“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ‒ Oscar Wilde. If there is one person who has taken this quote way too literal, it has to be the Business magnate Elon Musk. In an exclusive interview, Ted’s head curator Chris Anderson hosts Musk; the Canadian American businessman, investor, engineer, and inventor.
Musk talks about his evolutionary plans for a 3D Network of underground tunnels to alleviate traffic congestion. “Traffic affects people all over the world and it takes away so much of your life,” he explains.
The tunnel system will make the average person get from Westwood to L.A.X in 5-6 minutes. Even though one tunnel may relatively reduce traffic from the surface streets, it is likely to be congested again on the long run. So what’s his solution? More layers of tunnels under the ground. “There’s no real limit to the levels of layers of tunnels. You can go as deep as you can.”
“When people think of the future, they think of flying cars. They tend to go above ground rather than underground. So why dig expensive tunnels? “Asks Anderson.
If you didn’t think the idea of random cars flying above your head was bad enough, Musk offers some scientific disadvantages. “I am a big fan of rockets. I don’t have anything against flying things. They [flying cars] will be quite noisy and the wind force generator will be very high.”
On the other hand, the tunnel system is expected to be faster than the world’s fastest bullet train. To eliminate the concern of having this dramatic infrastructure under our houses, Musk explains that the earth is incredibly good at absorbing vibrations. “There’s no real limit you can dig as much as you want. If you go deep enough you cannot detect the tunnel even if it is a high-density area. If the tunnel is dug more than 3 or 4 tunnel diameters beneath your house, you won’t be able to detect it.”
Musk speaks about his tunneling company “The Boring Company” (pun intended!). He says that it takes only 3-4% of his time. He explains that most people working there are actually trainees and part timers. Musk claims, “I’m fairly confident that it [Tesla Electric Car] will be able to do that route even if you change the route dynamically”. They have already begun to experiment with models for this car, and yes, it drives all by itself.
Check out this visualization video for a glimpse of the future as envisioned by Musk.
Their plans in Tesla also include a heavy duty semi-truck. He victoriously notes that it will tug the old diesel semi-truck uphill, in terms of speed and endurance.
Musk’s plans do not just stop at cars; he literally “aims for the roof.” He speaks of the solar brick houses which externally look like normal bricks. They resemble the bricks typically used on the roofs of most American Suburban houses. He expects that in the future all American houses will be using solar power in their roofs in some way.
Just when you think this couldn’t get any crazier, Musk speaks about his SpaceX rocket.
But why is he doing all of this? Anderson has asked the same critical question: Why do we need to build a city on Mars?” Musk has replied “It’s important to have a future that is both inspiring and appealing. A future that includes being out there among the stars. He finds it entirely depressing to not have a future like this.” He considers it as not only a backup plan for humanity but also a beacon of hope for humanity.
All his projects complement each other like puzzle pieces. What makes this ambitious businessman unique is not only his determination but also his vision. “You have this unique double motivation on everything” claims Anderson, “The desire to do something exciting and to serve the greater good of humanity”. However, Musk remains modest. He mentions that even though the value of being an inspiration is underrated, he does not consider himself such a hero for humanity. As he simply puts it “I am just trying to think about the future and not be sad.”
Here, you can watch Elon Musk’s complete interview with Chris Anderson via Ted.com