马斯克谈俄乌战争、核能、人工智能等问题

马斯克和多夫纳于2022年3月下旬在位于美国加州Fremont市的特斯拉工厂会面并交谈。交谈内容涉及俄乌战争、核能、人工智能、出生率下降和老人统治等话题。多夫纳(Döpfner),德国人,1963年出生,是德国和欧洲最大的媒体集团AxelSpringer 的CEO。

图片:马斯克与多夫纳在加州Fremont市的特斯拉工厂交谈。 Jason Henry摄

多:在我们谈论未来之前,让我们先来看看现在。欧洲正在打战。如果你看到普京入侵乌克兰和杀人的可怕画面,你会有什么想法?

马:在今天这个时代看到欧洲打仗,我很惊讶。我原先以为我们在很大程度上已经超越了这类事情。战争令人担忧。如果普京能逃脱惩罚,那就会向其他国家发出信息:他们也可以逃脱惩罚。

多:你对普京的行为感到惊讶吗?我的意思是,我记得几个星期前的讨论,当时大多数欧洲人都认为他不会入侵。许多美国人则相信他会入侵。您当时的预期是什么?

马:我当时最多猜测他想占领乌克兰的东部三分之一。坦率地说,如果你只是听到普京的那些言论,那么很明显,他至少要得到乌克兰部分地区,那些有很大比例说俄语人口的地区。他在格鲁吉亚已经这样做了。

多:不过,如果你仔细听听独裁者的话,他们非常频繁地说出他们想做的事情。你只需要把他们的话当真。

马:是的。他们并不遮遮掩掩。

多:但到目前为止,普京有可能取得与他想实现的目标相反的东西。他想把美国与欧洲分离开来。他想削弱北约。但到目前为止,他强化了北约。他团结了西方。他的入侵几乎成了将民主国家和开放社会团结在一起的两党共同话题。关于俄国入侵的长期结果,你是比较悲观,认为这将加强普京,从而为中国或其他地方类似例子铺平道路?还是你更为乐观,认为这可能是西方采取一种不同的安全政策的转折点?

马:我确实认为这将震惊西方。当然,我想,人民会意识到,我们面临更严重的威胁,因此我们不应该有那么多内部争吵。

多:泽连斯基说得非常清楚:”我需要弹药,而非逃命”。欧洲,尤其是德国,在俄国和乌克兰问题上挣扎了很长时间。美国政府呢?

马:我认为美国政府所做的比人们可能意识到的要多。它只是没有展现在公众场合。但是,重要的是要做一些严肃的事情。我们不能让普京占领乌克兰。那太过分了。

多:世界部分地区,特别是欧洲,从希特勒的第三帝国和大屠杀中吸取了错误的教训,即不再军事干预,尽可能不参与战争。现在,我们有机会吸取真正的教训,那就是再不能发生种族主义,再不能发生种族灭绝,再不能绥靖。

马:绥靖政策显然对抵抗希特勒没有作用。如果当时的人早点阻止他,世界会好得多。对每个人都更好。

多:你做了一些非常具体的事情,48小时之内,你就应乌克兰数字信息部长的要求,向他们提供了星链(Starlink)装备,保证他们的互联网联结。你的动机是什么?这件事是如何做到的?

马:我们的确想到乌克兰可能需要星链,我们采取了一些预备性措施,确保我们可以快速提供这些装备。听到乌克兰请求后,我们非常迅速地动起来。值得一提的是,在俄罗斯 入侵当天,乌克兰的卫星互联网连接就遭到网络攻击而永久关闭了。手机信号塔要么被炸毁,要么被卡住。俄罗斯人知道乌克兰有一个光纤主干网。他们很可能切断了这些光纤网路。乌克兰几乎没剩下什么网络联结。因此,星链可能是,而且在乌克兰某些地区肯定是唯一的互联网联结通道。

多:如果俄罗斯人和中国人攻击卫星怎么办?这是对星链的一个威胁吗?

马:在这场冲突的背景下,我很想回顾几个月前的俄罗斯反卫星演习。反卫星武器给卫星运营商带来很多问题。它甚至对空间站都有某种危险,尽管那里也有俄罗斯的宇航员。那么,他们为什么要那样做呢?这是入侵乌克兰之前的一个信息。但若想攻击星链,你会发现那并不容易,因为有2,000颗星链卫星在天上。这表示你需要大量反卫星导弹。我希望我们不必对此进行测试,但我认为,我们发射卫星可以比他们发射反卫星导弹更快。

多:俄罗斯表示将停止向美国提供火箭发动机。这对你的空间探索公司(SpaceX)来说是一种威胁还是机遇?

马:在SpaceX,我们设计和制造自己的火箭发动机。因此,我们根本不用任何俄罗斯组件。

多:俄罗斯停止向美国提供火箭发动机对美国有危险吗?

马:波音和洛克希德严重依赖俄罗斯RD-180发动机。凭良心说,这是一款伟大的发动机。他们希望将来能用Blue Origin的发动机摆脱这种依赖。我相信,还有使用RD-181的Antares公司。因此,俄罗斯禁运的结果是这些公司将无法飞行。

多:凭借知识、产品和服务,埃隆·马斯克几乎是一个现代战争中的战略武器。你如何看待自己在这种背景下的角色?

马:我认为我可以在冲突中提供帮助。未来有可能变得更好。我尝试一系列行动,想尽力提高未来变得更好的可能性。显然,有时我在这方面会犯错误。我做任何我认为最有可能确保未来是对人类有益的事情。这些事情是我将采取的行动。

多:几个月前,我们就恩斯特·荣格的名著《钢铁风暴》进行了交流。那是一本大约一百年前出版的关于荣格在第一次世界大战中的经历的书。你对它非常着迷。为什么这本书对你如此重要?

[恩斯特·荣格,Ernst Jünger1895-1998,德国士兵、作家和昆虫学家,参加过第一和第二次世界大战,著作主要为第一次世界大战亲历回忆录《钢铁风暴(Storm ofSteel)》(1920年版)等。]

马:我读了很多书,出于某种原因,我对战争和历史着迷。这不仅仅是战争史,而且是一般的历史。荣格的书是对第一次世界大战的精彩个人经历叙述。我从那本书中得到的教训是,我们再也不想那样做了。

多:围绕这本书存在很大的争议。有人说它美化战争…

马:绝对不是!

多: …它既不积极,也不消极。它只是以一种可怕的方式描述了发生的事情。

马:没有人在读这本书时说,我也想那样做。对我来说,阅读历史真是令人着迷。我的意思是,吸取历史的教训,这样我们就不会重蹈覆辙。

多:历史不会重复,但它会押韵。这些天我们就看到如此的押韵。回到战略大局。普京的可怕行动在某种程度上也是欧洲、特别是德国在2011年放弃核能所犯的战略错误的结果。

马:非常重要的是,德国不再关闭核电站。我认为关闭核电站是极端不理性的。

多:如果我们真的想减少普京的力量,减少欧洲和德国对俄罗斯能源的依赖,我们必须脱碳。这是唯一的办法。更多的核能是我们摆脱像普京这样的独裁者和专制者的关键吗?

马:我想表述得明白无误。你们不仅不应该再关闭核电站,而且应该重新开放那些已经关闭的核电站。这是你们获得能源的最快方式。现在继续关闭核电站是发疯了,特别是在你们那样的一个没有自然灾害的地方。如果你在的地方会发生严重地震或海啸,那就会比一个疑问号更严重。如果没有巨大的自然灾害风险,——德国便没有——,核电站实际上就没有危险。

多:难道没有更安全的替代方式可以产生类似效果吗?太阳能和风能是行不通的。您对未来的能源政策还有其他想法吗?

马:我认为从长远看,文明需要的大部分能量将来自太阳能,你必须用电池储存它,因为很清楚,太阳只在白天照耀,有时天空云层还很厚。所以你需要太阳能电池。这将是文明获得动力的主要长期方式。但从现在到那时,我们需要保持核能。对此,我再怎么强调也不过分。关闭它们是完全发疯的举动。我想说清楚,完全是发疯。

多:让我们看看德国是否听进了你这句非常明确的话。

马:我认为这是国家安全风险。

多:15年后气候问题会是什么样子?比今天更好?

马:从可持续能源的角度来看,要好得多。

多:我们会解决这个问题吗?

马:是的,绝对的。我们将解决气候问题。这只是一个时间问题。这也是特斯拉的基本目标。

多:你曾经说过,出生率下降是有史以来最被低估的问题之一。为什么?

马:世界上大多数人都在这样一种错误的印象下行动,即我们有太多的人。事实并非如此。出生率一直在剧烈下降。不幸的是,我们有来自联合国的荒谬的人口估计。它们需要更新,因为它们没有任何意义。看看去年的增长率就知道了。看看有多少孩子出生,然后乘以预期寿命。我想说,计算结果就是未来生活着多少人。此外,看出生率的趋势是正还是负?它是负的。除非出生率有所改变,否则现在就是最好的情形。

多:这也是为什么我们需要替代方案。你最近展示了一种人形机器人“Optimus”[人形机],并分享了对它为世界能够做些什么的巨大期望。我认为人形机不仅在人类第一次访问火星时会大有帮助,而且也可能会改变人工智能的游戏规则。您能说说你的看法吗?

马:你知道,对于人工智能和机器人,我有些惶恐。我当然不想拥有任何可能对人类有害的东西。但人形机器人正在出现。看看波士顿动力公司。他们每年都会展示更好的机器人产品。人工智能的发展速度非常快。

多:具体来说,人形机将用于特斯拉的工厂。这是它的用处之一。但除了特斯拉工厂外,它的更广泛用处是什么?

马:人形机是个通用机器人,有点像机器工人。它的最初角色必然是从事重复、无聊或危险的工作,是人们基本上不想做的工作。

多:人形机为什么有两条腿?是因为让它看起来像一个人,还是这更实用?我认为四条腿更好。

马:哈哈,四条腿好,两条腿坏。这让我想起了奥威尔。人类被设计成有两条手臂和十个手指的双足类物体来和世界互动。因此,如果你想让一个机器人适应并能够做人可以做的事情,它必须和人有大致相同的大小、形状和能力。

[奥威尔George OrwellEric Arthur Blair的笔名),1903-1950,英国作家、记者和政论家,参加过西班牙内战和第二次世界大战,以著作《动物农庄(Animal Farm)》(1945)和《一九八四(Nineteen Eighty-Four)》(1949)名世。该两书都有中文版。在《动物农庄》中,猪打败人后宣布“四条腿都是好家伙,两条腿都是坏家伙”。]

多:你认为人形机会在我们的日常生活中发挥作用,帮助我们做家务和类似事情吗?

马:是的。它是一种通用又专门的类人机器。

多:原型机将在今年年底前准备就绪。什么时候会成为大规模销售的产品?

马:我想我们今年在原型水平上会有一些很妙的东西。在明年年底之前,它应当至少能够适度量产。

多:你说人形机的潜力比特斯拉的潜力更大。如果这是真的,那么它必须真的是一个大众市场产品。但无论如何,人形机也是对出生率不断降低问题的一个解决方式。如果我们没有足够的人,我们将需要更多的机器人来完成工作。

马:面对人口增长率降低现象,人形机将很有用处。但是,如果人口增长率降低现象继续下去,会发生什么呢?人类消亡了。这是我们想要的吗?

多:或者被人工智能取代了。由“脑机链”(Neuralink) 驱动的人类。

马:脑机链在短期内只是为了解决脑损伤、脊柱损伤之类的问题。因此,在今后许多年,脑机链产品只会对那些失去手臂或腿部,或只是遭受某种创伤性脑损伤的人有所帮助。这就是脑机链今后许多年有用的地方。

纳:你能想象有一天我们能够将人类的大脑容量下载到人形机中吗?

马:我认为这是可能的。

多:这将是永生的另一种方式,因为我们会将我们的个性下载到机器人中。

马:是的,我们可以下载我们认为让自己如此独特的东西。现在,当然,如果你不再在你的身体里,世界肯定会有所不同,但就保留我们的记忆和我们的个性而言,我认为我们可以做到永生。

多:我感到,发明家和未来学家雷·库兹韦尔预测的2025年的奇点时刻正在迅速临近。这个时间线是否仍然现实?

[雷·库兹韦尔,Ray Kurzweil1948-,美国工程师、企业家和未来学家,入选美国国家专利局建立的“国家发明者名人堂”,著作有《智能机器时代(The Age of Intelligent Machines,)》(1990)、《奇点临近(The Singularity is near)》(2005),《如何创造心智(How to Create Mind)》(2012)并预告2022年出版《奇点更近了(The Singularity is nearer)》等。奇点指一经跨越就不可返回的点。Kurzweil说的奇点,主要是技术突破人的身体和大脑限制的时间点,他的预测应当是2045年。《奇点临近》有中文版。]

马:我不确定它是否有非常清晰的边界。我认为边界应当很模糊。我们已经有如此多的在我们身外的计算。我们的记忆存储在我们的手机和电脑中,并带有图片和视频。电脑和手机放大了我们的沟通能力,使我们能够做一些过去人认为是神奇的事情。现在,您可以让世界两端的人视频通话,而且几乎是免费通话。这真是太神奇了。我们已经用计算机大规模地放大了我们的大脑。我们可以有一个有趣的比率,就是粗略计算机器的计算量,然后除以生物的计算量,看这个比率如何随时间变化。随着机器计算如此之快的发展,机器计算量如此增大,这个比率应该会迅速提高。

多:谈到速度,你有一个想象,有一天,星舰可以在30分钟内从地球的任意点A飞到任意点B。这是你的想象吗?这像一辆环球超级出租车。你可以从旧金山立即飞到内罗毕吗?

马:星舰着陆声音很大。因此,你可能会用它连接毗邻大洋或大海的城市。这样,你可以在离岸足够远的地方着陆,使着陆噪音不会对人们造成干扰

多:从美国东海岸到西海岸会是一个现实的选择吗?

马:是的,它就像一枚洲际火箭。

多:你们解决了那么多人类的问题,提出了那么多的解决方案。但我很惊讶,有一个话题似乎没有让你着迷:长寿,显著延长寿命。你为什么对此没有热情?你个人对长寿不感兴趣吗?

马:我不认为我们应该努力让人们真的活很长一段时间。这会导致社会窒息,这里的真理在于,大多数人不会改变想法。他们只是死了。因此,如果他们不死,我们将陷入旧观念之中,社会不会进步。我认为,我们已经碰到了老年人统治的严重问题,就是那么多国家的领导人都太老了。在美国,领导者是太、太老了。如果你比其他人老好几代,你根本不可能与其他人保持联系。美国的创建者规定了官员任职的最低年龄。但他们没有规定最高年龄,因为他们没想到人们会活这么久。他们应该规定官员最高年龄的。要使民主制度发挥作用,领导人必须与大部分人口保持合理的联系。如果你太年轻或太老,你就不能说你和他们联系在一起。

多:有没有一种理想的最高任职年龄?您想多大年龄合适?

马:我认为,对于政治领导层来说,理想情况下,他们的年龄应当在人口平均年龄的上下10岁,或者至多上下20岁以内。对我来说,我当然想在更长的时间内保持健康。但我不怕死。我认为死将是一种解脱。

多:你可能无法在你的有生之年看到SpaceX的愿景成真?

马:我想活得长,想看到它成真。

多:你如何看待自己——净资产约为2,600亿美元——被当作地球上最富有的人?

马:我确实认为普京比我富有得多。

多:你真的这样认为吗?

马:是的。

多:你知道约翰·劳(JohnLaw)吗?

马:不知道。

多:约翰·劳在300年前曾经是地球上最富有的人。他是一个苏格兰人,生活在17世纪末和18世纪初。他是个赌徒,”不地道的情人”,后来成为非常成功的投资者和金融工程师。他当时是地球上最大的艺术收藏家。通过对密西西比公司股票的追捧,他在法国制造了一个股市泡沫,并最终变为第一次金融危机的原因之一。约翰·劳曾经拥有美国大约30%的财产。最后,他破产了。你有没有想过,如果出了什么错误,你失去了一切,那时你会怎么办?

马:我有很多次以为自己失去了一切。谁创办了一家汽车公司和一家火箭公司时会期待它们成功?至少我没有期待成功。我成功的机会不到10%。在2008年SpaceX第三次发射失败后,我知道如果第四次再失败,SpaceX将死亡。我们没有钱来发射第五次。特斯拉曾多次濒临破产。我们甚至将在2008年融资的最后一天关门。请记住,当时通用汽车和克莱斯勒已经破产,福特正处于破产的边缘。所以,想象一下,在通用汽车破产之时,你要为一家电动汽车初创公司筹集资金的情形。人们看我竟然还来请求,对我非常恼火。但我们能够筹到刚刚够的钱来勉强维持。我们在2008年可能的最后一天的最后一个小时结束了特斯拉的一轮融资,那是平安夜。如果我们没有这一轮融资,我们将在圣诞节后两天破产。

多:埃隆·马斯克不仅是位企业家,还是位慈善家。你的基金会的目标是什么?

马:我确实想强调,SpaceX和特斯拉打算从根本上提高未来的质量,特别是有益于人类的质量。特斯拉通过加速可持续能源的方式。而 SpaceX 则通过使行星间交流成为可能的方式。更多的工作超出我自己的能力。说到捐款,我要说的是,有效地把钱捐出去是一件非常困难的事情。如果你关心做好事的现实,而不是做好事的感觉,你就非常难以有效地捐钱。我关心现实。感觉丢一边。人需要被帮助,显然有环境原因,有教育原因,特别是科学和工程教育的原因,儿童保健原因。如今,饥饿与其说是没有足够食物的问题,不如说是政治和后勤保障问题。世界有大量食物。在美国和许多国家,更严重的问题是肥胖而非饥饿。所以,我一直在寻找能够把钱有效地捐出去的方式。

多:如果你在谷歌搜寻“埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)”,我想你会有超过2亿个搜索结果和近8000万推特粉丝。你绝对是地球上最广为人知的人之一。广为人知对你来说是一种乐趣还是一种负担?

马:它让我在街角买咖啡变得很困难。我也很难到处走走,或者至少去逛商店或在街上逛逛。现在很难做到。

多:这让我想起德国前总理赫尔穆特·科尔(Helmut Kohl)。他曾经对我说,你无法想象这是多么可怕:你走进一家餐馆,每个人都认得你,来到你的桌前,请求你签名。这太可怕了。生活中只有一件事更糟糕。那就是:再也没有人来到你的桌前。

马:哈哈哈。我只是想找到一个街角的桌子,在昏暗的光线下或什么地方,可以一个人坐一会。

多:你最迫切地想要实现的目标是什么?

马:在近期,最紧迫的是完成全自动驾驶,在比人类驾驶更安全得多的水平上实现全自动驾驶。在基本点上,它可以归结为解决现实世界的人工智能问题。这消耗了我大量精力。另一个近期目标是让星舰运转起来,不仅要让它进入轨道,而且要实现快速的重复使用——这确实是火箭事业的圣杯,是人类成为多行星物种所必需的条件。我认为这些事情可能会在今年完成。

多:在你真正想实现的东西中,什么是你认为不可能的?

马:“不可能”是个太强的词。

多:你不喜欢这个词。

马:这是一个太强的词。我从物理学角度看待事物,”不可能”这个词在物理学中或多或少是被禁止的。我真的很担心这个出生率的事情。多年来,这一直困扰着我,因为我没有看到它的转变,反而每年都更糟。我用这个问题把我的朋友都搞烦了。

多:沃尔特·艾萨克森正计划写你的传记。他写过阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦、史蒂夫·乔布斯、本杰明·富兰克林和莱昂纳多·达芬奇的生活。在这四个人中,你想和谁见面并喝一杯酒?

马:我很荣幸见到他们中的任何一位。我认为本杰明·富兰克林在晚餐上是最有趣的。

多:您认为他们谁和你最亲近?莱昂纳多·达芬奇吗?

马:我很不一样。但是,实际上我可能和本杰明·富兰克林最亲近。他做了很多科学和工程的事情。达芬奇写了一本书,认为自己首先和最终都是一名工程师。实际上,在他申请最终使他能够创造所有那些艺术的职位时,他想的一切都与他的工程理念有关。只是最后,他提到自己做些艺术。达芬奇真的认为自己是一个工程师。这一点我觉得很有趣。他为他的时代给人留下了深刻印象。

多:你说你不能孤单。我非常赞同这种感觉。孤单的感觉来自哪里?

马:我认为它只是人的自然反应。

多:很多人如果独自一人,会感到高兴。

马:真的吗?我想大多数人都不高兴独自一人。

多:你感到孤独吗?

马:我想,有时候我会感到孤独,是的。

多:因为你找不到你喜欢分享感受和想法的人?你是地球上最广为人知和最受关注的人之一。每个人都想和你说话。但这好像没有用。

马:有时候我很孤独。我相信每个人都有很孤独的时候。这是很基本的情形。比如说,如果我在研究星舰火箭,而我只是独自呆在我的小房子里,特别是如果我的狗不在身边,那么我会感到非常孤独,因为我一个人在一个小房子里,连狗都不在旁边。

多:你最大的恐惧是什么?

马:人类面临的生存威胁是什么?我花了很多时间谈论出生率的事情。这可能是对人类文明未来的最大单一威胁。然后是人工智能出错的担忧。我认为宗教极端主义是另一个担忧。

多:你最大的希望是什么?

马:我最大的希望是人类在火星上创造一个自给自足的城市。

多:你曾经说过,如果你不置身于爱情中,你就不可能幸福。你现在幸福吗?

马:我认为爱能够分为许多度数。不过,可以肯定的是,要让一个人完全幸福,我认为这个人必须在工作中幸福、在爱情中幸福。所以,我想我是中等幸福的。

多:对项目、对工作的爱能弥补人与人之间的爱吗?

马:我想尽可能地直白地说。如果人类在火星上有一个自给自足的城市,我会很幸福,因为那样的话,人类的寿命尺度可能会大得多。我想我们真的只有这根小小的意识蜡烛,就像虚空中的一盏小灯。我们不希望这根小蜡烛在黑暗中熄灭。

(完)

(注:方括号和斜体字为译者所加。英文原文附后。翻译会有不当甚至错误之处,请尽可能参照原文,并请在www.hujingbei.net告知所发现的错误之处,谢谢!胡景北,2022年4月8日)

“夜话”2022年第5期,2022年4月8日

注:关于本文在微信公众号经历的说明:

本文中英文曾于加州时间2022年4月7日晚、4月8日上午和傍晚在微信公众号上发布三次。第1、2次审核后被拒发。第三次审核通过,于4月8日下午6:40(北京时间4月9日9:40)发出,但随即于下午8:32(北京时间4月9日11:32)被删除。三次发布截屏和删除通知与删除原因见下述图片。

  1. 三次发布截屏
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  • 删除原因(按上一通知中的“点击此处”,即显示下面屏幕内容)

English Original

Elon Musk Discusses the War in Ukraine and the Importance of Nuclear Power — and why Benjamin Franklin Would Be ‘the Most Fun at Dinner’

Mathias Döpfner: Before we talk about the future, let’s look at the present. There is war in Europe. If you see the horrible images of Putin’s troops invading Ukraine, killing people. What are your thoughts?

Elon Musk: It is surprising to see that in this day and age. I thought we had sort of moved beyond such things for the most part. It is concerning. If you can get away with it, then this will be a message to other countries that perhaps they could get away with it too.

Döpfner: Have you been surprised by Putin’s behavior? I mean, I remember the discussions in the recent weeks when most of the Europeans thought he is not going to do it. A lot of Americans were convinced he is going to invade. What was your expectation?

Musk: My best guess was that he would seek to capture the Eastern third of the country. Frankly, if you just listened to the rhetoric, then it is clear that he was going after at least portions of Ukraine that have a significant percentage of Russian speakers. He did that already in Georgia.

Döpfner: In a way, if you listen carefully to dictators, they very often say what they want to do. You just had to take it seriously.

Musk: Yeah. They are not subtle.

Döpfner: But so far, there is a possibility that Putin achieves pretty much the opposite of what he wants to achieve. He wants to disentangle America from Europe. He wants to weaken NATO. So far, he has strengthened NATO. He has united the west. It is almost a bipartisan topic that unites democracies and open societies. With regard to the long-term outcome, are you rather pessimistic that it is going to strengthen Putin and thus, paving the way for other examples like China or elsewhere? Or are you more optimistic that it could be a turning point for a different security policy of the West?

Musk: I do think this will strike the West. I suppose of course that people realize, maybe we should not have all these internal squabbles when there are more serious threats.

Döpfner: Volodymyr Zelenskyy put it very clearly. “I need ammunition, not a ride”. Europe, particularly Germany, struggled a long time. How about the American government?

Musk: I think the American government has done more than people may realize. But it is just not been very public. But it is important to do something serious. We cannot let Putin take over Ukraine. This is crazy.

Döpfner: Parts of the world, particularly Europe, have learned the wrong lesson from the Third Reich and the Holocaust. And that lesson is: no military intervention ever again. Trying not to get involved. Now, there is the opportunity that we learned the real lesson, and that is never ever racism, never ever genocides and never ever appeasement.

Musk: Appeasement obviously did not work against Hitler. And how much better would the world had been if they had stopped him early. Better for everyone.

Döpfner: You did something very concrete, 48 hours, upon the request of the digital minister of Ukraine. And that was delivering Starlink material in order to grant internet access. What was the motivation, and how is it developing?

Musk: We did think that Starlink might be needed, and we took some preemptive actions to ensure that it could be provided quickly. When the request came, we acted very rapidly. It is worth noting that the satellite internet connectivity of Ukraine was taken offline by a cyberattack on the day of the invasion permanently. The cell towers are either being blown up or they are being jammed. There is a major fiber backbone which the Russians are aware of. It was quite likely that they will sever that fiber link. This would leave Ukraine with very few connections open. So Starlink might be, certainly in some parts of Ukraine, the only connection.

Döpfner: What happens if the Russians and Chinese are targeting satellites? Is that also a threat for Starlink?

Musk: It was interesting to view the Russian anti-satellite demonstration a few months ago in the context of this conflict. Because that caused a lot of strife for satellite operators. It even had some danger for the space station, where there are Russian cosmonauts. So why did they do that? It was a message in advance of the Ukraine invasion. If you attempt to take out Starlink, this is not easy because there are 2000 satellites. That means a lot of anti-satellite missiles. I hope we do not have to put this to a test, but I think we can launch satellites faster than they can launch anti-satellites missiles.

Döpfner: Russia said that they are going to stop the delivery of rocket engines. Is that a threat or an opportunity for SpaceX?

Musk: At SpaceX, we design and manufacture our own rocket engines. So we did not really own any Russian components at all.

Döpfner: Is it dangerous for the United States of America?

Musk: Boeing and Lockheed have strongly relied on the Russian RD-180 Engine. Which I should say, to be fair, is a great engine. They are hoping to move away from that in the future with engines from Blue Origin. There is also the Antares which uses the RD-181, I believe. They will not be able to fly as a result.

Döpfner: With knowledge, products and services, Elon Musk is almost a strategic weapon in modern warfare. How do you see your role in that context?

Musk: I think I can be helpful in conflicts. I try to take a set of actions that are most likely to improve the probability that the future will be good. And obviously sometimes I make mistakes in this regard. I do whatever I think is most likely to ensure that the future is good for humanity. Those are the actions that I will take.

Döpfner: A couple of months ago we had an exchange about Ernst Jüngers famous book “Storm of Steel”. You were very fascinated by that book, which has been published roughly a hundred years ago, about Jüngers experiences in the First World War. Why is that book so important for you?

Musk: I read a lot of books, and for some reason I am fascinated by war and history in general. It is not just history of war, but just history in general. Jüngers book is an excellent personal account of World War One. The lesson taken from that book is we don’t ever want to do that again.

Döpfner: There is a big controversy around that book. Some people are saying this is glorifying war…

Musk: It is definitely not!

Döpfner: …It is rather positive nor negative. It is just describing what happened in a terrible way.

Musk: Nobody is reading that book and says, I want to do that too. For me, it is just fascinating to read about history. I mean, learn the lessons of history, such that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Döpfner: History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. And we see a rhyme these days. Back to the big strategic picture. The terrible actions of Putin are, to a certain degree, also a result of strategic mistakes that Europe, particularly Germany, has made, the dropout of nuclear energy in 2011.

Musk: It is very important that Germany will not shut down its nuclear power stations. I think this is extremely crazy.

Döpfner: If we really want to reduce Putin’s power as well as Europe’s and Germany’s dependence on Russian energy, we have to decarbonize. It’s the only way. Is more nuclear energy the key to free ourselves from dictators and autocrats like Putin.

Musk: I want to be super clear. You should not only not shut down the nuclear power plants, but you should also reopen the ones that have already shut down. Those are the fastest to produce energy. It is crazy to shut down nuclear power plants now, especially if you are in a place where there are no natural disasters. If you are somewhere where severe earthquakes or tsunamis occur, it is more of a question mark. If there is no massive natural disaster risk-which Germany does not have-then there is really no danger with the nuclear power plants.

Döpfner: Aren’t there any safer alternatives that could have a similar effect? Solar and wind won’t do it. Do you have any other ideas in mind about future energy policy?

Musk: I think long term, most of civilization’s energy is going to come from solar, and then you need to store it with battery because obviously the sun only shines during the day, and sometimes it is very cloudy. So you need solar batteries. That will be the main long-term way that civilization is powered. But between now and then, we need to maintain nuclear. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is total madness to shut them down. I want to be clear, total madness.

Döpfner: Let’s see whether this very clear words are heard in Germany.

Musk: I would say this is a national security risk.

Döpfner: How is the climate issue going to look like in 15 years? Better than today?

Musk: From a sustainable energy standpoint, much better.

Döpfner: So we are going to solve this problem?

Musk: Yes, absolutely. We will solve the climate issue. It is just a question of when. And that is like the fundamental goal of Tesla.

Döpfner: You once said that the decrease of birth rate is one of the most underestimated problems of all the times. Why?

Musk: Most people in the world are operating under the false impression that we’ve got too many people. This is not true. The birth rate has been dropping like crazy. Unfortunately, we have these ridiculous population estimates from the UN that need to be updated because they just don’t make any sense. Just look at the growth rate last year. See how many kids were born and multiply that by the life expectancy. I would say that is how many people will be alive in the future. And then say, is the trend for birth rate positive or negative? It is negative. That is the best case, unless something changes for the birth rate.

Döpfner: That is also why we need alternatives. You have recently presented Optimus, a human robot, and shared great expectations, what that could do for the world. I assume it is not only about the first visit to Mars that could be done by Optimus, but it might also be a game changer in AI. Could you share this vision?

Musk: With respect to AI and robotics, of course, I see things with some trepidation. Because I certainly don’t want to have anything that could potentially be harmful to humanity. But humanoid robots are happening. Look at Boston Dynamics. They do better demonstrations every year. The rate of advancement of AI is very rapid.

Döpfner: Concretely, Optimus is going to be used in Tesla factories. That is one of the use cases, but what is the broader use case beyond Tesla?

Musk: Optimus is a general purpose, sort of worker-droid. The initial role must be in work that is repetitive, boring, or dangerous. Basically, work that people don’t want to do.

Döpfner: Why has Optimus two legs? Just because it looks like a human being, or is it more practical? I thought four legs were better.

Musk: Haha, four legs good, two legs bad. Kind of reminds me of Orwell. Humanity has designed the world to interact with a bipedal humanoid with two arms and ten fingers. So if you want to have a robot fit in and be able to do things that humans can do, it must be approximately the same size and shape and capability.

Döpfner: Do you think that Optimus is going to play a role in our daily life, helping us in the household and things like that?

Musk: Yes. A general focused humanoid.

Döpfner: The prototype is going to be ready by the end of this year. When is it a product that can be mass marketed?

Musk: I think we will have something pretty good at the prototype level this year, and it might be ready for at least a moderate volume production towards the end of next year.

Döpfner: You said the potential is bigger than the potential of Tesla. If that is true, then it must be really a mass market product. But anyway, Optimus is also an answer to the problem of dropping birth rates. If we have not enough human people, we need more bots to get work done.

Musk: Optimus will be helpful with respect to dropping growth rates. But if these things continue, then what happens? Humanity dies out. Is that what we want?

Döpfner: Or replaced by artificial intelligence. Human beings powered by Neuralink.

Musk: Neuralink in the short term is just about solving brain injuries, spinal injuries and that kind of thing. So for many years Neuralink’s products will just be helpful to someone who has lost the use of their arms or legs or has just a traumatic brain injury of some kind. That is what Neuralink will be useful for many years.

Döpfner: Could you imagine that one day we would be able to download our human brain capacity into an Optimus?

Musk: I think it is possible.

Döpfner: Which would be a different way of eternal life, because we would download our personalities into a bot.

Musk: Yes, we could download the things that we believe make ourselves so unique. Now, of course, if you’re not in that body anymore, that is definitely going to be a difference, but as far as preserving our memories, our personality, I think we could do that.

Döpfner: The Singularity moment that the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has, I think, predicted for 2025 is approaching fast. Is this timeline still realistic?

Musk: I’m not sure if there is a very sharp boundary. I think it is much smoother. There is already so much compute that we outsource. Our memories are stored in our phones and computers with pictures and video. Computers and phones amplify our ability to communicate, enabling us to do things that would have been considered magical. Now you can have two people have a video call basically for free on opposite sides of the world. It’s amazing. We’ve already amplified our human brains massively with computers. It could be an interesting ratio to roughly calculate the amount of compute that is digital, divided by the amount of compute that is biological. And how does that ratio change over time. With so much digital compute happening so fast, that ratio should be increasing rapidly.

Döpfner: Talking about speed, you have the vision that one day, Starship could be able to get from A to B in 30 minutes all around the globe. Is that correct? It’s like a global super taxi. You can just go from San Francisco to Nairobi?

Musk: The landing will be loud. So you would probably be connecting cities that are next to oceans or seas. So you can land far enough offshore that the landing noise is not disturbing to people

Döpfner: Coast to coast would be a realistic option?

Musk: Yes, it is like an intercontinental rocket.

Döpfner: You have solved so many problems of mankind and presented so many solutions. I’m surprised that one topic does not seem to fascinate you as much: Longevity. A significantly increased life span. Why aren’t you passionate about that? Aren’t you personally interested in living longer?

Musk: I don’t think we should try to have people live for a really long time. That it would cause asphyxiation of society because the truth is, most people don’t change their mind. They just die. So if they don’t die, we will be stuck with old ideas and society wouldn’t advance. I think we already have quite a serious issue with gerontocracy, where the leaders of so many countries are extremely old. In the US, it’s a very, very ancient leadership. And it is just impossible to stay in touch with the people if you are many generations older than them. The founders of the USA put minimum ages for a local office. But they did not put maximum ages because they did not expect that people will be living so long. They should have. Because for a democracy to function, the leaders must be reasonably in touch with the bulk of the population. And if you’re too young or too old, you can’t say that you will be attached.

Döpfner: Is there a kind of ideal, maximum age? How old would you like to get?

Musk: I think for political leadership, you want to be ideally within 10 or at least, 20 years of the average age of the population. And for me, I certainly would like to maintain health for a longer period of time. But I am not afraid of dying. I think it would come as a relief.

Döpfner: You may not be able to see the vision of SpaceX come true in your life?

Musk: I would like to live long enough to see that.

Döpfner: How do you feel, being – at a net worth of USD 260 billion roughly – perceived as the richest person on earth?

Musk: I do think that Putin is significantly richer than me.

Döpfner: You really do?

Musk: Yeah.

Döpfner: Do you know John Law?

Musk: No.

Döpfner: John Law used to be the richest person on earth 300 years ago. He was a Scottish guy and lived in the end 17th century and the early 18th century. He was a gambler, ‘un homme à femmes’, then a very successful investor, and financial engineer. He was the biggest art collector on earth. He created a stock market bubble in France through a rush behind the shares of the Mississippi company. And was ultimately the reason for one of the first financial crises. John Law used to own roughly 30% of the United States of America then. In the end, he went bankrupt. Did you ever think about what would happen if something were to go wrong and you were to lose everything?

Musk: There have been many times when I expected to lose everything. Who starts a car company and a rocket company expecting them to succeed? Certainly not me. I had less than 10 percent chance of success. After the third failure of SpaceX in 2008, I knew that if the fourth launch failed, SpaceX would be dead. We had no money for the fifth launch. Tesla’s been on the verge of bankruptcy many times. We even closed on the last day of the financing round in 2008. Remember, back then General Motors and Chrysler had gone bankrupt and Ford was on the brink of it. So, imagine trying to raise money for an electric car startup while General Motors was going bankrupt. People were very angry that I even asked. But we were able to raise just enough money to squeak by. And closed the financial round for Tesla on the last hour of the last possible day in 2008. Christmas Eve. Had we not closed the round then, we would have gone bankrupt two days after Christmas.

Döpfner: Elon Musk is not only an entrepreneur, he is also a philanthropist. What are the goals of your foundation?

Musk: I do want to emphasize that SpaceX and Tesla fundamentally intend to improve the quality of the future. Especially in terms of usefulness to humanity. Tesla by accelerating sustainable energy. And SpaceX by making multiplanetary intercourse possible. This is more than I can do myself. When it comes to donations, I’d say it is very difficult to give away money effectively. If you care about the reality of doing good and not the perception of doing good, then it is very hard to give away money effectively. I care about reality. Perception be damned. So, there’s obviously environmental causes, there is education, especially science and engineering education. Pediatric healthcare. Hunger these days is more of a political and logistics problem than it is not having enough food. There is a lot of food. In the US and many countries, the issue is more obesity than it is hunger. So, I’m always looking for ways to give away money that are effective.

Döpfner: If you google Elon Musk, I think you would have more than 200 million search results and nearly 80 million Twitter followers. You are definitely one of the most popular people on earth. Is popularity a pleasure or a liability for you?

Musk: It makes it difficult to go buy coffee at the corner. It is hard to go around places, or at least be able to just go to the store or walk down the street. Now it is quite difficult to do that.

Döpfner: It reminds me a bit of a former chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, who once told me, you cannot imagine how terrible it is to go into a restaurant and everybody recognizes you, comes to your table, asks you for an autograph. That is terrible. There is only one thing in life that is worse. And that is: if nobody comes to your table anymore.

Musk: Hahaha. I just try to find a corner table that is in a dimly light or something, where I can stay out of the way.

Döpfner: Is there anything that you most urgently want to achieve?

Musk: In the short run, and the most pressing is completing full self-driving, so that we have full self-driving operating at a substantially safer level than humans. Basically, it comes down to solving the problem of real world AI. That consumes a lot of my mind. And getting the starship to work. Not only getting it to orbit but achieving rapid reusability – which is really the holy grail of rocketry that is necessary for humanity to become a multiplanet species. And I think those things might happen this year.

Döpfner: Anything that you really would like to achieve, which you think is going to be impossible?

Musk: Impossible is a strong word.

Döpfner: You don’t like that word.

Musk: It’s a strong word. I approach things from a physics standpoint and the word impossible is more or less banned in physics. I’m really worried about this birthrate thing. That’s been troubling me for many years, because I just don’t see it turning around. Every year it’s worse. And I drive my friends crazy with this.

Döpfner: Walter Isaacson is planning your biography. He has written about the lives of Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo DaVinci. Among the four, with whom would you like to meet and have a glass of wine?

Musk: I would be honored to meet any of them. I think Benjamin Franklin would be the most fun at dinner.

Döpfner: And who is the one you think you are closest to? Would it be Leonardo DaVinci?

Musk: I am pretty different. But it might actually be Benjamin Franklin. He did a lot of science and engineering. DaVinci wrote a book, seeing himself first and foremost as an engineer. Actually, in his application for the position that eventually enabled him to create all of the art, it was all about his engineering ideas. Just in the end, he mentioned doing some art. I think it’s funny that DaVinci really thought of himself as an engineer. But he was pretty impressive for his time.

Döpfner: You said that you cannot be alone. I very much share that feeling. Where does it come from?

Musk: I think it’s just a natural human reaction.

Döpfner: A lot of people are happy if they are alone.

Musk: Really? I think most people are not happy being alone.

Döpfner: Do you feel lonely?

Musk: I mean, there are times when I feel lonely, yes.

Döpfner: Because you cannot find people with whom you like to share your feelings and thoughts? You are one of the most popular and looked after persons on earth. Everybody wants to speak with you. But it seems not to work.

Musk: There are times when I’m lonely. I’m sure there are times when everyone is lonely. But it’s pretty basic. Say if I’m working on the starship rocket and I’m just staying in my little house by myself, especially if my dog is not with me, then I feel quite lonely because I’m just in a little house by myself with no dog.

Döpfner: What is your biggest fear?

Musk: What are the existential threats that humanity faces? I spent a lot of time talking about the birthrate thing. That might be the single biggest threat to the future of human civilization. And then there’s the concern of artificial intelligence going wrong. I think religious extremism is another concern.

Döpfner: What is your biggest hope?

Musk: My biggest hope is that humanity creates a self-sustaining city on Mars.

Döpfner: You have once said, if I’m not in love, I cannot be happy. Are you happy at the moment?

Musk: I think there are degrees of love. But certainly, for one to be fully happy, I think you have to be happy at work and happy in love. So, I suppose I’m medium happy.

Döpfner: Can love for projects, for work, compensate for love among people?

Musk: I tried to be as literal as possible. I would be happy if humanity has a self-sustaining city on Mars because then, probable lifespan of humanity is much greater. I think we really just got this little candle of consciousness, like a small light in the void. And we do not want this small candle in the darkness to be put out.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-interview-axel-springer-tesla-war-in-ukraine-2022-3?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=sf-bi-cars&fbclid=IwAR2t_p_xQFGlladtI8hogmWkjkGiivcU-Wk88BzO9eAsSc3beuStfxXdWcc. Retrieved Apr042022.

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