The entrepreneurial opportunities on the red planet will be huge, Musk said Sunday afternoon during a live Q&A session with screenwriter Jonathan Nolan at the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas.
SXSW attendees who sat in on a panel last Saturday afternoon featuring HBO's Westworld showrunners and stars were surprised when showrunner Jonathan Nolan introduced SpaceX CEO (and generally real-life Tony Stark) Elon Musk onto the Austin Convention Center stage. While Musk's deadline may seem a bit optimistic, his urgency seems to be guided by pessimism regarding Earth's future. The spacecraft would ultimately be able to make missions to the Moon or Mars, Musk said. According to the plan, SpaceX could test its Mars rockets by flying them for short distances which would mean that the 11,851 kilometers of distance between #Shanghai to #New York could just be a matter of 30 minutes.
Another big change Musk foresees happening on Mars is the abandonment of a representative democracy in favor of direct democracy, where every person on the colony has one vote rather than using a congress or electoral college.
Musk also predicted that advances in AI will let self-driving cars handle "all modes of driving" by the end of 2019. "For the people who go to Mars, it'll be far more unsafe". "This is a situation where you have a very serious danger to the public".
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He believes that a public regulatory body has to be created that would need "insight and oversight" to ensure that everybody working with AI does so in a way that is "symbiotic with humanity". This is extremely important. "Nobody would suggest we allow the world to just build nuclear warheads if they want, that would be insane".
However, Musk sensed that too much anticipation could hurt him and quipped that he might be a little too ambitious about the timeline of testing the rockets. Musk says he's not normally an advocate of regulation and oversight. "It's insane." While Musk is concerned with World War III or an AI apocalypse, he is equally energized by the commercial opportunities presented by a Mars colony.
Musk appears to have a picture of a Mars utopia in his mind, complete with pizza places and bars once a rudimentary base is set up.