Elon Musk didn't hold back on his futuristic visions in a chat Wednesday evening with Recode editor-at-large Walt Mossberg. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO made bold predictions about colonies on Mars, artificial intelligence, and competition in the self-driving car world.
Here's what he said during a fireside chat at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Google can't take on Tesla.
The self-driving car market is getting crowded, even as regulations are still getting hammered out, the technology is being tweaked, and urban planners are yet uncertain how cities should be designed to accommodate the automobiles. Count on Musk to think ahead to which company has what it takes to compete with Tesla in a developing field that the company arguably continues to lead.
Is it Google? No, says Musk, "I wouldn't say they're a competitor." They're just not a car company, he said. The real competitor, in his view, is Apple, but Recode quoted him as questioning whether even the iPhone maker has time to catch up. "I'd think there will be volume production no sooner than 2020," he said. "Is that too late?"
Mars needs direct democracy.
If Earth colonizes Mars--and Musk thinks we should--the colonists will need to govern themselves. Musk says direct democracy is the ideal form of government and will help minimize the potential for corruption. He also thinks it should be harder to make laws than to get ride of laws that aren't working.
"Most likely the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, not representative," The Verge quotes Musk as saying. "So it would be people voting directly on issues. And I think that's probably better, because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy."
We're cyborgs. Also, our world is just a simulation.
We are cyborgs, says Musk. "You have a digital version of yourself, a partial version of yourself online in the form of your emails, your social media, and all the things that you do," he reportedly said. Plus, smartphones basically give us superpowers. But we need to take this further if we are going to compete with future developments in artificial intelligence. We need "neural lace"--that is, we need to literally wire our brains to connect our neurons to digital intelligence.
To most people, that would sound like a pretty big leap for humans to take. But Musk spoke at another point in the interview about how he thinks we're living in a video game-like simulation. In such a context, something like neural lace (a real thing that real scientists are working on) doesn't sound quite so crazy.