Elon Musk with a Model of Starship

Elon Musk Interview: 8 Main Points from Tools for Productivity to Daily Habits

Elon Musk spoke with education minister Nadiem Makarim and youth at the B20 / G20 Summit on November 14, 2022.  His talk was important because it provides us with tools to improve our own educational goals.  This article contains the entire conversation and Elon’s response to questions.  This interview is one of my favorites and I hope you’ll agree! It is a roadmap for personal growth and education.  There are 8 main points that range from tools for productivity to daily habits. 

  • Tools for Productivity: A Physics framework
  • Physics is the law, and everything else is a recommendation
  • Early life:  Movies & Books that had an impact
  • Roadmap for Education: Early education in critical thinking and identifying fallacies.  Learning what is relevant and eliminating mental obstacle courses
  • Careers that will be in demand: Sustainable Energy, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology
  • Proceeding with caution: Artificial intelligence and synthetic biology
  • Avoiding Big Mistakes: Place weight on both the heart and mind and welcome critical feedback from friends
  • Daily Habits: Be curious about everything, have a fearless sense of adventure

Tools for Productivity: A Physics Framework

Elon was asked to share what his tools for productivity and principles are, and how he does the amount of work that he does,

“Well, I do put in a lot of hours and I’m not sure I would actually recommend what I do to others, in the sense that I pretty much work all the time so you know it’s quite rare for me to take even a Sunday off so I’m not sure that’s that’s really, you know, I’m not recommending that to people.  With regard to tools for understanding the world I think a physics framework is extremely helpful. In physics, they call it thinking from a first principles standpoint, where you try to understand the most fundamental truths in a particular situation, and then you reason up from there, and then you test your conclusions against what you believe to be the fundamental truths. So in physics, it would be like testing to see if you’re violating conservation of energy or conservation of momentum or something like that, and then constantly trying to be less wrong. So you should always assume that you are to some degree wrong, and you want to be less wrong. This is, I think, very important. It’s a little tougher on the ego, but it’s great for getting to the truth of things. Aspire to be less wrong.” 

Physics is the Law, and everything else is a recommendation

Elon explained how he manages to continue successfully despite the many people who insist he will fail. He replied, “Well, I would go back to physics, in that the only things that are truly impossible are breaking the laws of physics. So, as long as you’re not breaking the laws of physics, it’s possible. It doesn’t matter what anyone’s opinion is. Physics is the law, and everything else is a recommendation. I’ve seen quite a few people break the law, but I’ve never seen anyone break physics.” Elon went on to explain that laws of physics are strong, saying, “Yes, you can certainly challenge the laws of physics but, they’ve been challenged quite well, and they’ve been found to be resilient.”

Early Life: Movies and books that had an impact

Elon (left) age 6, with Tosca and Kimball Musk. Courtesy Maye Musk, A Woman Makes a Plan.
Elon (left) in 1976, with Tosca and Kimball Musk. Courtesy Maye Musk, A Woman Makes a Plan.

Elon shared some impactful moments from his early life,

“Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater. So you can imagine, if you see an incredible movie like that, and it’s the first time you’ve ever been in a movie theater, I think I was six years old, it’s going to have a really big effect on you.” – Elon Musk


“Well, I read a lot of sci-fi, and fantasy books, it’s not going to surprise anyone that I sort of like Star Trek, Star Wars, and that kind of thing. In fact, Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater. So you can imagine, if you see an incredible movie like that, and it’s the first time you’ve ever been in a movie theater, I think I was six years old. it’s going to have a really big effect on you. So, reading and watching a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, Lord of the Rings is probably my favorite book. Isaac Asimov had a huge effect on me, the Foundation Series. Robert Heinlein, ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.’ And then, in trying to find the truth of things I explored many avenues, and ultimately found that physics was the best way to explore the truth of things. At the risk of being a broken record on the physics front, I strongly recommend studying it, haha!”

Roadmap for Education: Early education in critical thinking and identifying fallacies.  Learning what is relevant and eliminating mental obstacle courses

The interviewer asked Elon Musk to describe what education ideally should look like for today’s world. “Sure, well, when you’re trying to learn something, it’s extremely important to establish relevance, to say, why are you trying to learn this? Because our minds are constantly trying to forget things. So our minds are at a subconscious level trying to decide what is relevant and what is not relevant.  So most of the things that you see and hear, your mind does not want to remember because there’s no point in remembering it, so you have to establish relevance.  Once you establish relevance, your mind will naturally want to remember.”

“Explain the tools in the process of solving a problem, and then the tools will make sense”
Elon Musk

“There’s, I think, two fundamentally different ways to promote education. One is by teaching to the tools, and the other is by teaching, where if you want to solve a problem, and trying to understand what tools you need to solve that problem. For example, it would be quite boring to have a series of lectures about wrenches and screwdrivers and winches and whatnot, without establishing relevance, but if you say ‘Well, let’s take apart an engine!’ Now how do we take this engine apart and put it back together? Well, we’re going to need screwdrivers, we’re going to need wrenches, we’re going to need a winch, we’ll need, maybe some Allen keys. You’ll have to take it apart, and then put it back together. and then you’ll understand in the process of doing that, why those tools are relevant. and you will remember them. This is a very simple but important principle, which is, ‘Explain the tools in the process of solving a problem, and then the tools will make sense,’  otherwise, they will seem irrelevant, and people will not remember them, and motivation will be difficult.”

The interviewer asked what needs to change from either a teacher or a curriculum perspective, and Elon replied,“Yeah, I think often, things are backwards. They’ll teach the tools, instead of teaching how to solve a problem, and then establish the relevance of the tools. So, you might take a course on calculus, for example, but you don’t know why you’re taking a course in calculus, it just seems like a mental obstacle course that doesn’t have any point. And actually for a lot of people I would say it probably is a mental obstacle course that has no point because unless you expect to use it in the future, there’s no point in learning calculus, at least at a detailed level. The principles of calculus are interesting to learn, but not the nuanced solving of equations. So, I generally say, What is it that somebody wants to do?, and then try to solve that problem and as you solve that problem, say, Well you need this tool, and you need that tool.”

“I think quite frankly, a lot of education is kind of pointless, and that people are taught a bunch of things, but they don’t actually ever use those things in the future”
Elon Musk

“So, why go to the trouble of teaching people things that they will not use in the future? Quite frankly, I think a lot of education is pointless. Unless one simply wants to go through a mental obstacle course, to test people’s ability to go through a mental obstacle course. I think it’s debatable as to whether we should force people to go through these mental obstacle courses.”

“I Would Strongly Recommend The Principles Of Critical Thinking Be Taught At A Young Age”
Elon Musk

Elon Musk with son X Æ A-Xii. Elon recommends Critical Thinking be taught in early childhood education.
Elon Musk with son X Æ A-Xii. Elon recommends Critical Thinking be taught in early childhood education.

“If I can make a strong recommendation for what should be taught in early education, it’s critical thinking.  Critical thinking is incredibly important, because it creates a mental firewall to allow children to reject concepts that are not cogent. It’s sort of like having an anti-mind virus defense system. Critical thinking, if taught at a young age, creates a mental firewall that prevents false concepts from establishing themselves in people’s minds. So I would strongly recommend the principles of critical thinking be taught at a young age.”

Elon continued, recommending learning how to defend against fallacies.  “And how do you defend yourself against mental trickery? People will often try various fallacies, and sort of trap you with fallacies. And so, having defense against fallacies would be a great course.” 

Careers in High Demand: Sustainable Energy, Artificial intelligence, Synthetic Biology

The interviewer asked which careers might become the most desirable in the future, Elon replied, “Well sure, I think some of it’s going to be pretty obvious, you know, anything to do with sustainable energy is going to be pretty significant in the future. So if it’s to do with lithium ion batteries for stationary storage or for cars, aircraft, boats, that’s going to be very significant. Artificial intelligence will obviously be very significant in all fields for self driving cars, self flying airplanes, self piloting boats.  I’d fully recommend learning those. These are very technical subjects, of course. There are many other worthy pursuits, but as a technologist, that’s what I would recommend. AI and sustainable technology.”

Elon continued, 

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity in synthetic biology with the synthetic messenger RNA. That’s going to be a revolution in medicine, I think comparable to going from analog to digital. Synthetic RNA is like medicine going digital. It’s a much more profound revolution, than I think most people realize. But I am a technologist, so there’s plenty of good things to do that don’t involve technology. But from a technology standpoint, I would say, sustainable energy, AI, synthetic biology are the three big areas.”

Proceeding with Caution: AI and Synthetic Biology

What technology scares you the most in terms of its risk? Are there any technologies that scare you? Elon replied, “Well I think we should be a little bit concerned about AI because we don’t want digital super intelligence that goes wrong and causes damage to humanity. So I think we do need to be cautious with artificial intelligence.” 

“You know, on the synthetic biology front,  that also has the potential to be dangerous, because it is possible to create a far more damaging virus than would occur in nature. These technology tools are definitely double edged swords. The more powerful the technology, the more careful we need to be in how we use it.”

Nadiem Makarim asked what Elon thinks Indonesia needs to do to become a global economic power by 2045. “Well, I think widespread education obviously makes sense. I think having high speed Internet conductivity throughout Indonesia is going to be extremely important. I mean, think about the Internet, if you’ve got a low cost device and access to the Internet, you can learn anything. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has lectures, which I believe are available for free on YouTube, so that you could learn practically anything you want from the Internet for free, providing you have Internet access, and at least some level of education to allow you to learn more from the Internet. So I think widespread Internet access is essential for that because it just allows people to learn whatever they want to learn at whatever pace they are comfortable learning.”

You want to take the ‘Aspire to be less wrong’  approach versus, ‘You’re right, and let’s prove that you’re right.’ 
Elon Musk

Elon Musk at G20 Summit, November 14, 2022. Elon speaks with education minister Nadiem Makarim and takes questions from audience
Elon Musk at B20 / G20 Summit, November 14, 2022. Elon speaks with education minister Nadiem Makarim and takes questions from audience

Elon took three questions from the audience.  The first asked what mistakes he made in the past and how he coped with them.  Elon responded, “To be frank I’ve made so many mistakes, that it would take far too long for me to list them all. So I would not want to bore people with the extremely long list of mistakes that I have made in the past. But I think the higher principle here is to always aspire to be less wrong over time. So, to acknowledge that you’ll always be to some degree wrong, but that you wish to be less degree wrong over time.  If you can be a little less wrong every day, I think you’re doing great. It’s hard to be less wrong every day, but frankly, if you can be less wrong most days, that’s a pretty big victory.”

“Take the position that you’re wrong, and you wish to be, aspirationally, slightly less wrong” Elon Musk

Avoiding Big Mistakes: Place weight on both heart and mind, and welcome critical feedback from friends

“I think it’s important to place weight on both the heart and mind, not simply the mind. Some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in terms of hiring people was that they were strong of mind, but not of heart. Both matter a great deal. The higher principle is to just assume you’re wrong and you want to be less wrong and just try to be less wrong every day. Seek critical feedback, especially from friends. Often your friends will know what you’re saying is wrong, but they don’t want to hurt your feelings so they won’t tell you. But if you ask them to tell you, and say that it won’t hurt your feelings, then they will tell you.  I think getting critical feedback from friends is very helpful. Yeah, what I’m saying is that we’re always wrong, you should just assume that you’re wrong. Because we are. You want to take the ‘Aspire to be less wrong’  approach versus, ‘You’re right, and let’s prove that you’re right.’ Take the position that you’re wrong, and you wish to be, aspirationally, slightly less wrong.”

In answer to a question about how a small but successful online business could expand to a global level, Elon advised, “Widespread Internet is going to make a big difference, minimizing the cost per useful byte of information is very important. Over time there will be so many devices being made, PCs, iphones, android devices, there will soon be more devices made than there are humans that exist in the world. So, at least if the device is going to be secondhand, it’s going to be extremely cheap. And I think we are seeing something of a plateau in device capability. Like it’s increasingly difficult to add incremental functionality to a phone or a laptop at this point, which means that they will just become lower and lower cost and more and more affordable. But really, the key is being online and having an affordable device. I think the trends are very much in that direction, so that is a reason to be optimistic about the future.”

Daily Habits: Be Curious about everything, have a fearless sense of adventure

“Well, in terms of day to day habits, I think, being curious about the world, how the world works, curious about technology, curious about everything, really.  I think curiosity is a very important thing to have. And then, to be somewhat obsessive about the curiosity. Obsessive curiosity is probably the number one thing.  And I think having a sort of, sense of adventure is also good. I think sometimes people are afraid of things when they shouldn’t be afraid of things. Like you want to make sure that your fear is proportionate to the actual danger. And I think, sometimes our instinctive fear is not proportionate to the actual danger. So you want to try to rethink things, and say ‘Okay, is that fear justified? Will some event actually happen?’ You know you sort of have to sometimes look at your instinctive fear, and question it, and decide whether that is really a valid fear, and often it is not. And simply looking at the fear, will make it go away. “

Watch the interview here https://youtu.be/l8sMFMBfFrM thanks to Elon Alerts.

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk has some great recommendations for productivity and one of them is not to emulate him.  He says he works every day and does not take breaks.  This would not be good for you.  Elon does recommend cultivating a “First Principles” standpoint based on the laws of physics.  He says, “physics is the law, and everything else is a recommendation!” He loved watching Star Wars and Star Trek as a kid, and read such books as Lord of the Rings, The Foundation Series. and, ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.’

On the education front, Elon Musk outlines a roadmap that includes teaching what is truly relevant and critical thinking, as well as identifying fallacies and eliminating mental obstacle courses.  He also highly recommends learning Physics.  

As far as being cautious about technology, he is mainly concerned about the risks of AI and synthetic biology.  Al could possibly harm humanity, and synthetic biology could create a far more damaging virus than would occur in nature.

When Elon Musk talked about mistakes he made in the past, he said they were too many to list, and he also said, “I think it’s important to place weight on both the heart and mind, not simply the mind. Some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in terms of hiring people was that they were strong of mind, but not of heart.”  

Hike & Bike Trail of East Austin, Colorado River, Courtesy CVSherman
Hike & Bike Trail of East Austin, Colorado River, Courtesy CVSherman

If you love Elon Musk Interviews, here’s more…

Elon Musk Interview in Norway (ONS 2022 Stavanger Conference August 29th) Less than 25 min long and packed with information (full interview) Elon Musk spoke at the ONS 2022 Conference in Norway in a less than 25-minute interview with Xenia Wickett. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have, its packed with so much important information. Elon got to the main points quickly, making this a fabulous interview.

Elon Musk Talks at 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference: Conversation About Tesla In a rare appearance, Elon Musk talked at the 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference, on November 4, 2022 in NYC.  For this article, I am sharing the parts of his talk that were about Tesla.

Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This article was created by Gail Alfar with the goal to preserve this interview in text or written form for the purpose of 1. education and 2. preserving the brilliant insight and words of Elon Musk. November 26, 2022. 

Elon Musk Talks at 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference: Conversation About Tesla

In a rare appearance, Elon Musk talked at the 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference, on November 4, 2022 in NYC.  For this article, I am sharing the parts of his talk that were about Tesla.  Thanks to Ron Baron for this opportunity to hear Elon talk. Highlights,

  • Why he works so many hours
  • Why Tesla patents are free 
  • Why autonomy matters
  • Elon’s First Principles Algorithm, 2 examples
  • Finding out the “Dilbert Ratio” of a company
  • On being all-in with his teams
  • Extreme Engineering Challenge
  • Tesla needs to get into the mining business
  • Investing in TSLA and the value of Autonomy and Optimus
  • Self-Sustaining Tesla Superchargers for the Zombie Apocalypse!

Tesla and SpaceX

“I think what I’m working on has an important effect on the future, in the case of Tesla, I think it’s fair to say that Tesla has significantly accelerated the advent of sustainable energy.  Before Tesla, no one was doing electric cars, and now as a result of Tesla, I think, almost every major car company in the world is building electric cars and I think that’s a pretty big deal.  But there’s still a long way to go to transition the world to a sustainable energy economy and so we still have a lot of work ahead of us at Tesla, but that’s our goal there.”   

“For SpaceX, I think it’s important for the future to be exciting and for humanity‘s existence to be assured of in the long term, I think we must become a multi-planet species and a space-faring civilization.  We’re here like 4 1/2 billion years after earth got started, 13.8 billion years into the age of the universe. It’s only now recently the last 5000 years that we even invented writing.  I would say, date the first civilization by when there was the first writing, which was in ancient Samaria around five or 6000 years ago. So, we’ve basically just been here for a very brief instant.  All of human civilization is a blink of an eye, if there was an eye, on an evolutionary time scale. So, I think its important we take the actions to ensure that the light of consciousness continues because we should really view consciousness as a small candle in a vast darkness that could easily go out.”

Elon Musk explains why Tesla’s Patents are 100% Free

“I think there is a role for patents.  I would say if somebody’s spent a lot of money developing a particular medicine and has to go through expensive stage three medical trials and then they finally get some medicine that is approved but where the drug itself is cheap to manufacture, then I think a patent, in that case, makes sense, otherwise, no one would go to the trouble of doing stage three medical trials.” 

“There are definitely roles for patents. In the case of Tesla, our goal is to advance sustainable energy and we can’t just do it by ourselves, we need the whole industry to go that way, so we gave them our patents for free in order to help them accelerate electric vehicles.”

The Importance of Autonomy

“We’ve not formally announced our next car program, so I can’t talk too much about our vehicle program or programs that have not been announced, but we do expect to make cars that are more affordable than the current Model 3 or Model Y (big applause by the audience here).  I think by far the biggest factor is autonomy, in terms of the value of the car because right now, cars get driven for about 10 or 12 hours a week maybe 1 1/2 hours a day, but there are 168 hours a week and so if they were autonomous the cars could drive for 50 or 60 hours to see a five-fold increase in the utility of the car that could do autonomy.  This is a really gigantic thing.   It would also mean that we wouldn’t need anywhere near as many parking lots and this would also be helpful for the environment because you would need far fewer cars.” 

Elon explains his First Principles Algorithm

Best part is no part! Interior Tesla Model Y credit Tesla.
Best part is no part! Interior Tesla Model Y. Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

“Well, I think the full explanation or at least an accurate explanation would take a long time. because the first approximation of a car is made of 10,000 unique parts and process steps. Tesla is, at this point, probably the best at manufacturing in the auto industry, which I think nobody was expecting.”

“Well, I’ve got this first principles algorithm that I find to be very helpful in the design and manufacturing of anything. People here may find it helpful. The first thing that you should do is make the requirements that you’ve been given less dumb. Whatever constraints and requirements you were given, they were to some degree, dumb, and you want to make them less dumb. If you don’t start with this, then you get the right answer to the wrong question. And the requirements must be given from a person who can explain the requirements, not from a department, because then you don’t know who to talk to. Then step two is to delete the part or delete the process step.  This sounds extremely obvious, and yet, over and over again, we have found that parts are not needed, they were put in there, just in case, or by mistake. Or there was a step that someone thought was needed but was not actually needed. This sounds insanely obvious, but we have deleted so many parts from the car that did nothing.”

Two Examples of First Principles Algorithm

“There are so many examples, one example is there were three fiberglass mats on top of the battery pack. They partially covered the battery pack. I was on the battery pack production line, and the number one thing choking battery pack production was gluing these fiberglass mats on top of the battery pack.  So the reason I repeat this algorithm myself is I try to first do things backwards. First, I try to automate it, then I try to accelerate it, just go faster, then I try to simplify it, and only then did I delete it. Because it turns out that the team at Tesla that does noise and vibration minimization, sort of making the car quiet, thought that the fiberglass mats were there because of the battery safety team for battery fire protection. Then I asked the battery fire prevention team what they were needed for and they said noise and vibration (laughter here)!  So then we had two cars drive, with the microphone in each car and you could not tell the difference. So, we went to all that trouble for a part that should not exist.”

First Principle Algorithm: “So the reason I repeat this algorithm myself is I try to first do things backwards. First, I try to automate it, then I try to accelerate it, just go faster, then I try to simplify it, and only then did I delete it.” – Elon Musk

“Another example: And these were examples of chokepoints in the entire production system, I was running around the production line, just trying to fix the production line, just like a maniac, like a Tasmanian devil, just running around the factory, like a lunatic. The body production line for Model 3 was stuck because we had a laser welding cell to weld a small crossbar beam in the passenger footwell of the front seats. I’m looking at this beam, and I’m like “what the heck does that do?“ because the entire factory is stopped trying to get this laser weld cell to work. And I can’t imagine what this thing could do, and the production team said it was for crash safety. So then I called the crash safety team and I said ‘Is this for crash safety?’ and they said ‘Oh no this didn’t do anything we should delete it!’ It turned out to be totally useless, they forgot to tell the production team!” 

What’s Your Dilbert Ratio!?

“Honestly, a bunch of these things just feel like you’re living in a Dilbert cartoon. I’m like, ‘Oh no what’s that one?’  Like any given company should have a question, ‘What’s your Dilbert ratio?  It’s not zero! Dilbert quotient? Try to keep it low!”

Elon is All-In with his Teams

When Elon Musk was living and working in the Tesla Femont Factory, he gave a tour to Marques Brownlee on August 20, 2018. See https://youtu.be/mr9kK0_7x08

Around the time Elon Musk was living / working in Tesla Femont Factory, he gave a tour to Marques Brownlee on August 20, 2018. See https://youtu.be/mr9kK0_7x08

Ron Baron asked Elon Musk if this was him or somebody else who found these production problems. Elon responded,

“It’s literally me, it’s not someone else who did this, I was living in the factory in Fremont and Nevada for three years straight. It was my primary residence. I’m not kidding, literally. I actually slept on a couch in a tent on the roof at one point. And for a while there I was just sleeping under my desk, which is out in the open in the factory for an important reason. And it was damn uncomfortable on that floor, and when I woke up, I would smell like metal dust.” Ron Baron mentioned that he went to visit and they bought Elon a couch. Elon responded that “I stopped using the couch, which was in a conference room, and I just slept on the floor under my desk so, during shift change, the entire shift could see me, and that’s important because, the team, if they think their leader is sort of off somewhere having a good time, or drinking mai tais on a tropical island, which I could definitely have been doing and I would have much have preferred to do, I’m not actually a masochist, I think! (Elon raises one eyebrow and smiles) But the thing is, since the team could see me sleeping on the floor during shift change, just with nothing, they knew I was there. and that made a huge difference. and they gave it their all!”  (lots of applause)

Ron asked Elon how he retains his best employees, wondering how Elon prevents them from leaving when they don’t really need the money. Elon said,

“Well, we do have that problem a little bit, so as a company has prosperity, and then people become wealthy, then for a lot of people, once they become independently wealthy, they just can’t bring themselves to work, or they just don’t want to work, and that’s totally understandable.  No judgment!   And so you know, I have a lot of friends who are extremely talented, they had some success earlier in life, and they just decided that was enough trauma, a good friend of mine said “Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.”  So when people say to me, “What can you do to encourage entrepreneurs to start companies?” I say if you need encouragement, don’t start a company!” 

Extreme Engineering Challenge

“Well, my memory for technical matters is very good. But I think what a lot of people don’t realize, is what I do 80% of the time is engineering. You know it’s actually quite rare for me to give a talk. My day-to-day work at SpaceX and Tesla is almost entirely engineering and design and also production. Production is key, although I consider that to be part of engineering. Starship is something special. The holy grail, like the critical thing needed to make life multi-planetary and for humanity to be a spacefaring civilization, is a fully and rapidly reusable rocket!”

On Starship: “It’s a very difficult engineering challenge!  If this was a video game, the setting would be at extreme difficulty. Not impossible, but extreme difficulty!” – Elon Musk

“We’ve gone most of the way there with Falcon 9, you’ve seen the rocket booster come back and land. And we also recover the nosecone or faring. But we do not recover the upper stage. So we’ve gotten to the point where we are about 70 to 80% reusable with the Falcon 9. With Starship, we are going for 100% reusable. iI’s difficult to see how profound a change this will be. A fully rapidly reusable orbital rocket has the potential to drop the cost of access to space by a factor of 1000. (applause)  And I should say also, Starship is a very big rocket. It’s more than twice the thrust of a Saturn 5 and about twice the mass.  The entire ship is designed to land propulsively. So it can land on any solid surface in the solar system. If we can make Starship work, then it enables us to over time, to get anywhere in the solar system!  It’s a very difficult engineering challenge!  If this was a video game, the setting would be at extreme difficulty. Not impossible, but extreme difficulty!”

Tesla Delivery Logistics and Tesla Mining

Tesla vehicles ready for transport at South Lot Tesla Fremont, picture credit Gail Alfar, author, 9/30/22
Tesla vehicles ready for transport at South Lot Tesla Fremont, picture credit Gail Alfar, author, 9/30/22
Model Y await transport at Giga Texas near Austin, credit Joe Tegtmeyer.
Model Y await transport at Giga Texas near Austin, credit Joe Tegtmeyer.

“I believe I’ve said in the past publicly that our aspiration is to reach 40,000 cars a week by the end of the year.  We had a bit of criticism for our Q3 (2022) results because we had a lot of cars in transit and the reason why is we got too big for our cars to be transported in the final few weeks. There just weren’t enough car carriers, and there weren’t enough shifts. But it’s actually good in the long run to smooth out deliveries and actually have cars in transit at the end of the quarter because then you’re not rushing to get everything delivered by the end of the quarter and paying all the expedite fees.” When asked if cars could be autonomously delivered, Elon replied, “We can also, if you’re in the area, we can have the car just drive it to you!”

On Tesla Mining: “But it is looking increasingly like for some of the critical elements of batteries that Tesla will need to get into the mining business: Mining and refining.” – Elon Musk

“The scaling constraints change as time goes by. At the beginning, we were very vertically integrated, because suppliers did not take us seriously. The best suppliers would not talk to us because a car start-up had not been successful in the United States since Chrysler in the 1920s when I believe they started up. So it’s been a century since a car start-up was successful in the U.S., that was not a foreign car company coming in that was already successful in their own market. For an American car start-up, Tesla is the first success in 100 years!  

So, you can imagine, if you are an auto supplier, that does not sound like a smart, financial decision. So we had to build a lot of the stuff ourselves and be vertically integrated to create the car. And then that ended up being an asset. Because now we understood so much about the supply chain and what it took to build a car. So we were able to design an integrated vehicle that actually needed far fewer parts, and cost less and weighs less and has higher performance.  But it is looking increasingly like for some of the critical elements of batteries that Tesla will need to get into the mining business: Mining and refining. We’ve never contemplated investing in Glencore, I’m talking about Tesla doing it ourselves.” (response to Ron’s comment)

Investing in TSLA and the value of Autonomy and Optimus

Tesla Optimus humanoid robot prototype at 5th China Expo.
Tesla Optimus humanoid robot prototype at 5th China Expo. is compact and efficient. More photos here.

“I actually rarely try to convince anyone to invest in Tesla, and many times I’ve said to people, ‘Don’t invest in Tesla,’ and ‘Our stock is too high!’  But then people just ignore me, and keep buying the stock for some reason.”

“I think at a very high level I’d say autonomy is insanely a fundamental breakthrough. And no one is even close to Tesla for solving generalized autonomy or generalized self-driving vehicles. No one’s even close. And with the self-driving, as I talked about earlier, the car becomes roughly 5 times more useful. But it costs the same for both. Now can you imagine what would happen if the company was doing like 25 to 30% gross margins but suddenly that same thing was five times more valuable?  What would that do to the value of Tesla and the value of that car? It boggles the mind, actually. So if you think of net present value and future cash flows, if you actually do the math on that, it’s insane. Then there’s also the Optimist program, which is our humanoid robot. We will leverage our manufacturing expertise and the intelligence we’ve developed for self-driving to have a useful humanoid robot. Now, the economy is fundamentally GDP per capita times capita. If you no longer have a constraint on capita because of the useful humanoid robot, it is not clear that there is any limit to the size of the economy!”

Self-Sustaining Tesla Superchargers for the Zombie Apocalypse!

Finally, in response to a question about if Tesla would use street lamp posts for charging cars, Elon Musk emphasized Tesla’s goal for Supercharging, “I think they are already doing that in London, and the long-term goal for our supercharger stations is that they will have Tesla Solar and Batteries at them so that as many as possible are self-sustaining. That the supercharger stations generate energy during the day, and then also have a localized battery pack so that people can charge at night. The Tesla supercharging stations would continue to function even in a Zombie Apocalypse! You just never know!  That’s coming one day, we know it is, it’s just a matter of time!” 

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk and Ron Baron at the Baron Investment Conference 2022
Elon Musk and Ron Baron at the Baron Investment Conference 2022
  • Elon works so many hours 16-18 hrs/day because the mission of Tesla and SpaceX is so important for humanity.
  • Tesla patents are free for all carmakers in order to accelerate the transition to all-electric.
  • Autonomy is a huge deal: Elon says, “…right now, cars get driven for about 10 or 12 hours a week maybe 1 1/2 hours a day, but there are 168 hours a week and so if they were autonomous the cars could drive for 50 or 60 hours to see a five-fold increase in the utility of the car that could do autonomy.  This is a really gigantic thing.”
  • Elon’s First Principles Algorithm is very helpful in the design and manufacturing of anything.
  • Every company has a “Dilbert Ratio” and it’s not ZERO!
  • Elon is all-in with his teams, especially when there are challenges facing the teams.
  • Extreme Engineering Challenge: Starship is the biggest to date!
  • Tesla needs to get into the mining business, Elon said, “But it is looking increasingly like for some of the critical elements of batteries that Tesla will need to get into the mining business: Mining and refining.”
  • We are going to enter an Age of Abundance! Elon said, “We will leverage our manufacturing expertise and the intelligence we’ve developed for self-driving to have a useful humanoid robot. Now, the economy is fundamentally GDP per capita times capita. If you no longer have a constraint on capita because of the useful humanoid robot, it is not clear that there is any limit to the size of the economy!”
  • Self-Sustaining Tesla Superchargers with solar & batteries will function in the Zombie Apocalypse!

Author’s Note: Elon Musk also spoke about Twitter and X .com, you may listen to the full talk here. I write about Tesla and sustainable energy, so did not include those aspects.

Austin Skyline by Christofer Sherman.

Austin Skyline by Christofer Sherman.

Do you like reading interviews with Elon?

Elon Musk Conversation with Reporters (Only 4 minutes long and packed with information)

Elon Musk Interview with Xenia Wickett in Norway (ONS 2022 Stavanger Conference August 29th) Less than 25 min long! (full interview)

Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This article was created by Gail Alfar with the goal to preserve this interview in text or written form for the purpose of 1. education and 2. preserving the brilliant insight and words of Elon Musk. November 5, 2022.  Here are links to Baron Funds, the sponsor of the interview above, https://www.baronfunds.com/insights/baron-partners-fund%E2%80%99s-investment-tesla-inc-and-how-we-manage-risk