Until Elon Musk was a billionaire or a millionaire, he was a college student studying physics and economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1992, Musk moved to the Wharton School for scholarships after spending two years at Queen’s University in Ontario , Canada. He dreamed of space exploration and constantly talked about electric cars, according to Ashlee Vance ‘s book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.”
And at the time, the young Musk believed that five key things would have an impact on the world.
“When you think about what would most likely change the future,” Musk said on the “Third Row Tesla” podcast in February, “there were five things I thought it would be.”
Musk claimed that the internet, which was born in the ’90s, would “fundamentally transform society,” he said on the podcast.
“I would not find this to be a groundbreaking perspective, but rather an simple one,” Musk said.
He compared the internet to the human nervous system: “If you didn’t have a nervous system, you wouldn’t know what was going on. Your fingers wouldn’t know what’s going on here. Your teeth wouldn’t know what’s going on. You ‘d have to do it by broadcasting, “he said.
“The way the knowledge used to work was by diffusion. One human will have to call another human or write a letter to him. [That was] a very slow diffusion. And if you wanted to get access to books, and you didn’t have a library, you don’t have it. This is it.
He knew that the internet could change all that.
And while Musk only had minimal access to the internet at the time (only to use it for his physics studies, he said), he knew that the internet would be a “fundamental and profound change.”
“Today, you have immediate access to all the books, so you can be in a remote mountaintop location and have access to all the knowledge of humanity if you have a connection to the internet,” he said on the podcast. “Now, all of a sudden, human organisms would have instant access to all the information anywhere.”
Musk claimed that “making life multi-planetary and multi-planetary knowledge” would change the world, he said on the podcast.
As a child, Musk was inspired by a number of science fiction books, and he dreamed that one day ‘[build] spaceships to expand the scope of the human race,’ according to the book ‘Elon Musk.’ (Musk said earlier that the seven-book ‘Foundation’ science fiction series by scientist and author Isaac Asimov, for example, was ‘fundamental to the development of his aerospace business, SpaceX.’)
On 30 May, SpaceX successfully launched two NASA astronauts into orbit for the first time. It was a breakthrough for human spaceflight, and Musk was one step closer to achieving his Mars aspirations.
Changing human genetics
Just as a character in the 1997 film Gattaca undergoes genetic manipulation to fulfill his vision of space travel, according to Musk, when he was younger he believed that human genetics could change the world.
And it’s happening now, with technologies like Crispr, said Musk on the podcast.
“It’s going to be normal, I think, to change the human genome in order to get rid of diseases or the propensity for various diseases,” he said. “That’s going to be the first thing you ‘d like to get out of here. If you have a situation where you’re probably going to die of any cancer at 55 years of age, you ‘d like to get it filmed.
“There’s a sort of Gattaca-extreme thing where it’s not really edited, but it’s edited for different enhancements and that kind of thing,” he said, “that’s probably coming too.”
“I’m just saying it’s more likely to come than not down the road.”\
As a teenager, Musk felt a “personal duty” to the fate of mankind, and one day he felt inspired to create “cleaner energy technology,” according to the book “Elon Musk.”
He also assumed that renewable energy would change the future.
“Sustainability, in fact, was something I thought was important before the environmental implications were as obvious as they were,” he said on the podcast. “If you mine and burn hydrocarbons [compounds that form the basis of natural gas , oil and coal], you ‘re going to run out of them. It’s not like metal mining. We ‘re never going to run out of metals, but we’re going to run out of hydrocarbons.”
He said the future will bring a carbon tax that would increase the cost of burning fossil fuels to combat climate change, which is a “no brainer.”
In 2004, Musk invested in and co-founded the electric car company Tesla. In 2008, he became CEO. On Wednesday, Tesla became the world’s most valuable automaker when the market capitalization of the electric vehicle company surpassed Toyota’s for the first time.
“AI is a really big one,” Musk said on the podcast.
In 2019, at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, Musk (who co-founded the OpenAI non-profit AI research lab but later left the company’s board) said that computers would “surpass us in every way,” including scary things, like robot job disruption or even a potential AI race leading to the Third World War.
AI is “capable of far more than almost anyone knows, and the rate of improvement is exponential,” he said at the Southwest Technology Conference 2018.
Musk also founded the machine intelligence venture Neuralink, because he believes that humans must merge with AI in order to avoid becoming irrelevant.
“We want a near connection between collective human intelligence and digital intelligence,” he said at the SXSW conference, “and Neuralink is trying to help with this by trying to establish a high-bandwidth interface between AI and the human brain.”