Y Combinator ha intervistato, per la sua serie How to Build the Future, Elon Musk.

Interviewer: What do you do when you’re at SpaceX and Tesla? What does your time look like there

Elon: Yes, it’s a good question. I think a lot of people think I must spend a lot of time with media or on businessy things. But actually almost all my time, like 80% of it, is spent on engineering and design. Engineering and design, so it’s developing next-generation product. That’s 80% of it. […]

I think a lot of people think I’m kind of a business person or something, which is fine. Business is fine. But really it’s like at SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell is Chief Operating Officer. She manages legal, finance, sales, and general business activity. And then my time is almost entirely with the engineering team, working on improving the Falcon 9 and our Dragon spacecraft and developing the Mars Colonial architecture. At Tesla, it’s working on the Model 3 and, yeah, so I’m in the design studio, take up a half a day a week, dealing with aesthetics and look-and-feel things. And then most of the rest of the week is just going through engineering of the car itself as well as engineering of the factory. Because the biggest epiphany I’ve had this year is that what really matters is the machine that builds the machine, the factory. And that is at least two orders of magnitude harder than the vehicle itself.

Il master plan di Tesla, parte seconda

Elon Musk ha aggiornato il master plan di Tesla, dato che quello precedente, quasi completato, risale a 10 anni fa:

  1. Creare un’automobile elettrica, necessariamente costosa (Roadster)
  2. Usare i guadagni per creare un’automobile più grande, ad un prezzo più competitivo (Model S)
  3. Usare i guadagni per creare un SUV, venduto ad un prezzo accessibile (Model X)
  4. Fornire energia solare (Solar City)

Il nuovo piano — da leggere tenendo presente la missione di Tesla, “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport” — prevede:

  1. La creazione di un sistema integrato di produzione e conservazione dell’energia. Con Powerwall e Solar City, l’idea è di creare dei pannelli solari e delle batterie che siano belle e che funzionino bene (su questo blog ce lo domandavamo tempo fa: Tesla fa macchine o batterie?)
  2. Riuscire a coprire la maggior parte delle forme di trasporto terrestre. Oltre a migliorare e rendere più efficiente il sistema di produzione in sé (Musk scrive, nel post, che la fabbrica stessa di Tesla è un prodotto), ci sono due categorie di prodotti su cui Tesla sta lavorando: un sistema per spostare merci, e un sistema di trasporto che sia adatto all’ambiente urbano, ad alta densità di popolazione
  3. Sviluppare una macchina che si guida da sola che sia 10 volte più sicura della guida manuale. Tesla sta lavorando a rendere autonome le proprie macchine, ma ci vorrà tempo: ci vorrà tempo perché una macchina che si guida da sola venga accettata dal punto di vista legislativo, e ci vorrà tempo affinché il software, più che l’hardware, raggiunga uno stadio accettabile
  4. Condivisione. Una volta che le macchine saranno in grado di guidarsi da sole, non solo sarà possibile chiamare la propria auto a distanza, ma sarà possibile — dall’applicazione dell’automobile — affittare la propria auto, ricavandoci qualcosa ed evitando di lasciarla in sosta e inutilizzata per ore e ore

Il piano è pubblico, scritto da Elon Musk, e si può leggere per intero sul blog di Tesla:

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.

The Economist:

In a report ahead of the Las Vegas and Detroit shows, Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, said the motor industry was being disrupted “far sooner, faster and more powerfully than one might expect.” […]

Mr Fields [Ford’s CEO] is talking about autonomous cars being ready to roll by 2020. More conservative car bosses add five years. […]

Barclays, another bank, forecasts that the fully driverless vehicle will result in the average American household cutting its car ownership from 2.1 vehicles now to 1.2 by 2040. A self-piloting car may drop off a family’s breadwinner at work, then scuttle back to pick up the kids and take them to school. The 11m or so annual sales of mass-market cars for personal ownership in America may be replaced by 3.8m sales of self-driving cars, either personally owned or part of taxi fleets, Barclays thinks.

Scriveva su Twitter il caro Elon, oggi:

In ~2 years, summon should work anywhere connected by land & not blocked by borders, eg you’re in LA and the car is in NY.

Elon Musk, Sam Altman e un numero piuttosto cospicuo di nomi della Silicon Valley ha presentato OpenAI, una no-profit dedicata ad avanzare lo stato dell’intelligenza artificiale senza concentrarsi sui profitti, ma sul “bene” che l’umanità può derivarne (se volete spaventarvi, c’è una serie di lunghi post del blog Wait but Why che spiega cosa potrebbe succedere nel caso vada tutto storto).

OpenAI:

Because of AI’s surprising history, it’s hard to predict when human-level AI might come within reach. When it does, it’ll be important to have a leading research institution which can prioritize a good outcome for all over its own self-interest.

We’re hoping to grow OpenAI into such an institution. As a non-profit, our aim is to build value for everyone rather than shareholders. Researchers will be strongly encouraged to publish their work, whether as papers, blog posts, or code, and our patents (if any) will be shared with the world. We’ll freely collaborate with others across many institutions and expect to work with companies to research and deploy new technologies.

Tim Urban di Wait But Why ha ricevuto un giorno, all’improvviso, una chiamata da Elon Musk. Elon — che probabilmente legge il suo ottimo blog — voleva incontrarlo, per parlare e discutere dei progetti in cui è coinvolto. Sarebbe a dire: trasporto ad alta velocità, pannelli solari, automobili, energia rinnovabile e, uhm, mandare razzi nello spazio. Elon Musk, come racconta Tim, dopo essersi staccato da PayPal ha iniziato nell’arco di pochi anni Tesla, SpaceX e SolarCity:

In 2002, before the sale of PayPal even went through, Musk starting voraciously reading about rocket technology, and later that year, with $100 million, he started one of the most unthinkable and ill-advised ventures of all time: a rocket company called SpaceX, whose stated purpose was to revolutionize the cost of space travel in order to make humans a multi-planetary species by colonizing Mars with at least a million people over the next century.

Mm hm.

Then, in 2004, as that “project” was just getting going, Musk decided to multi-task by launching the second-most unthinkable and ill-advised venture of all time: an electric car company called Tesla, whose stated purpose was to revolutionize the worldwide car industry by significantly accelerating the advent of a mostly-electric-car world—in order to bring humanity on a huge leap toward a sustainable energy future. Musk funded this one personally as well, pouring in $70 million, despite the tiny fact that the last time a US car startup succeeded was Chrysler in 1925, and the last time someone started a successful electric car startup was never.

And since why the fuck not, a couple years later, in 2006, he threw in $10 million to found, with his cousins, another company, called SolarCity, whose goal was to revolutionize energy production by creating a large, distributed utility that would install solar panel systems on millions of people’s homes, dramatically reducing their consumption of fossil fuel-generated electricity and ultimately “accelerating mass adoption of sustainable energy.”

L’articolo nato dall’incontro, e quelli che seguiranno, sui vari argomenti affrontati, sono da leggere. Il primo è dedicato più a Musk stesso che ai progetti in cui è coinvolto. Ne viene fuori che è — ma già lo sapevate se avevate guardato la presentazione del Powerwall, capace di stupire seppur priva del teatrino, enfasi e esagerazioni a cui Apple sta un po’ eccedendo — una persona meravigliosa.

La routine dell’Elon Musk annoiato

Bored Elon Musk è da seguire: un finto Elon Musk su Twitter diletta i suoi followers con idee dalla dubbia utilità, venutegli nei momenti liberi. Personalmente, apprezzo molto questa:

Pill that will remove caffeine from your body when you’ve had a disappointing cup of coffee and want another one.

My Morning Routine (un blog che si occupa di raccogliere la routine di vari sviluppatori, blogger, etc.) lo ha intervistato:

What is your morning routine?
A morning routine would imply that I sleep, which I don’t, so this question is irrelevant. Next.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
Ever since I developed a drug that lets me sleep in millisecond increments when I blink.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I don’t check my phone, my phone checks on me.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Sorting through the several hundred notes I jotted down in the middle of the night pertaining to space travel, solar energy, or world domin-ehr-uhm ending poverty.