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Shit Elon Says - Transcript - A Conversation With Elon Musk - Khan Academy

Transcript History  

*** Work in Progress ***

Quick note: This is not a formal talk, but an informal conversation. They talk fast, not always finishing sentences, etc. I'm annotating all the non-SpaceX rather loosely, not in quote form. Recommend you watch it, you learn more about Elon by watching his mannerism than by actually reading the text.

00:00 ... small talk ... Amusing anecdote about missing USB cables for Tesla manufacturing, line comes to a halt, they raid Fry's all over the bay area for everything they've got, etc. Source of the problem is a snag in import permits. Corporate communication inefficiency.

On display, Right to left, is the entire range of geekiness, from ubercool to ubernerdy. Anyhoo.

03:45 Question - how did you get to do what you're doing. (meanwhile, Elon has started stuffing his face from the veggie plate. Talking with his mouth full, my grandma would not approve.) More small talk, needing to be an interplanetary species, survive global calamities, nothing new. Where will we be in 1000000 years if we continue anywhere near our current pace? Either extinct or on a lot of planets.

06:45 Question - so how does this lead to Tesla, SpaceX (some interesting stuff here about details of his history, difference project, ***get this transcribed)*** This guy did some interesting things even back in 1995, before PayPal. Some more anecdotes about Paypal

13:45 Question(s): .... How did you decide you're going to do that, What's the first thing that you do, I wouldn't know how to start a rocket company

Elon: Well, neither did I. In fact the first three launch failed, it's not like it was spot on (laugh) I was trying to figure out why we haven't sent any people to Mars, because the obvious next step, after Apollo, was to send people to Mars. But had in fact happened was that we sent a few people to the moon, and then we didn't send anyone after that to the moon or Mars or anything, but if you asked people in 1969 what would 2013 look like, they would have said there'd be a base on the moon, we would have at least sent some people to Mars, and maybe there'd even be a base on Mars, or space hotels, and there'd be awesome stuff in space, and that's what people expected, and if you'd said actually the United States in 2013 would not be able to send anyone to orbit, but I'll tell you what will exist, there's going to be this device in your pocket that's like the size of, smaller than a deck of cards, that has access to all sorts of information and you can talk to anyone on planet earth and even if you're like in some remote ??? somewhere there's something called the [air quotes] internet (we wouldn't even know what that means) then you'd be able to communicate with anyone instantly and in fact have access to all of humanity knowledge, they'd say bullshit, there's no way that that's gonna be. And yet we all have that, and space is not happening. So I was trying to find out what's the deal here. (This was in 2001) A friend of mine asked me what I wanted to do after PayPal and I said I was always interested in space but I don't think there's anything an individual can do in space because it's always governments that do that, but I am interested in knowing when we're going to launch someone to Mars, so I went on the web looking for where's the place that tells you that, and I couldn't find it... It's an important date, it should be on the front page... And then I discovered that NASA had no plans for sending people to Mars, or even back to the moon. This was really disappointing, I thought well maybe this is a question of national will, do we need to get people excited about space again, and try to get NASA a bigger budget, and then we would send people to Mars, and so I started researching the area, becoming more familiar with space, reading lots of books, and I came up with this idea of do the Mars Oasis, which was to send a small greenhouse with seeds to in a [???] gel, upon landing you hydrate the gel, you have green plants on a red background, and the public response to precedent is superlatives (?) so it would be the first life on Mars, the first life that has traveled, and you have the money shot of green plants on a red background, so that seemed like it would get people pretty excited. So I started getting into this, and trying to figure out, ok, can I afford to build a spacecraft, cause I had money from the sale of paypal, to see if it would fit within that budget, I figured we had to do two missions, because if we only did one and it failed, then it might have the opposite effect,

Q: 'But you were willing to bet the farm on this'

Yeah, I figured like I was willing to spend half the money I got from Paypal on this with no expectation of success. because I thought that was just something that was pretty important, and yeah, I'm like, it seems like I can spend half the money I got from paypal on this, and it would be, if that got NASA a bigger budget that resulted in going to Mars, then that would be a pretty good outcome.

Q: 'So when your friends, your family came up to you and said, Look, there are nations that can't do this... you're just a guy... you have some resources, but... what did you say? or do? or think?

Well, so... umm.... I had a lot of friends trying to talk me out of starting a rocket company because they thought it was crazy, and a friend of mine made me watch a video of rockets blowing up, and there were lots of people that thought it was a really crazy idea, and there were some people who tried to start rocket companies and not succeeded and they tried to talk me out of it, and, but the thing is, the premise to talk me out of it was - well, we think you're going to lose the money that you invest - and I was like, well, that was my expectation anyway, so I don't really mind if I lose it... [Shrug eye-roll] I mean, I'd mind, but I mean, it's not, it's not like I was trying to figure out the rank-order best way to invest money, and on that basis, uh , I chose space. I thought wow, [Khan and Musk jokingly list safe types of investment -- bonds, real estate, ... rocket company ...].

[19:22 - to be continued]

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