Elon Musk: Trips to Mars by next year


Musk joked on stage that he is inspired by Kanye West, drawing laughter from the SxSW audience. (Read into that what you will, he said.) Musk wants to see the rocket take short flights up and down in the first half of next year. Musk says that he expects those other entities to eventually build interplanetary transport vehicles of their own.

More pressing to Mr Musk, and the investors that enable him, might be the backlog of orders for the Model 3, Tesla's "affordable" new auto.

Elon Musk is unquestionably the most interesting businessman in Silicon Valley - arguably the world - thanks to his nearly single-handed reignition of the space race. The BFR rocket system is 348-foot in height and that makes it much larger than the Falcon Heavy.

The images ranged from the awestruck crowds, to the rocket launching out of Earth's atmosphere, to the auto floating freely in space - all set to Bowie's eponymous "Life On Mars".

Musk predicted that, if SpaceX achieves its goal of laying the groundwork for a future human colony on Mars, it will prompt a wave of other private enterprises entering the space race. "And I think there aren't that many people that want to go in the beginning because all those things I said are true, but there will be some who will, for whom the excitement of frontier and exploration exceeds the danger". "We have to figure out some way to ensure that the advent of digital superintelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity". "I think that once we build it, we'll have a point of proof".

"This has been our pattern in the past".

The rocket is now code named BFR, of which Musk said: "It's a bit of a Rorschach test in acronym form". If the utility function of artificial intelligence is to maximise happiness of humans, a super-intelligent AI might decide that the best way to do that is to capture all humans and inject their brains with dopamine and serotonin.

"AI is far more risky than nukes", he said, dismissing the pushback from AI experts who suggested Mr Musk was more interested in controversy than studying the work. Musk says he's not normally an advocate of regulation and oversight. Musk called AI a "very serious danger to the public", one that keeps him up at night.

"It needs a body that has oversight". This is extremely important.

"They now don't think it's possible so if we show them that it is, they'll up their game and build interplanetary transport vehicles as well". After that, and as mentioned, Musk plans to add some 7,500 satellites in much lower 340 km (210 mi) orbit, to provide latency that feels more like a cable or fiber-optic connection.

Billionaire Elon Musk (in the black hat) and his brother, Kimbal Musk (in the white hat), join in a rendition of "My Little Buttercup" at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

The prevailing mood here, of course, is that Mr Musk is a visionary of the highest order. There are lots of problems that need to get solved. Having settlements on Mars could "shorten the length of the Dark Ages" to come, he said.