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  • What a challenge!

  • To talk to one of the most, in my opinion,

  • in life, we've seen, within this part of the world,

  • great people, like Al-Khawarizmi who invented algorithm.

  • Globally, Newton.

  • Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers,

  • Albert Einstein and Elon Musk.

  • See, you are in rush,

  • You want to go to places that nobody has been.

  • You are re-inventing a certain industry,

  • from the rocket industry with SpaceX to the car industry with Tesla.

  • What's your life mission? Why do you do whatever you do?

  • Sure, first of all, thank you for having me.

  • It's an honor to be here.

  • And I'm having a really great time with my kids in Dubai.

  • It's really been fantastic. I really encourage

  • anyone who hasn't been to visit, what a great city!

  • Thank you.

  • And, in terms of the motivations,

  • I used to like this sort of...

  • kind of a long version of the explanation but...

  • essentially, when I was a kid I was wondering, what's the meaning of life?

  • Like, why are we here? What is it all about?

  • And I came to the conclusion that what really matters is

  • trying to understand the right questions to ask.

  • And the more that we can increase the scope and scale of human consciousness,

  • the better we're able to ask these questions.

  • And... So, I think there are certain things that are necessary

  • to ensure that the future is good.

  • And...

  • some of those things are in the long term having

  • long term sustainable transport and sustainable energy generation.

  • And to be a space exploring civilization.

  • And for humanity to be out there among the stars.

  • And be a multi-planetary species.

  • I think that being a multi-planetary species and being out there among the stars

  • is important for the long term survival of humanity.

  • And, that's one reason, kind of like life insurance

  • for life collectively. Life as we know it.

  • But then the part that I find personally most motivating is that

  • it creates a sense of adventure,

  • and it makes people excited about the future.

  • If you consider two futures, one where we are forever confined to Earth

  • until eventually something terrible happens.

  • Or another future where we are out there on many planets,

  • maybe even going beyond the solar system.

  • I think that space invasion is incredibly exciting and inspiring.

  • And there need to be reasons to get up in the morning.

  • You know, life can't just be about solving problems.

  • Otherwise, what's the point?

  • There's got to be things that people find inspiring,

  • and make life worth living.

  • So, what is life for you?

  • I mean, you look at our life, and I heard you before speaking.

  • Is it a dream? Is it real? Is it a million deal?

  • What is life for Elon Musk?

  • I find that as I get older I find that question to be

  • maybe more and more confusing or troubling or uncertain.

  • Particularly when you see the advancement of something like video games.

  • You know, 40 years ago, you had video games, the most advanced video game would be

  • like Pong, when you had two rectangles and a dot.

  • And you're like batting it back and forth.

  • - I played it. - Yeah, me too, exactly.

  • - Us all. - It sort of dates you a little bit.

  • Yeah, we both played the same game.

  • And that was like a pretty fun game at the time.

  • But now, you can see a video game that's photo-realistic, almost photo-realistic,

  • and millions of people playing simultaneously.

  • And, and you see where things are going with virtual reality.

  • And augmented reality and...

  • if you extrapolate that out into the future with any rate of progress at all,

  • like keeping 0.1% of something like that a year,

  • then eventually those games will be indistinguishable from reality.

  • They'll be so realistic you won't be able to tell the difference between

  • that game and reality as we know it.

  • And then, it seems like, well,

  • how do we know that that didn't happen in the past?

  • And that we're not in one of those games ourselves?

  • Interesting. Interesting.

  • I mean, it could be.

  • Everything is possible in life.

  • I mean there's...

  • Yeah, particularly like things tend to be accelerating to something.

  • Isn't it? I mean, if we look at our life,

  • it seems in the past 100 years life has been accelerating quite fast.

  • - Yeah. - In the past 20 years.

  • - It's getting faster and faster. - Is it more slow?

  • So, my question is really, how will life be 20, 30, 50 years from now?

  • Our education, our transport. How do you see it?

  • Well, I think this is one of those things that are quite difficult to predict.

  • When you think of, say, the first controlled power flight was in 1903

  • with the Wright Brothers.

  • And then, 66 years later we put the first people on the moon.

  • I mean, if you asked people, say, in 1900,

  • what are the odds of landing on the moon they would've said that's ridiculous.

  • If you try to talk to them about the internet

  • they wouldn't know what the heck you're even...

  • What are you talking about? Like, this sounds so crazy.

  • But today, with a hundred-dollar device you can video-conference

  • with anyone in the world.

  • On the other side of the world, and if you have a Wi-Fi connection,

  • it's basically free.

  • You're free to have an instant visual communication with anyone,

  • or even with millions of people.

  • You know, with social media you can communicate to millions of people

  • simultaneously.

  • So, and you can google something and ask any question.

  • It's like an oracle of wisdom,

  • that you can ask almost any questions and get an instant response.

  • It would be incredibly difficult to predict these things in the past.

  • Even the relatively recent past.

  • So, I think the one thing that we can be quite certain of

  • is that any predictions we make today for what the future will be like in 50 years

  • will be wrong

  • That's for sure. I think directionally,

  • I can tell you what I hope the future has, as opposed to maybe what it will be.

  • This may just be wishful thinking.

  • I mean I hope we are out there on Mars and maybe beyond Mars, Jupiter.

  • I hope we're traveling frequently throughout the solar system,

  • perhaps preparing for missions to nearby star systems.

  • I think all of that is possible in 50 years.

  • And I think it's going to be very exciting to do that.

  • And, I think we'll see autonomy and artificial intelligence

  • advance tremendously.

  • Like that's actually quite near term.

  • My guess is in probably 10 years,

  • it will be very unusual for cars to be built that are not fully autonomous.

  • - 10 years. - 10 years from now?

  • Yeah. I think almost all cars built will be able of full autonomy

  • in about 10 years.

  • As it is, the Tesla cars that are made today,

  • have the sensor system necessary for full autonomy.

  • And we think probably enough compute power to be safer than a person.

  • So, it's mostly just the question of developing the software

  • and uploading the software.

  • And if it turns out that more compute power is needed,

  • we can easily upgrade the computer.

  • And, so that's all Teslas built since October last year.

  • And other manufacturers will follow and do the same thing.

  • So, getting in a car will be like getting in an elevator.

  • You just tell it where you want to go and it takes you there

  • with extreme levels of safety.

  • And that will be normal, that will just be normal.

  • Like, for elevators, they used to be elevator operators.

  • You get in, there will be a guy moving a lever.

  • Now, you just get in, you press the button and that's taken for granted.

  • So, autonomy will be wide-spread.

  • I think one of the most troubling questions is artificial intelligence.

  • And I don't mean narrow AI, like,

  • vehicle autonomy I would put in the narrow AI class.

  • It's narrowly trying to achieve a certain function.

  • But deep artificial intelligence,

  • or what is sometimes called artificial general intelligence,

  • where you can have AI that is much smarter than the smartest human on Earth.

  • This, I think, is a dangerous situation.

  • Why is it dangerous? I mean, there are two views,

  • one view is that artificial intelligence will help humanity,

  • and there's another school of thought that

  • artificial intelligence is a threat to humanity.

  • - Why is that? - I think it's both.

  • You know, it's like...

  • one way to think of it is imagine we're going to be visited...

  • imagine you're very confident that we're going to be visited by

  • super intelligent aliens,

  • in let's say 10 years or 20 years at the most.

  • - Super intelligent. - So, you think within 20 years...

  • - Yeah... - we'll have aliens on Earth?

  • Well, digital super intelligence will be like an alien.

  • - It will be like an alien. - Yeah.

  • But my question is, do you think

  • there is other intelligent life outside the Earth?

  • It seems probable.

  • I think this is one of the great questions in physics and philosophy,

  • is, where are the aliens?

  • Maybe they are among us, I don't know.

  • Some people think I'm an alien.

  • Not true.

  • - Not true. - But maybe we are aliens.

  • Maybe we aliens. I mean, if you look at this part of the world.

  • Yeah.

  • They believe that human beings are not from Earth,

  • they came from somewhere else.

  • Eve and Adam came from somewhere else to Earth.

  • So, in a way, human beings are aliens to this land.

  • Do you think we'll make contact with aliens within the next 50 years?

  • Well, that's a really tough one to say.

  • If there are super intelligent aliens out there,

  • they're probably already observing us.

  • That would seem quite likely and we're not smart enough to realize it.

  • But I can do some back of the envelope calculations

  • and...

  • any advanced alien civilization that is at all interested

  • in populating the galaxy,

  • even without exceeding the speed of light,

  • even if you're only moving at, say, 10 or 20 per cent of the speed of light,

  • you could populate the entire galaxy in let's say 10 million years.

  • Maybe 20 million years max.

  • This is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

  • Once you said you wanted to die on Mars. Why?

  • To be clear, I don't want to die on Mars.

  • It's like, if... we're all going to die someday,

  • and if you're going to pick some place to die,

  • then why not Mars?

  • You know, if you're born on Earth, why not die on Mars?

  • Seems like may be quite exciting.

  • But, I think given the choice between dying on Earth and dying on Mars,

  • I'd say, yeah, sure, I'll die on Mars.

  • But it's not some kind of Mars death wish.

  • And if I do die on Mars, I just don't want to go on impact.

  • Let's come back to Earth, actually.

  • You tweeted that you are building a tunnel under Washington D.C.

  • Why? What is it?

  • - It's a secret plot. - Okay.

  • - Just between us. - Nobody helps you?

  • Yeah, exactly, let's keep that a secret.

  • I think this is going to sound a little...

  • I mean, it seems like so much trivial or silly, but...

  • I've been saying this for many years now but I think that

  • the solution to urban congestion is a network of tunnels under cities.

  • And when I say that I don't mean a 2-D plan of tunnels,

  • I mean tunnels that go many levels deep.

  • So, you can always go deeper than you can go up.

  • Like, the deepest mines are deeper than the tallest buildings.

  • So, you can have a network of tunnels that is 20, 30, 40, 50 levels,

  • as many levels as you want, really.

  • And so, given that, you can overcome the congestion situation

  • in any city in the world.

  • The challenge is how do you build tunnels quickly and at low cost

  • and with high safety?

  • So, if tunnel technology can be improved to the point where

  • you can build tunnels fast, cheap and safe,

  • then that would completely get rid of any traffic situations in the cities.

  • And so, that's why I think it's an important technology.

  • And, Washington D.C., L.A and most of the major American cities,

  • most major cities in the world suffer from severe traffic issues.

  • And it's mostly because you've got these buildings which are,

  • these tall buildings that are 3-D and you have a road network that is one level.

  • And then, people generally want to go in and out of these buildings

  • at the exact same time.

  • So, then, you get the traffic jam.

  • Let's come back to...

  • your year in Dubai.

  • The first time I met you it was the 4th of June 2015,

  • at your office in SpaceX.

  • And, I asked you would you have a presence in UAE?

  • And your answer was: I'm busy with China.

  • Maybe not in the near future, and almost a year and a half later,

  • we are here, seems time goes quite fast.

  • Why now?