MIND BLOWING WORK ETHIC – Elon Musk Motivational Video

MIND BLOWING WORK ETHIC – Elon Musk Motivational Video
In this motivational video, Elon Musk talks about his mind-blowing work ethic, experiences when he created PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, etc. He gives valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs on how to go against all the odds when starting your own company. He also talks about failure, life advice, thinking in first principles, AI, Mars, and much more. Musk’s ultimate goal in life is to have a long-term sustainable transport energy generation and for humanity to be out there among the stars as a spacefaring civilization. Musk also talks about one of his newer companies called Neuralink, which is a neurotechnology company that solves brain and spine problems.

No one should put this many hours into work this is not good
people should not work this hard i’m not they should not do this this is very painful painful in what sense
it’s because my earth’s my brain and my heart
particularly if you’re starting a company you need to work super hard so what what does super heart mean well
when my brother and i were starting our first company instead of getting an apartment we just
rented us a small office and we slept on the couch and we we showered at the ymca and uh we’re so
hot up we had just one computer so the the website was up during the day
and i was coding at night seven days a week all the time
and i i briefly had a girlfriend that period and in order to be with me she has to sleep in the
office so i work hard like
i mean every waking hour that’s that’s the the thing i would i would say if you particularly if you’re starting a
company um and i mean if you do simple math say like okay if somebody else is working
50 hours and you’re working 100 you’ll get twice as done as much done in the course of a year as
the other company just work like hell i mean you just have to put in you know 80 hour 80 to 100 hour weeks
every week and then a lot of work that all those things improve the odds of success
um i mean if if other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in
100 hour work weeks then even if you’re doing the same thing you know
that in in one year you will achieve what they achieve you will achieve in four months what it
takes them a year to achieve what was your biggest failure and how did it change you we almost did
diet spacex actually so we i’d budgeted for or three flights
i mean technically i didn’t have a plan where i had had the money from paypal i had like 180 million from paypal
i thought you know i’ll i’ll allocate half of that to spacex and tesla and
solarcity and um that should be fine i’ll have 90 million likes just lots you know uh but
but then what happened is um things cost more and took longer than than i thought so i had a choice of
either put the rest of the money in or the companies are going to die
and it’s like so i ended up putting all the money in and borrowing money for rent from france um
2008 was brutal [Music] yeah 2008 we had the third consecutive
failure of the falcon rocket for spacex um tesla almost went bankrupt we closed our
financing round 6 pm christmas eve 2008. it was the last hour of the last day that it was
possible we would have gone bankrupt two days after christmas otherwise spacex is alive by the skin of its teeth so is tesla um
if things just gone a little bit the other way both companies would be dead and i had like one of the most difficult
choices i ever faced in life was was in 2008
and i think i had like maybe 30 million dollars left
or 30 or 40 million left in 2008 i had two choices i could put it all into one company
and then the other company would definitely die um or split it between the two companies and but if i
split up between two companies then both might die um and you know when you put your
blood sweat and tears into creating something you’re building something it’s like a child
and so it’s like which one am i gonna let one starve to death
i can bring myself to do it so i put i split the money between the two fortunately thank goodness uh they both
came through tesla really faced the severe uh threat threat of death due to the
model 3 production ramp essentially the company was bleeding money like crazy and and just
if if we didn’t solve these problems in a very short period of time uh we would die uh and was extremely difficult to solve
them how close to death did you come we’re within single budget weeks
22 hours a day or like what how many hours working yeah so seven days a week sleeping in the factory uh i worked
everywhere from the i worked in the oaks in the paint shop general assembly body shop you ever worry about yourself imploding like just
too much absolutely i think failure is bad um i don’t think it’s good but
if if something’s important enough then you you do it even though the risk of failure is high
were you a little naive when you thought i’ll just i can easily build build an electric car and a rocket i
didn’t think it would be easy um like i said i thought they would probably fail
um but you know like creating a company is almost like having a child so it’s sort of like how do you say your
child should not have food so one once you have the company you have to feed it and
announce it and take care of it even if it it ruins you yeah
[Music] but uh supposing there wasn’t tough
times in 2008 end of 2008
how did you get through that period of crisis
can we just break for a second you wanna wait a little while
yeah sure if it was worth it let me sure hope it was worth it well there’s a ton of failures along the
way that’s for sure except for as i said for spacex the first three launches failed
and uh we were just barely able to scrape together enough parts and money to do
the the fourth launch that fourth launch had failed we would have been dead so multiple failures along the way um
i tried very hard to to get the right expertise in for for spacex i tried hard to to find a great chief
engineer for the rocket but the good chief engineers wouldn’t join and the bad ones well there was no point
in hiring them so i ended up being chief engineer of the rocket so if i could have found somebody better
than we would have maybe had less than three failures when you had that third failure in a row
did you think i need to pack this in never why not i don’t ever give up
i mean i’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated
you know there are american heroes who don’t like this idea neil armstrong gene cernan have both
testified against commercial space flight and the way that you’re developing it and i wonder what you think of that
i was very sad to see that because those guys are
you know those guys are heroes of mine so it’s really tough you know i i wish they would come and visit and and see the hardware that
we’re doing here and i think that would change their mind they inspired you to do this didn’t they
yes and to see them casting stones in your direction
[Music] it’s difficult did you expect them to cheer you on
so they’re hoping they would something that can be helpful is fatalism uh to some degree um if you just if you
just accept the probabilities um then that diminishes fear
uh so um starting spacex i thought the odds of success were less than 10
um and i just accepted that actually probably i would just lose lose everything um
but that maybe would make some progress if we could just move the ball forward even if we died maybe some other company
could pick up the baton and move and keep moving it forward um so that we’ll still do some good
um yeah same with tesla i thought the odds of a car company succeeding were extremely low in creating these
companies we thought that we would be successful i thought that the most likely outcome was failure
but but it was still worth doing even though the odds of success were low in fact even
for for sport spacex the originally what i started doing was not creating a rocket company but
but actually was going to do a small mission to mars which was just a philanthropic mission where you
would send a small greenhouse with seeds and dehydrated gel in the wood upon landing hydrate the gel
and you’d have this cool picture of green plants on a red background and the public tends to respond to
precedence and superlatives so this will be the first life on mars furthest the life’s ever traveled and you’d have this great money shot of
green plants on a red background so um i thought that would get people’s
attention so um but but the expectation for that was was no return so
i thought we wouldn’t get any uh you know just spend the money on that and it wouldn’t
wouldn’t happen if you’re creating a company or if you’re joining company
the most important thing is to attract is to attract great people so either you would
join a group that’s amazing that you really respect or if you’re building a company you’ve got to gather great
people i mean all the company is is a group of people that have gathered together to create a product or service
and so depending upon how talented and hard-working that group is and degree to which they are focused uh
cohesively in a good direction that will determine the success of the company
so do everything you can to to gather great people uh if you’re creating a company
then i’d say focus on on signal over noise a lot of companies get get
confused they spend money on things that don’t actually make the product better
so for example at tesla we’ve we’ve never spent any money on
advertising we put all the money into r d and manufacturing and design to try to
make the car as good as possible and i think that’s that’s that’s the way
to go so if for any given company just can keep thinking about are these
efforts that people are expending are they resulting in a better product or service and if they’re not stop those efforts
starting a business i’d say number one is have a high paying threshold that’s there’s a friend of mine who’s
got a good saying which is that starting a company is like eating glass and stirring into the abyss okay that’s um that’s generally what
happens because um when you first start a company there’s lots of optimism and things that things are great and
then so happiness at first is high then you encounter all sorts of issues
uh and happiness will steadily decline and then you’ll go through a whole world of hurt
that’s and then eventually you’ll if you succeed and in most cases you will not succeed
um and tesla almost didn’t succeed came very close to failure um then if you succeed then
after a long time you will finally get back to happiness you’ve got to make sure that
that you that whatever you’re doing is a great product or service it has to be really great and i go back to what i was
saying earlier where if you’re a new company i mean unless
it’s like some new industry or or new market that if it’s an untapped market or
then then uh you have more ability to you there’s
this the standard is lower for your product service but if you’re entering anything where there’s
an existing marketplace against large entrenched competitors then your product or service needs to be
much better than theirs it can’t be a little bit better because then you put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and they
say why would you buy it as a consumer you’re always going to buy the trusted brand unless there’s a big difference
so a lot of times uh you know entrepreneur will come up with something
which is only slightly better and it’s it’s not it can’t just be slightly better it’s got to be a lot
better a well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold
[Music] and you should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your
friends um usually your friends know what’s wrong
but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you it doesn’t mean your friends are right but very often they are right
and you at least want to listen very carefully to what they say and to everyone if you’re looking for basically
[Music] you should take the approach that
that you’re wrong you know that that you the entrepreneur are wrong your
goal is to be less wrong advice i’d give to people starting company to entrepreneurs in general is
really focus on making a product that your customers love and it’s so rare that you can buy a
product and and you love the product when you bought it this is this is there are very few
uh things that fit into that category and if you if you can come up with something like that your business will be successful for
sure i think uh really an obsessive uh nature with respect to
the quality of the product it is very important uh yeah so you know
being obsessive compulsive is a good thing in this context
really really liking what you do whatever area that you get into um given that you know even if you’re if
you’re the best the best there’s always a chance of failure so i think it’s important that you really like whatever
you’re doing if you don’t like it life is too short um
you know i’d say if and also if you if you like what you do and you think about it even when you’re not working
i mean it’ll just it’s it’s something that your mind is drawn to and and if you don’t like it you just
really can’t make it work i think when i was young i i didn’t really know
what i was going to do when i got older um people kept asking me and and um but but then eventually i thought that
the idea of inventing things would be would be really cool and
the reason i thought that was because i i read a quote from author c clock which said that a
sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic and and that’s really true if you think
if you go back say 300 years the things that we take a sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic and and that’s really true uh being able to see over long distances
being able to communicate being able to see over long distances being able to communicate having
effectively with with the internet
in times past in fact i think it actually goes beyond that because there are many things that we take for granted
today that weren’t even imagined in times past they weren’t even in the realm of magic
so that it actually goes goes beyond that so i thought well you know if if i can do some of those
things basically if i can advance technology then that that’s like magic and that would be really cool
um and the the i i always had sort of a slight existential crisis because i was trying
to figure out what does it all mean like what’s the purpose of things and um i came to the conclusion that if if
we can advance the this the knowledge of the world if we can do things that expand the scope and
and scale of consciousness then we’re better able to ask the right questions and become more
enlightened and and that’s really the only way forward so
uh so so i i studied physics and business because i figured
in order to do a lot of these things you need to know how the universe works and you need to know how
how the economy works and you also need to be able to bring a lot of people together to work with you to create
something because it’s very difficult to do something as as an individual if it’s if it’s a significant technology
so i i originally came out to to california to try to figure out how to
improve the energy density of of of electric vehicles basically to try to
figure out if there was an advanced capacitor that that could serve as an alternative to batteries and
that was in 95 and that’s also when the internet started to
happen and and i i thought well i can either uh pursue this tech this technology
where success maybe may not be one of the possible outcomes which is always tricky um or
uh participate in the internet and and be part of it and and i think maybe it’s
helpful to say one of the things that was important then in the creation of paypal
was was was kind of how it started because initially the initial thought was with paypal was
to create an agglomeration of financial services so you have one place where
all your financial services needs would be seamlessly integrated and um and and work smoothly and then we
had like a little feature which was to do email payments um and whenever we showed show the
system off to someone uh we’d show the hard part which was the um the agglomeration of financial
services which was quite difficult to put together nobody was interested um then we’d show
people email payments which was actually quite easy and everybody was interested so we focused on email payments and
really try to make that work and and that’s what really got things to take off um
but but if we hadn’t if we hadn’t responded to what people said then we probably would not have been successful
so it’s important to look for things like that and and focus on them when when you when you see them and you correct
your prior assumptions going from paypal i thought it will what what are some of
the the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity
um it really wasn’t from the perspective of what what’s the rank ordered best way to to make money
um which which is which is okay but um it was really what i think is going to
most affect the future humanity so the i think the the biggest terrestrial
problem we’ve got is uh sustainable energy but the production and consumption of energy in a
sustainable manner if we don’t solve that this the sensory is the century we’re we’re in deep trouble
um and then the the other one being the extension of life beyond earth to make life multi-planetary
when i started spacex i it actually initially i thought that well there’s
there’s no way one could possibly start a rocket company i i wasn’t that crazy um but but then
uh i thought well what is a way to um increase nasa’s budget that was
actually my initial goal so so obviously the financial outcome from such a mission would probably be
zero um so anything better than that was on the upside
so i actually went to i went to russia three times to look at buying um a refurbished icbm
and uh i can tell you it was very weird going there in in 2000 late 2001 2002 going to the russian
rocket forces and saying i’d like to buy two of your biggest rockets but you can
keep the nuke and aft after making several trips to to russia i came to conclusion that that actually
uh my initial impression was was wrong about uh because my initial thought was well
that that there’s not enough will to explore and expand beyond earth and have a mars base and that kind
of thing but i can’t conclusion that that was wrong um in fact there’s plenty of will
particularly in the united states because the united states is a nation of explorers of people who came here from
from other parts of the world i think the united states really a distillation of the spirit of human
exploration so after my third trip i said okay
what we really need to do here is try to solve the space transport problem and uh and started spacex um
and this was against the advice of pretty much everyone i talked to um one friend made me sit down and watch
a bunch of videos rockets blowing up let me tell you he wasn’t far wrong it was tough going there in the
beginning because i’d never built anything physical i mean i built like little model rockets as a kid and that kind of
thing but um i’d never had a company that built any physical started to figure out how to how to do all these
things and and bring together the right team of people we did all that and and then failed
three times um it was tough tough going um
because thing about a rocket is that the the passing grade is 100 you don’t get to actually test the
rocket in the real environment that it’s going to be in so i think so the best analogy for for
rocket engineering is it’s like if you want to create a really complicated bit of software
um you could you can’t run the software as an integrated hole and you can’t run it on the computer it’s intended to run
on but the first time you put it all together and write it on that computer it must run with no bugs that the first launch i was picking up
bits of rocket near the launch site it was a bit sad we we learned with with each successive flight
and and were able to with uh eventually with the fourth flight in 2008 uh reached orbit and that was also with
the last bit of money that we had so that’s we got the falcon one two orbit and then uh began to scale that up to to the
falcon 9 which is about an order of magnitude more a thrust it’s around a million pounds of thrust and
we managed to get that to orbit and then uh developed a dragon spacecraft uh which um recently was able to
dock and return to earth from the space station so it’s a huge relief i still can’t quite believe it actually happened
um but there’s a lot more that that that must happen beyond this in order for humanity to be to become a
space faring civilization ultimately a multi-planet species um and that’s something i think it’s
it’s it’s vitally important and and i hope um that that some of you will will participate in in that either at spacex
or at other companies because it’s just really one of the the most important things for the preservation and extension of consciousness
um it’s worth noting as i’m sure people are aware that the earth has been around for four
billion years and uh civilization at least in terms of having
um writing has been around for 10 000 years and that’s been generous
um so uh it’s it’s really uh somewhat of a tenuous existence that
that civilization and and consciousness as we know it has been on earth
and i think um i’m actually i’m actually fairly optimistic about the future of earth so i don’t want to i
don’t want to sort of people to have the wrong impression that i think we’re all about to die
i think i think we’ll i think things will most likely be okay for a lo for a long time on earth but not not for sure but most likely um
um but but even if it’s if it’s sort of 99 likely one a one percent chance it’s still it’s still worth
uh spending a fair bit of effort to ensure that we have um we’ve backed up the biosphere you know planetary redundancy if you will
um and uh and so i think i think it’s really really quite important and in order to
do that there’s a breakthrough that needs to occur which is to create a a rapidly and completely
reusable um transport system to mars um which which is one of those things
that’s right on the borderline of of of of of impossible
um but that that’s sort of the the thing that we’re we’re going to try to achieve that with with with spacex when i was a kid i was
wondering kind of what’s the meaning of life like why are we here what’s it all about and um
i came to the conclusion that uh what 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 are able to ask these
questions so i think that there’s 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 uh to be a space-bearing civilization
and for humanity to be out there among the stars and be a multi-planetary uh species
i mean i think being a multi-planet species and being out there among the stars is important for uh the long-term survival of humanity
and uh 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 and 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 second version 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 you’re 47
what is the likelihood that you personally will go to mars 70 we’ve recently made a number of
breakthroughs that i that i’m just really fired up about and when does that happen in our lifetimes yeah yeah
i’m talking about moving there so it’s like so if you get the price per ticket maybe around a couple hundred thousand dollars this
could be an escape hatch for rich people no if your probability of dying moz is much higher than
earth really the africa going to mars would be like shackleton’s after going to the antarctic it’s going to be hard there’s a good
chance of death going in a little can through deep space you might land successfully
once you land successfully there will be a map you’ll be working non-stop to build the base series you’re
not not much time for leisure and once you get there even after all this uh there’s a very harsh environment
to use a good chance you die there we think you can come back but we’re not sure now does that sound like an escape
patch for rich people and yet you would unhesitating like you know there’s lots of people like climb
mountains you know why they climb mountains because people die on endeavors all the time they like doing
it for the challenge i think that the probable probable outcome for civilization is
on earth is quite quite good for a long time um but i still think that we should try to
extend life beyond earth and have a and the thing to do is to establish a base on mars and ultimate and try to make that a
self-sustaining base as soon as possible um so uh i don’t expect that spacex is
going to do that sort of single-handedly but i think we’re we’re gonna try to advance the technology of
space travel to the point where we can at least send some number of people to mars which is not
currently possible on the tesla front the goal with tesla was really to try to
show that what electric cars can do because people had the wrong impression we had to
change people’s perception of an electric vehicle because they used to think of it as something that was slow and
ugly and had low range kind of like a golf cart um and and so that’s why we created the tesla
roadster to show that you can be fast um attractive and and long range um
and it’s amazing how even though you can show that something works on paper you know and the calculations are very
clear until you actually have the physical object and they can they can drive it it doesn’t really sink in for people
um and so that that i think is is something worth noting if you’re going to create a company the first thing you should try to do is create a working
prototype um you know everything everything looks great on powerpoint
you can you can make anything work on powerpoint but if you have if you have an actual demonstration
article even if it’s in primitive form that’s much much more effective for convincing people now is the time to
overrule this administration’s pledge to mediocrity listen tesla’s to sell
sell sell you don’t want to own this stock you shouldn’t even rent the dorn thing why because beyond the hype there’s just
not much going on here tesla still has yet to turn a profit there’ll be a 1.5 billion dollar company with no profit his most recent quarter
actually lost more money than it did the year before 1.5 billion losing more money than you before this
is a company with limited visibility you put 90 billion dollars like 50 years
worth of breaks into into solar and wind to to solyndra and fisker and tesla and
enter one i mean i had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers you pick the losers private enterprise will not ever
lead a space frontier not because i don’t want them to but my read of history history tells me
they can’t it’s not possible one of the biggest mistakes people generally make and i’m
guilty of it too is wishful thinking you know like you want something to be true
even if it isn’t true um and so you ignore the things that
you ignore the real truth because of what you want to be true
this is a very difficult trap to avoid and like i said certainly one that i
find myself in having problems with but if you just take that approach of
you’re always to some degree wrong and your goal is to be less wrong and and solicit critical feedback
particularly from friends like friends particularly friends if somebody loves you they want the best
for you they don’t want to tell you the bad things um so you have to ask them
okay you know and said really i really do want to know um if you were 22 today what with the
five problems that you would think about working on b um well first of all i think um
if somebody is doing something that is useful to the rest of society i think that’s a good thing like it doesn’t have to
change the world like you know if you’re doing something that has high value to people um and frankly even if it’s
something if it’s like um just a little game um or you know the
some improvement in photo sharing or something if it if it has a small amount of good uh for a large number of people
um that’s i mean i think that’s that’s fine like stuff doesn’t need to be changed the world just to be good
um uh but you know in terms of things that i think are most likely to affect the the future
of humanity i think um ai is probably the single biggest item in the near term that’s likely to
affect uh humanity so it’s very important that we have the advent of ai uh in
a good way that that is something that um if you if you could look into the
crucible and see the future you would like you would like that outcome um because it is something that could go
um could go wrong um as we’ve talked about many times um and so we really need to make sure it
goes right um that’s that’s i think ai
working on ai and making sure it’s a great future that’s that’s the most important thing i think right now um the most pressing item sec
uh then um obviously anything to do with with genetics um if you can actually solve
genetic diseases if you can prevent dementia or alzheimer’s or
something like that that with genetic reprogramming that would be wonderful so i think this
genetics it might be the sort of second most important item i think
um having a high bandwidth interface to the brain like um we’re currently
bandwidth limited we have a digital tertiary self in the form of our email capabilities like computers phones
applications uh we’re effectively superhuman but we’re extremely bound with constrained
in that interface between the cortex and your sort of uh that tertiary digital form of
yourself and helping solve that bandwidth constraint would would be i think very important for the future as
well what have you done or what did you do when you were younger that
you think sort of set you up to have a big impact well i think first of all i should say that i do not expect to be involved in
all these things so the the the the five things that i thought about the time in in college quite a long time
ago uh 25 years ago you know being you know making life
multi-planetary um selling accelerating the transition to sustainable energy
um the the internet broadly speaking um and and then genetics and ai i think
um i didn’t expect to be involved in in in all of those things i actually at the time in college i sort of thought
um helping with electrification of cars was how i would start out and that’s uh that’s actually what i worked
on as an intern was um advanced uh ultra capacitors with to see if there would be a breakthrough
relative to batteries for energy storage and cars and then when i came out to go to stanford um
that’s what i was going to be doing my grad studies on is this was working on advanced energy
storage technologies for electric cars and i put that on hold to start an internet company in 95 because
um there does seem to be like a time for particular technologies uh when they’re
at a steep point in the inflection code and um and i didn’t want to you know do
a phd at stanford and then and watch it all happen um and then and i wasn’t entirely certain that
the technology i’d be working on would actually succeed um i can get you can get a you know
doctrine on many things that ultimately are not do not have a practical bearing on the world
um and i wanted to you know just i really was just trying to be useful that’s the optimization it’s like what
what what can i do that would actually be useful how should someone figure out how they can be most useful whatever this
thing is that you’re trying to create what would what would be the utility delta compared to the current
state of the art times how many people it would affect so that’s why i think having something that has that that has
a makes makes a big difference but affects a sort of small to moderate number of people is great as is something that
makes even a small difference but it but affects a vast number of people when you’re trying to estimate
probability of success so this thing will be really useful good area under the curve i guess to use the example of spacex
when you made the go decision that you were actually going to do that this was kind of a very crazy thing at the time very crazy for sure yeah i’m not sure
about saying that but i kind of agree i agreed with them that it was quite crazy crazy if
um if the objective was um to achieve the um best risk adjusted return
um starting our company is insane um but that was not that was not my objective i
i i’d simply come to the conclusion um that if something didn’t happen to improve rocket technology
would be stuck on earth forever and um and the big aerospace companies
had just had no interest in radical innovation um all they wanted to do was try to make their old technology
slightly better every year and in fact um sometimes it would actually get worse um and particularly in rockets is pretty
bad like the in in 69 we were able to go to the moon with a saturn v
and then the space shuttle could only take people to low earth orbit and then the space shuttle retired and that that trend is basically trends to zero
um if you also think technology just automatically gets better every year but it actually doesn’t it only gets better
if smart people work work like crazy to make it better that’s how any technology actually gets better
and by itself technology if people don’t work in it actually will decline
um i mean you can look at the history of civilizations many civilizations and look at say um ancient egypt where
they were able to build these incredible pyramids and then they basically forgot how to build pyramids um
and and then even hieroglyphics they’ve forgotten how to read hieroglyphics so we look at rome and how they’re able to
look to build these incredible roadways and aqueducts and indoor planning they’ve got how to do all of those things
and um there are many such examples in in history um so i i think um
should always bear in mind that you know entropy is not on your side
you may have heard me say that it’s good to think in terms of the physics approach or first principles
uh which is [Music] rather than reasoning by analogy you boil things down to
the most fundamental truths you can imagine and you reason up from there and this is a good way to figure out if
if something really makes sense or if it’s just what everybody else is doing
it’s hard to think that way you can’t think that way about everything it takes a lot of effort but if you’re
trying to do something new it’s the best way to think and that framework was developed by by physicists to figure out
counterintuitive things like quantum mechanics so it’s really a
powerful powerful method how do you think about making a decision when everyone tells you this is a crazy idea or where do you
get the internal strength to do that well first of all i’d say i actually think i think i feel feel fear quite
strongly um so it’s not as though i just have the absence of fear i’ve
i feel it quite strongly um but there are just times when something is
important enough you believe in it enough that you you do it in spite of fear people should think well i feel
fear about this and therefore i shouldn’t do it um it’s normal to be to feel fear like
you’d have to definitely something mentally wrong if you didn’t feel fear if you have an
advice to them young people globally who want to be like elon musk what’s your advice to them i think that
probably they shouldn’t want to be you it i think it sounds better than it
is okay yeah it’s uh not as much fun being me as
you’d think i don’t know you don’t think so yeah there’s definitely it could be worse for sure
but it’s um i i’m not sure i would i’m not sure i want
to be me so when everybody leaves it’s just elon sitting at home brushing his teeth
just bunch ideas bouncing around your head when did you realize that that’s not the case with most people
i think when i was i don’t know five or six or something i thought i was insane
it was just strange because it was clear that other people do not what
their mind wasn’t exploding with ideas i was like hmm i’m strange
i don’t think i don’t think you’d necessarily want to be me people would like it that much it’s very
hard to turn it off it’s like a neverending explosion all
the time what do you think the odds of the mars colony are at this point today
um oddly enough i actually think they’re pretty good at this point i am
certain there is a way i’m certain that success is one of the possible outcomes for establishing
a self-sustaining mars colony in fact growing mars colony i’m certain that that is possible
whereas until maybe a few years ago i was not sure that success was even one of the
possible outcomes it’s a meaningful number of people going to mars i think this is
potentially something that can be accomplished in about 10 years maybe sooner maybe nine years
i need to make sure that spacex doesn’t die between now and then and that i don’t die or if i do die that
someone takes over who will continue that you shouldn’t go on the first launch yeah exactly
the best of the available alternatives that i can come up with and maybe somebody else can come up with a better
approach or better outcome is that we achieve democratization of ai
technology meaning that no one company or a
small set of individuals has control over advanced ai technology i think that that’s very dangerous
it could also get stolen by somebody bad you know like some evil dictator or country could send their intelligence
agency to go steal it and gain control it just becomes a very unstable situation i think if you’ve got any
um any incredibly powerful ai
you just don’t know who’s who’s going to control that so it’s not as i think that the risk is that the ai would develop a
will of its own right off the bat i think it’s more it’s the consumers that some someone um may use it in a way that is
bad um or and even if they weren’t going to use it in a way that’s bad that somebody could take it from them and use it in a
way that’s bad that that i think is quite a big danger so i think we must have democratization
of ai technology and make it widely available um and that’s you know the reason that
obviously uh the rest of the team uh you know created open ai was to help uh with the democracy
help help spread out ai technology so it doesn’t get concentrated in the hands
of a few and but then of course that needs to be combined with solving the high bandwidth
interface to the cortex um humans are so slow humans are so slow
yes exactly but you know we already have a situation in our brain where we’ve got the cortex and the limbic system
and the limbic system is kind of i mean that’s that’s the primitive brain it’s
kind of like the urine your instincts and um whatnot and then the cortex is the thinking
upper part of the brain those two seem to work together quite well um occasionally your cortex and limbic
system may disagree generally works pretty well and it’s like rare to find someone who i’ve not found someone who wishes to either
get rid of their cortex or get rid of their living system so i think if if we can effectively
uh um merge with uh ai by um improving that
the the neural link between your cortex and the the your digital extension yourself
which already likes it already exists just has a bandwidth issue um
and then then effectively um you become an ai human symbiote
um and and if that then is widespread with anyone who wants it can have it uh then
we solve the control problem as well um we don’t have to worry about um some sort of evil dictator ai
um because kind of we are the ai um collectively that seems like the best outcome i can
think of i think we’ve got a really talented group with opening eye yeah really really talented team and they’re working hard open a is
structured as uh see a 51c3 nonprofit um but you know many non-profits uh
do not have a sense of urgency it’s fine they don’t have to have a sense of urgency um but open ai does um
because i think people really believe in the mission i think it’s important um and it’s it’s about minimizing
the risk of existential harm in the future and uh so i think it’s going well
i’m pretty impressed with what people are doing and the talent level and obviously we’re always looking for
great people to join when i interview somebody i really just ask them to tell me the story of their career
and what they you know what are some of the tougher problems that they dealt with
how they dealt with those and how they made decisions at key transition points and usually
that’s enough for me to get a very good gut feel about someone and what i’m really
looking for is evidence of exceptional ability so did they face really difficult
problems and overcome them um and and then of course you want to make sure
that that if there was some significant accomplishment were they really responsible or somebody else more
responsible and usually the person who’s had to struggle with the problem they really understand it you know and
they don’t forget you know if it was very difficult so you can ask them
detailed very detailed questions about it and they will they’ll know the answer whereas the person who was not truly
responsible for that accomplishment uh will not know the details there’s no need even to have
a college degree at all or even high school i mean if somebody graduated
from a great university that may be indeed that may be an indication that they will be capable of great things but it’s not necessarily
the case um you know if you look at say people like
bill gates or larry ellison steve jobs these guys didn’t graduate from college
but if you had a chance to hire them of course that would be a good idea so you know just
looking just for evidence of exceptional ability and if there’s a track record of
exceptional achievement then it’s likely that that will continue into the future what sort of things do you look for in people
or in processes that make the workforce better well i think the massive thing that can
be done is to make sure your incentive structure is such that uh innovation is rewarded and lack of
innovation is punished there’s got to be a characteristic so if somebody is innovating um
and doing making good good progress then they should be promoted sooner um
and if somebody is completely failing to innovate um not every role requires innovation
but if they’re in a role where innovation is should be happening and it’s not
happening then they should either not be promoted or exited and let me tell you you’ll get promote you could
you’ll you’ll get innovation real fast does that carrot and stick approach help uh do you think people be
more risk averse or less risk averse
when trying different things you’ve got to have some acceptance of failure failure must be an option if failure is
not an option it’s going to result in extremely conservative choices and you may not may get something even
worse than lack of innovation things may go backwards what you really want is you want reward and punishment to be
proportionate to the actions that you seek so if uh if what you’re seeking is
innovation then you should reward success and innovation um and only
there there should be minor consequences for lack of minor consequences for for trying and
failing should there should be minor with significant rewards for trying and
succeeding minor consequences for trying and not succeeding
um and big and major negative consequences for not trying if you have that incentive
structure you will get innovation like you can’t believe the purpose of neural link like what do we what’s our goal our goal is
to solve important spine and brain problems with a seamlessly seamlessly implanted device so you want to have a
device that you can basically put in your head and feel and look totally normal
but it solves some important problem in your brain or spine so going into the
neural link architecture what we’ve done over the past year is dramatically simplify the device so we we about a year ago we
had a device which uh had multiple parts including a piece that it had to sort of sit behind your
ear and it was it was it was complex and you and you wouldn’t still look totally normal
you’d have a thing behind your ear so um we’ve simplified this to
simply something that is about the size of a large coin um and it it
goes uh in your skull replaces a piece of skull um and the wires uh then then connect
uh within a few centimeters or about an inch away from the device um and this is sort of what
it looks like this is a little device i mean frankly to to sort of simplify this
uh what we’re i mean it’s more than this but it’s in a lot of ways it’s kind of like a
fitbit in your skull with tiny wires our current prototype version 0.9 has
about a thousand channels so that’s about 100 times better than the
the next best consumer device that’s available and
it’s a 23 millimeters by eight millimeters it actually uh fits quite nicely in your skull just
your skull is about 10 millimeters thick so it fits it goes flush with your skull
it’s invisible and all you can see afterwards is there’s a tiny scar and if it’s under your hair you can’t see it at all in
fact i could have a neural link right now and you wouldn’t know it’s also inductively charged so it’s charged in the same way that you
cho you charge a smart watch or a phone um and so you can use it all day uh
charge it at night and have full functionality so you would really um
you know it would be completely seamless and yeah no wires uh in terms of getting a
link so that we you need to have the device a a great device and you also need to have a great
robot that puts in the electrodes and it does the surgery so you want the
surgery to be as as automated and as possible and the only way you can achieve the level of precision that’s
needed is with an advanced robot the link procedure the the installation of a link done in under
an hour so you can basically go in the morning and leave the hospital in the afternoon
and it can be done without general anesthesia so this is our surgical robot and we
actually ultimately want this robot to do essentially the entire surgery uh so in
everything from from incision uh removing the the skull inserting the
electrodes placing the device um and then um closing things up and having you ready to leave so
we want to have a fully automated system how do you spend your days now like what what do you allocate most of
your time to my time is mostly split uh well between spacex and
and tesla and of course i try to spend um it’s a part of every week at open ai so
i spend most i spend basically half a day at openai most weeks
and then and then i have some opening stuff that happens during the week i think a lot of people think i must
spend a lot of time with media or or on businessy things but actually almost
uh almost all my time like 80 of it is spent on engineering design in engineering and design so it’s um
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 like business is fine but um like i uh but really it’s
you know it was like it’s spacex uh gwen shotwell is chief operating officer she kind of manages um uh legal finance
um sales um and kind of general business activity and then my time is almost entirely with the
engineering team working on improving the falcon 9 and the dragon spacecraft and developing the
most colonial architecture i mean at tesla it’s working on the
model 3 and you know some in the design studio typically have a day week
dealing with aesthetics and and look and feel things and and then most
of the rest of the week is just going through engineering of of the car itself as well as engineering of the
the factory um because the the biggest epiphany i’ve had is that what really
matters is the is the machine that builds the machine the factory um and this that is at least towards
magnitude harder than the vehicle itself what are the scenarios that scare you
most humanity really is not evolved to think of existential threats in general we’re
involved to think about things that are very close to us near term to to be upset with other humans and not
not to really to think about things that could destroy humanity as a whole but then in recent decades recent
just really in the last century we had nuclear bombs which are could potentially destroy civilization obviously
we have ai which could destroy civilization uh we have global warming which could destroy civilization or at
least severely disrupt uh civilization um and excuse me how could ai
destroy civilization you know it would be something the same way that humans destroyed the
habitat of primates i mean it wouldn’t necessarily be destroyed but
we might be relegated to a small corner of the world when homo sapiens became much smarter than other primates
i pushed all the other ones into small habitats
couldn’t ai even in this moment just with the technology that we have before us be used in some fairly
destructive ways you could make a swarm of assassin drones for very little money by just taking the the
face id chip that’s used in cell phones and uh having a small explosive charge and a
standard drone and have them just do a grid sweep of the building until they find the person they’re looking for ram
into them and explode you can do that right now no extra no new technologies needed right now
people just think this stuff is of of sci-fi novels and movies and it’s so far away but
every time i hear you speak it’s like well no this stuff is sitting it’s right here probably a bigger risk
than being hunted down by a drone is that
uh ai would be used to make incredibly effective propaganda
that would not seem like propaganda so these are deep fakes yeah influence the direction
of society influence elections artificial intelligence just hones the message holds the message
check looks the feed looks at the feedback makes this message slightly better within milliseconds it could it can
adapt its message and shift and react to news and there’s so many uh social media
accounts out there that are not people they can’t how do you
know it’s a first another person people look like they have a much better life
than they really do people are posting pictures of when they’re really happy they’re
modifying those pictures to be better looking even if they’re not modifying the pictures they’re at least selecting the
pictures for the best lighting the best angle so people basically seem
uh they’re way better looking than they basically really are um and they’re way happier seeming
than they really are so if you look at everyone on instagram you might think man they’re all these happy beautiful people
and i’m not that good looking and i’m not happy so i’m a suck
you know and that’s gonna make me feel sad when in fact those people you think are
super happy actually not that happy some of them are really depressed they’re very sad
some of the happiest seeming people actually some of the saddest people in reality so i think i think things like that can
make people quite sad this may sound corny but love is the answer
wouldn’t hurt to have more love in the world i think you know i think people should be nicer to each
other and give people and give give more credit to others
and don’t assume that they’re mean until you know they’re actually mean you know just it’s easy to demonize
people you’re usually wrong about it people are nicer than you think
give people more credit there’s going to be some amount of failure
but you want your net output that useful output to maximized failure is essentially irrelevant unless
it is catastrophic the final thing i would encourage you to do is now is the time to take risk
as you get older your obligations increase so and once you have a family you start
taking risk not just for yourself but for your family as well it gets much harder to do things that might not work out
so now is the time to do that before you before you have those obligations so i would encourage you to
take risks now do something bold you won’t regret it


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