Remember Starman? The world’s biggest rocket launching with an epic test payload. That iconic image of a red Tesla floating gently away from Earth towards it’s million year galactic journey? Where is he now?
Yeah, that was like last week. What has Elon done since? Launched the first 2 of exactly 4,025 satellites as part of a 12-year, $15 billion plan for a new space-based internet. Skynet. I mean “Starlink”. What. Whut.
When I found out today, I actually couldn’t believe it. Like when did he have time to do that, too? Mind blown.
Since last week, I’ve mostly been re-arranging my Youtube watch later playlist by category. Okay, at least some of it. What have you done?
Remember Iridium? My point exactly. Will Starlink provide affordable, fast internet anywhere on Earth? Yes. Will it be device-to-device connections like Iridium? No, it will replace most terrestrial fiberoptic cable networks, because light travels up to 50% faster in a vacuum. Obviously.
Is Elon doing this out of the kindness of his heart? Nope. Because we need something to pay for a city on Mars. His actual words. How much then? WSJ reports Starlink could generate $30 billion in revenue at full-scale. Per year. Okay, that’s a start. With ancillary hat revenue we could actually see this working!
I mean, Leonardo who? Seriously. I’ve just finished reading Da Vinci’s biography and his notebooks, and he ain’t got nothing on Elon. Leonardo was way ahead of his time, but most of his genius is scribbled next to drawings of naked dudes. And some sweet paintings. Steve Job’s greatest gift to mankind was putting music and internet on your phone. And that made Apple the world’s biggest company. These are history’s great geniuses. Yet this man is creating the future before our very eyes, faster than most of us can imagine it.
It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now, what the hell’s going on?— Elon Musk
Elon’s version of the future is finally catching up to the promise of 80’s sci-fi. Except better. As Elon explains, you don’t actually want flying cars, because of the non-zero probability of one falling on your head.
What have you done for me lately, Elon?
Let’s see here. Not counting his previous gig of creating internet payments with Paypal, this is today’s tally of his ongoing projects.
Elon’s todo list for the ages:
- Clean energy retail vehicles — Tesla
- Clean energy commercial vehicles — Tesla
- Clean energy grid production — Tesla (SolarCity)
- Clean energy home production — Tesla (Solar Roof)
- Clean energy grid and home storage — Tesla (Powerwall)
- Clean energy rapid mass transport — Hyperloop
- Cost-effective tunnel technology — Boring co.
- Hats and flamethrowers for above — Boring co.
- Development of safe general artificial intelligence — OpenAI
- Development of human interface for above — Neuralink
- Cost-effective, re-usable orbital rockets — SpaceX
- Transcontinental terrestrial flights in minutes — SpaceX
- Deep-space architecture capable of high human payloads — SpaceX
- High-speed, low-latency, global-coverage space-based internet — SpaceX (Starlink)
Hmm. Did I miss anything? Oh, wait: City on Mars.
Really, that’s it?
I mean, where do you go from here? Don’t get me wrong, he has to actually see all of these through. This list would be laughable for literally any other person on Earth. Even geniuses like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg. Nobody does that. Nobody does any of that. But to imagine Elon’s “done” seems equally laughable at this point. In fact, a lot of this list seems like groundwork. Pieces of the puzzle, that will converge and come together to create something truly fantastic. A fantastic future.
Elon’s meta-todo list for the eons:
- Solarcity + Tesla = Clean energy production and consumption
- Boring co. + Hyperloop = Solving urban and intercity transportation
- OpenAI + Neuralink = Human-compatible superintelligence
- SpaceX + Starlink = Self-funding deep-space exploration
- SpaceX + Tesla = World’s most epic photograph (see below)
What on Earth could be bigger than that?
Some humble suggestions:
- Neuralink x Starlink? “Brainternet”. Patent pending.
- Starlink x OpenAI? Actual Skynet. Scary but cool.
- Solarcity x SpaceX? Dyson sphere. Solar energy, like all of it.
- SpaceX x OpenAI? Von Neumann Probe. Exploring the galaxy, like all of it.
Does it all come together for the city on Mars? Is there something way bigger than that? I struggle to even imagine.
What could possibly go wrong?
Besides Elon’s famous optimistic timelines, now providing self-ironic comedic relief in many of his announcements, what is going to stop him in his quest?
Competition? I mean who in their right mind is going to play at his level? Billions and billions of upfront investment into hypothetical, even wishful returns over decades? Each undertaking taking on some of the most technically challenging problems in existence. Jeff who, for real?
Could he run out of money? Yes, and almost has many times. Despite our short-sighted western fiscal system, I would like to think that Elon has earned the faith of investors and humanity by now. He’s clearly not doing this to make a quick buck. If necessary, I’m sure he could like, run a kickstarter for Mars tickets, or something.
Now what we really need to do is put him into a human-sized equivalent of a hamster ball. No more fast cars. No more fast women. Limited playtime with flamethrowers. The future cannot afford to lose this man.
Is this really what matters right now in the world?
Elon’s vision is the complete antithesis to the increasingly dystopian global zeitgeist full of walls, nationalism, terror & violence. People are morbidly drawn to images of a zombie-filled apocalypse, which may be almost preferable to the current prospects for many.
This alternative vision of a bright future inspires me in every aspect of my life. It actually tears me up right now, just a little.
You want to wake up in the morning and think, ‘The future’s gonna be great.’ — Elon Musk
Not just for Elon, but for me. For you. For anyone. To put yourself into his shoes for a brief moment, and get a glimpse at his motivations, watch this video of him witnessing the launch of his biggest rocket.
Thank you, Elon, from just another startup founder on the other side of this lonely planet.