if something matters.. you do try it even if the outcomes seems to be failure.
looking not for profit but for potential..
i hope to see man on mars in my lifetime..
we’re doing these things that are unlikely to succeed..
google to spend 10 bn on space x..
“The purpose of a deal, which is still in the works,” The Information wrote, “is to support the development of SpaceX satellites that could beam low-cost Internet around the globe to billions who don’t have it.”
2013 – big think interview – Tesla and SolarCity Will Accelerate the Development of an Energy Solution
april 2015 – Elon unveils news on energy – the telsa powerwall:
5 min – 1 pixel is the size of the battery needed for u.s. and use solar..
wall mounted – so don’t need a battery room. on garage or outside wall of house.. doesn’t take up any room…. if you want – you can go completely off grid… cost $3500
10 min – we’ll see much like the cell phones leap frogging the land lines.. ie: no need for electricity lines in remote places
13 min – we could power a small city .. like boulder.. with a powerpak
with 160 powerpaks – you could power the u.s. with 900 million – you could do the world.. if you wanted to do all transportation et al.. 2 billion
16 min – giga factory 1 in nevada
all of this open source
17 min – could reverse the levels of co2
Elon Musk (/ˈiːlɒn ˈmʌsk/; born 28 June 1971) is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor and inventor. He is currently the CEO & CTO of SpaceX and CEO & Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors. He is the founder of multiple companies, most notably SpaceX, PayPal, and Tesla Motors.
may 2015 – p1 of bio of Elon:
One thing you’ll learn about Musk as you read these posts is that he thinks of humans as computers, which, in their most literal sense, they are. A human’s hardware is his physical body and brain. His software is the way he learns to think, his value system, his habits, his personality. And learning, for Musk, is simply the process of “downloading data and algorithms into your brain.” Among his many frustrations with formal classroom learning is the “ridiculously slow download speed” of sitting in a classroom while a teacher explains something, and to this day, most of what he knows he’s learned through reading.
to exponentiate (affecting future of humanity et al).. perhaps we scale the individual.. 7 billion elon ish people (not machines)
on not machines.. that element of imperfection.. uncertainty.. empathy.. et al
“What will most affect the future of humanity?” The answer he came up with was a list of five things: “the internet; sustainable energy; space exploration, in particular the permanent extension of life beyond Earth; artificial intelligence; and reprogramming the human genetic code.”
He was iffy about how positive the impact of the latter two would be, and though he was optimistic about each of the first three, he never considered at the time that he’d ever be involved in space exploration. That left the internet and sustainable energy as his options.
2000,..replaced him as CEO with Thiel.
1\ SpaceX, whose stated purpose was to revolutionize the cost of space travel in order to make humans a multi-planetary species by colonizing Mars with at least a million people over the next century.
2\ an electric car company called Tesla, whose stated purpose was to revolutionize the worldwide car industry by significantly accelerating the advent of a mostly-electric-car world—in order to bring humanity on a huge leap toward a sustainable energy future.
3\ SolarCity, whose goal was to revolutionize energy production by creating a large, distributed utility that would install solar panel systems on millions of people’s homes, dramatically reducing their consumption of fossil fuel-generated electricity and ultimately “accelerating mass adoption of sustainable energy.”
But I have reasons. To me, there are two worthy areas of exploration in this post series:
1) To understand why Musk is doing what he’s doing. He deeply believes that he’s taken on the most pressing possible causes to give humanity the best chance of a good future. I want to explore those causes in depth and the reasons he’s so concerned about them.
unless it would happen faster if we unleashed 7 billion people. trusted them.. to thurman ness… no?
2) To understand why Musk is able to do what he’s doing. There are a few people in each generation who dramatically change the world, and those people are worth studying. They do things differently from everyone else—and I think there’s a lot to learn from them.
luxury ness.. material/mental/et al
He cited AI safety as one of the three things he thinks about most—the other two being sustainable energy and becoming a multi-planet species, i.e. Tesla and SpaceX.
My own talks with Musk’s engineers and designers told a similar story. I was told: “Elon always wants to know, ‘Why are we not going faster?’
He detests vague spin-doctor phrases like “studies say” and “scientists disagree,” and he refuses to advertise for Tesla, something most startup car companies wouldn’t think twice about—because he sees advertising as manipulative and dishonest.
science of people ness
p1 – the world’s raddest man – may 2015 – via tim urban:
story of energy
energy “the thing that lets something do stuff.”
energy can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred or transformed from one form to another
we use the word “eating” to refer to “stealing someone else’s joules and also murdering them too.
sun. plants. wind. fire. steam. burn wood. burn coal.
As everyone dug, they started finding other things too. They found pockets of burnable air we call natural gas and underground lakes of thick, black burnable liquid we call crude oil. It turns out that this whole time, humans had been walking around with a vast untapped treasure of tightly packed, burnable joules right underneath them. It was like a dog digging in the woods to bury a bone and uncovering an underground cave full of pulled pork.
probably the most significant technological shift of all time, electricity allowed the raucous power of burning to be converted into a highly tame and remarkably versatile form of energy called electrical energy. With steam as a key middleman, all those spastic combustion joules could now be sent into an organized grid of wires, transferred long distances, and delivered into residential and commercial buildings where it would wait patiently in an outlet ready to be discharged at the user’s convenience.
a new world, powered by an endless cave of pulled pork, being gorged upon by the world’s happiest dog…
The United States is by far the biggest consumer of oil in the world, consuming over 20% of the world’s oil and about double the next biggest consumer. The US is also one of the three biggest oil producers in the world, alongside Saudi Arabia and Russia, who all produce roughly the same amount.
When you burn a log, all you’re doing is reversing the photosynthesis.
Burning a log doesn’t change that level because the carbon cycle “expects” that carbon to be hanging around the ground, water, or air.
burning fossil fuels (lost carbons underground) makes atmospheric co2 levels rise.. which rises temp. temp doesn’t need to change much to make it bad.
Basically, we’re currently living off of a trust fund (fossil fuels) we found underground, and we’d better learn how to get a job before it runs out.
Transportation covers planes, trains, ships, trucks, and cars—but cars cause more carbon emissions than the other four combined, and without major changes, expected to rise by over 50% by 2030. By zooming in on one major piece of this puzzle—car emissions—and examining how it became a problem, why it’s still a problem, and the way we might solve that problem, we’ll get a better sense of what this entire struggle is really made of.
story of cars
When it comes to technology, a totally free and open market is the natural environment. But unlike the world of species, which is the eternal Wild West, human societies have another factor in play—a god-type force called government. So if we’re trying to figure out what makes technology move and change, we have to look at two sources of pressure: natural market conditions that ebb and flow and apply continual new pressures on all the actors within, and the “god” on top who can artificially change the environment below to create manufactured pressures.
In the US, god has an identity crisis, alternating between feelings of pride and self-loathing. It wants to have the best country, but it’s standing on the street corner alone yelling out in an argument with itself about the right way to do that. When the US government (or a government like it) wants to play god and alter the American natural market environment to apply certain pressures in certain places, it uses three main tools: funding, regulation, and taxes.
on why cars have stayed much the same in 200 yrs (sounds like Ed):
Third, gas cars are already well-optimized—if you want to aggressively burst through the canopy like an underdog without any brand awareness needs to, you have to create a much better type of car than what’s out there. In the case of cars, that probably means addressing the core of the car itself and the thing that’s been stressing everyone out with its billowing emissions—the engine. But since no one has really done this yet, it means you need to not only create the first successful startup car company in a long time, you need to create the first startup to ever succeed at making whatever type of car you’re creating. And since you’ll be there first to do it, you’ll have to put a huge amount of time and money into innovation research and development and bear the brunt of the invention costs for the whole industry. You’ll also have to bear the marketing costs to educate the world on why they should want this new type of car—that’s a one-time expense and once it’s done, other companies will be able to ride on the consumer demand you spent a ton of money building.
unless you create something that gets at the core of the economy and energy as well.. something that will market and sustain itself. ie: people. let’s do this first.
the car industry has had the luxury of calmly sunbathing in a tight canopy quilt, making only incremental advances, only when they’re needed.
and here is where the story – could – change.. what if we take out the element of money/profit
Thinking purely from a greed-optimizing perspective, cigarette companies acted completely rationally. They kicked up nicotine levels in cigarettes and added shards of glass into filters to create tiny cuts and increase nicotine absorption, which caused further harm but increased demand—but since the harm was unaccounted for, this was a pure net positive for the company.
The problem is, giant companies have enough influence that any government attempt at making changes through regulation ends up being watered down to the point where it’s ineffective.
So the reason why, 112 years after Ford Motor Company’s founding, we’re still using harmful, old-fashioned engines is simple: none of the pressures on the car industry are pushing it to change.
The car industry still needs to work hard to optimize incertain areas—that’s why cars have become safer, smoother, more comfortable, and more efficient over the years. But the most glaring flaw of the modern car—that it constantly dumps garbage into the atmosphere—remains untouched, because doing so is free, because big oil’s influence means government keeps allowing it, and because there’s no one from underneath to burst through the canopy and show customers that there’s a better way.
a nother way – what if that ends up leap frogging tesla..?
the story of tesla
When Apple decided to make a phone, they didn’t try to make a better Blackberry—they asked, “What should a mobile phone be?
revolution of everyday life. not fixing work/school/war/money/energy even.. deep enough. leap into the future.. ongoingly. exponentially. – to slow us down. not trying to balance… space x and tesla and kids’ school… et al..
But on long city-to-city drives or road trips, EVs have always had an issue. So Musk came up with a solution:
Build a worldwide energy network. Tesla came up with the Supercharger—a high-caliber, on-the-road charger—and there would be public stations that would contain a whole row of Superchargers, just like a row of gas pumps at a gas station. A normal garage charger takes either 5 or 10 hours to fully charge the Model S batte
A couple other things about Superchargers: they’re all free to use, and soon, they’ll all be entirely solar-powered.
Their feelings on EVs make perfect sense:
Dealerships make a huge amount of profit fixing gas engines, oil filters, and doing oil changes—money they’d stop making when they sold EVs with motors that rarely broke.
The car companies already know gas cars back and forth, and they’ve mastered the art of making a few tiny new changes to them each year so the new year’s models will be a little better than the previous year’s.
The issue with Tesla right now is most people can’t afford one,
The car companies, as I mentioned, aren’t happy about all of this—they’re acting like a kid with a cupcake whose parents are forcing them to eat their vegetables.
But how about the oil industry?
Unlike car companies, the oil industry can’t suck it up, get on the EV train, and after an unpleasant hump, continue to thrive. If EVs catch on in a serious way and end up being the ubiquitous type of car, oil companies are ruined. 45% of all the world’s extracted oil is used for transportation, but in the developed world, it’s much higher—in the US, 71% of extracted oil is used for transportation, and most of that is for cars.
So if the car industry has a cupcake and its parents are forcing it to eat vegetables, the oil industry has a cupcake but its parents are forcing it to eat razor blades. The car industry will resist the veggies and have a little tantrum before grudgingly giving in—the oil industry will furiously try to gouge the parents’ eyes out in resistance because for him, this is life and death.
The tactic to stay alive longer is always the same—put out misinformation to create confusion, and make it political so half the country feels like they’re going against “their own team” if they side against the industry.
The super-clever way they create confusion is by generating the public perception that there’s a genuine debate among scientists.
A government mandate is crushable—obsessed Model S owners are not.
The battle going on isn’t about gas cars vs. electric cars. That one’s already decided. This is a war about time. Oil companies will try to slow things down, and they may succeed—but they’re not winning this one.
In reality, if a more advanced future does happen, it’s because that future was willed into our lives by a few brave people. The present isn’t welcoming of an advanced future because the present is run by a thick canopy made up of the ideas, norms, and technologies of the past. There’ll be incremental tweaks and slight iterations on proven-to-work concepts, which may seem to us like moving into the future, but it’s really just a polishing up of the past.
what Musk said about Ford—He was the kind of guy that when something was in the way, he found a way around it, he just got it done. He was really focused on what the customer needed, even when the customer didn’t know what they needed.
SpaceX has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to establish a system of satellites to deliver worldwide Internet to all of Earth’s regions.
Elon Musk in Berlin: Refugee Crisis Just a Glimpse of What’s to Come If World Ignores Climate Change https://t.co/SNlAIJEfIC via @ecowatch
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/CoCreatr/status/664557691512074240
video doesn’t match.. maybe here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x37re5t
when grandkids ask.. why didn’t you do anything.. what will you tell them..
actually here: http://www.bmwi.de/DE/Mediathek/videos,did=727724.html
what’s important in the long term… today’s refugee problem is perhaps a small indication of what future will be like if we don’t take respect to climate change..
chemical change to atmosphere and oceans.. irreversible.. in future we want to make change that is right.. what to say to grandkids… did nobody tell you.. no everyone was telling us.. 97%.. it’s very important that we do something.
let’s do this first – even before co2 thing…
what is necessary for sustainable future..? germany great example for solar power per capita
but needs to paired with sustainable consumption of energy on transportation side… germany not so good at this..
applause for him to talk about space..
? what about climate.. what about grandkids’ question..?
on multi planet… we’re going to make sure things are good on earth first.
life can’t be just about solving problems… the things that inspire you to make the future happen..
there need to be things that make you want to be alive.. i think mars is one of those things.
oh my. 2 needs. deep enough. man.
breakthrough energy coalition
let’s do this first: free art-ists.
nexxworks (@nexxworks) tweeted at 3:53 AM – 22 Sep 2016 :
Elon Musk scales up his ambitions, considering going “well beyond” Mars: https://t.co/13eF0gNGxk(http://twitter.com/nexxworks/status/778894974473601025?s=17)
perhaps true scale/beyond ness ..will be realized via a nother way to live.. deep/simple/open enough for *all of us *aka: all
feb 2017 – humans must merge w machines or become irrelevant
Musk explained what he meant by saying that computers can communicate at “a trillion bits per second”, while humans, whose main communication method is typing with their fingers via a mobile device, can do about 10 bits per second.
In an age when AI threatens to become widespread, humans would be useless, so there’s a need to merge with machines, according to Musk.
this is the guy people are saying is so much smarter than everyone..?
eagle and condor man..
The technologists proposal would see a new layer of a brain able to access information quickly and tap into artificial intelligence. It’s not the first time Musk has spoken about the need for humans to evolve, but it’s a constant theme of h
we don’t need more info.. we need better connections
During his talk, Musk touched upon his fear of “deep AI” which goes beyond driverless cars to what he called “artificial general intelligence”. This he described as AI that is “smarter than the smartest human on earth” and called it a “dangerous situation”.
But there are many people whose jobs are to drive. In fact I think it might be the single largest employer of people … Driving in various forms. So we need to figure out new roles for what do those people do, but it will be very disruptive and very quick.”
video: robots will take your jobs, and governments will pay your wages
unless we make jobs and wages irrelevant
how we integrate in world in future w advanced ai.. some kind of improved symbiosis with digital super intelligence..
on symbiosis – interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.. tech doesn’t need an advantage..
Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) tweeted at 6:37 AM – 12 Mar 2017 :
Tesla’s Elon Musk is talking about solving Australia’s electricity woes, and Prime Minister Turnbull is listening https://t.co/m22SYdLww4 (http://twitter.com/WSJ/status/840904630188015620?s=17)
less about smarter than everyone.. more about richer… to get people to listen..
if truly smarter.. would be tackling deeper than electricity/mars/cars.. et al
so.. maybe smarter.. to have gotten attention s.. not wiser.. not wise enough
a nother way.. listen deeper
mar 2017 – new start up – It will work on ways to connect the human brain and computers.
Neuralink, will research how to connect the human brain and computers by way of tiny, implanted electrodes.
need for some sort of “neural lace” to enable direct human/computer interfacing. Without that, he theorized, we risk playing second fiddle to artificial intelligence, a technology liable to advance so quickly it ends up viewing humans as little more than domestic pets (in a best-case scenario).
“I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer … A third, digital layer above the cortex that could work well and symbiotically with you.”
Researchers have been actively engaged in the topic as well. A 2015 study in the journal Nature Nanotechnology explained in great detail how an electronic mesh could be injected into the brain via a syringe. Possible early applications of the technology could help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, or help patients with spinal cord injuries control artificial limbs.
“We’re trying to blur the distinction between electronic circuits and neural circuits,” Charles Lieber
begging you to listen deeper..for (blank)’s sake… [as you say.. risk is too high not to]
ie: 3d printed houses in netherland as lab reunion.. would be enough.. or anywhere.. maybe a year.. maybe less..
Of minds and melding
Behind this suggestion lies Mr Musk’s argument, made repeatedly, that human beings need to embrace brain implants to stay relevant in a world which, he believes, will soon be dominated by artificial intelligence.
1970s, were prosthetic visual systems, though they did not work well. Cochlear implants, to restore hearing, have done much better. Hundreds of thousands of people now have them—though, strictly speaking, they talk to auditory nerves rather than to the brain directly, which simplifies the task.
sounds like …
New Scientist (@newscientist) tweeted at 5:36 AM – 4 Apr 2017 :
Google uses neural networks to translate without transcribing https://t.co/glRhZ1pbIJ https://t.co/2Z76KWNsGV(http://twitter.com/newscientist/status/849224178020626432?s=17)
In February Mr Musk said that he thought “meaningful” interfaces between the brain and computation were five years away. The creation of Neuralink suggests that he, like Mr Johnson, is putting his money where his mouth is.regardless of the precise approach taken to hardware, another problem the field faces is that
no one understands the mechanism behind the natural equivalent of software—the way the brain encodes information.Such interfaces as do exist have to be trained, rather than instructed what to do. Instruction would be possible only if brain signals were properly understood.
But the two firms’ shared underlying premise—that medical purposes might lead to more consumer-orientated applications—does seem a sensible way to do things.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bigthink/status/856671469937491973
Musk expands on his vision of the future by saying it will require two things – “solving the machine-brain bandwidth constraint and democratization of AI”. If these are achieved, the future will be “good” according to the SpaceX and Tesla Motors magnate [51:30].
By the “bandwidth constraint,” he means that as we become more cyborg-like, in order for humans to achieve a true symbiosis with machines, they need a high-bandwidth neural interface to the cortex so that the “digital tertiary layer” would send and receive information quickly.
At the same time, it’s important for the AI to be available equally to everyone or a smaller group with such powers could become “dictators”.
that’s what as the day ness would bring.. have to rat park all of us
a nother way Elon..
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/TEDchris/status/858836053548867584
3 min – a bn a mile to do subway extension
9 min – hyperloop underground
10 min – the boring co… 2-3% of my time
27 min – a future we no longer have to feel guilty about energy
30 min – board for potus.. i’ve used two times to argue for immigration and climate change.. weren’t on agenda.. maybe nothing will be done.. but at least addressed
35 min – have to have a reason to want to get up in the morning..
and.. has to be that way for all of us… no..? let’s work on that first or too or whatever…
36 min – actions we can take that affect probabilities.. sustainable energy will happen no matter what.. tesla accelerates that.. by maybe a decade.. that will be a good thing to occur.. then too.. the space thing is not inevitable.. in 69 to moon..
38 min – tech doesn’t automatically improve.. only improves if a lot of people work hard to make it better.. and if not can go bad
40 min – i’m not trying to be anyone’s savior.. i’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad..
fb share by Dave Gray:
This is really really interesting. It’s liminal thinking
“The most important point I want to make is [that] the true problem, the true difficulty, and where the greatest potential lies is building the machine that makes the machine. In
new factory would deliver a “ten-fold improvement” in productivity.
would deliver a never ending x-fold improvement in eudaimoniaive surplus
Musk had reverted to his childhood state as a devourer of information and had emerged from this meditative process with the realization …
that’s huge part of ..freeing up all the people.. so imagine 7 bn of us doing that..
reverting to childhood state as a devourer of info – aka: curiosity
The seed of each idea was planted by calculating what physics dictates is possible, not extrapolating from the status-quo.
imagine thinking diff (beyond status quo) even moreso.. deep enough for 7 bn today
Musk turned his attention to the factory where he said the same amount of effort yielded an order of magnitude more results.
yeah.. so again.. magnitude beyond.. ginorm small..
“Lot of engineers don’t realize this is possible. They think there’s like a wall. They’re basically operating according to these invisible walls and we’re in the process of explaining those walls don’t exist.
Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us’
some of the human workers who share the factory with their robotic counterparts complain of grueling work pressure they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals, and sometimes life-changing injuries.
Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues.
“No one wants to get a pay cut because they’re injured, so everyone just forces themselves to work through it,” added Adam Suarez, who has worked at the factory for about three years.
Elon Musk quits 2 Trump advisory councils: “Leaving Paris (climate agreement) is not good for America or the world” cnn.it/2qM5AYb
love and scientific method and..
I’m trying to figure out the set of actions I can take that are more likely to result in a good future. If you have suggestions in that regard, please tell me what they are.” https://t.co/Dh6y6huVHU
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/leashless/status/932359915812909056
love to. but i don’t think you can hear me.
The scientific method is a phrase Musk uses often when asked how he came up with an idea, solved a problem or chose to start a business. Here’s how he defines it for his purposes, in mostly his own words:
1. Ask a question.
2. Gather as much evidence as possible about it.
3. Develop axioms based on the evidence, and try to assign a probability of truth to each one.
4. Draw a conclusion based on cogency in order to determine: Are these axioms correct, are they relevant, do they necessarily lead to this conclusion, and with what probability? 5. Attempt to disprove the conclusion. Seek refutation from others to further help break your conclusion. 6. If nobody can invalidate your conclusion, then you’re probably right, but you’re not certainly right.
“That’s the scientific method,” Musk concludes. “It’s really helpful for figuring out the tricky things.”
But most people don’t use it, he says. They engage in wishful thinking. They ignore counterarguments. They form conclusions based on what others are doing and aren’t doing. The reasoning that results is “It’s true because I said it’s true,” but not because it’s objectively true.
“It’s really inconsistent to not be the way you want the world to be,” .. It’s better just to be straightforward and try to do useful things.”
Overall, there’s a theme to Musk’s feedback: First, things have to be useful, logical and scientifically possible.
But when I ask him about that (competition of ai superiority starting ww3), Musk gets testy. “I don’t have all the answers. I’m not saying that I have all the fucking answers. Let me be really clear about that. I’m trying to figure out the set of actions I can take that are more likely to result in a good future. If you have suggestions in that regard, please tell me what they are.“
He laughs at the expression, and I understand now that Musk didn’t have me over to talk about his projects and vision. There’s nothing to be gained from talking about the problems of science with someone who doesn’t understand them.
The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) tweeted at 6:00 AM – 7 Feb 2018 :
‘Crazy things can come true,’ says SpaceX founder Elon Musk after successful test flight
jordan (@JordanUhl) tweeted at 3:32 PM – 6 Feb 2018 :
43 million Americans live in poverty.
Elon Musk just spent $90 million to launch a car into space for fun.
Tell me again why billionaires needed tax cuts? (http://twitter.com/JordanUhl/status/961004639973003269?s=17)
Basic Income Quotes (@BaseIncomeQuote) tweeted at 5:41 PM – 24 Feb 2018 :
Elon Musk : “We Will Need Universal Basic Income” #BasicIncome https://t.co/garUlX4lR3 (http://twitter.com/BaseIncomeQuote/status/967560123496333312?s=17)
if we’re serious about change.. we need bi to be a temp placebo.. much of our problem is embedded in thinking that money is our os
Elon Musk (@elonmusk) tweeted at 2:20 AM – 11 Jul 2018 :
@dtemkin This reaction has shaken my opinion of many people. We were asked to create a backup option & worked hard to do so. Checked with dive team many times to confirm it was worthwhile. Now it’s there for anyone who needs it in future. Something’s messed up if this is not a good thing. (http://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1016960469737693184?s=17)
zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) tweeted at 5:26 AM – 15 Jul 2018 :
Heard about @Elonmusk’s rescue “submarine”? The cave-diver who masterminded the Thai cave rescue called it a “PR stunt”—that was the politest thing he said. You might be wondering: well, he tried to help. Let me explain with this thread and this NYT piece. https://t.co/ihoqDd8lMf https://t.co/MWicaJKaA6(http://twitter.com/zeynep/status/1018456864026132480?s=17)
First, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help. That’s great. Wonderful. I commend @and every single person who says they’d like to help—anyone, anywhere. The problem isn’t that at all. But there is a huge lesson here for all of Silicon Valley—if they can listen.
“move fast and break things” I wonder why I think that. (I’m a programmer by the way, just gave it up to move to academia).
I dabbled in caving (no more, too dangerous) and am a certified diver (only open water!!!) and I have a long-term interest in institutional safety *and* Silicon Valley. I don’t want to put down any effort to help but I want to explain this and more. twitter.com/brodieferguson…
As humans we do a lot of dangerous things—some for fun (like climbing or cave-diving!) and some routinely as part of modern life (drive, fly, factories, medicine) etc. Many more mature industries and sports have extensive experience in iterative, long-term learning in safety.
There is obviously a lot of smart and creative people in tech, but they suffer from an Achilles Heel trio of weaknesses: self-perceived idealism as excuse, overconfidence in their capabilities outside their own areas of expertise, and lack of attentiveness to details and harms.
In contrast, people like those top cave-divers who found & rescued the boys (their technical achievement & bravery is one for the ages) come from an opposite culture that is no less innovative but very very different. It’s also quite modest so that hides the amazing nature of it.
Stanton and Volanthen—who first made it to the boys and shot the remarkable video of them huddling in jerseys—brushed off media while first entering the cave, refusing to give interviews and just said “we’ve got a job to do.” Volanthen went back to work day after rescue
So Musk’s sub was impractical, and would never work. Ok. What’s the harm & why is Vern Unsworth so irritated? Well, he’s the one who organized everything, got Thai authorities to let cave-divers take over. One Thai Seal had perished and more would, along with boys. Listen up now.
Do have any idea what it must have been for some random guy to convince the Thai gov’t to let a bunch of cave-divers run the whole thing? There were so few of them who could do this that the whole thing halted while they slept. That’s why rescuers hate PR stunts AND VIP visits.
Some billionaire-struck gov’t official might say, hey, let’s try. It distracts. It’s ok to develop a back-up plan, and given odds of a rescue, why not? What’s not okay is to broadcast it, to bug the rescue team directly (find consultants!), and for media to give it such coverage.
Now moving beyond the cave rescue. As I write, Silicon Valley innovation has advantages.. for a young industry. No more. Software is eating the world, and it’s time for the other approach also—iterative learning, domain expertise, safety culture, do no harm as a principle, etc
But the idea that being smart in one domain qualifies one to just dabble in another is dangerous. For example, for long, many SV companies refused to understand they’re in people business and tried to handle it as a side issue that they can handle because they are smart. NOPE.
Repeat: I’m NOT criticizing @for trying to help. But his irritation at a Thai official saying his sub was sophisticated but not practical (rescue was almost over) may perhaps be a learning moment? Wealth, fame and power are curses to judgment. None of us would be immune.
Point isn’t that everything should be like the airline industry or like cave-diving. But, look. After the 1996 TWA crash, they put the plane back together. Investigated for four years. Redesigned things. That’s why commercial flying is so safe. This approach needs more respect.
The flashy tech solution and the savior make good movies. But what makes most things work is the quite hero/ine embedded in institutional knowledge—divers who brought decades of knowledge. The Thai officials who let go—must have been hard. Farmers who let their fields be flooded.