> Do we have evidence that Musk has been fatigued and felt worthless and just wanted to lie around in bed and not cared about Mars or anything for two straight weeks?

As a matter of fact, Scott, we *do* have accounts of *exactly that*, Musk physically lying around catatonic (unable even to make it to a bed), which I highlighted yesterday: https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/16heyx9/book_review_elon_musk/k11o283/

Isaacson 2023, Elon Musk § "Are you bipolar?"

"Devastated by the breakup with Amber Heard and the news that his father had a child with the woman he had raised as his stepdaughter, Musk went through periods when he oscillated between depression, stupor, giddiness, and manic energy. He would fall into foul moods that led to almost catatonic trances and depressive paralysis. Then, as if a switch flipped, he would become giddy and replay old Monty Python skits of silly walks and wacky debates, breaking into his stuttering laugh. Professionally and emotionally, the summer of 2017 through the fall of 2018 would be the most hellacious period of his life, even worse than the crises of 2008. “That was the time of most concentrated pain I’ve ever had,” he says. “Eighteen months of unrelenting insanity. It was mind-bogglingly painful.”

At one point in late 2017, he was scheduled to be on a Tesla earnings call with Wall Street analysts. Jon McNeill, who was then Tesla’s president, found him lying on the floor of the conference room with the lights off. McNeill went over and lay down next to him in the corner. “Hey, pal,” McNeill said. “We’ve got an earnings call to do.”

“I can’t do it,” Musk said.

“You have to,” McNeill replied.

It took McNeill a half-hour to get him moving. “He came from a comatose state to a place where we could actually get him in the chair, get other people in the room, get him through his opening statement, and then cover for him,” McNeill recalls. Once it was over, Musk said, “I’ve got to lay down, I’ve got to shut off the lights. I just need some time alone.” McNeill said the same scene played out five or six times, including once when he had to lie on the conference room floor next to Musk to get his approval for a new website design.

Around that time, Musk was asked by a user on Twitter if he was bipolar. “Yeah,” he answered. But he added that he had not been medically diagnosed. “Bad feelings correlate to bad events, so maybe the real problem is getting carried away for what I sign up for.” One day, when they were sitting in the Tesla conference room after one of Musk’s spells, McNeill asked him directly whether he was bipolar. When Musk said probably yes, McNeill pushed his chair back from the table and turned to talk to Musk eye to eye. “Look, I have a relative who is bipolar,” McNeill said. “I’ve had close experience with this. If you get good treatment and your meds dialed right, you can get back to who you are. The world needs you.” It was a healthy conversation, McNeill says, and Musk seemed to have a clear desire to get out of his messed-up headspace.

But it didn’t happen. His way of dealing with his mental problems, he says when I ask, “is just take the pain and make sure you really care about what you’re doing.”"

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My pre-1995 SAT scores slightly exceeded Musk’s (Wow! That surprises me), but I don’t think my IQ is 136-140. I was IQ tested as a 9-year-old and had an IQ of 128.

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On the Twitter point, speaking anecdotally from personal experience, I’ve seen a significant amount of followers and correspondents drop off Twitter post-Elon, and it has not slowed down. I’m mostly the film Twitter space, and a lot of folks moved to Mastodon, there were a lot of complaints then about Mastodon, and then people started to migrate to Bluesky, which seems to provoke much less technical misery. Twitter Blue remains intensely unpopular.

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> P.S. the interface is so slow and laggy, holy cow

Maybe this has changed relatively recently in Teslas, as all my experience in them comes in the past 2-3 years, but the idea that somehow the Big 3 carmakers are *ahead* of Tesla in infotainment systems is completely crazy to me. Every Big 3 car I've ever been in has a UI straight from Nokia in 2004 with processing power to match. They are only remotely usable if you turn them into dumb glass by letting your phone take over everything, and even then "slow and laggy" is usually a great description of how they react.

Overall, I appreciated reading the comment, but the whole time I felt like I was reading one of those reviews of Apple products from a decade or so ago comparing how many gigahertz are in the CPU and whether or not it has a serial port to plug in a mouse, when that's not what customers care about *at all*. I don't know what "rigidity" means or what "panel alignment" even is.

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Sep 18, 2023·edited Sep 18, 2023

I'm late to the party, but re. The Boring Company, it's the most-visionary and most-important of his projects. I've been advocating just such a project for, I dunno, 20 years now.

Boring tunnels underground, evacuating them of air, and running vehicles through them, is the only way to achieve hypersonic travel on Earth. The theoretical limits on speed then are just the ability of the human body to tolerate g-forces. It's the obvious, necessary, and /final/ transportation technology for Earth; it can never be surpassed by anything short of teleportation.

Also, the first person to build a trans-American hypersonic tunnel system gets to choose where to build the transfer points. Buy a bunch of prairie in Kansas and build your west coast / east coast tunnel interchange there. A megalopolis will spring up over the next decade, and you'll have made up to a trillion dollar profit on those land purchases.

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Re the boring company, it's worth noting that (unlike rockets or EVs), building tunnels for an order of magnitude (or more) less than is typical in US infrastructure projects is already regularly done in many other countries (including countries with similar or higher labour costs) - and that's for full-sized train tunnels, not just small-diameter tunnels for cars. That the Boring Company has failed to even match that for their smaller tunnels would imply they're probably not doing a great job on the engineering side.

Edit: I looked up some numbers and this is at least somewhat wrong, looks like they actually did match the low end of european costs (at least, assuming we can take their claimed costs at face value).

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"I’m not sure the Boring Company is interesting enough for this to matter."

Has anyone pointed out that of *course* the Boring company is not interesting; it is, of course, boring. That's straightforward nominative determinism.

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> Or did they all start learning to paint and spending time with their friends and families?

This coincided with Zvi starting to release novel-length posts on AI every week, so I just switched my twitter time to those (and presumably everyone else has too).

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"then of his top-300,000-most-intelligent-Americans cohort, he would be in the top 30 most intense, or alternatively, for his top-30,000-most-intense-Americans cohort, he would be in the top 30 most intelligent."

This rings true, in some approximation of the specific numbers. Over some decades I've met or known or been related to a few people who I'd place that high on one or the other of those lists, but, pondering it a bit now, no one who I could list that high on _both_. That _combination_ seems exceedingly rare.

It also reminds me of a sports quote: "Michael Jordan is what happens when a sport's greatest athlete and its greatest competitor happen to be the same person."

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I'm surprised that the lies about Musk getting into Stanford's PhD program are still being repeated as evidence of his intelligence. This twitter thread goes through the evidence: https://twitter.com/capitolhunters/status/1593307541932474368

In summary, Musk claims that he graduated UPenn in 1995, was accepted to Stanford's physics program, attended for two days, and then dropped out. But none of this is quite true. Musk did attend UPenn, but wasn't awarded a degree in 1995, but rather in 1997, two years after he supposedly graduated- from the eminently bribeable Wharton school. Coursework that Musk posted reveals that he was taking sophomore classes in his junior year. And while UPenn now claims Musk got a physics degree from them as well, the 1997 graduation announcements don't include his name (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FhyREt6XoAAbh2p?format=jpg&name=large). The implication is fairly obvious: Musk struggled in school, didn't manage to graduate from UPenn in 1995, went to SF to work at tech startups, and then after he'd raised some money and there was the potential for embarrassment (and legal issues) if it became clear that he didn't have a degree, he arranged with UPenn to be given a diploma two years later. Musk has made vague allusions to unfinished classes as a reason for this mixup, but at the time he was on a student visa- it is not believable that someone would "forget" that they hadn't attained the degree that would keep them from being an illegal immigrant.

Meanwhile, the story about getting into Stanford's physics grad program is total bunk. You do not get to start a graduate phd program without an undergraduate degree- if Musk was ever accepted (doubtful, if he wasn't a good student), his acceptance would have been rescinded the spring prior to his starting semester, when he failed to graduate. Musk has been inconsistent about what department he was accepted to (MSE, and Applied Physics have both been claimed), claims that he was accepted to work on a topic ("advanced capacitors and batteries") that the professor he claims he was hired by did not work on at the time, and when subpoenaed, Stanford's graduate admissions office was unable to locate any records relating to Musk (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FhySnhNXgAQnFfW?format=png&name=medium). Plus, Musk also has claimed that he moved to SF specifically to go into the tech business, something that couldn't be true if he moved to start a 5 year PhD program.

The synthesis of all this is that Musk had an unexceptional academic trajectory, for someone getting into tech in the 90s. He transferred into an elite university, gamed a bit too much, struggled in his classes, didn't quite manage to graduate, but moved to SF at the right time and made loads of money at a tech startup anyway. Nothing about this would be objectionable, but Musk has told stories about his academic career to cultivate a persona of being a scientific genius, and it's just not true.

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> AI experts, is this a big deal? Can other AI teams not access Twitter data through the public web? Is it a substantial amount of text compared to other corpuses? Is the structure (280-character blurbs written by morons) a limiting factor? Or is this a genuine treasure?

My guess: the main thing Twitter will be good for is having a good source of links to high quality articles. This was what Reddit was most useful for wrt training GPTs back when its API was free [1]. Highly upvoted articles linked on Reddit were assumed to be good, and so included in the training runs. Otherwise you just get a bunch of SEO garbage. Similarly, highly liked tweets linking to stuff by verified users likely won't be SEO garbage, so will be useful for building datasets with.

[1] https://arxiv.org/pdf/2101.00027.pdf#page=4

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"Moon Moth writes...[kid's names]"

Can you imagine the drama?:

"he has had 11 children by three mothers. ... Do the mothers get on? “Not with each other,” Isaacson jokes. And sometimes not with Musk:”

-- ‘He is driven by demons’_ biographer Walter Isaacson on Elon Musk _ Financial Times, 9/11/23

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Personally I stopped using Twitter when they started requiring Twitter Blue to use Tweetdeck. The old Twitter interface was good, the new one sucks, but hey, at least there's Tweetdeck! Except, oops, now you have to pay for that. So I just stopped reading Twitter.

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Re the AI potential from the Twitter archive

" Is the structure (280-character blurbs written by morons) a limiting factor? "

I think this question answers itself quite succinctly


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Elon seems like a jerk, which really bothers me on a personal level and influences how I view him.

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> If Parag or whoever employed a thousand censors to keep the ADL happy, and the ADL becoming unhappy cuts Twitter profits by 60%, then there’s a strong business case for those censors!

Wait. Zoom out from Musk for a moment. Surely there is something about this state of affairs about which we should be very unhappy. What you have described is essentially an extortion racket, not unlike the ones that the mob sometimes ran. Saying "there's a strong business case" for paying the extortion money doesn't seem like something we want to normalize. Why is OK for outside groups to impose such costs? What if there were an analogous, competing group making demands in the opposite direction? Would that be just fine too?

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The thing any conversation about Musk inevitably reveals about the VAST majority of people who otherwise consider themselves intelligent is that they are unbelievably susceptible to manipulation and propaganda, and that there are many many midwits who love to look down their noses at someone that is deemed 'smart'

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I’m very conflicted about Musk, because it seems to have it’s own particular version of Gell-mann’s amnesia.

When he talks about something you’re really good at, it’s hard to not see he is talking BS, but when he talks about other stuff, he really sounds like an expert. We should be discounting his views in everything else, but instead most people inflate his opinions of what they know is wrong.

A lot of people here know a lot about AI, but if someone expressed Musk musings on AI around here, there would be much less incentive to try to “read” deep insights.

It’s also interesting as someone who has worked in manufacturing that a lot of his “bright” ideas seem to be the kind that get you in trouble *on the long run*.

For instance, while the aluminium frame story makes him sound super smart if you stop where the book does, it takes on another look once you realize Tesla has had to settle lots of lawsuits related to the aluminium frame. The reason for not using aluminium is that you *really* want your car frame to be a single BIG piece, not several pieces welded together, especially in an EV where your frame protects the battery in case of impact. By welding you create stress points that tend to shear on crashes, which is one of the reasons Teslas are notorious for going in flames even after relatively minor crashes.

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Gotta admit I’m really surprised by the number of people here who have a success metric other than “but does it work?”

It’s like when you beat a guy who is a Karate expert by using Jiu Jitsu and he explains how everything you did was invalid.

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This is irrelevant to the discussion, but I wonder about the derivation of IQ from SAT scores. Is it really as simple as saying, well he's probably 1 in a 1,000 good at the SAT, so he's probably at least that intelligent?

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Twitter: If Musk's eventual goal is to transform the company to an Everything App, it's probably premature to judge the results. This would be someone buying a property to flip, then claiming it was a disaster when the house is stripped down to the studs. It might be too early to tell whether this will turn out.

"Musk was an early investor in Tesla because the founders approached him": This seems to argue the opposite what you did in your review. Sure, Tesla approached Musk, but having recently exited PayPal flush with cash, I'm sure lots of people in SV approached Musk. His reply to Tesla seems to have been, "sure, and I've been funding a guy to do cutting-edge battery research!" which doesn't seem like a 'right-place-right-time' situation, so much as 'fortune favors the prepared'.

I take your point that it's unfair to attribute a single motivation to something as complicated as a person, but it's probably also unfair to say someone like Musk is motivated by the whims of the moment. It's clear with many of his ventures they are things he thought about for a long time. The book makes it seem like he was interested in space and rockets, but didn't really believe he could build them until they talked to the Russians and he did some back-of-the-envelope calculations. In the same way, it seems like he was interested in electric cars, but didn't believe he could make them happen until Tesla approached him.

In both cases, once he perceived his vision was 'possible', he devoted large amounts of time to making them reality. You don't build Tesla or SpaceX on a whim.

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"the claim (still not proven, but plausible) that Community Notes wasn’t really a Musk project"

This one seems pretty easily provable, since there's documentation and screenshots that show Birdwatch (as Community Notes was called) and how it worked long before the acquisition, e.g. https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/product/2021/introducing-birdwatch-a-community-based-approach-to-misinformation

I can also say firsthand that I was a Birdwatch beta tester since ~mid 2021 and the feature worked more or less the same way that Community Notes works now. It's great, but it certainly wasn't Musk's project. Credit to him for doubling down on it, but not pioneering it.

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"I’m not sure whether this means that everyone else is an idiot with a pointless bureaucracy fetish, or that only a few very special people like Musk can make the non-bureaucratic version work."

It's the latter, though I'm sure Musk has access to a unique (temporally speaking) pool of disaffected talent. One mismatch that marketeering types sometimes seem to have with the general populace is that, yeah, the market CAN produce things with amazing quality and superior efficiency, but there is often a risk of total failure where you get nothing. When you apply this dynamic to things people rely on and pay taxes for (or sometimes, just the latter), they get understandably leery. And the more a successful firm begins to be relied on, the more they start to stagnate.

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> It is basically impossible to become a world-class software developer if you start after you’ve achieved career success in another industry.

Does anyone have thoughts on why this would be? I can’t think of a counter example to contradict this statement. But it doesn’t seem like there’s any fundamental reason why you couldn’t become world class starting a bit later. Is it just that it’s tough to put in the hours once you’re in your 30’s? You're more susceptible to carpal tunnel and neck pain and it just physically gets more difficult to put in the same number of hours.

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On the Twitter/X user experience: I have a lot of right leaning friends in the indie author space. There's been more of those people coming back to the site. Those who stayed on report a better experience--more interaction, less shadowbanning, quicker fixes when the mods screw up. I suspect the opposite is happening in left-leaning twitter spaces, and the site is staying even on users on net.

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After all that I’ve read about Mr Musk there is nothing I would buy, nothing I would say nor, anything that would make me give him any more of my time.

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Musk is a Tigger. A personality type which leads Rabbits to become a bit too keen on Unbouncing him.

One day he will inevitably say that he knows how to climb trees and get stuck at the top of one with Roo on his back. It's something of a worry that with AI humanity could be playing the role of the baby kangaroo.

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> I refuse to believe that going to Mars isn’t 100x more expensive than figuring out ways to solve these problems on Earth.

Geothermal-powered vertical farming (like done in Iceland) is already sufficient for this, I think.

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From a quoted comment:

> It will use Tesla cars, driven by Tesla employees. In my view this is basically an underground Uber system, but it will probably have more expensive fares to regain the capital costs of building the tunnel (Boring Company is paying for the tunnels, and casinos are paying for the stations, they do NOT have funding from City of Las Vegas AFAIK). But this expensive Uber system is exciting??

It is known that the goal is not to have Tesla employees drive, but rather to use self-driving cars. This should be much easier than achieving general self-driving capabilities.

The capital costs of building the tunnels appear to be very low compared to those of subways in the U.S. I can see the system becoming profitable.

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"If neither company had outstanding stock and therefore they both had a market capitalization of zero, how likely would you be to conclude that owning Ford would be 17 times worse than owning Tesla?"

on the topic of relative valuations, the couple comments in the article above (haven't read through the full commentary stack, no time at moment) haven't mentioned the most important point: Ford is in the ICE car business (9x% of revenues, 100%+ of profits) which is likely to be completely defunct or no more than a small sliver of the overall new car market within 15-20 years. Tesla is in the EV business which is the future (and its EV business is actually profitable). Ford is not doing a great job moving towards EVs, and their upcoming UAW contract will likely ensure it never does. Don't you think based on that alone Tesla deserves a huge valuation premium? (btw. i don't hold either stock, have never been able to convince myself Tesla isn't overvalued, but Ford is also potentially hugely overvalued / a melting ice cube)

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The back and forth here on whether Musk is "smart" reminds me of the same debates about Chat-GPT. Some people claim that it/he is confronted with novel (or at least, novel to them) difficult problems and quickly providing correct answers. Others claim they lack real understanding, and just parrot what someone else came up with, make a statement that is too general to be useful, or just give a response that is wrong (but maybe you need some expertise to see why).

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The comment about Community Notes is accurate — started as Birdwatch Inn 2021 and was fairly well established before Musk took over

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"Starlink's terms of service include a Mars clause: Users must agree that Mars is a free planet unbound by the authority or sovereignty of any Earth-bound government."

So who will govern Mars, then, and will the 'users' agree to be ruled by God-King Elon? What about if there are disputes over that, and people want to get appeals heard on Earth?

And of course, all an Earth government has to do in a dispute with Mars is shrug, say "okay, you don't want anything to do with us? have fun trying to be self-sufficient really fast when we're not sending any more supplies to you".

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The "linear development" process that Fluffy Buffalo described is basically good for two things:

1. Spreading development across congressional districts to win support for the project, at least in theory - in practice, it matters a LOT more to have one well-positioned Senator or House member to drive a project forward. We have SLS in large part because Dick Shelby dominated in the Senate Appropriations Committee and make it a priority, and Europa Clipper because John Culberson went hard to bat for it in the House.

2. Avoiding a high profile failure, like a prototype exploding on the pad. Instead, you keep all the failures and explosions hidden inside smaller facilities far removed from the public eye, and (hopefully) by the time it reaches the launch pad it's near-certain to not fail (and if you have even an inkling that it might fail, you take it back from the pad).

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Insightful. Thanks.

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Re: Twitter/X, I can't remember the source now, but supposedly Musk decided to buy the platform because it seemed stupid to him that even though he was the richest man on earth, he still couldn't say what he wanted. So if X loses money but becomes less restricted in terms of censoring people (or, less charitably, censoring Elon Musk), maybe he'd still consider that a win.

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On the Boring Company, it's worth pointing out that there are manufacturers of mass-produced TBMs - these are ones in the 30cm to 3m diameter range (yes, they really are TBMs; they're the same technology as the big ones). These are used for water and gas pipes and sewers when they are laid in locations where it's not workable to just dig a trench, drop the pipe in, and cover it over (most typically under rivers, but also under existing large buildings, under airport runways and probably some other cases I'm not thinking about).

One reason why the claim that he could make the tunnels cheaper by making them smaller produced quite a lot of doubt was just how little price benefit there is from the competitive high-volume market for small-diameter TBMs (large TBMs are usually Germany's Herrenknecht in Europe, Japan's OGITEC in East Asia or CREG in China, there are about 20 manufacturers once you get down to 3m diameter). The Boring Company isn't touting a technical breakthrough in TBM technology the way that, say, SpaceX has recoverable rockets.

If they were going into the big-tunnel space to compete with what is essentially a geographically segmented monopoly, then I'd believe that they could come up with organisational innovations to make TBMs cheaper (much as Falcon 9 was noticeably cheaper even before it was recoverable, because it was competing with a hyper-conservative oligopoly culture) but if they want to hit orders of magnitude, I think they will need a technological breakthrough, and there's no indication that they're doing anything genuinely novel.

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"the claim (still not proven, but plausible) that Community Notes wasn’t really a Musk project"

The code for it is actually open source so you can just see the history here: https://github.com/twitter/communitynotes (it started in 2021). The code has changed and has been improved post acquisition but the core idea and algorithm of what makes Community Notes special is still very much not an Elon thing.

"Community Notes"/Birdwatch became more prevalent when he acquired it but that's simply a coincidence of the project fully deploying on the frontend side slightly before and during the acquisition process, thus why people think he was behind it. AFAICT his main contribution was renaming it to Community Notes as he wanted to move away from bird-themed puns

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Missed in the discussion of market caps is that Tesla is much more vertically integrated than Ford. So a true comparison would add the value of Ford to the value of it's various suppliers.

One fun fact I learned about Musk was that his maternal grandfather emigrated to SA from Saskatchewan, because he was worried Canada was becoming too socialist. He was a pilot and in his spare time would fly around looking for the lost city of the Kalahari.

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Here is an abridged 2022 John Carmack interview about Elon. Carmack attributes Elon’s success to his level of commitment to go all-in on highly risky businesses where he could have gone bust.


I met him as I was starting to do Armadillo Aerospace. He came down with his right-hand propulsion guy and we talked about rockets and what can we do with this. It was specific things about how are our flight computers set up, what are different propellant options, what can happen with different ways of putting things together.

In some ways he was certainly the biggest player in the alt space community that was going on in the early 2000s. He was the most well-funded although his funding in the larger scheme of things compared to NASA was really tiny but it was a lot more than I had at the time.

But it was interesting, I had a point years later when I realized my financial resources at this point are basically what Elon's were when he went all-in on SpaceX and Tesla. I think in many corners he does not get the respect that he should about being a wealthy person that could just retire and [instead] he went all-in where he could have gone bust. There's plenty of people, you look at sad athletes or entertainers that had all the money in the world and blew it, and he could have been the business case example of that.

I have a great deal of admiration that he was willing to throw himself so completely into that, because in contrast with myself I was doing Armadillo Aerospace with this tightly bounded [limit], it was John's crazy money at the time that had a finite limit on it, it was never going to impact me or my family if it completely failed. I was still hedging my bets working at ID software at the time when he had been really all-in there and I have a huge amount of respect for that.

The other thing I get irritated with is people that say, “Oh Elon's just a business guy, he just was

gifted the money and he's just investing in all of this,” when he was really deeply involved in a lot of the decisions. Not all of them were perfect but he cared very much about engine material selection and propellant selection. For years he'd be telling me get off that hydrogen peroxide stuff, liquid oxygen is the only proper oxidizer for this.

The times that I've gone through the factories with him we're talking very detailed things about how this weld is made, how this sub assembly goes together, what are startup shutdown behaviors of the different things. He is really in there at a very detailed level and I think that he is the best modern example now of someone that can effectively micromanage some decisions on things on both Tesla and SpaceX to some degree where he cares enough about it.

I worry a lot that he’s stretched too thin with the Boring company and Neuralink and Twitter

and all the other possible things there. I know I’ve got limits on how much I can pay attention to and I have to box off different amounts of time.

I look back at my aerospace side of things, and it's like I did not go all-in on that. I did not commit myself at a level that it would have taken to be successful there. It's kind of a weird thing having a discussion while he's the richest man in the world right now. He operates on a level that is still very much in my wheelhouse on a technical side of things.

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>> I understand the frustration... but my impression is that space exploration is one of the fields where very thorough, very systematic planning with very conservative change cycles is the most promising approach to get something that works at the first attempt - even if it takes longer and costs more than planned. Compare the JWST to the most recent "Starship" launch for illustration.

> This would sound plausible, except that Musk has succeeded by doing the opposite. I think this is why so many people are in love with Musk: he’s proven that valuing good ideas, moving fast, and not having bureaucracy can work, sort of, in a weird little bubble of his own creation. Yeah, the first Starship exploded, but most people predict Starship will eventually work, and when it does it will be a much more impressive feat of engineering than JWST or anything else created the “proper” way.

Weirdly, you seem to have misunderstood your own point of disagreement with Fluffy Buffalo. Musk hasn't succeeded at the only goal Fluffy Buffalo mentions - succeeding on the first try. You go on to claim that Musk is a counterexample to Fluffy Buffalo's ideas while conceding that he isn't. (?!)

The actual point here is that succeeding on the first try is not a valuable goal, not that planning isn't helpful in achieving it.

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What isn't mentioned is how bureaucratic the organisations are that Musk's two most succesful companies compete with. Lack of good competition helps a lot. Explains his lack of success at Boring comopany, Twitter and that brain implant company.

Then what he did with Tesla is obviously impressive, but is it earth shattering? The company lost money for well over a decade. With negative margins of < -10% for most years while:

-Selling higher margin luxury cars.

-Underpaying and overworking employees.

-Delivering cars of subpar build quality.

-Providing poor after market service.

-Benefitting from billions in subsidies.

-Not even making the battery cells (the main tech) themselves

Other car companies looked at this and said to themselves, well we got unions to content with, and measures of quality control that are much higher, why on earth would we try to compete here and lose even more money?

Now that battery cells have come down enough in price and making EVs has become profitable, competition is flooding into the market.

Seems like Musks main skill here was keeping Tesla financially afloat and keeping the hype up, allowing him to sell a lot of stock and debt at high prices (exceptionally low interest rates helped a lot here as well). Being succesful at SpaceX was probably a major help to this.

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> AI experts, is this a big deal? Can other AI teams not access Twitter data through the public web? Is it a substantial amount of text compared to other corpuses? Is the structure (280-character blurbs written by morons) a limiting factor? Or is this a genuine treasure?

Not really an expert, but... at least before the API changes (and possibly still afterwards), Reddit comments were free and less-restricted than tweets. Their upvotes occasionally even correlate(d) with truthfulness/usefulness (see: why we google "best [thing] to buy reddit" instead of "best [thing] to buy").

I'm going with "not treasure".

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Weighing in on Twitter:

1) I've had to block FAR more people to keep my feed as consistent as it used to be, somewhere on the order of fifty a month when the number was previously less than ten. Part of it's the algorithm seemingly getting shittier. Another part of it is the top of every thread filling up with blue checks, who mysteriously tend to post the most asinine corporate boot-licking takes. A Twitter subscription service is not a BAD idea - in fact, this was in the works before Elon took over, to allow people to edit their posts, as far as I know. But one that allows people to boost their engagement just creates a bad incentive structure where the people dumb enough to piss away eight dollars on a free platform are promoted to the top. The best blue checks are people who bought it for the quality of life features, or the cynical businessmen looking to get an edge - both of which are in the minority. It's like Linkedin-lite, and Linkedin is the worst social media platform.

2) I get at least one cryptocurrency spam message a day under Elon's Twitter, that I didn't get before. At least half of the new accounts that follow me are bots with GPT generated bios and AI generated profile pictures. If his goal was to fix Twitter's bot problem, he's failed. He's partially not to blame for this - AI has expanded its capabilities far more than we expected in the last year - but at the same time, I don't see the same frequency of spam on any other social media platform.

3) There have been more major Twitter outages. This might just be anecdotal. But at the very least, the one where he pretended to have restricted the number of posts people can see per day to cover up a very loud and obvious engineering failure was entirely his fault. If you're trying to build up Twitter as something committed to free speech and transparency, it's not a good look to accidentally cripple it for close to 24 hours and then just lie and say you did it on purpose. If there are more incidents like this, more people will leave the platform, and because he lied about WHY it happened I haven't seen any evidence that he's taken steps to keep it from happening again other than reverting the changes.

There's more to it. Anecdotally, I feel like the environment has become more hostile. But if you want to boil down the mismanagement at Twitter and my current gripes with it to actual, quantifiable issues, that would be it. Twitter Blue cannot be tied to the promotion of tweets. If they want an organic platform and not a soulless collection of corporate robots like Linkedin, they need to decouple engagement from the amount of money you pay. They need now more than ever to have hundreds of people moderating the platform BY HAND, not with AI. I would not mind him laying off 90% of his engineers if it meant he brought in half as many moderators, but as it stands the platform is too vulnerable to spam. And if they don't want to lose users every time someone deploys shitty code and bricks the site for a day, they need to be actually transparent about what actually broke, instead of coming up with a stupid lie.

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Max Levchin is CEO of affirm so don't think he is mostly retired anymore.

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I remember reading somewhere that publicly diagnosing other (famous) people who aren't your patients is a violation of professional ethics. Is that not the case?

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Sep 19, 2023·edited Sep 19, 2023

>I’m not sure whether this means that everyone else is an idiot with a pointless bureaucracy fetish, or that only a few very special people like Musk can make the non-bureaucratic version work.

You could ask Stockton Rush that question.

In other words, heavy survivorship bias going on here. We remember successes, not failures unless they're especially notable failures. Bureacracy is the institutional way of remembering failures.

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"I’m not sure whether this means that everyone else is an idiot with a pointless bureaucracy fetish, or that only a few very special people like Musk can make the non-bureaucratic version work."

"Pointless" seems like going too far. Maybe everyone else is a lazy bureaucrat with a perfectly self-interested bureaucracy fetish!

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Anecdotally I often parse bipolar but not bipolar as ADHD or something like it: tendency to excessive mood swings, extended "stuck on" or stuck off"", but in response to stuff exaggeratedly and spiralling, not actually random.

I don't care so much whether this is enough to be a medical condition or not, more whether "things you might expect to be under an adult's control but don't seem to be are harder to keep under control for the person, or whether the person doesn't care, or somewhere between". He seems to have SOME passionate intense work, and SOME giant pissy fits about things. But he doesn't seem to acknowledge that having angry meltdowns at people is a problem.

Re ability I expected him to be smart but not the best engineer at somewhere like SpaceX. I think that's probably still true. More like, all the OTHER things that make a driven leader good like breadth of knowledge, common sense, drive, vision, where is he on a spectrum between "good at things he knows the right amount about" and "petty and aggrandising at anything where he's even slightly out of his depth"

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> This doesn’t even have to contradict Musk’s ADL claim! If Parag or whoever employed a thousand censors to keep the ADL happy, and the ADL becoming unhappy cuts Twitter profits by 60%, then there’s a strong business case for those censors!

I am less inclined to think of the ADL as causal than most others here, it seems like. I've worked with advertisers and they all said they were trained to be very careful of the brand presence, to the point where it looks panicy and puritanical to outsiders. I think if you took away the ADL specifically but left everything else the same, the world we see would not change. Here's why:

I used to work on the web site for a company that sold something bland and generically useful -- let's say refridgerators. We were beating the other refridgerator companies in our marketplaces, partially because our refridgerators were well made but mostly because our ad people were good at placing ads, targeting ads, and winning ad auctions without losing money. I did a lot of the SEO, and wrote a lot of the landing pages our ads pointed to, so I wound up talking to them a lot.

They were pretty chill to talk to, and clearly great their jobs, but in their work they were incredibly conservative. Any time our brand appeared next to anything even faintly controversial they went on the war path. Hate speech, sure, but also nudity, drugs, discussion of abortion; "anything that might make a suburban mom uncomfortable," as one of them summarized it once. If we placed an ad in a newspaper or something and it ran alongside a piece about a gang shooting, one of the ad folks would get on the phone and yell at the newspaper until they apologised, took it down, and refunded us.

It never made sense to me, but when I'd try to ask about it they'd mostly brush me off; this was how they were trained, it clearly worked, so I had to trust them. Finally, one night at the end of a company party I was drinking with the guy in charge of ads for north america, and I decided to rise the issue directly. "Why _don't_ we run ads against porn?" I asked. "After all, people who jerk off need refridgerators too!" "Yes," he patiently replied, "but then our brand is 'the refridgerator for jerk-offs'. We won't get enough sales to be worth that." Then he said a lot of stuff about brand awareness, but it wasn't phrased as a searing burn so I don't remember it precisely.

As far as I know the ADL never called us, but if they had our ad folks would have reacted right away. Not because they were scared of the ADL, but because they were scared of the same things the ADL is, plus a bunch more things besides. The ADL has probably organized some boycotts in their time, or tried to, but my guess is that most of their work is more like raising awareness, and the _modal_ ADL interaction is them calling a brand to say "Hey here's a picture of your ad running next to an ASCII swastika" and the brand replying "Thank you so much, we also care about that for self-interested profit reasons and will take action immediately," with no coercion even implied.

Now, separate from all that: are the advertisers actually right? Honestly I still don't believe it, and I could imagine a smart engineer seeing all this from the outside and assuming it was a lie meant to cover up something more sinister. But, at least in my corner of the industry, it wasn't.

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> I thought there was a week or two when everyone threatened to switch to Mastodon, then found they didn’t like Mastodon and went back? So where did everyone go? Was it Mastodon after all? Facebook Threads? Blue Sky? Or did they all start learning to paint and spending time with their friends and families?

Personally I started spending more time bouldering and bicycling, and substituted Manifold Markets as my source of "what's going viral on Twitter right now" news.

In fact in some cases Manifold led to a better sense of what's actually going on in the world, such as in the room-temperature superconductor markets where people who read Twitter all day gave it way more credibility than was warranted, leading to a big profit opportunity.

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I find it so interesting how resistant people seem to be to the idea that Elon Musk is very smart and capable and that has contributed positively to his success. It seems people are looking for any possible thing they can point to to say "see he's not that smart after all, he just got lucky". Maybe it's a response to the Musk-worshipping that was going on around 2018-2021, but it's a weird manifestation of a 'God of the Gaps' style argument.

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My immediate reaction is "Why are we debating Musk's intelligence?" Yeah, you have a higher IQ than Musk. Who cares; have you built a successful rocket company? A little more subtly, everybody knows you can build a Starship-class rocket, and more or less how to do it; we did it fifty years ago and the Soviets came close. The tricky part is actually doing it.

The point that comes out that is unusual is that he has the ability to absorb a lot of detailed knowledge and work with it and using that to both impress and manage the herd of extremely good and highly motivated people he's recruited to do the work.

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Weird to see Musk being compared to everyone including Fëanor, but not to John Galt (or any other Randian hero).

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Every time I see a conversation about Mars colonization I ctrl-F for "perchlorate" and "soil" to see if they're serious. They rarely are.

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> AI experts, is this a big deal? Can other AI teams not access Twitter data through the public web? Is it a substantial amount of text compared to other corpuses? Is the structure (280-character blurbs written by morons) a limiting factor? Or is this a genuine treasure?

More data is basically always better in the LLM game, but having high quality clean curated factually grounded data is even better. See for example Textbooks Are All You Need: https://arxiv.org/abs/2306.11644

Twitter is basically the opposite of that.

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The "python script.saga" seems to be two tweets. Im not really getting anything from.it.

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With regards to the Vitamin C problem of building tunnels on earth- Rhubarb needs very little light to grow extraordinarily quickly. One cup of rhubarb is 16% DV Vitamin C. I think that the scurvy problem with Chicxulub 2 would be nil.

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> For example, I’m surprised to hear this! I thought there was a week or two when everyone threatened to switch to Mastodon, then found they didn’t like Mastodon and went back? So where did everyone go? Was it Mastodon after all? Facebook Threads? Blue Sky? Or did they all start learning to paint and spending time with their friends and families?

If you want to see how bad Twitter can be now thanks to the prioritization of bluechecks, see this thread: https://twitter.com/cremieuxrecueil/status/1702132016831971365

Look how far down the replies you have to go before you see something besides explicitly anti-vaxxer gibberish. Blue check-dominance is atrociously bad for conversations that take place at IQs above room temperature and involve/allow many respondents.

Right now there's not a good alternative AFAICT, so mostly people are just spending less time there and moving to non-identical websites (e.g. Reddit, Facebook, Instagram).

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> It's worth going to Mars *because it's fucking going to Mars.*

Always relevant: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2010-12-09

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Does making Twitter a paid-only service (source: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-66850821) destroy the "everything app" goal for X?

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Sep 19, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

>This would sound plausible, except that Musk has succeeded by doing the opposite. I think this is why so many people are in love with Musk: he’s proven that valuing good ideas, moving fast, and not having bureaucracy can work, sort of, in a weird little bubble of his own creation.

There's a much more important structural issue to understand when discussing why SpaceX moves so fast while aerospace incumbents move soooooo slow:

Incumbents built the bulk of their engineering processes around the "waterfall" development model, where requirements definition, architecture, design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance are all distinct phases, gated by exhaustive documentation and formal review processes before proceeding on to the next step. They did this because it was state-of-the-art engineering methodology back in the 60's and 70's, and it was how NASA and the DoD wanted it done. The waterfall model affects all of the incumbents' business processes. It's fair to say that Boeing, NorGrumm, and LockMart are essentially big machines designed to execute waterfall engineering, in a symbiotic relationship with the DoD and NASA, which are big machines for accepting waterfall engineering.

SpaceX, on the other hand, is an iterative company. How much of that is simply because it was founded when iterative and agile engineering processes were state of the art is unclear. With an iterative engineering process, you work really hard at pairing down requirements to the absolute minimum needed to make progress, you keep your architecture fairly fluid, and design / implementation / test / deployment are unified, short, continuous cycles.

SpaceX has been a huge success with NASA and the DoD (now mostly, but not completely, Space Force) because both organizations have realized that the waterfall model simply won't scale going forward, and they made reforms to purchasing that kinda looked like a "waterfall lite" model, which allowed companies like SpaceX to implement their own processes, with a smaller number of checkpoints to make it compatible with government acquisition regulations. This is why the commercial services programs that got spun up in the late oh-oh's were so important.

The results have been spectacular, and no better example exists than the comparison between the SpaceX F9/Dragon 2 crew system and the Boeing Starliner. D2's been pumping out 2-3 crewed missions for the last four years, while Starliner is going back into the shop for its third set of major problems and still hasn't launched a crew.

It's tempting to conclude that Boeing is simply incompetent with stuff like this, and that's possibly part of the problem. But the more important issue is that Boeing simply isn't set up to move like SpaceX is, and reforms will cost billions of dollars and take the entire organization offline while they revamp engineering management.

Iterative development is just plain better. SpaceX uses it because it was best practice when they spun up. Boeing can't use it because their engineering organization can't adapt to it.

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On Musk's mental health:

Something that hasn't gotten a lot of discussion is his ongoing cervical radiculopathy problems. He had a total disc replacement a few years back, which, by his account, failed and had to be redone, presumably as a more standard fusion. (The Blofeld-like scarves and neckerchiefs he's often seen wearing are, I believe, an attempt to cover up the scars.)

I've had a similar problem, and I can attest that the pain is excruciating and chronic, and the only thing that really helps are opioids. My problem occurred just before cervical TDRs became a widespread technique in the US, and I hung on, using ice packs and Norco, until I was able to get a TDR. My surgery was successful, and I was fortunately able to wean myself off the opioids without too much trouble, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Musk had to rely on them. Even if you're careful, getting the balance right between enduring the pain and not being gorked out on the meds isn't easy.

Musk has always been a bit erratic, but things got markedly worse about four years ago. That was, I believe, close to the time when his surgeries were occurring. Correlation is obviously not causation, but the timing kinda matches up.

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rebuttal to tg56's comment mistakenly comparing Tesla's balance sheet vs Ford's by citing long-term debt. tldr: the long term debt is a function of Ford having a financing arm and is more than offset by financial assets and equity cushion. Details in link below


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I do not think that the Boring Company is going to build effective public transit.

Musk does not seem to want to build transit that involves sharing a vehicle with strangers. He's said this explicitly: "there's like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer."[1] It's also what he has designed. The Vegas Loop involves individual cars. Hyperloop was supposed to be composed of 'pods'.

This is a major problem. Putting multiple people in a vehicle allows you to get much higher densities.[2] By insisting on individual cars, you're accepting a 5x (relative to bus) - 50x (relative to large subways and commuter rail) reduction in the capacity of the transit line.

The choice to use cars is not because it's a small diameter tunnel. The London Tube has 12 foot tunnels. They use unusually small trains for a subway, but are still able to move a lot more people than cars could.

The Boring Company can probably reduce the cost of tunneling in the United States. The US builds transit at 10x the cost of Italy or Spain.[3] Plausibly Musk can even improve on global best practices. But because of his choice of what to put in the tunnels, he's starting with an order-of-magnitude handicap.

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-awkward-dislike-mass-transit/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passengers_per_hour_per_direction

[3] https://transitcosts.com/

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Re: going to Mars, since Elon has said the most entertaining outcome is the most likely, then I am putting my money on a massive asteroid wiping out the first SpaceX colony there about 15 years in.

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The only one of those kids' names that would be normal to anyone with an understanding of American pop culture would be the one that was changed (to another normal name). 9% is, uh, abysmal as a batting average.

Also, that painting is something else. I hope that comment regarding calling Elon Musk "daddy" is some effort at trolling.

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Should have written that a ton of furries have migrated from twitter to bluesky: i thibk about 10% of blueskye is furries, and one of the biggest accounts on blueskye, braeburned, is a furry porn artist that has 10% of the site following him

Many left leaning or progressive minded people have made alternate accounts on other websites but havnt left twitter yet, because they are uncertain if its actually gonna collapse

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RE: sclmlw's comment on the Boring Company and other comments about size/cost

The Boring Company's car tunnels are about 14ft outer diameter (it says 12ft inner diameter on their website, assuming 1ft liner thickness, I think 14ft is fair). A typical subway tunnel might be 15ft-21ft outer diameter. Not much difference in diameter, but the cost approximately goes up with the cross sectional area, because of the volume excavated. So comparing 14ft to 20ft that's a 2x difference in volume of excavation. Also a larger diameter tunnel will require a thicker tunnel liner. It's reasonable to claim that the Boring Company could build tunnels maybe 1.5x to 2.5x cheaper than a typical subway tunnel.*

Score some points for the Boring Company - it is significantly cheaper. However it's not the 10x cost savings they're aiming for according to their website, that will need genuine technological innovation. Also I would counter that they can build the tunnel for 50% of the cost, but using cars, you're not even close to 50% of the passengers per hour (The Chaostician did a great example in another comment).

*(For an apples to apples comparison, this comparing 2 14ft tunnels to the more traditional "twin bore" subway system with 2 15-20ft tunnels, one in each direction of travel. There's also a modern "single bore" approach with a single 35ft-50ft diameter tunnel. This is more of an apples to oranges comparison because the tunnelling costs significantly more. But you save money by putting station platforms and misc parts of the station inside the tunnel itself. Plausibly this is the method west coast US people are hearing about in the news, because the Seattle Alaskan Way Viaduct and the BART to San Jose projects use single bore?)

RE: Safety

Safety wasn't a big part of my original comment because I don't have much experience there. I said they're going light on ventilation, exit walkways, and fire suppression systems (sprinklers). I was wrong about fire suppression. Looking at Youtube videos, they have a sprinkler system visible at the top of the existing Vegas Loop tunnel. Cutting out the exit walkways makes sense for a car tunnel - the bottom of the tunnel is already flat, instead of a subway tunnel with rails and other random crap like sump pumps and cables to trip over. My biggest gripe is the ventilation.

The ventilation of a tunnel has 3 purposes:

- Ventilate exhaust fumes (scratch this one for electric car tunnels)

- In case of fire, blow the fire/smoke in 1 direction, instead of letting it spread in 2 directions. Preferably use reversible fans to blow the fire/smoke to the direction with fewer passengers, or whichever direction the fire department desires.

- In case of fire, cycle fresh oxygen in the tunnel so passengers and firefighters don't suffocate (Fire consumes the oxygen. In principle you could NOT ventilate and try to smother the fire with lack of oxygen, but in practice I believe it's better to circulate air and send firefighters in there)

This is why in the bay area there's very large fans visible at the entrances to the Caldecott tunnel. IIRC they were retrofitted after a gasoline tanker caught fire in the tunnel.

Electric car tunnels still need a plan to deal with fire. (Google "tesla catches fire"). It says they have a fire safety system and a ventilation system on their website, but I didn't see any ventilation on a quick scan of Vegas Loop Youtube videos. I don't want to badmouth safety on a project I'm not familiar with, maybe they have hidden ventilation, or presumably if they're skipping ventilation they have a detailed fire safety plan ready to go with the Vegas fire department. Maybe electric car fires are a slow burn compared to gasoline car fires, and there's more time to send firefighters down there?

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I'm a small hedge fund manager, race car driver (I own a Model S Plaid as a daily driver), and ex-software engineer. I've been following Musk for professional reasons for about 5 years now. While he demand tremendous respect in public markets, I've never got the impression he's super smart. Some anecdotes that come to mind:

His tweet on Tesla polar moments (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1042842449008197632) is nonsensical. Outside of racing, no polar moment is not extremely important, and there's no way a Model 3's is better than a lightweight, mid-engined car.

When he announced the Tesla Semi, I analyzed his claims using data from the DOE SuperTruck competition (analyzing range is fairly easy if you have Crr and CdA figures). I found them to be dependent on rapid drops in battery prices, which I think has been shown to be accurate.

The Hyperloop whitepaper. It's all hand-waving nonsense, glossing over the important questions that would determine if the idea is viable. Can the air bearings support its weight? What does it even weigh? What happens if the tube leaks, or someone shoots a hole in it?

FSD. I have a subscription to it for market research purposes. I don't think this is Musk being dumb as much as it is fraud. Tesla really needed that FSD cash flow early in its life, so he said whatever he needed to. Now the company is walking back some of the earlier claims.

I followed his Twitter acquisition from the moment he suggested it on Twitter (thanks for that Elon). He bought at a really dumb time, when tech companies were valued absurdly and interest rates were rising. I can't completely fault him for this, as it's not his job (as it is mine) to track asset bubbles. However he did not seem to understand the reason social media companies cater to the left is because of advertising revenue? How could anyone causally following the business not know this?

Making Mars a backup Earth? You don't just need a colony, you need millions, probably billions of people to produce the technology needed to survive on Mars. This is basic economics. Ergo Mars is much more of a biological and terraforming problem than a rocketry problem.

He wanted x.com (or PayPal; I can’t recall the timeline) to switch from a LAMP stack to Windows in the 90s? My eyes can only roll so much. Good thing he was fired.

I've just never seen him say anything revelatory, and I learn things from objectively dumb people all the time. I pay close attention to Elon because he moves markets, not because he teaches me anything.

Going over his big successes:

Landing rockets: Well I know nothing about rocketry, but this seems really awesome. I don't know how much of this was Elon, and how much Gwynne or other engineers. Anyone know who originally had the idea?

Electric cars: Anyone who knew anything about cars knew BEVs were better if the batteries got good enough. He should be given some points here.

Starlink: This is more of a derivative of cheap launch costs. Good on him for realizing it.

Twitter: Assuming it succeeds (my guess is it will), that is some points in his favor. However Twitter was the worst-run big tech company on the planet. This would be a business success, but not evidence of super-genius.

I see his successes more as evidence of how terrible our society is at utilizing intelligence. There are lots of people out there smarter than Musk, but they lack the motivation, charisma, cult following, and narcissism to command the sort of capital he does. Musk can try all sorts of dumb shit, fail a dozen ways, and somehow still command respect and status. Most people are too excessively afraid of failure to do the things he does.

I think he’s smart enough to realize when the mainstream heard has it wrong, narcissistic enough to believe only he can fix things, and charismatic enough to build a cult of personality around this.

I wonder if his success is due to the existence of so many rich, low-neuroticism tech bros? He can do and say all sorts of stupid shit that most people would (as the media does) focus on, yet his fans merely shrug off. They know his successes are far more important, while neurotic wordcels focus on his many flaws. If this is the case, he might not have succeeded at any other point in history.

If years trading public markets have taught me anything, it’s that people are quick to form cults around their favorite stocks and CEOs. A ticker (more a person in this case) is simultaneously a flag to rally around and a bet that might make them fabulously wealthy. Whatever else he is, Elon is the greatest stock pumper of all time.

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>But out of all of that, my biggest take-away was that Teslas..... just aren't very good? Their structures up to the Model 3 are quite inefficient and don't have great rigidity. The dimensional variation is shocking (far beyond even SBU, IYKYK). The hang-on parts are generally relatively poorly performing on their own. They can't touch our structural or powertrain durability tests. Rate and handling is bad, ergonomics fails to meets package targets, NVH and sound quality are poor, and we pay JD Power far too much to find out just how bad the quality numbers are (hilariously bad). I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that most other OEMs can't make a Tesla, because our systems and processes prevent us from releasing something that half-baked.

This is basically what I'd expect from Tesla trying to build a whole auto manufacturing ecosystem from the ground up - obviously it's not going to be as good as the incumbent one. That's presumably why you almost never see a brand new car company launch and successfully compete. Tesla managed it because they had a killer feature that no one else had - a functioning electric car!

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>So where did everyone go? Was it Mastodon after all? Facebook Threads? Blue Sky? Or did they all start learning to paint and spending time with their friends and families?

I, for one, started reading actual published novels again, which I've barely done for the last 5ish years.

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7 children was not a lot back when (Catholic) Tolkien was writing.

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Yes, you’re right. The bio repeatedly describes Musk as completely insensitive to emotions — quite the opposite of the borderline type.

There does seem to be something fundamentally disorganized about his personality, though. Particularly the highly unstable relationships (divorcing Riley twice etc). I just don’t buy the bipolar story because of the rapidity of the shifts.

I’d be very curious to hear a real psychiatrist weigh in.

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Physician here. Here is the grand hypothesis coming up in the medical community at the moment: chronic pain is best understood as the endpoint of an evolution within the nervous system that is increasingly called "central sensitization syndrome." (CSS) This syndrome is caused by a chronic dissociative or avoidant stress response, usually having it's origin in early childhood adversity. It's common in people who have a "push through" or type A approach to life. And you run into that type of personality in day laborers as well as fortune 500 ceos. Frequently in people with chronic pain there are other manifestations of CSS, such as IBS, chronic pain, TMD, etc. Every new stress, be it a viral syndrome, a grief event, a difficult move of house, what-have-you, can cause the central sensitivity to further evolve. Elon is an absolutely classic chronic pain patient. The fact he had a laminectomy a few years ago with ongoing chronic pain is evidence that maybe the laminectomy was not the right treatment. In general, the right treatment for chronic pain is addressing the "push through" and avoidant stress response originating in early trauma.

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" A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work." -- John Gall (1975)

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I've written about Elon Musk and autism. Might interest people as additional context to this discussion.


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