Elon Musk Ted 2022

Elon Musk on Twitter, Tesla, and the Future | Ted 2022

Watch the Interview on YouTube

Key Takeaways

  • Twitter is the new town square, Here are Elon’s views on free speech at Twitter:
    • Free speech on Twitter should only abide by the law
    • We should be reluctant to delete tweets, “If in doubt, let the speech exist”
    • Timeouts are better than permanent bans
    • The Twitter algorithm should be open source and available online for people to freely inspect and highlight issues and suggest changes
      • Additionally, it should always be clear if Twitter took an action on a tweet (e.g. promoted or demoted)
  • If Musk has his way, Twitter will get an edit button. It will likely have a timeout and will zero all retweets and favorites
    • That said, Elon’s most urgent priority is to eliminate scam and spam bot armies on Twitter
  • Amidst historically unprecedented short selling, Tesla’s funding ‘was indeed secured’. The SEC office of San Francisco knew this fact but forced Elon to admit he lied under the threat of bankrupting Tesla
    • “That’s like having a gun to your child’s head […] I was forced to admit that I lied to save Tesla’s life […] I was forced to concede to the SEC, unlawfully, those bastards”
      • “They [short sellers] wanted Tesla to die so bad they could taste it, Where are they now?” – Elon Musk with a smirk
  • The most noteworthy accomplishment of Tesla is reaching volume production without going bankrupt, a feat last achieved by Chrysler in the 1920s
  • Scale lies at the heart of Elon’s new Master Plan, which will address how to transition a vast economy that is dependent on fossil fuels to a sustainable energy economy.
    • Tesla estimates the global transition to sustainable energy requires 300TWh of battery capacity, 1000x the current installed capacity
  • Elon’s proposal for a world view/ motivating philosophy: “Understand what questions to ask about the answer that is the universe”
    • To that end, Elon aims to “Expand the scope and scale of consciousness so that we may better understand the nature of the universe”

Twitter is the New Town Square

  • It’s important that people have both the reality and perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law. This is important for freedom in free countries and around the world.
    • “I think the civilizational risk is decreased the more we increase the trust of Twitter as a public platform” – Elon Musk
  • Elon describes himself as a “Free speech Absolutist”, here is how he would apply it on Twitter:
    • Twitter should match the laws
    • We should be reluctant to delete tweets, “If in doubt, let the speech exist”
    • Timeouts are better than permanent bans
    • “A sign of free speech is that someone you don’t like is allowed to say something you don’t like” – Elon Musk
  • Elon believes Twitter should open-source its algorithm and have it available online for people to freely inspect and highlight issues and suggest changes
    • More importantly, it should always be clear if Twitter took an action on a tweet (e.g. promoted or demoted)
      • As opposed to the current black-box algorithms manipulating what people see, either algorithmically or manually

Will Twitter Get an Edit Button?

  • If Musk has his way, Twitter will get an edit button
    • To avoid people changing tweets after getting interaction, the edit button could have a timeout and will likely zero out all retweets and favorites
      • “I am open to ideas though”
  • Elon’s most urgent priority with Twitter is to eliminate scam and spam bot armies on Twitter
    • “If I had a Dogecoin for every crypto scam I saw…”

Elon’s Offer to Buy Twitter

  • Elon intends to retain as many shareholders as is allowed by the law in a private company, as opposed to maximizing his ownership of Twitter
    • While he can technically afford to pay out shareholders, it’s about having a public platform that is broadly inclusive and maximally trusted
      • “It’s extremely important to the future of civilization, I don’t care about the economics at all” – Elon Musk
  • Elon believes that owning Twitter will lead to misery with people blaming him for everything, especially when something goes wrong
    • “I hope it’s not too miserable” – Elon Musk
  • Mark Zuckerberg owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp with a dual-share ownership structure that ensures Mark Zuckerberg the 14th will still control those entities, “like literally”
    • “We won’t have that at Twitter”
  • Elon said he won’t go higher than his current bid to buy Twitter, is there a plan B if the Twitter board rejects the offer?
    • “There is”
    • He will share it some other time

On Tesla Going Private, Was Funding Really Secured?

  • “The funding was indeed secured”. However, despite knowing that fact, the SEC San Francisco office pursued an active public investigation anyway
    • The banks then warned Elon that if he didn’t settle with the SEC, they would cease to provide working capital and Tesla would go bankrupt immediately
    • The result was making Elon look like he lied about his “Funding Secured” tweet when it wasn’t a lie
      • “That’s like having a gun to your child’s head […] I was forced to admit that I lied to save Tesla’s life, and that’s the only reason”
        • “I was forced to concede to the SEC, unlawfully, those bastards”
  • Back at the time, “Tesla was under the most relentless short-seller attack in the history of the stock market […] It was the most shorted stock in the history”
    • Short sellers followed a tactic called short and distort. That is, massive short selling combined with a barrage of negativity, affected Tesla’s ability to operate
      • “They wanted Tesla to die so bad they could taste it, Where are they now?” – Elon Musk with a smirk

Elon’s Worst Business Decision

  • The worst business decision Elon ever made was not starting Tesla with just JB Straubel
    • Contrary to Martin Eberhard’s false narrative, Tesla was a shell company with no employees or intellectual property back when Elon first invested
    • “I didn’t invest in an existing company, we [Elon and JB] created a company”
      • “And another co-founder who made it his life mission to make it sound like he created the company, which is false” – Elon Musk

Challenges with Model 3

  • The most noteworthy accomplishment of Tesla is reaching volume production without going bankrupt, a feat last achieved by Chrysler in the 1920s
    • There have been hundreds of car start-ups and electric startups over the years, they all failed to survive
  • Tesla nearly went bankrupt in its quest to automate manufacturing and achieve volume production. The problem wasn’t their attempt to ‘over automate’
    • Rather, “We basically messed up almost every aspect of the Model 3 production line, from cells to packs to motors to the body line, body shop, and final assembly”
  • To achieve Model 3 volume production, Elon spent 3 years sleeping on the factory floor, in the trenches, with his team and workers
    • “It was the longest period of excruciating pain in my life […] but it had to be done, or Tesla would be dead”
      • “I think at this point, I know more about manufacturing than anyone currently alive on Earth” – Elon Musk

Elon’s New Master Plan

  • The scale lies at the heart of Elon’s new Master Plan, which will address how to transition a vast economy that is dependent on fossil fuels to a sustainable energy economy.
    • That is, we generate energy from wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear, have stationary storage to support intermittent energy sources
      • Finally, transition all transport to electric
  • Energy storage comes down to the tonnage of batteries produced in a sustainable way.
    • Tesla estimates the global transition to sustainable energy requires 300TWh of battery capacity, 1000x the current installed capacity
      • Then, transport, electricity, heating, and cooling will be fully electric
    • This is a task for humanity, not just for Tesla, and sooner is better.

Asperger’s Syndrome

  • Elon was the first person in history with Asperger’s Syndrome to host SNL, or “at least the first to admit it”
    • Growing up, social cues were unintuitive to Musk, he took people’s words literally. As a result, he was frequently bullied and had a rough childhood
  • Elon consumed a lot of books and movies, which helped him gradually understand people more and also gave him a deeper understanding of the world
    • “It took me awhile to understand things that most people intuitively understand” – Elon Musk

Physics and Information Theory

  • “The truth matters to me a lot, it sorts of pathologically matters to me” – Elon Musk
    • This search for truth lead Elon to study Physics and later Information Theory
      • Physics is about the truths of the universe, and some argue that information theory operates at an even more fundamental level than even physics
  • “I think the Why of things is very important” – Elon Musk
    • Elon was depressed in his teens trying to figure out the meaning of life; he read religious and philosophical texts
      • The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is among Elon’s favorite books, it’s a philosophy book disguised as a humor book
      • Note: Diving into German philosophy as a teenager is not a wise thing to do
  • Elon’s proposal for a world view/ motivating philosophy: “Understand what questions to ask about the answer that is the universe”
    • To that end, Elon aims to “Expand the scope and scale of consciousness so that we may better understand the nature of the universe”

A Future to be Excited About

  • “We should be optimistic about the future and fight to make that optimistic future happen” – Elon Musk
    • The future cannot just be about one miserable thing after another, solving one sad problem after another. It has to be a future we look forward to.
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Notes By Mostafa Khaled

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