by a White House spokesperson referred by the Department of Transportation: “We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector.”
“The Boring Company has had a number of promising conversations with local, state, and federal government officials,” a spokesperson from The Boring Company told Business Insider. “With a few exceptions, feedback has been very positive and we have received verbal support from key government decision-makers for tunneling plans, including a Hyperloop route from New York to Washington DC.”
This development means that the Hyperloop still has to gain approval from the effected states, cities, and other regional agencies. Some officials seemed nonplussed, yet excited about the project upon it’s confusing announcement, perhaps signalling that this process may go smoothly.
Anthony McCarthy, the spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, told The Guardian: “Mr Musk’s announcement on Twitter was the first that the city heard of the Hyperloop project. ” However, Pugh said she thinks the project could “create new opportunities for Baltimore and transform the way we link to neighboring cities.”
LaToya Foster, the spokeswoman for Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, said to The Guardian: “We can’t wait to hear more.”
Musk may not be the only person that state officials will be hearing from. He also urged followers who care about the project to contact their local officials, saying in a tweet, “If you want this to happen fast, please let your local and federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.” Then, about 90 minutes after Musk’s initial announcement, he mentioned his project in Chicago, which has received high levels of local support.
City of Chicago already approached us about doing a high speed tunnel from O’Hare to downtown. They’ve been great.
This, along with his tweet that Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could be added to the line, may reveal Musk’s true agenda with the first announcement: stirring up interest in the project, drawing local officials into the conversation, and ensuring throngs of people living in those cities would be listening and watching when the conversation began. Musk knows that local pressure from residents can help move the project forward, and he likes his timeline progression like he likes his intercity transportation — fast.
Elon Musk has announced via Twitter that he received verbal approval for this plan to build an underground Hyperloop between New York and Washington — which would also stop at Philadelphia and Baltimore. As a result, one could get from New York to D.C. in just 29 minutes.
City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city
It’s worth noting that the approval is only verbal at this point. Which means that it isn’t set in stone. Musk will likely still have to deal with regulatory concerns, and some red tape. He did note, however, that “support would be much appreciated,” in the meantime.
Musk also did not reveal who the permission came from or give any details concerning when the project will start and finish — although he did later reveal that he also plans to build a Hyperloop in Texas and the west coast.
For sure. First set of tunnels are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion. Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop.
The Hyperloop seems to already be disrupting the transportation industry due to the incredibly short journey times, positive environmental consequences, and comparatively low cost of the project. As long as governmental support continues, this can only be a good thing.
Once it launches this year, the Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world. It will be able to lift more than 54 metric tons (119,000 lbs), which is twice the payload of the Delta IV Heavy at one-third the cost.
Developing the rocket wasn’t easy. In fact, Musk says it was “way, way more difficult” than SpaceX originally anticipated.
“[Falcon Heavy] requires the simultaneous ignition of 27 orbit class rockets,” he explained. Because of this, Musk says there is a “lot of risk associated with Falcon Heavy,” which is why he is setting the bar for success rather low for initial launches: “There’s a real good chance that it does not make it to orbit. I hope it gets far enough away from the launch pad that it does not cause pad damage – I would consider that a win.”
Problems with initial launches won’t be due to any inherent flaws with the rocket itself, however; they’re just part of the process. “Falcon Heavy’s going to be a great vehicle. [There] just isn’t a lot you can test on the ground,” Musk noted.
SpaceX has experienced a fair share of (fiery) failures in the past, and the potential for problems with early Falcon Heavy launches had the SpaceX CEO joking about the character of the crew members aboard the first manned missions: “No question, whoever’s on the first flight… brave. Brave.”
The Crew Dragon
Other “brave” SpaceX explorers will eventually be able to enjoy a trip aboard the company’s Crew Dragon, also known as Dragon 2. Thus far, the Dragon spacecraft has only been used to transport cargo, but the design is being modified to support crewed mission. In fact, the Dragon 2 could even eventually carry Musk, who replied, “I would like to at some point. Assuming things work out, yeah, maybe in three or four years,” when asked whether he’d like to take a ride to the International Space Station (ISS) and back aboard the craft.
Also in the works for the Crew Dragon are orbital launches and testing of its automatic docking abilities. Currently, in order for the Dragon to attach to the ISS, the space station’s robotic arm has to be used. Not of much importance, according to a comment by Musk, is refining the Dragon’s 2 purposive landing capability (i.e., descending using retrorockets vs. a parachute) as he claims it’s no longer a requirement for landing on Mars.
The real public excitement lies beyond the ISS and Mars missions, though, according to Musk. “If you want to get the public real fired up, we gotta have a base on the Moon. Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body,” he said. “That’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo.”
Some of the biggest players already in the race to build a Moon base hail from China and Europe, and their respective space agencies have announced that they are engaging in international collaboration to realize a “Moon Village” vision. Whether Musk will beat them to it remains to be seen.
This trickle of small updates will do little to pacify those eager for more details on Musk’s mission to Mars. That information is likely to arrive in September in the form of a revision to his detailed plan for making humanity a multi-planetary species. The efforts of SpaceX are now more vital than ever, given NASA’s recent admission that they won’t be the ones to get us to the Red Planet, but perhaps the plan will include the announcement of a NASA/SpaceX collaboration?
The fear of super-intelligent machines is as real as it gets for Tesla and SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk. He’s spoken about it so many times, but perhaps not in the strongest terms as when he told U.S. governors that artificial intelligence (AI) poses “a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” The comment caught the attention of not just the governors present, but also AI researchers — and they’re not very happy about it.
“While there needs to be an open discussion about the societal impacts of AI technology, much of Mr. Musk’s oft-repeated concerns seem to focus on the rather far-fetched super-intelligence take-over scenarios,” Arizona State University computer scientist Subbarao Kambhampati told Inverse. “Mr. Musk’s megaphone seems to be rather unnecessarily distorting the public debate, and that is quite unfortunate.”
Both Kambhampati and Ha commented on the premise that Musk — because of his work in OpenAI, in developing self-driving technologies in Tesla, and his recent Neuralink project — has access to cutting edge AI technologies so knows what he’s talking about. “I also have access to the very most cutting-edge AI and frankly I’m not impressed at all by it,” Ha said in another tweet.
Kambhampati, meanwhile, pointed out to the 2016 AI report by the Obama administration that made some very timely but positive recommendations about AI regulations and policies. The White House report didn’t have “the super-intelligence worries that seem to animate Mr. Musk,” Kambhampati said to Inverse, which is a strong indicator that these concerns are not well-founded.
With the current state of AI, there seems to be nothing much to fear. While the technology has seen tremendous advances recently, and some experts think that we’re closer to reaching the technological singularity (when computers surpass human-level intelligence), current AI isn’t as advanced as those doomsday robots we see in science fiction. Nor is it clear that they will ever be.
This August, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 14th Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. This launch, targeted for August, will be the 12th commercial cargo resupply services mission to the International Space Station. In addition to supplies and equipment, Dragon will deliver several science investigations to the station.
NASA is inviting 40 social media users to attend the two day event, culminating in the historic launch. Accepted applicants will have the opportunity to experience everything from the “front lines.” This includes a tour of the NASA facilities at Kennedy Space Center, the opportunity to speak with representatives from NASA and SpaceX, and a chance to visit the rocket at the Launch Complex.
SpaceX continues to make great strides in decreasing the cost of spaceflight through the use of reusable rocket technology. The company recently completed three successful launches in less than two weeks. In the future, they’ll even bring private citizens to the Moon, and to Mars.
Don’t miss your chance to be a part of history. The deadline to apply is tomorrow (July 19, 2017).
In November 2016, Elon Musk said that the upcoming Tesla Model 3 would incorporate the technology of the new solar roof. However, on July 15 at the National Governors Association meeting, Musk squelched the idea in his remarks. When asked about the solar roof, he indicated that he would “scrap that idea” which requires some very complicated engineering. He explained:
I really thought about this. I pushed my team. Is there some way we can do it on the car? Technically, if you have some sort of transformer-like thing that will pop out of the trunk like a hardtop convertible that ratchets solar panels over the car. . .and provided you are in the sun, that would be enough to generate 20 to 30 miles a day of electricity. It’s a difficult way to do it.
“If you wanted to power the entire U.S. with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States,” Musk said. “The batteries you need to store the energy, to make sure you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile. That’s it.”
Why solar? Well, as Musk explained, as far as energy sources go, we can count on solar to come through for us: “People talk about fusion and all that, but the sun is a giant fusion reactor in the sky. It’s really reliable. It comes up every day. If it doesn’t we’ve got bigger problems.”
At present, about 10 percent of the U.S. is powered by renewable energy sources. To achieve a complete renewable energy power, Musk thinks solar is the way to go.
To start, he suggested combining rooftop solar and utility-scale solar plants. The former would be on the rooftops of houses in the suburbs, while the latter could power other areas. As we’ve seen with Tesla’s new rooftop solar unit, and efforts in other countries, like Australia, to build large-scale solar plants, this is a goal well within reach.
Next, while in transition from fossil fuel to solar, it’d be necessary to rely on other renewables. “We’ll need to be a combination of utility-scale solar and rooftop solar, combined with wind, geothermal, hydro, probably some nuclear for a while, in order to transition to a sustainable situation,” Musk explained.
Finally, the U.S. has to build more localized power sources, like the rooftop solar setups. “People do not like transmission lines going through their neighborhood, they really don’t like that, and I agree,” Musk said. “Rooftop solar, utility solar; that’s really going to be a solution from the physics standpoint. I can really see another way to really do it.”
On July 13, Elon Musk posted a graph on Twitter that showed SpaceX was completely cornering the commercial rocket market. Musk specifically highlighted the fact that his venture is entirely privately funded while other major companies listed get billions of dollars in grants each year despite a profound lack of launches.
About 11 years ago, two of these companies — Boeing and Lockheed Martin — merged to become the United Launch Alliance (ULA). Tory Bruno, President and CEO of the ULA, disagreed with Musk on Twitter, calling the billion dollar subsidy a “myth.” The tweet has since been deleted. Futurism reached out to ULA for comment at 1:53PM ET, and noted the presence of the tweet not long after. It was removed by 2:30 PM ET.
Due to contracting, ULA is required to maintain both the workforce and facilities necessary to produce and launch Delta vehicles, in spite of having nearly no “business” thanks to Atlas V. Maintaining a workforce and set of facilities that is in part or whole redundant is not efficient or cost-effective, but it is contractually required. So, while the ELC contract Musk deemed a nearly pointless subsidy does have some major flaws, inefficiencies, and illogical aspects, it is not technically correct to label it a subsidy.
Futurism reached out to ULA for a comment on the tweet and above data. A ULA representative referred us to a 2016 op-ed for SpaceNews on the topic in which Bruno addressed the criticism:
Critics have asserted that ULA receives $800 million per year in a contract “for doing nothing,” stating that it was a “retainer” or “subsidy” for ULA to “stay in business” for the Air Force. This is untrue and reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of this innovative contracting mechanism.
Whether or not ULA would still receive this payment despite a lack of actual launches is not clear.
Regardless of how the money is labeled, however, SpaceX is still leading the launch race. In addition to launching rockets with an ever-increasing frequency over the next few years, Musk also plans to launch 4,000 satellites to provide the world with unilateral internet coverage and continue work on his mission to terraform Mars.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect the fact that the tweet was deleted after Futurism contacted ULA.
“It will be rare to find one that is not, in ten years. That’s going to be a huge transformation,” Musk asserted.
While he believes autonomous systems will comprise the vast majority of newly produced cars by then, however, the shift to self-driving cars outnumbering traditional ones on the roads will take about five to ten more years. That doesn’t mean all human-driven cars will be gone 20 years from now, however.
Musk expects the shift to autonomous systems will be similar to the one that took place following the introduction of the first mass-produced automobiles about a century ago, which displaced the previous mode of transportation: horses.
“It will be like having a horse. People have horses, which is cool. There will be people who have non-autonomous cars, like people have horses,” he explained. “It would just be unusual to use that as a mode of transport.”
With autonomous vehicles predicted to be safer and more efficient than their traditional counterparts, hopefully these owners of the next-generation of “classic” cars will choose to keep them in the garage more often than they take them on the road.
During a talk at the National Governors Association on Saturday, Elon Musk shared a bold prediction for the future of personal transportation. Not only does he believe that half the cars produced in the United States just 10 years from now will be electric, he thinks almost all cars produced by then will be autonomous.
“In 10 years, half of all production will be EV,” he told the governors. “I think almost all cars produced will be autonomous in 10 years, almost all. It will be rare to find one that is not, in 10 years.”
While EVs and autonomous cars will comprise a bulk of new vehicles, however, that doesn’t mean they will be the majority on the roads. “New vehicle production is only about five percent of the size of the vehicle fleet,” Musk explained, and because a car or truck can last for 15 to 20 years, it will take some time for the old to be replaced by the new. “Even when new vehicle production switches over to electric or autonomous…that still means the vast majority of the fleet is not,” he noted.
Musk estimated that we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we see a significant change in the types of vehicles on the road, but two decades from now, he expects an overwhelming portion of vehicles to be electric and fully autonomous.
The shift won’t be limited to cars and trucks, either. He predicts that eventually “all transport will go fully electric” with the exception of spacecraft.
Musk is at the forefront of this driverless and electric revolution. Tesla recently began production on their Model 3, which is poised to make electric vehicles more affordable, and the company’s cars have been breaking EV industry records for hypermiling and cannonball runs.
Tesla’s progress has spurred their competitors into action, with other industry leaders like Volvo making the decision to go all electric. If the trend continues, Musk’s predictions could prove true and we could be just a few short years from entering the age of electric, autonomous vehicles.
As a guest speaker at the 2017 National Governors Association Summer Meeting, entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk covered a number of topics, including artificial intelligence (AI). During his talk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO and founder urged the U.S. governors present on Saturday to set up regulations for the development of AI.
One solution, he said, is early regulation. “Normally, the way regulations are set up is a whole bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry, and after many years, a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry,” said Musk. “It takes forever. That, in the past, has been bad but not something which represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”
Preparing for an AI Future
Several of the governors asked Musk how it would be possible regulate an industry that’s so new, and he replied that the first step is getting a firm grasp on it: “The first order of business would be to try to learn as much as possible, to understand the nature of the issues.” That’s what Musk has been doing through his non-profit AI research company OpenAI.
One is Neuralink, which would give humanity the ability to keep up with AI by essentially incorporating the technology into ourselves. Another is SpaceX’s plan to reach Mars. If successful, this would ensure humanity’s survival by giving us a potential second home in case AI takes over the Earth.
While there’s still time, however, Musk is pushing for proactive regulation. “Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he told the governors. “AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”
The Population Reference Bureau has projected that the percentage of the population over the age of 65 will rise from the current 15 percent to a staggering 24 percent by 2060. This means that research into aging has never been more important.
Verdin believes that the explosion in age-related research is due to researchers’ discovery in the 1990s that aging is not necessarily an inevitability. Instead, it is caused by mutations — and scientists could make changes to the genome of other species that led to a lifetimes of up to twice as long. Verdin stated in the interview this resulted in a belief that “there might be pathways to regulate aging, and if there are pathways that means there are proteins, and that means you can eventually develop drugs.”
Despite this, he says, “if you hear the word immortality, just run. There is no drug that can give you that.” While Verdin believes we can increase the average human lifetime significantly, the fountain of youth is still just a fairy tale. “It’s just nonsense from my perspective, and I think we should really resist the I-word.”
The best way to maximize your lifespan, he said in the interview, is to maintain your body well. Good nutrition and exercise are “incredible anti-aging medicine.” His general advice is to treat the cause rather than the symptom with a combination of lifestyle and pharmaceutical treatments — to fight aging itself rather than dealing with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or macular degeneration when they occur.
The Youth of the Old
The human attraction to immortality has been present in our cultural landscape since the beginning of time — the human mind seems to be unable to resist its lures. There are countless myths and stories based on it: the fountain of youth, the Wandering Jew, the philosophers stone, and the Bible’s Enoch are a few examples.
However, when our increasing life expectancy is combined with the decrease in fertility that many nations are facing, the results are an aging population. In an interview with CNN, Elon Musk pointed out why this is undesirable, saying it causes a “very high dependency ratio, where the number of people who are retired is very high relative to the number of people who are net producers” — an economically detrimental state of affairs.
Due to technological and therapeutic advancements, aging is looking less like an ugly inevitability of our condition and more like a new and exciting epoch in our lives. However, we must ensure that longer lives for people do not come at the expense of the environment, economy, or wellbeing of others.
If you go to the site itself, you won’t be met by much more than one single, solitary “x.” The website is launched, but far from complete — however, it’s apparently been a long time coming. In the 90’s, Musk founded an online payment company called X.com. This startup is what later became Paypal. The domain x.com has — since it was acquired by the massive payment company — belonged to . Before the formal launch, Musk announced that he’d bought back the domain, and implied that x.com is currently just a sentimental purchase for him.
Thanks PayPal for allowing me to buy back https://t.co/bOUOejO16Y! No plans right now, but it has great sentimental value to me.
Back in March, Elon Musk vowed on Twitter to provide a green energy source capable of helping an Australian state fraught with power issues. He also said that if it isn’t built in 100 days, he’ll provide it free of charge. Seems like it can only be good news for the country, right? Perhaps not: Elon Musk’s latest promise has revealed a deep divide in the motivations and forces driving Australia’s energy industry, which stem from a turbulent history.
Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?
The root of the problem in Australia over the last decade or so is that, while the general population has professed that they want to move towards more renewable sources, the government remains committed to keeping energy prices low. They’ve primarily done this by continuing to promote the use of coal.
The Australian government’s attitude towards renewables has been worrisome for years: when Anthony Abbott was in power between 2013 and 2015, he described coal as “good for humanity.” He went on to cut the country’s goals for implementing more wind and solar sources by 2020, and eroded a levy on carbon emissions because they increased energy costs.
Since Abbott lost power two years ago, the government’s stance has softened, but it is by no means promising. Josh Frydenberg, the Energy Minister of the country, has said “when it comes to energy sources, ours is a technology-neutral and all-of-the-above approach” — which means there is no secure plan to phase out of the use of coal. Such a plan was proposed last month with the intention of increasing Australia’s dependence on renewables to 42 percent by 2030 — but it was met with staunch opposition.
Musk Wades In
Elon Musk’s intervention has had a polarizing effect on both sides of the energy production spectrum. Frydenberg has responded to Musk’s bid to introduce the worlds’ biggest lithium ion battery for energy storage by saying that it will have a negligible effect on the country’s green energy market. More specifically, Frydenberg responded with a colorful analogy: “A lot of sizzle for very little sausage.”
However, the move has also galvanized other parties in Australia into taking action against climate change. A neighboring state, Victoria, has announced that it will stop building coal power stations. In addition, Ali Asghar, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Sydney, has said that market forces may determine Australia’s fate. He stated “as solar and wind become cheaper and continue to undermine the economics of operating coal, investment in new coal plants become an even riskier proposition.”
Australia seems to be one of the few countries where Elon Musk’s energy solutions are met with governmental disdain: in the U.S., his solar roof tiles are sold out well into 2018, and Tesla’s Model 3 (their most recent and affordable EV) is being anticipated quite unlike any other car in recent memory. Let us hope, for the planet’s sake, that Australia’s attitude towards coal changes soon because, as Musk said during a recent visit, “Coal doesn’t have a long-term future. The writing’s on the wall.”
On Thursday, Elon Musk posted a graph on Twitter that compares the percentage of launches different parties invested in space have achieved worldwide. Musk’s company, SpaceX, is the leading horse in the race. He attributes SpaceX’s exponential rise successful launches to their innovative tactic of reusing rockets, stating:
Other orgs shd also develop reusable orbital rockets. If an airplane co had reusable airplanes, buying single use airplanes wd seem crazy. pic.twitter.com/OJotlGmPHt
We can derive two main pieces of information from the graph: at this time, SpaceX has supplanted every other private and governmental space agency in the U.S. — an impressive feat considering the venture is entirely privately funded. Other major companies, like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, get billions of dollars in grants each year — despite a profound lack of launches, as Musk pointed out.
Worth noting that Boeing/Lockheed (“Other US” on chart) get a billion dollar annual subsidy even if they launch nothing. SpaceX does not. https://t.co/Mi27ZnYLRJ
The graph also indicates that the last few years have been stellar for SpaceX: their market cap of launches rose from around 5 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2017 — an 800 percent increase over four years. And 2017 may prove to be their highest performing year yet, as the company beat its own record for most rockets launched, propelling nine into space thus far (compared to the six they launched in 2016). They also achieved a historic first when they successfully recycled a spacecraft.
A Space Revolution
Elon Musk’s achievements with SpaceX have shifted the paradigm of space travel. His work continues to demonstrate the illogical nature of only using rockets once, and provides a shining example of what can happen when a private company exceeds governmental space agencies. By doing so, he has taken the most significant steps of any company in history towards democratizing space, thereby making it more accessible to all of us.
With such a track record, there’s a fair amount of confidence moving forward in terms of the viability of his upcoming plans concerning space. Over the next few years — in addition to launching rockets with an ever increasing frequency — Musk plans to launch 4,000 satellites to provide the world with unilateral internet coverage, and continue work on his mission to terraform Mars (new and improved plans for which are reportedly coming soon).
Musk’s reach extends beyond space related ventures, though. Recently he announced via Twitter that he plans to build a lithium battery farm to solve South Australia’s energy problems — a project he vowed to complete in 100 days or it’s free of charge.
In its first full system trial at the test track in Nevada, Hyperloop One has successfully created vacuum conditions that allowed it to travel at speeds of about 110 km/h (70 mph). While this does not seem dizzyingly fast, it means that the system achieved its primary function of reducing air resistance to a level similar to a plane flying at 61,000 meters (200,000 feet) — this is what will, eventually, allow it to travel at hyperspeed.
The achievement marks a successful jump over the first hurdle in a series that will lead to the Hyperloop’s implementation. The next test it will undertake is to travel 400 km/h (250 mph) on the same track, although the final goal will be to travel at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h (750 mph) in a real world setting. This break-neck speed should be easier to achieve on the intercity tracks that will be significantly longer track than the test course in Nevada, which would allow the pod to build up a little more steam.
City to City Transport
Hyperloop has significant advantages for travelers, the economy, and the environment. Eventually, it will be able to travel far faster than any method of land based transport currently available — with its closest competitor, the bullet train, only capable of speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). Projections indicate that it will also be cheaper to build than bullet train systems. To compare, California’s bullet train will cost $12.7 billion to install, while Elon Musk predicts a Hyperloop will cost $7.5 billion.
The hyperloop will also beat out other means of transportation for convenience and value — it is designed to arrive at stops every 30 seconds. Due to this increased frequency and decreased cost, the hyperloop offers a viable alternative to road-based transport, which means that it will lower our emissions of greenhouse gases — a characteristic augmented by the installation of solar panels on the roofs of the carriages.
Tesla just released a new video revealing how they plan to expand and improve their automotive services, giving car maintenance a special Tesla twist.
The company’s electric vehicles will feature over-the-air software updates and remote diagnostic features, which, according to the video, will be able to identify 90 percent of vehicle issues.
Tesla is also making it easier for customers to get help from humans by employing mobile technicians who will be able to take the shop to the car instead of vice versa. Additionally, if a car does need to be brought in for repairs or maintenance, drivers can make appointments through a feature in the vehicle itself.
Tesla is committing to streamlining the service center experience, promising that services will be four times faster than conventional repair shops.
Tesla’s decision to build 100 more optimized service centers is part of a wider strategy to create the infrastructure necessary to fully integrate electric, autonomous vehicles into our future. We may have a few more years before we reach that goal, but the wait for Tesla’s update service system won’t be that long. According to Elon Musk, the vision of Tesla service revealed in the video represents “the very near future, not, like, the far away future.”
Tesla has a bunch of lofty goals for the next few years — and all of them rely on its massive battery plant known as the Gigafactory.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has always been forthcoming about the size of the Gigafactory. He has said it will be the world’s largest building by footprint — big enough to fit 100 Boeing 747 jets. But from the ground, it can be difficult to appreciate the sheer size of the facility, which stretches 5.5 million square feet.
Instagram user Eva Kaplan, however, was apparently able to capture the magnitude of the Gigafactory while on a flight traveling to Reno, Nevada.
From the photos, it’s easy to see why Musk has called the building an “alien dreadnought.”
Tesla did not immediately confirm the veracity of the images to Business Insider, but the building in Kaplann’s photos appears to be identical to prior images we’ve seen of the plant.
A Key Role
The Gigafactory will play a key role in helping Tesla meet its lofty goal of producing 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018, a five-fold production increase. The electric car maker is producing its lithium-ion batteries at the plant as part of a partnership with Panasonic.
The $6 billion plant doesn’t only supply the batteries for the Model S, Model X, and newly released Model 3 vehicles. It also supports Tesla’s growing energy division, which develops the company’s at-home battery, the Powerwall, and commercial battery, the Powerpack.
Tesla will aim to sell more Powerwall batteries now that it has entered the solar business with the launch of its solar roof product. The company acquired solar panel installer SolarCity in a deal worth $2.1 billion in November.
But Tesla is also making strides with its Powerpack projects — Tesla announced last Friday that it will build the world’s largest battery in Australia. The Powerpack system will store energy from a wind farm in South Australia to power up to 50,000 homes.
But Tesla is far from the only company making a big investment in battery production.
Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, broke ground on its second battery plant in Germany in May, which will begin production in 2018. Chinese companies are also set to bury Tesla when it comes to battery production in 2021, Bloomberg reported.
Despite all this going on here on Earth, Musk still has his eyes fixed on Mars. The serial entrepreneur is determined to make humanity a multi-planetary species, but we might have to wait until the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in September for an update on that front, according to a reply Musk sent to an inquisitive Twitter user.
This is crucial, especially now that Musk has set a target price on the cost of going to Mars: $200,000 per person. The updates might come in certain structural changes to the designs of the BFR and the ITS that could help ensure that this price point is met. After that, it will just be a matter of saving up the funds if you want to be one of the first humans to reach the Red Planet.
After teasing that the Tesla Model 3 was headed to production last week, Elon Musk tweeted out a photo of SN1 on Saturday night. Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that the Model 3 was headed to production after passing the last round of regulatory requirements with flying colors. The Model 3 serial number 1 (SN1) was slated to roll off the production line on Friday, and based on Musk’s photos it looks like that goal was met. In terms of customer’s expectations, if the photos of the sleek new Tesla are any indication, they’ve likely not just been met, but exceeded.
The most anticipated Tesla model yet, the Model 3 will be the most affordable electric vehicle to date. By the end of the July, at least 30 Tesla customers will have theirs in hand: Musk indicated in earlier tweets that the first 30 preorders would be fulfilled at a party on the 28th of this month.
For the other 400,000-some people who preordered (and anyone else hoping to snag one for $35,000), Tesla’s aiming to produce 20,000 Model 3’s each month by December — a goal they’ll reach gradually, starting with 100 produced by August, then 1,500 by September. While it might seem like an ambitious timeline, it’s hardly the most ambitious a company of Musk’s has undertaken. And with the help of the legion of robots at the Tesla Gigafactory (where the Model 3 batteries are being manufactured), the Model 3’s rollout will no doubt continue right on — if not ahead of — schedule.
Ad Astra Rocket Company thinks that a plasma engine could hypothetically get us to the Red Planet in 38 days, by traveling at a speed of 115,200 mph — contrary to the mainstream idea that massive rockets are the only way. NASA has supported the company’s plan by investing nine million dollars.
Franklin R. Chang Díaz, the CEO of Ad Astra and the man who co-holds the record for most visits to the International Space Station, plans to use plasma because it can be held in place magnetically, which means that more power can be produced because there is nothing for the fuel to melt. However, when in space, heating fuel to this temperature would require a nuclear power source — which is where this concept gets controversial.
Elon Musk, in particular, is critical of this plan on two fronts. First, attaching the weight of a nuclear reactor to a spacecraft, he thinks, is unfeasible. Secondly, he believes that using nuclear fuel on a spacecraft is dangerous because radioactive debris would fall back to Earth if the system failed.
The Cosmic Competition
Recently, Stephen Hawking added his voice to the choir of intellectuals and industry leaders proclaiming that humanity must become an interplanetary species. But with our ambition established, the question now becomes how to make it happen.
All other serious ideas of how to get to Mars propose using a chemical space rocket engine. NASA and SpaceX have both revealed plans that use enormous rockets which carry astronauts and all of their provisions including water, air, food, and machinery.
At the more theoretical end of the spectrum are plans to use technology that, previously, has been reserved for the realms of science fiction. Phillip Lubin has proposed using photon propulsion which, hypothetically, could get us to Mars in just three days.
The race for the red planet is well and truly on, and the winner of this 21st-century space race will be decided in the intellectual theater long before human boots touch Mars’ dusty surface. However, according to most estimates, we will only need to wait around a decade to find out.
The article argues that decreasing fertility rates are indicative of the world’s population slowly imploding rather than exponentially rising — a trend that will continue until we reach some form of crisis point. As it stands, half of the world’s countries have fallen below the replacement rate for developed nations (which is, on average, 2 children per woman). If this trend continues on, countries like Germany and Italy will see their populations decrease by half over the next 60 years.
This is not the first time Elon Musk has discussed overpopulation: in March he warned that we face a “demographic implosion,” because in many countries “you have a very high dependency ratio, where the number of people who are retired is very high relative to the number of people who are net producers.”
Population affects every resource imaginable: from our planet’s stores of energy and environment to the financial sector, to the amount of food we need to produce, and issues likegeographical overcrowding. As for the issue of limiting population, it’s proven to be a knotty ethical problem. So far, none of the proposed answers to it — such as introducing a limited child policy, moving to new planets, or introducing a child tax — have been particularly attractive or easily executable.
He expects that the serial number 1 (SN1) for Tesla’s electric vehicle will be finished by the end of this week. Musk also said in a second tweet that the “handover party” for the first 30 Model 3 customers will take place on the 28th of this month.
Musk was clearly pleased to make the announcement, and he’d done the legwork ahead of potential questions, too. He also shared on Twitter just how many Model 3s are expected to be rolled out by the end of 2017. Continuing on in his Twitter thread, the Tesla CEO said that they expect 100 cars by August and over 1,500 by September. By December, Tesla hopes to be producing 20,000 Model 3s per month.
Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in Dec
If you’ve been waiting for more details about the Tesla Model 3 launch, you’ll want to stay tuned this Sunday, July 2. Late last night, Elon Musk responded to a Twitter user’s query about the exact release date of the latest Tesla model:
In the past, both Tesla as a company and Musk personally have stated that deliveries of the Model 3 will begin in July. Obviously, once the new models are in circulation, the final details will no longer be rumor, but verified fact. For instance, fans are waiting to see whether there will be a solar roof or windshield, and how much the car’s final look will resemble leaked photos of prototypes.
Only the most hardcore Tesla loyalists and employees will be driving Model 3s from the first production run, but the plan has been for production to scale up by September. Sunday may also be when we find out what the configuration process looks like — although Musk has already said it will be limited. In order to limit complexity and achieve an economy of scale, Model 3 buyers will probably choose their car’s color and the size of its wheels.
On Friday, Elon Musk posted a series of tweets that at first seemed a bit odd (“I love floors”), but that quickly proved to be a lead-up for an exciting update about The Boring Company. Musk’s thread of tweets ended with a video that showcased one of the most intriguing parts of The Boring Company’s forthcoming tunnel system: the elevator for the electric sled.
Musk’s concept for tunnels running under the streets of Los Angeles won’t feature regular roads, so that’s where the need for this “electric sled” comes in. According to The Boring Company’s website and the concept video they released, the components of the elevator (shafts, sleds, and skates) will facilitate carrying cars down into the tunnel, as well as ferrying people. The sled itself is capable of traveling at speeds of 200 k/h (125 mph).
Ready for Testing
According to Musk, the first elevator for the electric sled could be operational by as soon as next week. This would indicate that construction of the first part of the L.A. tunnel — the Culver City route which would connect to the LAX — is well underway. With support from L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, the progress isn’t too surprising. That being said, just because some steady progress has been made and there’s government support for Musk’s project, until the Hyperloop is fully realized it’s unlikely that there will be an immediate use for the electric sled’s elevator. Other than for the purpose of testing, of course.
Still, seeing the inner workings of the project’s progress is pretty neat, as was emphasized by a short video Musk posted that shows the area around the tunnel site.
Despite all the buzz and excitement over Elon Musk’s new tunnel-digging venture, the Boring Company seemed stalled at SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters. Apart from experiments in said parking lot, the company wasn’t really doing much actual digging in Los Angeles — until today.
Taking to his favorite platform for announcements, Musk tweeted that “Godot” — the Samuel Beckett-inspired Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) weighing 109,000 kg (1,200 tons) and measuring some 122 meters (400 feet) long —has been on the move in L.A.
No longer waiting for Godot. It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA.
Clearly, the Boring Company and the city of L.A. have discussed the project, though there’s no information yet regarding the details. We do know thanks to a tweet from Musk earlier this month that L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti is supportive of the plans to tunnel below the city’s traffic, so that’s no doubt making it easier to get the necessary permits to actually start digging.
Not Your Ordinary Tunnel Network
The Boring Company isn’t your ordinary tunneling company. Aside from wanting to make the digging process more efficient, Musk also wants to build something far beyond a simple network of underground roads.
The tunnels would eventually run under the greater part of L.A., but initial plans would connect Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks. The Culver City route was the first to start construction.
Garcetti isn’t the only one digging the tunneling idea. Recently, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he’s also in talks with Musk for a high-speed rail line that would run from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport. This could potentially be the Boring Company’s second tunnel site.
Serial entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk is truly the 21st century’s transportation guru. He’s had a stake in the transport sector ever since the first Tesla rolled out of production, then he got into the higher-stakes world of space transport with SpaceX. Most recently, he took his talents underground, founding a tunnel startup to bore below Los Angeles traffic.
Now that construction and testing is well on its way in L.A., other cities have shown interest in Musk’s solution to heavy traffic. The latest is Chicago, whose mayor Rahm Emanuel has expressed interest in assessing the potential of Musk’s Boring Company to improve his city.
According to local daily The Chicago Tribune, the mayor told reporters on Monday that he is in talks with Musk about the possibility of creating an underground high-speed rail line to connect downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport: “[Elon Musk] has expressed an interest in what Chicago’s doing…They are very interested, and we’re going to have them now out to the city to explore further what we are doing and planning and to see if the tunnel approach is an alternative to the ones we’ve been discussing.”
More Than Just a Rail Line
Airport traffic seems to be a primary concern for major cities reaching out to Musk. Recently, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti expressed interest in Musk’s tunnel project to improve traffic to and from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
“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,” he told ABC reporters.
If Musk has his way, the tech will most definitely be quick. The tunnels he creates are likely to incorporate a Hyperloop system, which, according to the Boring Company’s website, could transport passengers at speeds exceeding 965 kph (600 mph).
Whatever the case may be, the willingness of Chicago and other cities to work with Musk is a huge step in revamping transportation infrastructure, which will be essential to supporting the growing world population.
Elon Musk was active on Twitter over the weekend discussing the direction he’s hoping to take SpaceX’s rockets. Prior to the second launch of SpaceX’s “weekend double-header,” Elon Musk was answering questions about some upgrades being made to the rockets, most notably the shifting of the material used to make the hypersonic grid fins from aluminum to titanium. While this does make the rockets marginally heavier, the titanium is able to withstand reentry heat without shielding, making them much more durable.
Musk explained further after the launch, saying that the new grid fins worked better than expected and could be relaunched on “an indefinite number of flights with no service,” — which would greatly speed up the turn around time for launches. Musk’s aim is to have rocket boosters ready for relaunch in less than 24 hours.
New titanium grid fins worked even better than expected. Should be capable of an indefinite number of flights with no service.
Elon Musk recognizes that cost could be a significant barrier to setting up a successful and long-lasting colony on Mars. One of Musk’s talks was recently adapted into a journal article for New Spacewherein he set a specific goal for the cost of a ticket to Mars. “You cannot create a self-sustaining civilization if the ticket price is $10 billion per person,” Musk said, saying that costs should not go above $200,000 per person (which is roughly the median price for a house in the United States).
Upgrades that increase the durability of the rockets also make them more economical, as less time will elapse between launches and the teams tasked to prepare them will be smaller. The more rockets SpaceX is able to turn around, the cheaper each individual flight will be.
Only time will tell how many more cost saving upgrades SpaceX has planned, but as a company that has already revolutionized space travel, no doubt they will continue to redefine it, too.
After a historic weekend “doubleheader,” SpaceX is leading the push for reusable rocket technology. CEO and founder Elon Musk said that launches using SpaceX’s reusable rockets are already $300 million cheaper than conventional one-way-trip rockets. Of course, there’s still room for improvement, and Musk has already said that one way the company could further reduce rocket launching costs would be making the payload fairings reusable.
A fairing is the cone that protects payloads as the rocket launches into space. They are strong enough to withstand the pressure and heat generated as the rocket passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. Constructed from carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb, SpaceX’s composite fairing easily costs $6 million.
In order to reuse payload fairings, SpaceX first needs to be able to recover them. Responding to a question via Twitter, Musk gave an update as to where SpaceX is now in terms of fairing recovery and reuse.
Getting closer to fairing recovery and reuse. Had some problems with the steerable parachute. Should have it sorted out by end of year.
SpaceX has already had some success with payload fairing recovery in the past — particularly back in March when it made its first successful launch of a reused Falcon 9 rocket. At that time, SpaceX managed to recover half of the rocket’s fairing — an achievement that Musk then described as “the cherry on the cake” amid success of the first attempt to reuse a rocket.
Fairing recovery is a tricky operation. As SpaceX’s fairing splits into two in order to release the payload inside, it doesn’t fall simply fall back to Earth. As Musk explained back in March, “It’s its own little spacecraft. The thrusters maintain its orientation as it re-enters and then […] the parachute steers it to a particular location.”
In the case of the fairings used in this past weekend’s pair of launches, it appeared there were some problems with the steerable parachutes, though Musk said the issue could be fixed by the end of 2017. Once SpaceX manages to sort this out, it would cut a few more million dollars off the price of its rocket launches.
New photos of the Tesla Model 3 — the most anticipated electric car of the decade, if not all time — have been leaked by You You Xue, who claimed on Reddit that Xue came across the new model randomly in San Matteo, and “jumped straight out of the car and started snapping photos!” The car is due to be launched sometime this year.
Tesla has been extremely secretive about the project, going as far as to camouflage and cover the vehicle in every road test it has conducted to date.
The photos show us the interior of Tesla’s upcoming vehicle, including its dashboard with a 43-cm (17-inch) display, the steering wheel, charging ports, and wheels.
At this point, 2017 looks to be the year of Elon Musk, who is pushing the boundaries of almost any industry he enters: from space rockets, to solar panels, to autonomous vehicles — the sky seems to be the limit for the modern technological prophet.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX took a scheduling delay and turned it into a historic opportunity: as the result of postponing the launch of a Bulgarian satellite from Monday to Friday of last week, SpaceX had two Falcon 9 rocket launches within 48 hours of each other. Friday’s BulgariaSat-1 launch happened from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The second one — carrying a payload of 10 new satellites from Virginia-based telecommunications company Iridium — lifted off Sunday afternoon from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Launch at 1:25 delivering 10 satellites for Iridium. Droneship repositioned due to extreme weather. Will be tight. https://t.co/6ZcSG29B74
The two back-to-back launches — a first for SpaceX — were made possible by its reusable rocket technology. Friday’s BulagariaSat-1 launch was only the second time the space venture company successfully reused a rocket booster, while Sunday’s marked the third. In a series of tweets after the launch, Musk seemed pleased with how far the reusable tech has come.
New titanium grid fins worked even better than expected. Should be capable of an indefinite number of flights with no service.
That being said, it could still be refined even more. As he explained in his answer to a Twitter user’s suggestion, he’d like to see the rocket turnaround be so quick there isn’t even time enough to touch up the paint job.
Down the road, they will not even be repainted between launches. Aiming to be able to relaunch same orbital rocket booster in <24 hours.
Apart from being weekend of firsts for SpaceX, it was also the first time Bulgaria launched a telecommunications satellite. For Iridium, today’s payload was the second batch of its planned 70-satellite constellation, which is part of its NEXT mobile communications network. The first 10 of these low-orbit satellites were launched in January.
Next Stop: Mars?
This weekend’s “doubleheader” was a confidence boost for the reusable rocket technology. Among other things, Musk hopes the tech will help lower the overall the cost of going to space. He previously highlighted that launching satellites aboard SpaceX’s reusable rockets is $300 million cheaper than conventional one-way-trip rockets.
Even before this weekend’s successes, interest in the reusable rocket tech has been steadily growing: to date, SpaceX has booked more than 50 missions — including one from aerospace giant Airbus. Most are scheduled for this year or into 2018. There are a number launches both from private corporations like Iridium, as well as from government agencies, similar to Bulgaria’s arrangement.
Perfecting its reusable rocket technology isn’t just going to benefit SpaceX in the short term. It’s most exciting potential application could actually be in the bigger rockets that could start ferrying human beings to Mars sometime in the 2030s.
SpaceX is all set to make history with a “double-header” launch this weekend. The first launch and landing went off on Friday (nearly) without a hitch, sending Bulgaria’s first communications satellite into orbit.
Today’s launch will be carrying an array of new satellites for Iridium, an American communications company out of Virginia. The launch will bring the total number of Iridium satellites in orbit to 20, out of the planned 66.
Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins. Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding. https://t.co/SmyCCQRt2F
Just ahead of Sunday afternoon’s launch, founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk answered questions about some upgrades made to his Falcon 9 and 10 rockets. One interesting point about the upgrades is that while exchanging shielded aluminum hypersonic grid fins for titanium ones will make the rocket heavier, (thus requiring more fuel to launch) it will make them indefinitely reusable, thus cheaper in the long run.
These upgrades show SpaceX’s commitment to the reusability of these rockets. The ability to quickly turn around the rockets for the next launch is also a key to keeping costs down, which will open up space travel to more and more entities. This has been an ongoing priority for Musk, who views affordability as a key factor in our ability to successfully colonize Mars.
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.
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.
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.
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 Recodethat 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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
no. I think it’s one of the worst possible responses
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
A 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.
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.
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 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.
Colonizing Mars (thanks Prof Hubbard for creating this from my talk). Major changes to the plan coming soon. https://t.co/s59qMHUj5O
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 articleexplained 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.
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.
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.
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.”
If schedule holds there will be two Falcon 9 launches within 48 hours (Cape & Vandenberg) this weekend https://t.co/GbleRPm6iZ
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Colonizing Mars (thanks Prof Hubbard for creating this from my talk). Major changes to the plan coming soon. https://t.co/s59qMHUj5O
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?”
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.
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.
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.
In discussions with the government of India requesting temporary relief on import penalties/restrictions until a local factory is built
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That would an interesting target. Would, of course, only count if capable of doing so right off the production line with street legal tires.
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.
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.
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.
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 certainly. Deep AI is the real risk, though, not automation.
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.
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.
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.
All Falcon Heavy cores should be at the Cape in two to three months, so launch should happen a month after that
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Under Paris deal, China committed to produce as much clean electricity by 2030 as the US does from all sources today https://t.co/F8Ppr2o7Rl
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.
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.
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.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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 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.