Elon Musk: 100 Tesla Gigafactories Could Power the Entire World

The Gigafactory

The Tesla Gigafactory produces lithium ion batteries, supporting the Tesla vehicles and providing low-cost batteries using alternative energy sources. And, in a recent video, CEO and founder Elon Musk was actually quoted as saying:

“We actually did the calculations to figure out what it would take to transition the whole world to sustainable energy. You’d need 100 Gigafactories.”

Leonardo DiCaprio met with Musk at the Gigafactory this past year to discuss renewable resources and the future of energy as it relates to climate change. Leo is no stranger to discussions about alternative energy and climate change. In fact, he recently used his first Oscar acceptance speech as an opportunity to discuss the grave realities of our changing climate and warming planet.

One main goal of the Gigafactory is to reach and maintain net zero energy. A leader in advancement and innovation, they claim that “By 2018, the Gigafactory will reach full capacity and produce more lithium ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013.” The Gigafactory also aims to continue to drive down the price of these batteries, financially incentivizing the use of alternative energy sources.

As Leo enters the factory, he is struck by the sleek efficiency, exclaiming, “Holy crap, that’s a good robot.” He and Musk continue on, with Musk emphasizing that “the sooner we can take action, the less harm will result,” in regards to man-made climate change.

Battery Life

As put simply by Musk in the video, “the sun doesn’t shine all the time, so you’ve got to store it in a battery.” And, if we are able to shift more completely towards alternative and renewable energy sources, Musk claims that, “you could avoid building electricity plants at all.”

When some people think about alternative energy, they think of outdated, bulky solar panels that lack efficiency and are a massive financial drain. However, alternative energy technology is far beyond that. As the realities of climate change set in, it is becoming more and more obvious that we cannot wait. We cannot go another ten years using fossil fuels at the rate that we currently do and not experience the effects.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
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Solar cells are more efficient than ever. In fact, inspired by photosynthesis, researchers recently combined the principles of quantum physics and biology to drastically improve current solar capabilities. Solar cells are no longer even necessary to capture solar energy, as scientists have created a synthetic leaf that does just that, while converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide.

There is no question: alternative energy is the future. We will not progress without it, and, as recent advancements have shown, it is becoming a more possible and powerful option with each passing day. If Musk is right, and these low-cost, green batteries could help to support a future where alternative energy is the majority, then his Gigafactory could be one of many steps in the right direction.

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Elon Musk Finally Announced a Release Date for the Model 3

Word just came straight from Elon Musk himself: Tesla will unveil the production version of the Model 3 in July.

It will be the third and final part of the unveiling for the highly anticipated mass market Tesla vehicle, and this is the first time the Tesla CEO has announced a definitive month for its arrival. His announcement came as a reply to an inquiry made on Twitter.

Demand for Tesla’s mass market model has been unprecedented. The Model 3 is priced at $35,000 before tax incentives and will have a range of at least 346 kilometers (215 miles) per charge. Right now, around 400,000 people have signed up for pre-order, prompting Tesla to set ambitious production targets.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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According to the company, they are planning to produce 500,000 cars annually by 2018 and reach one million by 2020. To date, Tesla has only been able to produce 76,000 vehicles since 2016. But given that the Model 3 is actually easier to produce than any of their higher-end models, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Tesla to achieve this objective.

The Model 3’s arrival in the market will also be a milestone in the mass adoption of autonomous electric vehicles. Once they’re fully integrated into our society, electric self-driving cars will not only help Musk in his pursuit of a fully sustainable world, but also significantly improve road safety.

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Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Elon Musk Thinks So.

Simulation Hypothesis

While many people take reality at face value, others believe the far more intriguing theory that we are living in a computer simulation. It’s a concept straight out of “The Matrix” (though its origin reaches much further back), and one of its supporters is Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

10 Things About the Future Sci-Fi Writers Got Right
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During an interview at Code Conference 2016, Musk said, “There’s a one in billions chance we’re in base reality.” This essentially means that he believes that more likely than not (by a lot), the world that we know is just a very sophisticated computer simulation. Neil deGrasse Tyson feels similarly, putting our odds of living in a simulation at around 50/50.

Musk elaborated on the idea during the interview:

The strongest argument for us being in a simulation, probably being in a simulation, is the following: 40 years ago, we had Pong, two rectangles and a dot…That is what games were. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, augmented reality. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, the games will become indistinguishable from reality.

The contemporary version of the simulation hypothesis was introduced by Nicholas Bostrom, a British philosopher, in 2003. Simply put, the hypothesis states that there is a likelihood that advanced future civilizations would run equally advanced computer simulations of past civilizations. So, much like we play video games about ancient populations, they might do something similar, just much more technologically advanced. Some people even think that the events of the 2017 Oscars are proof of this theory.

The Matrix…Unraveled

While the idea of a simulated universe was officially described by Bostrom and recently brought to headlines by Musk and Tyson, it is not a new idea. This concept has been around for decades, and if you count its predecessor, the idea that everything around you is just a dream, the concept is much, much older than that.

However, even though the idea is old and debated heavily by both scientists and philosophers, it might not hold much actual weight.

For starters, a simulation is, by definition, an “imitation of a situation or process.” And so, if we were living in a simulation, how would we exist and interact with our physical world as we know it? Unless our physical interactions with food, humans, air, and the like are all elaborate programs to trick the brain in every which way to perceive the physical as such, the concept in and of itself is inherently flawed. Once a “simulated” object becomes physical, then does it, conceptually, stop being a simulation?

Another argument against the notion of a simulated reality is the limitations of computing. No matter how powerful quantum computers grow to be over the years, decades, and centuries, using them to create a real physical world, or “simulation,” might still be a technological impossibility. Unless information technology is radically and rapidly changed, it just might never be possible.

Essentially, unless life as we know it completely changes and the way that computers operate is turned on its head, the only way that the type of simulation Musk is talking about would be possible is through some higher level of reality. Some even argue that, because human beings aren’t expected to survive on planet Earth for that much longer (relatively speaking), a civilization could never advance to the point that such a simulation would be possible.

Ultimately, there is no definitive evidence confirming either side of this theory. There are possibilities, and within each possibility, there are scientific limitations.

If Musk and his fellow believers turn out to be correct, there could be multiple existing levels of reality and parallel technologies that we could somehow learn about one day. But, then there’s the equally plausible chance that there is one base reality, and we’re living in it. If this is the actual universe (or part of the Multiverse, but that’s another conversation entirely), then all of the scientific principles that we know of apply, which means a simulated universe would be an impossibility.

Again, neither is known for sure, so unless new information surfaces, you’ll probably want to assume what you see in life is what you get.

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Elon Musk Just Said That Tesla’s Making An Electric 18-Wheeler and Pickup Truck

Keep On Trucking

Today, Elon Musk officially confirmed that a “seriously next level” Tesla semi-truck is coming this September. He also praised the Tesla team for doing an “amazing job,” and he mentioned a convertible roadster and a pickup truck that should be to market in just 18 to 24 months.

This development is really no surprise to many, as rumors and speculations have long suggested that Tesla trucks were on the way. Still, the confirmation reveals that Musk is serious about disrupting the transportation industry.

It’s easy to see why he’d be feeling pretty proud of the Tesla team at this point. They company is now the most valuable automaker in the U.S.. But keep in mind, the comparison only goes so far, as Tesla is not just an automaker. Rather, it’s a one-stop shop for sustainable energy and innovation.

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A New Energy Age

The work they do at the “gigafactory” goes beyond designing cars. The company is working on energy storage with the Tesla Powerwall. They are working on solar roofs with Panasonic. And this is just the beginning. As explained in their mission statement:

The gigafactory will also produce battery packs intended for use in stationary storage, helping to improve robustness of the electrical grid, reduce energy costs for businesses and residences, and provide a backup supply of power.

In short,  Musk’s vision is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As a result, all of Tesla’s efforts are focused on developing the company to innovate new ways to produce and use renewable energy.

To that end, Musk has identified semi trucks as a critical focal point for safety and energy, and rightly so. Heavy-duty semi trucks that are electric will reduce environmental costs while increasing safety—especially with new AI technologies on board.

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Get Ready: Elon Musk Is Releasing Details on His Plan to Unite Our Brains With AI

Details Coming Monday

A few weeks ago, details leaked that Elon Musk had backed a brain-computer interface venture founded to allow humans to keep up with the advancements made in machine intelligence. The company – Neuralink – is still in the earliest stages of development. To that end, we don’t know very much about it (at all).

However, we aren’t entirely in the dark. We know a few things. For example, we know that the company’s ultimate goal is to develop a device (a brain-computer interface, to be exact) that could be implanted into the brain in order to augment (see: improve) human intelligence. It could allow us to store memories externally, learn new skills and languages in seconds, and bring an end to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Of course, such work will take time. But Musk hopes to expedite this development through his work.

For a meaningful partial brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away. -Elon Musk

Shortly after details leaked, Musk confirmed his plan in a tweet (he is well known for unveiling ideas and key company details via short Twitter posts). In this same tweet, he also promised more details – details which would be coming in April courtesy of the website Wait But Why. Must stated, “Long Neuralink piece coming out on Wait But Why in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to.”

Today, Wait But Why author, Tim Urban, announced that his 36,000-word post (which he affectionately refers to as the “800-pound hippo”) is scheduled to be released Monday, April 17.

Urban also wrote an update on his website noting that the full information would soon be here. He stated: “The post will be up Monday 4/17. It’s long. I’m me it’s shi**y.” Just between you and I, we seriously doubt that last part.

Are We Ready?

In case you weren’t aware, Musk isn’t the only one concerned about the future of humanity. Considering the rate at which AI research is accelerating, the fears seem justifiable. Like Musk, Braintree founder Bryan Johnson’s company, Kernal, is currently working on a neuroprosthesis that can mimic, repair, and improve human cognition.

“Being able to systematically and intelligently work with our neural code is the most consequential and pressing opportunity in the world today. All that we are, all that we do, all that we become will be a result of our progress,” explained Johnson in an interview with Futurism.

The Evolution of Brain-Computer Interfaces [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Notably, while advancements like those that Johnson and Musk are working on could allow us to merge with machines, they could also allow us to literally program (or reprogram) our neural code, which would allow us to transform ourselves in ways that we can’t even imagine.

In short, we could alter our brains and our cognition in order to engineer ourselves into the people that we want to be. The experts are ready. The question is, are humans prepared to adopt the technology?

Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.

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Why Apple Should Buy Tesla and Make Elon Musk CEO

Apple: A Bit Lost

Elon Musk is the unstoppable innovation juggernaut of our time. He has taken us to space, and is single-handedly leading us into a new age in energy. However his company, Tesla, is plagued by issues related to capital. Conversely, Apple is a powerhouse of stability. Their sales are steady, probably because they continually pour out the same tired products that (they know) people are willing to buy. They also don’t take risks. Ever.

This is why Apple should buy Tesla and make Elon Musk the CEO—Apple lacks innovation and growth, and Tesla lacks cash and financial stability. To understand this rationale you only need to turn to Apple’s stock.

Apple has tremendously priced stock, thanks to the success of the iPhone, iPad, and to a lesser extent, the Apple Watch. This gives the company an amazingly high budget to work with. The choice that they now face is how to best invest that budget. To this end, what Apple needs is to produce something new and inventive, which it hasn’t done in a very long time.

Who says Apple doesn’t innovate anymore? Well, almost everyone. Just Google search, “Apple is no longer innovative.” On the first page alone you get this:

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The Observer: “Last week, Apple unveiled iPhone 7 — or, rather, the company’s Twitter account accidentally leaked the release video before CEO Tim Cook could make the announcement. It’s no big deal because iPhone 7’s most noteworthy upgrades are that it comes in black, is water resistant and no longer has a headphone jack. Nothing earth-shaking.”

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The Conversation (John Rice, Professor of Management, University of New England and Nigel Martin, College of Business and Economics, Australian National University): “Not only is Apple suffering from a major lack of hardware innovation but it’s also being outdone in software and online, where apps reign supreme. It quite possibly signals the company’s eventual demise.”

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Dezeen: “Has Apple lost its touch? Dezeen readers are unconvinced by the tech giant’s latest product announcements and feel the company has lost its way. This special edition of our regular comments update looks at reactions to its controversial new wireless headphones (pictured), updated Apple Watch and the iPhone 7.”

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Forbes: “[Like] previous years we have grown to accept that the polish and style of delivery masks a growing problem at Cupertino: Apple has run out of juice.”

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CNBC: “’There’s no real world shocking innovation happening anymore from Apple,’ the fellow at Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, told ‘Closing Bell.’ ‘It was nine years ago that the iPhone came out … since then it’s been giving us bigger screens and smaller screens … and we go along,’ he noted, before adding that Apple’s series imitates Netflix.”

Ouch.

Even friendlies will agree that Apple is much stronger when it comes to customer experience and selling its own ecosystem than it is at generating new products. But just keeping your existing customers happy isn’t enough. Perhaps most telling is the fact that Apple is losing out to other companies in contests that it started. For example, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Survey, customers like Microsoft’s Surface tablets more than iPads.

Tesla: Dynamism is Costly

Meanwhile, Tesla is amazingly innovative, transforming our society in a number of sectors, all united by a future-facing commitment to clean energy and better design. The company makes cars, energy storage systems, solar roofs—and they likely won’t stop there. It seems like every few months, they come out with a new major R&D announcement. This is because Tesla places an enormous emphasis on new ideas, and although not all of them work, enough of them do that investors are inspired to buy Tesla.

Musk’s company is also growing at a staggering rate, but it is also unstable – vacillating between stocks that surge and plummet (and all the while, they are hemorrhaging cash). When you search “Tesla losing money,” you get a slightly more mixed result:

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Forbes wants you to know that, although Tesla is, in fact, losing money, people like its CEO.

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CNBC: “Wall Street sees Tesla, not classic companies like Ford, as the future of cars. Tesla is aiming to be the Apple of the car business.”

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MarketWatch: “But even the average investor can tell the difference between a profitable and unprofitable company, and Tesla is definitely the latter.”

Several outlets reveal just how much Tesla has fluctuated over the years in relation to its sales and figures. Particularly telling is the conversation regarding how much money the company loses on every car it sells.

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Reuters: “It’s crunch time for Tesla Motors. The Silicon Valley automaker is losing more than $4,000 on every Model S electric sedan it sells, using its reckoning of operating losses, and it burned $359 million in cash last quarter in a bull market for luxury vehicles.”

And a few other notable examples from Seeking Alpha and Investopedia showcase that the debate is still raging:

Why Apple Should Buy Tesla and Make Elon Musk CEO

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Of course, saying that Tesla has money problems raises some (rather fair) questions. Case in point, if Tesla is losing so much money, why is their stock still worth so much? Just this past week, Elon Musk responded to critics that called Tesla “overvalued,” pointing out that its value is based not only on cash flow, but also on the innovation consumers see in its products.

In other words, investors see the work that Tesla does as being highly relevant in the future. They feel confident that it will hold its value and grow. But that’s betting on the future, and it doesn’t help Tesla achieve stability today.

The Blend

Apple will find itself in an increasingly precarious position unless it chooses another course. The company has benefitted from Samsung’s woes (what with all the phones exploding and catching fire), but that isn’t going to last. Samsung may, and very likely will, recover. The company unveiled a new smartphone at the end of March, for example, and similar ventures indicate that it is working hard to rectify its current, troubled reputation. Thus, Apple will soon (once again) find itself going head-to-head with competitors that are just as capable of turning out devices with the most notable “new” feature being that they come in a new color.

Imagine you’re one of the best and brightest new minds, and you’re graduating from the best engineering and science programs in existence. You can write your own ticket. Would you rather work on never-before-seen breakthroughs in technology or endless iterations of the same products?

No one is called to create the latest version of the same passable earbuds; that’s not a calling. It’s just a job. Transforming the way people think about storing solar power? Creating entirely new ways to produce enough power to get off-grid? Disrupting the automobile industry? Those are callings.

If Apple buys Tesla, Apple will be able to attract the kind of talent they want (and need) to regain their place at the forefront of new technologies.

Tesla and Elon Musk have already seen that the future demands diversified product lines. This seems rather obvious, as we can’t predict what will happen in the world of tomorrow: what we will want and need, or how new generations of people will think, live, work, and play. The longer Apple stays within its narrow computer/tablet/smartphone lanes, the tougher it will be to break free and diversify.

Alright, so one final question: why does Musk have to be the one who runs this mega technology machine? Because Tim Cook is a careful, strategic, incremental manager of assets focused on protecting what’s there and coaxing slow growth. That’s what he does, and he’s extremely skilled at that. However, that’s not what’s called for in this pairing. And while that kind of strategic management might provide a very useful counterpoint to Musk’s style of leadership, it seems unlikely that both would stick around.

Of course, it is very unlikely that Cook will step down (very unlikely). Yet, in all probability, the only way Elon Musk would even dream about accepting this offer is if he is offered the CEO position. As a result, the only way that this proposition is truly feasible is if Apple’s Board goes after this option and, essentially, pushes Tim Cook out. It’s an interesting idea—one that could be very beneficial for both companies—but don’t hold your breath.

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Elon Musk Has Announced a New Goal for SpaceX, and It’s Utterly Revolutionary

Leading the Revolution

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is currently basking in the light of its latest achievement. The company succeeded in starting a spaceflight revolution by being the first entity to launch a mission into space using recycled rockets. The success of this historic mission will significantly lower the cost of space travel. Estimates say the launches could cost up to 30 percent less, saving companies or other organizations millions of dollars.

Musk may still be celebrating the launch, but he’s not at all content with just being the first. In a tweet sent out shortly after the successful landing of the refurbished Falcon 9 rocket, he revealed the company’s next goal for its rocket line: 24-hour turnaround.

SpaceX is looking to make space travel akin to air travel.  “We’re really looking for true operational reusability, like an aircraft,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said prior to the launch. “An aircraft lands, goes to the gate, passengers come off, passengers go on, you refuel, and then you fly again. What we’re looking to do is exactly that. We land and relaunch on the same day.”

Flight: The Future

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
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Even after this goal is achieved, SpaceX isn’t going to be done wowing the world. In fact, they’ll be more concerned about impressing other worlds. The company is planning to put a human on the Red Planet possibly as soon as 2025.

Not only will more economical rockets make it easier for SpaceX to get to Mars, they will also fast-track the ability of humans to stay there, setting up colonies beyond Earth. Musk wants to launch an Interplanetary Transit System (ITS) to keep a steady supply line operational between the planets.

As SpaceX is a private, not government-operated, company, it can achieve greater levels of collaboration with other countries to make the mission to colonize Mars a truly international effort. Cheaper flights will be a huge part of that.

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Elon Musk’s Attempt to Merge to the Human Brain With AI May Have Serious Problems

Musk’s Neural Lace

When Elon Musk confirmed last week that he’s working on a way to combine humans and machines, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has long been in favor of a human-machine merger in order to keep up with artificial intelligence (AI) development. Not to mention avoiding the end of humankind at the hands of machines.

Neuralink is Musk’s unconventional proposal for preempting that fear. The budding company will build a device to be implanted into the human brain. This device — which is likely to be called a “neural lace” —would give the human brain the ability to directly interface with gadgets and other devices. It could also improve the human brain’s memory by increasing its storage capacity. Such brain-computer implants could also lead to improved treatments for neurological diseases and cognitive disorders. If that wasn’t impressive enough, such a device could potentially be used to reprogram a person’s neural code.

Social Inequality

In an piece he wrote for CNBC, Dustin McKissen wondered aloud how such a technology would be introduced — quite literally — into the public consciousness: “one question Musk hasn’t answered (and in fairness, it may not be his responsibility to answer) is who will have the privilege of getting a neural lace?” McKissen is the founder and CEO of PR and strategy firm McKissen + Company, whose work includes analyzing the effects of politics in the U.S. business climate.

“If the essentialness of maternity care is up for debate, it goes without saying Elon Musk’s neural lace probably won’t be covered under your insurance plan,” McKissen wrote, referring to the Obamacare repeal that has been at the forefront of U.S. political debate as of late. “In other words, not only do the rich seem to get richer—they may get the benefit of having a computer-enhanced brain.”

McKissen warns of how social inequality could render Musk’s neural lace beneficial only to a select few, rather than the human race on the whole. “What will income inequality look like if only the very wealthy get an upgrade? And will children be able to get a neural lace?,” he asked. Such a society is reminiscent of one featured in the science fiction film Elysium, where only the privileged few had access to technology’s benefits.

McKissen added: “Research has shown there is already a digital divide contributing to chronic poverty in low-income and rural communities. That digital divide will only grow when some of us can afford a brain enhanced with artificial intelligence. […] most of us are going to have to compete with computer-enhanced peers in an already unequal world.”

McKissen isn’t arguing that some people would be more deserving of access to advanced technology like a neural lace, but rather, he points out the need to improve the “current playing field” — which one could argue extends beyond the question of who gets a neural lace.

As he said, “In a world that’s growing increasingly class conscious, the ability for a relatively small number of people to become more than human could be a disaster for everyone—especially if that technology arrives in a time when income inequality is even worse than it is today.”

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