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Is Musk the new Tesla?

13 March 2018

No, I'm not talking about Tesla the car, I'm talking about Tesla the lunatic-fringe inventor who was at once both incredibly clever and borderline insane.

Perhaps it's the empathy that Musk feels for Tesla that inspired him to name his EV business after the inventor but, based on some of the stuff Musk has been spouting to the media of late, I fear that he may also be borderline insane.

Musk's track record is one of brilliant insight combined with "pie in the sky" stuff which crumbles when submitted to the harsh light of scientific reality.

Take the much hyped Hyperloop for example...

I won't go through the debunking process here because there are countless others who have already done the math and the science to show that there's just no way this concept is going to be practical. Do some Googling and YouTubing to see what I mean.

What's really got me worried is the apparent paranoia that Mr Musk is developing towards AI systems and some of his beliefs in respect to the preservation of our species.

Musk still seems hell-bent on building, in his words "a BFR" (big f...ing rocket), to take colonists to Mars and says that the craft itself will be flying by the first half of 2019.

Seriously?

This is the guy who can't even sort out the issues associated with getting the Tesla Model 3 out the door, long after it was supposed to have been shipping in quantity.

Musk claims that we need to colonise Mars ASAP so that the human race will survive in the event that there's a global thermonuclear war here on Earth. I wonder if that's a war he thinks will be launched by those rogue AI systems?

Now I'm someone who really loves to read scifi and watch scifi movies but I'm old enough to know the difference between fiction and reality. It seems that this distinction is more than a little blurred for poor old Elon.

With this paranoia about AI weighing heavily on his mind, Musk has now come out wanting government regulation of artificial intelligence development and deployment. “Mark my words, AI is much more dangerous than nukes. So why do we have no regulatory oversight?” he asked in a media statement recently.

Yes, just like Nikola Tesla, Musk seems to be standing astride the fine line that separates brilliance, inspiration and insight from flights of fantasy and a lost grip on reality.

Elon could do worse than read this paragraph from the Wikipedia page on Nikola Tesla and try his hardest not to endure the ultimate fate of his inspirational predecessor:

"Having spent most of his money, he lived in a series of New York hotels, leaving behind unpaid bills. The nature of his earlier work and the pronouncements he made to the press later in life earned him the reputation of an archetypal "mad scientist" in American popular culture.[8] Tesla died in New York City in January 1943.[9] His work fell into relative obscurity following his death"

It's a fine line Elon... don't trip!

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