Welcome back to my blog, I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s post as it is a good solid read. Elon Musk gives an amazing talk at World Government Summit 2023 (Feb 15) in Dubai. The reason I am focusing on this is I believe Elon’s words hold great value. We all want a better future and I hope reading this will inspire you to look toward a positive future for humanity. So relax, enjoy and get ready for these 14 important areas that Elon Musk covers in this great talk,
- Why did Elon buy Twitter?
- What will X.com be like?
- What is Community Notes on Twitter?
- How can governments and organizations tweet best?
- Why civilizational diversity matters
- Twitter’s next CEO
- Elon’s thoughts on technology in the next 10 years
- Elon Musk talks about the need to regulate Artificial Intelligence
- Education: Elon Musk explains a better way to teach kids
- How much time should children spend at school?
- How does Elon balance his stressful and busy life?
- As a father, does Elon restrict social media for his own kids?
- Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter as a ‘Reverse Startup’
- Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), Aliens
Below are Elon Musk’s words at World Government Summit 2023
Elon explains why he bought Twitter
“I mean I thought about creating something from scratch but I thought Twitter would perhaps accelerate progress versus creating something from scratch by 3 to 5 years. I think we are seeing a tremendous technology acceleration that 3 to 5 years is actually worth a lot. I mean, if you think I was a little worried about the direction, and the effect of social media on the world and especially Twitter I thought it was very important for there to be a maximally trusted sort of Digital Public Square where people within countries and internationally can communicate with the least amount of censorship allowed by law, and obviously that varies a lot by jurisdiction.
I think in general, social media companies should adhere to the laws of countries and not try to put a *thumb on the scale beyond the laws of the countries. I think this is something that is probably agreeable to the legislators and to the people of most countries. So that’s the general idea, it’s just to reflect the values of the people as opposed to imposing the values of essentially San Francisco and Berkeley, which are somewhat of a niche ideology, as compared to the rest of the world. I think Twitter was doing a little too much to impose a niche ‘San Francisco-Berkeley’ ideology on the world. You know, I thought it was important for the future of civilization to try to correct that *thumb on the scale if you will and just have Twitter more accurately reflect like I said, the values of the people of Earth. That’s the intention and hopefully we succeed in doing that.”
Q: Long term vision for twitter?
“Well I think it would be, you know, have this long-term sort of vision of something called x.com from way back in the day which is sort of like an everything app. where it’s just maximally useful. It does payments, provides financial services, provides information flow, really anything digital. It also provides secure communications. You know, I think [the goal of x.com] is be as useful as possible, as entertaining as possible, and a source of truth if you want to find out what’s going on and what’s really going on then you should be able to go on the x app and find out. So it’s sort of a source of truth and a maximally useful system. And Twitter is essentially an accelerant to that sort of maximally useful everything app.”
What is Community Notes on Twitter?
“I think there’s something that we’re putting a lot of effort into called Community Notes. It’s currently just in English, but we will be expanding it to all languages. That is I think quite a good way to assess the truth of things where it’s the community itself basically the people of Earth who are basically, not exactly voting but competing to provide the most accurate information. So it’s sort of a competition for truth. I think it’s a very powerful concept to have a competition for truth, because you also said, like what is truth, it’s because what may be true to self, may not be viewed as true to others, but you want to have the closest approximation of that so I think the Community Notes thing is very powerful. I think we are trying to have as many organizations and people and institutions verified as being legitimately those people and organizations is important, and to have the organizational affiliation clearly identified so that if you want to find out if somebody’s actually, if an account is actually from a member of parliament or a journalist or if let’s say, a Twitter handle actually belongs to Disney corporation or something like that, you can go on Twitter and it’s sort of an identity layer of the Internet you can confirm that is, in fact, the case.
I think once you’ve got these interlocking, sort of identities, it’s actually very hard to be deceptive in that case, and it’s also, you have a reputation to protect at that point. So I think then people are far more likely to be measured in their response. And will be more reasonable, since they have reputational value at that point. So these are some of the ideas that I have, and you know I’m not saying that for sure it will succeed or that it’s going to be perfect but I am confident that it will over time head in a good direction. and I think that the evidence for that will be, do people find it useful? As we’re measuring sort of the total user minutes, but not just user minutes, unregretted used minutes which I think that that’s the key figure of merit. For example, TikTok has a very high usage but I often hear people say well. I spent two hours on TikTok, but I regret those two hours. I’m not trying to knock TikTok, but it’s just we don’t want that to be the case with Twitter. We want to say like ‘ok, you spent half an hour on Twitter, but you found it to be useful and entertaining, and a good thing in your life. and ultimately be a force for good for civilization,’ that’s the aspiration.”
How can governments and organizations tweet best?
“I think, generally, I would recommend really communicating a lot on Twitter. And I think it’s good for people to speak in their voice as opposed to how they think they should speak. Sometimes people think, ‘I should speak in this way that is expected of me,’ but it ends up sounding somewhat at times, stiff and not real. You know like if you read a press release from a corporation it just sounds like propaganda. I would encourage CEOs and companies and legislators and ministers and so forth to speak authentically. If there’s a particular policy to explain it. I think sometimes there’s a sometimes a concern about criticism but I think at the end of the day having some criticism is fine. It’s really not that bad.
I’m constantly attacked on Twitter, frankly. And I don’t mind, you have to be somewhat thick-skinned I suppose at times you know because they really try and twist the knife. But I think as a forum for communication, its great. I would just encourage more communication and like I said, to sort of speak in an authentic voice. Like sometimes people will have someone else be their sort of Twitter manager or something like that and I think people should just do their own tweets. And like sometimes you make a mistake or something, its fine. But I think, doing your own tweets, just like you would give a talk here or have a meeting at a summit, that’s the way to do it is to actually do the tweets yourself and convey the message that you want directly.”
Why civilizational diversity matters
“One thing I should say, I know this is called the World Government Summit, but I think we should be a little bit concerned about actually becoming too much of a single world government if I may say that we want to avoid creating a civilizational risk by having, frankly, this may sound a little odd, too much cooperation between governments. If you look at history and the rise and fall of civilizations where all throughout history civilizations have risen and fallen but it hasn’t meant the doom of humanity as a whole because they’ve been all these separate civilizations that were separated by great distances.
While Rome was falling, Islam was rising so you had, you know, the sort of caliphate doing incredibly well while Rome was doing terribly. That actually ended up being a source of preservation of knowledge and many scientific advancements. So I think we want to be a little bit cautious about being too much of a single civilization because if we are too much of a single civilization then the whole thing may collapse.
I’m obviously not suggesting war or anything like that but I think we want to be a little bit wary of actually cooperating too much. It sounds a little odd but we want to have some amount of civilizational diversity such that if something does go wrong with some part of civilization that the whole thing doesn’t collapse and humanity keeps moving forward.”
Twitter’s next CEO
“Well, I think I need to stabilize the organization and just make sure it’s in a financially healthy place and that the product roadmap is clearly laid out, so I’m guessing probably towards the end of this year should be good timing to find someone else to run the company. I think it should be in a stable position around the end of this year.”
Elon’s thoughts on technology in the next 10 years
“Let’s see, ten years… It’s always difficult to predict with precision, especially over a ten year time frame when it is changing so much. There’s obviously the transition to sustainable energy with solar, wind, batteries and electric vehicles and if you look at the percentage growth from that, that is a very high percentage growth, although because of the massive industrial base of the current fossil fuel economy, even if all cars were 100% electric production immediately it would take 20 years to replace the fleet. This is still something that is quite gradual, its measured in at least 30-40 years type of time frame.”
Elon Musk talks about the need to regulate Artificial Intelligence
“On a more sort of near-term time frame, I think artificial intelligence is something we need to be quite concerned about and really be attentive to the safety of AI. You mentioned ChatGPT earlier. I played a significant role in the creation of Open AI. Essentially at the time I was concerned that Google was not paying enough attention to AI safety and so I went in with a group of other people and created Open AI. Although initially it was created as an open source nonprofit and now it is closed source and for profit. I don’t have any stake in OpenAI anymore nor am I on the Board, nor do I control it in any way. But Chat GPT I think has illustrated to people just how advanced AI has become because AI has advanced for a while it just didn’t have a user interface that was accessible to most people. So what really Chat GPT has done is just put an accessible user interface on AI technology that has been present for a few years. And there are much more advanced versions of that that are coming out.
So I think we need to regulate AI safety, frankly, because think of any technology which is potentially a risk to people like if it’s an aircraft or cars or medicines and we have regulatory bodies that oversee the public safety of cars and planes and medicine. I think we should have a similar regulatory oversite for artificial intelligence because it is, I think, actually a bigger risk to society than cars or planes or medicine. And this may slow down AI a little bit but I think that that might also be a good thing. The challenge here is that government regulatory authorities tend to be set up in reaction to something bad that happened.
So if you look at say aircraft or cars, you know cars were unregulated in the beginning (aircraft were unregulated) but they had lots of crashes and in some cases, manufacturers that were cutting corners and a lot of people were dying. So the public was unhappy about that and so they established a regulatory authority to improve safety. And now commercial airliners are extremely safe. In fact, they’re safer than if you were to drive somewhere. The safety per mile of a commercial airliner is better than a car. And cars are also extremely safe compared to where they used to be.
The auto industry fought the introduction of seat belts as a safety measure for 10 or 15 years before finally the regulators made them put seatbelts in cars. That greatly improved the safety of cars. Airbags were another big improvement in safety.
My concern is that with AI, is that if something goes wrong the reaction might be too slow from a regulatory standpoint. If I’d say, ‘what are the biggest risks to the future of civilization?’ It’s AI, but AI is both positive and negative and has great promise, and great capability but also with that comes great danger. Just like with nuclear physics, you had nuclear power generation but also nuclear bombs. I think we should be quite concerned about it and we should have some regulation of what is fundamentally a risk to the public.”
Education: Elon Musk explains a better way to teach kids
Education should be more compelling and establish relevance
“With respect to education, I think in general there are some things that we could do to make it more compelling would be to explain to children why we are teaching a particular subject. The human mind is default to really forget anything that it deems unimportant, in fact human memory is really quite bad relative to the memory of your phone. Your phone can remember the entire contents of an encyclopedia down to the last letter and pixel. But human memory is terrible by comparison. The mind is constantly trying to forget things. But if you explain why a subject is being taught, that will establish relevance and is much more likely to result in motivation for kids. If you teach knowledge in the sciences as solutions to a problem, its much more effective.”
“Let’s say you’re trying to understand an internal combustion engine, well it’s actually better to take that apart and then say ‘what tools do we need to take it apart? We need a wrench and screwdriver and various other things and then you understand the reason for the tools. Mathematics and Physics and Engineering are like tools. If you teach to the problem then you establish the relevance of the tools then its actually much easier to remember mathematics and physics because they help explain how the world works as opposed to teaching them without explaining why. It’s like teaching to the problem but currently, we teach to the tool. It would be like having a course on screwdrivers or a course on wrenches but not understanding why you’re learning about screwdrivers and wrenches.
I think this is really quite a fundamental principle that should be applied in education. I think sometimes we do teach classes that children do not find useful and where the answer to the ‘why’ is actually not going to be a very good answer. Most people do not find advanced mathematics useful and are unlikely to find in their life, or the elements that they do find useful could be taught very quickly as general principles.
Critical thinking should be taught to children at a relatively young age. It’s effectively like a mental firewall to really think about when somebody tells you something is it cogent? Is it true? Or what is the probability that it is true? So that you can be taught to reject things that are untrue, or are more likely to be untrue and favor things that are more likely to be true. Critical thinking is very helpful for people to learn.”
How much time should children spend at school?
Elon was asked if he thinks children should go to school for 12 years,
“Twelve years is a long time I suppose, I mean humans do take a long time to mature so there’s emotional maturity, physical maturity, and mental maturity that is happening simultaneously with education. I suppose it could be done in 10 years, perhaps it does not need 12, but then is someone mature at age 16? They’re more likely to be mature at age 18. So I guess 12 years is probably not bad.
We probably don’t need an additional 4 or 5-6 years in college or university, that seems probably excessive. I think we could probably shave a few years off and be fine.”
As a father, does Elon restrict social media for his own kids?
“I’ve really not tried to restrict social media from my kids although that might have been a mistake, depending on which kid it is they’ve really been programmed by Reddit and Youtube I’d say. More than anything else, Reddit and Youtube. I think probably I would limit social media a bit more than I have in the past and take note of what they’re watching because I think at this point they’re being controlled by some social media algorithm which you may or may not agree with. I think probably one needs to supervise children’s use of social media and be wary of them getting programmed by some algorithm written in Silicon Valley, which may or may not be what you want.”
How does Elon balance his stressful and busy life? (Elon has worked 20-hour days)
“I should point out that a 20-hour workday is relatively unusual and rather painful but I do sleep 6 hours a night, and if I sleep less than 6 hours a night I find that I might be awake longer but I get less done. But I do have a worker (unclear) this amount I think relative to most people and that is pretty much 7 days a week and mostly from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. I’m not suggesting this is good for everyone and I think frankly I would like to work a bit less than that.”
Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter
“Like I say, Tesla went through some very difficult times, where it was on the ragged edge of survival and if I didn’t give it everything I got the company could have easily gone bankrupt. I was really on the verge of bankruptcy for quite a while. I don’t mean to suggest complacency at this point but it does require much less work to operate Tesla now versus the 2017-2019 time frame. Now it’s not at mortal risk of survival, it’s achieved economies of scale that make it not on the ragged edge of survival.
SpaceX also has a strong team and is able to make a lot of progress even if I spend less time there. It does help when I spend time there but it keeps making progress even if I don’t.
Twitter as a Reverse Startup
Twitter is still somewhat of a startup in reverse and so there’s a lot of work here to get Twitter in sort of a stable position and, like I said, to really build the engine of software engineering at Twitter and really have a great product roadmap and the people in place to implement that product roadmap. And so it is not my intention to work like crazy, I mean I think I still am, I’m comfortable with a mere 80-hour workweek. That would be fine! That is what I would aspire to.”
Unidentified Flying Object (UFOs), Aliens
Elon clarifies if he thinks reports of “sightings” are Aliens
“I don’t think it’s aliens, no. I do find the whole question of aliens a very interesting one. What is typically called the fermi paradox which is that if the universe is really is as old as science seems to think it is, where are the aliens? Have we really been around for 13.8 billion years? If so, shouldn’t there be aliens all over the place? The crazy thing is I’ve seen no evidence of alien technology or alien life whatsoever and I’d think I’d know. You know, SpaceX, we do a lot. I don’t think anyone knows more about space than me or at least space technology.
But I think it’s actually a troubling thing if there are no aliens as well. What that actually could mean then is that civilization and consciousness is like a tiny candle in a vast darkness and a very vulnerable tiny candle that could easily get blown out. We should therefore take great care with what may very well be this tiny candle in a vast darkness and make sure that it does not go out and that we send the light of consciousness beyond earth and do everything we can to ensure that the light of consciousness does not go out.”
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. February 19, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
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