luckbox: Elan, thanks for agreeing to an interview. We’re devoting this issue to the influence of robotics on life, probabilities and money. It’s a pleasure to sit down and have a chat …. are you going to tweet the whole time we’re talking?
ELAN MUSK: What? Sorry … hang on a sec … just tweeted that Bezos is “hot garbage” for copying my plan to provide broadband internet from space.
That’s right. Your company SpaceX launched your Starlink internet satellites using your Falcon 9 rocket last year.
Yup. Also, you know who totally invented the idea of making rockets even MORE phallus shaped? ME!
So you’re saying Bezos stole your concept of the space penis as the pre-eminent hobby for the well-to-do billionaire?
Exactly! I was the first billionaire to build a giant penis rocket and send it to space! Now Bezos, Branson—they’re all copycats!
Moving on to robotics, you’ve said your reliance on robots was detrimental to the production of your moderately priced Tesla Model 3 electric car. Why so?
Yeah I tweeted that “excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. Humans are underrated.”
You’re still struggling in production hell with your Model 3. Are you still sleeping in the office?
Yeah, I sleep in a Tesla-brand sleeping bag on a couch that the internet bought for me. Look, if I could clone myself I would. Hell, I’ve tried. I just can’t get the genome sequencing to work out. When I said that humans are underrated, I really just meant there should be more mes.
What about the impending AI apocalypse you’ve warned us about? You’re a leading doomsayer.
“I think human extinction will probably occur and technology will likely play a part in this.”
You’ve said that one of the dangers of AI is that we could be “summoning a demon” and that AI is probably humanity’s “biggest existential threat.”
Totally true! Well, at least it was before the 2016 election. But yeah, “You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.”
So you think we’re living in a simulation? That as a Vanity Fair article stated, “what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer.”
Exactly! In fact, I keep a secret room in my house that I stock with computer engineers. I have them work ‘round the clock while I blast Eye of the Tiger to see if they can break us out of the simulation.
Why Eye of the Tiger?
Why spray them with a hose or make them compete for my love? Why do any of the things that I do?
So this is just a super-advanced edition of The Sims?
(Musk walks into the wall and can’t turn around)
Sorry about that.
You fear AI and automation but you’ve also put it at the forefront of your car company. Tesla’s can park themselves. They report for duty when summoned. They even entertain your pet while you’re shopping.
Yes, our advanced use of cameras means that human drivers will soon be obsolete!
What about the study, “Predictive Inequity in Object Detection” by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers, that found such systems “were 5% less accurate when detecting darker-skinned people on average.”
Oh that. Yeah, our cars are hella racist. But I put out some hot hip-hop tracks on soundcloud, so I figure we’re all even now …
That’s not …
Look, I started OpenAI, a billion-dollar, non-profit to work toward safer intelligence. That’s philanthropy! Also, when I die, I want them to upload my brain to the cloud so I can haunt the hell outta Bill Gates. He killed Clippy! I loved Clippy. R.I.P., Clippy.
Let’s change the subject. Your cars are revolutionary, and by some metrics your vehicles are neck-and-neck in terms of sales with luxury stalwarts like BMW and Mercedes.
Didn’t you see my tweet that we’re going deliver a jiggety-billion cars by the end of this year?
Well, you got into trouble for that.
I’ve got 99 problems, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is just one of them.
The Securities and Exchange Commission aside, you have lobbed vitriol at anyone who shorts your stock. Aren’t markets supposed to be two-sided? Why try to fight people on Twitter or get them fired?
One guy. I got one guy fired. He was a total tool!
That would be Lawrence Fossi, a New York money manager who went by the name “Montana Skeptic.”
There’s a group on Twitter called $TslaQ that’s dedicated to shorting your stock.
Those unwashed losers! Typing away from mom’s basement. And I told them to stop flying drones over my property! (Musk shakes his fist at the sky.) I tweeted once, “Short-sellers are value destroyers. Should definitely be illegal.”
According to the L.A. Times, the $TslaQ people, “believe the lots full of new Model 3s—and Model S and X vehicles, too—show Tesla has reached a cliff in demand for its vehicles.” What about it?
Look, all those cars stacked up in the lots, and garages, and maybe under the freeway in Van Nuys— those cars are totally all sold. They’re for all my girlfriends in Canada. They don’t live here. You don’t know them.
Look, I can send a rocket into space and have it land in a bouncy house. I built my own freakin’ flame thrower. I got bored in traffic once, and now every major city wants me to burrow underneath their infrastructure. Robert Downey Jr. based Ironman on me. ME! You still want to short my stock?
Well, when you put it that way. But here at luckbox we only care that Tesla is a liquid underlying with excellent two-sided action. It offers a trading vehicle, through options, for a chance to sell some premium and take advantage of some jacked IV every now and then.
(Musk takes off his shirt.) I’ll show you jacked! (In a moment he regains his senses and calms down.) Sorry, I’ve invented a Red Bull transdermal patch. I might be off on the dosing.
OK, then. It’s been a real pleasure speaking with you.
Alexa, play Eye of the Tiger.
No luckbox PayPal provided Elon Musk’s first big payday. Musk sold the company to eBay (EBAY) for $1.5 billion in stock, and he pocketed $165 million in the deal because he owned 11.7% of PayPal’s shares. In 2018, Forbes estimated his net worth at $22.8 billion.
Listen to the self-driving genius of (the real) Elon Musk firsthand in MIT’s Artificial Intelligence podcast episode “Elon Musk: Tesla Autopilot” (See a review of the podcast in Arts & Media)
Vonetta Logan, a writer and comedian, appears daily on the tastytrade network and hosts the Connect the Dots podcast. @vonettalogan