The latest time Elon Musk was on Joe Rogan’s podcast was back in 2018 and that created quite a stir. In 2020, he’s back in the hot seat and the two discuss many topics over the course of the 2-hour interview.
As always, Rogan’s questioning produces some interesting responses, some of which were particularly interesting and revealed new information regarding Elon and the projects he’s working on.
Billionaires aren’t cool anymore
Elon takes a lot of criticism online and to be honest, it’s surprising to see him take so much of it to heart. Musk seems to be dramatically affected, almost embarrassed at his net wealth as he discussed his recent decision to sell most possessions.
I thought he detailed how people become really wealthy really well, that if you build a successful company that makes things in the world more efficient, you’re likely to end up wealthy as a result of running that company.
What’s interesting is that we don’t see many successful founders or CEOs go and buy islands, or do offensive things with their money. Sure, they may have a nice house or houses, but many have also amazing contributions to charity, and in many cases committed to giving much of their wealth away when the pass away.
I think Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are great examples. Gates in his post-Microsoft life, setup the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is aggressively pursuing a greater cause, curing the world of diseases. Zuckerberg is also making similar efforts with his wife with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative that provides financial assistance across a range of categories, ultimately helping others making the world a better place.
Personally, I think Musk (and others), should be proud of what they’ve built, that they’ve been able to make products and services that people love and can build careers on. Being in a position to never have to worry about money is something to aspire to, not be embarrassed by.
NueraLink could be implanted in a human with the next year
One of the many companies that Elon runs is NueraLink which attempts to create a digital high-bandwidth brain to machine interface. This has the potential to restorate sensory and motor function, and treat neurological disorders.
During the interview, Musk says the company is taking around 5% of his brain space right now (The Boring Company takes less than 1% and Tesla and SpaceX take most of the rest).
The company is on track to place its first device into humans within the next year. While these trials are likely to take many years to get right, the potential to route around spinal cord damage and allow a paraplegic to walk again, or for someone with alzheimer’s disease to access a different way to store and retrieve memories is life changing.
The device right now is about an inch in size (circular), but obviously the trajectory is to reduce this overtime. The idea would be to be replace the piece of skull you extract, with a Nueralink device that has a battery, Bluetooth, inductive charger, and insert the electrodes which are inserted by a robot. It’s a wild concept, but the potential benefits are absolutely amazing and it’s great to see this being worked on.
Musk and Rogan discussed the current limitations around human-to-human transfer of data. It was interesting to hear thoughts and conversations detailed as compression and decompression of data, with some loss along the way, I don’t think many people think of it that way, but does explain the process fairly well. In a future version of Nueralink, it could be possible to transfer information far more efficiently and accurately than humans can today. Asked about a timeline, Musk optimistically said 5 years, but more likely 10.
This could open the door to download information like an entire language, very quickly. Imagining that you could potentially learn anything, almost instantly, will likely lead to people learning everything they can and we’ll find out quickly how much the brain, augmented with technology, can really take.
Cybertruck before Roadster
It took a surprisingly long time for the interview to turn to Tesla products. Once it did, Musk revealed that Cybertruck production will come before the new Roadster.
That Roadster will be Tesla’s fastest ever vehicle and was slated to be the 2020 Roadster, but will now certainly fall to at least 2021. I certainly would have pushed Musk hard on the reason he believes the Cybertruck should be produced first, then the Semi, then the Roadster.
Personally, I think the Semi has the most potential to improve the world from those 3 products. The Cybertruck is a fun, crazy design that goes after a significant market segment which I understand, but the Semi has the opportunity to dramatically lower the cost of transporting goods and eliminate truck fatalities.
Musk says the Roadster will have an unfair advantage regarding its performance. This statement refers to the SpaceX technology that will help propel the car to record setting performance. I would have love to hear a deep dive on this and why having the fastest Hypercar be an electric vehicle, is important to accelerate the transition to EVs.
Watch the full interview
My biggest surprise of the interview was the lack of questioning around the hottest topic right now, the upcoming #BatteryInvestorDay. While Musk was unlikely to give away much ahead of the event (due in a couple of weeks), but he may have suggested or hinted at the scale of impact the day will have.
It is understood that Tesla will reveal a dramatic expansion of the battery production to address their long-standing issue of being battery constrained.
While Tesla has had a long partnership with Panasonic, it seems Tesla’s invested heavily in innovating on battery chemistry in readiness to produce them rapidly and cheaply.
When Tesla has a growing list of vehicles, as well as home and grid-scale energy storage products, being able to produce more batteries is critical. If they can also make batteries to go in their vehicles that outlast anything we’ve seen before, the range and lifespan is likely to increase dramatically, making the vehicles more compelling, and affordable.
As we reach a place with autonomy, that enables vehicles to drive themselves in the next few years, having a drivetrain and battery pack that can far exceed combustion engines, will completely disrupt the transportation industry. The economics of Taxis and even ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft will not be able to compete.
A regular car may do 300,000km before you need to replace the engine. If Tesla can produce a car that will do a million miles (1,609,344km), you’ll see a massive uptick in demand as the cost per km plummets.