Elon Musk is no stranger to futurecasting a foreboding dystopia ahead for mankind, as we noted recently. But during a speech he gave today at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island, Musk turned up the future-fearmongery amplifier to '11'.
As a reminder, in the past, when he was asked about whether humans are living inside a computer simulation, Musk made headlines last year by saying he thinks the chances are one in billions that we aren’t.
“The strongest argument for us probably being in a simulation I think is the following: 40 years ago we had Pong – two rectangles and a dot,” Musk stated.
“That’s where we were. Now 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, just indistinguishable.”
Here Musk is referring to the exponential growth of technology, the lynchpin of the Singularity theory. If in 40 years we’ve gone from the two-dimensional pong to the cusp of augmented and virtual reality, imagine where we’ll be in another forty, or a hundred, or 400. And that is where he began today...
But today, Musk discussed a broad range of topics from energy sources in the future...
"It's inevitable," Musk said, speaking of shift to sustainable energy. "But it matters if it happens sooner or later."
As for those pushing some other type of fusion, Musk notes that the sun is a giant fusion reactor in the sky. "It's really reliable," he said. "It comes up every day. if it doesn't we've got (other) problems)."
To Tesla's share price:
Musk said he has been on record several times as saying its stock price "is higher than we have any right to deserve" especially based on current and past performance.
"The stock price obviously reflects a lot of optimism on where we will be in the future," he said. "Those expectations sometimes get out of control. I hate disappointing people, I am trying really hard to meet those expectations."
Musk added that he won't be selling any stock "unless I have to for taxes," and said "I'm going down with the ship... I'll be the last [to sell]."
Musk addressed government regulation and incentives:
"It sure is important to get the rules right," Musk said. "Regulations are immortal. They never die unless somebody actually goes and kills them. A lot of times regulations can be put in place for all the right reasons but nobody goes back and kills them because they no longer make sense."
Musk also focused on the importance of incentives, saying whatever societies incentivize tends to be what happens. "It's economics 101," he said.
And what drives him:
"I want to be able to think about the future and feel good about that, to dream what we can to have the future be as good as possible. To be inspired by what is likely to happen and to look forward to the next day. How do we make sure things are great? That's the underlying principle behind Tesla and SpaceX."
Within 20 years, he said driving a car will be like having a horse (i.e. rare and totally optional). "There will not be a steering wheel."
“There will be people that will have non-autonomous cars, like people have horses,” he said.
“It just would be unusual to use that as a mode of transport.”
But what started off as the latest sales pitch for electric cars quickly devolved into a bizarre rant that among other things, touched on Elon Musk's gloomy, apocalyptic vision of how the world could end... (via ReCode)
Musk called on the government to proactively regulate artificial intelligence before things advance too far.
“Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he said.
“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.”
“Normally the way regulations are set up is a while bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry, and after many years a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry,” he continued.
“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.”
Musk has been concerned about AI for years, and he’s working on technology that would connect the human brain to the computer software meant to mimic it.
Full interview below (Musk begins talking around 42 minutes in)...