Mommy, Look At Me, No Common Sense

Elon Musk ponders Tesla’s Future

A few years ago, one of my Silicon Valley clients told me a story about his son, who at the time, was working for Tesla. He said Tesla had one of the worst working conditions in tech because everyone was nasty, testy, back stabbing and paranoid. I didn’t pay much attention to what was being said because I thought the son was just making excuses for not succeeding on the job.

Turn the clock forward a few years and we are reading about a Tesla disgruntled employee who reportedly sabotaged the company a few days ago. CEO Elon Musk sent an email to employees Sunday night saying that someone had broken into the company computer system and this could interrupt the production of the new Tesla Model 3 electric car.

You can read more about the Tesla mystery story here. I just wanted to add my two cents about the drama that takes place in some of the most successful tech companies. In the infamous words of Joan Rivers, “Grow Up!”

I often wonder how some of the most successful tech companies ever got to where they are today with the nonsense that takes place everyday. If someone isn’t stealing company secrets, then someone else making sexually harassing remarks, or stealing large sums of money out of petty cash.

I hear horror stories several times a week about how some of these tech geniuses behave in public. It’s like they have zero social skills. I deal with a lot of young people who made it big fast. I think they need to have their mommies with them all the time to tell them right from wrong. Why would anyone want to hurt Elon Musk? Maybe it has something to do with all the people he has been firing lately just to turn a profit.

There has to be a better way.

Elon Musk Claims A.I. Is The Biggest Threat Against Civilization

If you read the New York Times yesterday, you probably saw the story where Elon Musk warned Facebook researchers about artificial intelligence. He claims A.I. is far more dangerous than nukes. Musk is the CEO and Founder of Space X and Tesla.

Musk expressed his feelings at a dinner party Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, hosted at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. Musk said. “If we create machines that are smarter than humans, they could turn against us. The tech industry should consider the unintended consequences of what we are creating before we unleash it on the world.”

You can read the NY Times article here.

I asked several friends, in the tech and science fields, to give their reaction to what Musk said.

Dr. Steve Mandy, Miami Beach, FL.

Did you ever see the 60’s SciFi movie Forbidden Planet? It tells the whole story.”

Gary Arlen, President, Arlen Communications, Bethesda, MD, research/analysis and consulting firm.

Nearly 30 years ago, I attended a seminar at Harvard where some participants described separate Pentagon-funded programs to develop robots, artificial intelligence and other features that would be the building blocks for synthetic soldiers.  I’ve thought of this often during the current debate about the value of AI.  One of the flaws back then was that such replicants (as in BLADE RUNNER) would lack human emotion and understanding/caring, which may have been good in a heartless war-fighter.

“So now as a society, we’re confronting that same issue which goes beyond “superintelligence” as discussed in the Times article. Yes, AI robots (as “personified,” pun intended) in movies, could be dangerous.  But there are more sinister ways that A.I. affects our lives in non-hominoid ways, for example: personal monitoring as described in my recent article about China’s AI juggernaut, such as privacy invasion.

“Since AI is truly a global science/technology/moral issue, there are worldwide implications.  But as seen at the Zuckerberg/Senate hearings, these decisions are ‘way above the capabilities of policy-makers.  I expect that AI developments will take shape and become part of our way of living, starting with industrial uses.   And the arguments will continue, possibly until a superintelligent, sentinent ‘being’ can dominate a flesh-and-blood opponent.  I’m not putting a clock on that one.”

Rob Reis, President, Higher Ground, Palo Alto, CA.

“When the hacking of our supposedly-secure credit card databases and the dying from supposedly-safe autonomous cars becomes a thing-of-the-past, only then is our software industry ready to take on super-intelligence.”

Dick Krain, Retired Senior Executive, Grey Advertising, NYC.

“If a self-driving car approaches an intersection and wants to make a right turn and there is a car coming from the left, it must decide if the other car’s speed will permit it to turn, if the car will slow down or stop to permit it to turn, if the car will speed up and beat it to the turn or if it should just stop and wait for the other car to pass.

“Now, if the other car is also self-driving, you could build in some form of communications device to take over and coordinate the two machines. But, what if the other car is driven by a human? What happens then? Will the self-driving car be able to correctly forecast what the human driver will do? Will the human driver be able to determine that the car waiting to make the turn is a self-driving car? A bad decision can lead to injury or death to the self-driving car’s passenger or the human driver in the other car.

“As more and more self-driving cars replace human driven cars, will essentially the self-driving cars take over the responsibility of driving? Will traffic rules have to change? What about pedestrians? How do they decide if it is safe to cross the street? If they are hit by a self-driven car, who is at fault? Add bicycles and skate boards into the equation and you see the clear dangers of artificial intelligence.”

Maurice de Hond, Founder, The Steve Jobs School, Amsterdam, Holland.

“My opinion is that, like always, developments in technology give a lot of blessings, and also some dangers. It takes time before we are aware of those dangers, and get them under control.

“This will also be the case with A.I. I think the real danger will come in 20/30 years. The danger will not be the technology itself. It could get used in the wrong way by people who have no understanding of the consequences.”

Let’s keep the dialogue going.

See The Future In Solar Panels

If I was ever to own a private home again, I would definitely want solar panels. I just can’t stand the way they look.

Then I got an email from my friend Carlos, who showed me a YouTube video of tech celeb Elon Musk, yes the same one who is CEO of Tesla,  introducing better looking, and better performing, solar panels. 

I have included a 15-minute video where you get to see the panels and watch Tesla speak. You should watch his performance. He sounds like an ordinary guy, rather than a snooty technical genius. 

Testa reminds everyone that the purpose of his company is always to introduce products that are first with sustainable energy. 

Tesla introduced solar roofing that comes in four styles that are very different from what you have ever seen. The variety includes: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile. None of them look they are solar panels. They are extremely fashionable.  Each style is transparent to solar, yet appears opaque from an angle.

The solar panels boast new Powerwall 2.0 battery units that keep reserves if needed. 

For more details, read the Tech Crunch story that covers the Tesla introduction as well. 

Successful Characteristics

I thought you would enjoy interesting tidbits about two of the most successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley: Larry Page, co-founder of Google and Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors. I always like to examine the characteristics of people who are successful in business because it helps me discern changes in the digital community. I like checking out personalities, quirks, and dreams. I usually find a common denominator in all of them. Most of the time it’s a passion and a certain, positive attitude.

Click on these two links to read some real wild stuff.

Google CEO Larry Page Is Becoming One Of The Most Powerful People In Human History

16 Genius Quotes From Eccentric Billionaire Elon Musk

I have also included a chart from Business Insider that shows how well top colleges in the country have done cultivating billionaires. It’s interesting to note that many of the successful business people in the digital community dropped out of colleges.

What is the lesson to be learned here? You need to believe in your dreams in order for them to come true!

It’s a Musk


I’m back in the USA as of lunchtime today. Some of you may have heard about the big announcement while I was away, but I wanted to put in my two cents anyway. Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors, posted a 57-page “alpha design” plan on his blog that details how the high-speed train would work. He was referring to the Hyperloop, the new super-speed transport that would take take people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes, at 800 miles an hour. I talked about the announcement of this innovation, that Musk promised on August 13th, a few weeks ago. Musk has been talking about this invention for over a year, in addition to his Space X project which promises to give Earthlings the opportunity to go planet hopping.

Apparently, there are still plenty of skeptics who feel Musk is a science fiction writer. Plenty of them took the recent disclosure from Musk as another opportunity to poo poo his ideas. High level executives at other types of transportation companies have a difficult time imagining people being transported through tubes in pods. Well respected engineers question the design, lwhile others say the entire proposed budget of $6 billion is a fantasy. Projects like building bridges or tunnels cost way more than that. A few cited the estimated $68.4 billion that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has budgeted for a high-speed rail.

I am not one who believes Musk is smoking something. I have seen too much innovation in the last ten years to question any new concept. I never thought my entire office would be operated from a mobile device, that I would have all of my newspapers and magazines rolled into one flat pancake that is backlit, or that I could type any question in the world into an electronic window and get it answered within seconds.

Details on Hyperloop Revealed



Elon Musk and possible Hyperloop renderings

Every major publication that covers tech technology jumped on this story yesterday. Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and chairman of Tesla Motors, tweeted that he will publish the Hyperloop alpha design by August 12th.

Here’s his tweet:

Elon Musk (@elonmusk)
7/15/13, 10:06 AM
Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.

Musk is referring to his new type of train that he claims can travel like “a puck does on an air hockey table.” I talked about the hybrid train in an earlier DigiDame post when I profiled Musk.

The Hyperloop, Musk claims, is a hybrid between a train and a plane. The mission is to make the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 30 minutes, which is an average speed of approximately 800 miles per hour. It takes six hours by car and one-hour-and-15 minutes by airplane.

In a recent interview with AllthingsD, Musk said that the proposed costs of his Hyperloop are $6 billion. Right now, the state of California has plans to build a much slower train for $60 billion.

Many California residents are rooting for Musk, while industry members question his sanity over this project. I’ll bet on Musk, even though it may take another five years plus to put the first shovel in the ground.