Elon dropped by Lex Fridman for the third time. As always, a very ranging discussion.
First principles thinking:
- Physics is law, everything else is a recommendation. Boil everything down to the most fundamental level we know is true (axioms).
- Think about things in the limit. Scale a thing to very large or very small numbers and see how/if things change.
- At high volume you can manufacture anything approximating material cost plus intellectual property licences.
- People often try to develop new products with existing tools. Try to imagine how the atoms should be arranged in the theoretically perfect product and work from there - including creating new tools, methods and materials.
Humans on Mars:
Lex asked when we could expect people to land on Mars. Elon estimated 5 years as best case and 10 years as worst case. Main hurdle is reducing cost per tonne to orbit and cost per tonne to Mars. Elon believes that there is a certain cost to the surface of Mars that needs to be achieved to build cities. Right now we can't reach it for any amount of money. Current cost to land 1 tonne on the surface of Mars is around $1 billion. Elon believes it might be possible to build a self-sustaining colony at a price point of $1 million per tonne. Self-sustaining means that humans can survive, even if the spaceships stop arriving.
Minimum cost for Falcon 9:
The upper stage costs $10 million and is lost in every launch. The booster is not as rapidly reusable as desired. That brings the minimum marginal cost per launch between $15 to $20 million - excluding any overhead - per launch. Elon believes, with full and rapid reusability, that cost to orbit can be brought down by a factor of 100. A current Falcon 9 Block 5 can deliver 15,6 tonnes to orbit with reuse of booster.
Musk hopes that Starship can bring down cost per launch between $1 to $2 million, while delivering 100 tonnes to orbit.
Elon on Smart Contracts:
"I'm too dumb to understand smart contracts."
Elon on crypto:
"Crypto is an interesting approach to reducing the error in the database that is called money". By error in the database he means that governments have the power of money printing, thus interfering with the supply, which is the increasing error in the database. Crypto is a way to keep governments from interfering with that supply and thus stopping them from imposing a kind of tax on the users of that currency.
Musk thinks about money as information. It is a database for resource allocation across time and space.
Elon on Bitcoin:
It is very limited in latency and transaction volume. It could be useful to solve an aspect of the money database problem as store of wealth.
He prefers Dogecoin because it can facilitate much higher transaction volumes at a lower cost.
Musk is critical of too deflationary currencies because people tend to just hold them in the hopes of price appreciation instead of transacting with it. A certain level of inflation will encourage transacting with a currency.
Elon on Satoshi:
He attributes most of the heavy lifting with respect to immediate ideas that lead to the creation of Bitcoin to Nick Szabo - without necessarily being the literal Nakamoto.
p.s. List of people who are thought to be Satoshi Nakamoto according to some: Wikipedia
Elon's advice to young people:
"Try to be useful."
Vote for my witness: @blue-witness
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