Meet Elon Musk, the Muskian mogul who Elon Musks his way to the pinnacle of Muskitude. Please share this episode with your friends and start a conversation.
Warning: This podcast occasionally uses spicy language.
For an entertaining deep dive into the theme of season five (Phalse Prophets), read the definitive peer-reviewed taxonomic analysis from our very own Jason Bradford, PhD.
- Prepare to be wowed by the Musk Foundation website.
- Luc Olinga, “Errol Musk, Elon’s Dad, Prompts a New Controversy,” TheStreet (2022).
- Musk’s attack on Jane Goodall
- Cade Metz and Neal E. Boudette, “Inside Tesla as Elon Musk Pushed an Unflinching Vision for Self-Driving Cars,” The New York Times (2021).
- Andrew J. Hawkins and Umar Shakir, “Elon Musk unveils a new Master Plan, a path to sustainable energy future, but no new cars,” The Verge (2023).
- Adam Kovacs and Adam Westbrook, “Elon Musk Has Some bad Ideas for Mass Transit. We Have Solutions,” The New York Times (2022).
- Adam Something, “Elon Musk’s Loop is a Bizarrely Stupid Idea,” YouTube (2021).
- Ted Mann and Julie Bykowicz, “Elon Musk’s Boring Company Ghosts Cities Across America,” The Wall Street Journal (2022).
- Nikki McCann Ramirez, “Paul Pelosi Conspiracy Theory Trends on Twitter After Elon Musk Pushes It,” Rolling Stone (2022).
- Ted McCormick, “The billionaire space race reflects a colonial mindset that fails to imagine a different world,” The Conversation (2021).
- Marina Koren, “The War in Ukraine is Testing the Myth of Elon Musk,” The Atlantic (2022).
- Radhika Viswanathan, “Elon Musk’s plan to bring a mini-submarine to rescue the Thai boys,” Vox (2018).
- A podcast episode from Backpacker that describes the amazing Thai cave rescue
- Zoe Schiffer and Casey Newton, “Yes, Elon Musk created a special system for showing you all his tweets first,” Platformer (2023)
- Emile P. Torres, “How Elon Musk sees the future: His bizarre sci-fi vision should concern us all,” Salon, July 17, 2022.
How would you rate this episode’s Phalse Prophet on the Insufferability Index? Tell us in the comments below!
Jason Bradford I'm Jason Bradford. Asher Miller I'm Asher Miller. Rob Dietz And I'm Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town where AI-piloted hyper-drones will drop brain implants down your chimney this Christmas. Now go stand in your fireplace. Melody Allison Hi, this is Crazy Town producer, Melody Allison. Thanks for listening. Here in Season 5, we're exploring phalse prophets and the dangerous messages they're so intent on spreading. If you like what you're hearing, please let some friends know about this episode or the podcast in general. Quick warning: Sometimes this podcast uses swear words. Now, onto the show. Asher Miller Hey guys, before we start the episode today, I just want to run an idea by you to see if maybe you can help. So, you know part of my job at PCI is to fundraise for the organization. Rob Dietz Bring in the dough. Jason Bradford Yeah, you do a great job. Great job. Asher Miller Thanks. I'm feeling condescended. Rob Dietz I'm feeling like the Jerry Maguire “show me the money” scene. Where he's just yelling, "Show me the money!" Asher Miller So I, you know, am always looking for new leads. I came across this foundation. They don't have a lot of information on their website. You know, some foundations have a lot of guidance and instructions, details about the program and activities. This website had 38 words. Literally, that's it. Jason Bradford Wow, that's sparse. Rob Dietz 38 words. Asher Miller Yeah, on the website. But they seem to have like a lot of money. Jason Bradford How do you get in touch with? Asher Miller Well, and some of the things that they talk about are things like renewable energy research and stuff about space exploration, which we've been talking about on this podcast. Rob Dietz Not sure the way we've been talking about it. Asher Miller Well, so it's the Musk Foundation. Jason Bradford Excellent. That guy is rich. Asher Miller Elon Musk is rich. Guy's got a lot of money. And he's been criticized, you know, recently because most of the money's been going to AI stuff. Jason Bradford Yeah, he needs to spread it out. Asher Miller Yeah, he should spread it out. Rob Dietz Alright. Well, if he's got such a sparse website, I assume at least half of it tells you his phone number. Asher Miller Well, that's the problem. There's no way to get in touch with him. There's no contact information. There's nothing. I tried to figure out how to get ahold of Rob Dietz Yeah, I'll probably be having drinks with him at the next reunion, which I'm not attending. Jason Bradford Okay, I've got an idea. Rob, you he went to Penn and you went to Penn. Okay, maybe with the Alumni Association, or whatever, you try to like . . . Next reunion maybe he'll be there. Asher Miller Nor is he, probably. Rob Dietz Can I just say it seems to keep coming up that guys who have these problems let's say, with their character, went to the same school as me. Do I have this issue as well? Asher Miller It's been well established already, Rob. Yes, you do have this issue. Jason Bradford It's like claiming to be a New Yorker and then worried about all the jerks in New York. Asher Miller So your idea, Jason, is that Rob can pin him down at some reunion. Rob Dietz I'm not doing that. I have a better idea, okay? So I think what we do is we record an entire episode about him. We're gonna pivot from the guy we were gonna do as a phalse prophet and we're gonna do Musk. And we can just, you know - Jason Bradford That'll get his attention. Rob Dietz We can hashtag the crap out of him on Twitter. That's how we're gonna get his attention. Jason Bradford He's a raging narcissist. He loves any attention. It doesn't really matter. Asher Miller Yeah, and I'm sure he'll love- He'll l listen to this episode and I'm sure he'll love it. And then he'll give us money. Jason Bradford Awesome. Okay, that's great. It's done. Rob Dietz We already know so much about him. We could probably do this off the top of our heads. Jason Bradford I'm pumped up. Okay. Let me see. Let me try to remember his bio. Here it goes. The guy was born in South Africa, his father was a wealthy engineer with a 50% interest in an emerald mine. Asher Miller I can relate. Jason Bradford Yeah, he was, you know, somewhat politically progressive. He was anti-apartheid and into politics a bit in a local government. His mother was a model and a Canadian - great combination. But he kind of had an unhappy childhood. Apparently, he wasn't very popular. He was isolated. He was bullied. He says he may have Asperger's. And so you know, socially awkward, especially as young. And his father maybe wasn't so good to the family. There's some hints that he was abusive. And it recently came out that his father had a child with his stepdaughter quite recently. So it's a little a little odd and sketchy, kind of worrisome background there. Asher Miller Is his dad Woody Allen? Jason Bradford It's a Woody Allen sort of situation there. Asher Miller Yeah. Okay, so his parents got divorced when he was young. His mom moved back to Canada. He lived with his dad, didn't really like it. So he wanted to live in the U.S. So he moved to Canada, which is I guess is the closest he could get after high school in 1989. Rob Dietz So yeah, he's following along with me. That's when I graduated high school. Asher Miller Did you also go to Canada? Rob Dietz Yeah. And the Emeralds, though, we had sold that business. We traded for a ruby mine and a sapphire mine. Yeah. So what he does, he goes to a University in Canada for a couple of years. And then he transfers down to Penn. Jason Bradford After you met him. Rob Dietz I did not meet him. Although, he did study physics and economics. So maybe we shared an econ course. We just took different things away from it I would say. He was accepted then for a PhD program in material science at Stanford. But he dropped out after two days because this is what you do if you want to make a lot of money. Asher Miller Two days? Jason Bradford This is the roaring early 2000s. Nineties? Rob Dietz Yeah. Well, so he starts a business with his brother, Kimball, along with funding from his dad that's called Zip 2. The number two. There's some allegation that he may have stolen this idea, but it was an Internet City Guide back in the early days of the Internet. Jason Bradford Right. It's like a white/yellow pages, but online, and big cities would help fund this stuff and promote it. Asher Miller So he got a little bit of money for that. But his real money, initial money, came from starting PayPal with other folks, Peter Thiel and others that we know about. And then PayPal was purchased by eBay in 2002. He became worth around $200 million as a result of that sale. He's probably thanking Peter Thiel every single day for insisting that they sell the company rather than go public. Because they would have probably lost tons of value when the boom went bust. Jason Bradford Yeah, so got a really good deal on that sale. And it's interesting, there's a fascinating history. I'll be brief about it. But around 2001, he became involved with what's called the Mars society. So these are basically folks that are really interested in colonizing Mars, right. And he actually went to Russia to try to buy refurbished ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles, to convert them to rockets that would send greenhouses into space. I'm a little vague on the details, but you know, it's all about working towards eventual space colonization. Do you have to like, do you have to sign for that when you come back through customs? Like when you're bringing back these ICBMs? Well, that didn't work out. Rob Dietz That's probably why. He got stopped at the border with the rockets in his backpack. Asher Miller He forgot to claim them. Jason Bradford They couldn't strike a deal. But here's what's interesting is that Musk founded then SpaceX with $100 million from that eBay sale in 2002. Of course, nowadays, SpaceX is known for having these partially reusable rockets, has large contracts with NASA to serve the International Space Station. It actually docked with that in 2012. And of course, the satellite internet service Starlink. This is pretty incredible. He goes from being an Internet City Guide to internet banking and transaction services to a space company. Asher Miller Right. And we haven't gotten to the stuff that he's really best known for. And that's Tesla Motors, right? Which was founded in 2003 by a couple guys, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Jason Bradford Yeah, never heard of these people. But they are the genius behind probably this special sauce in Teslas, I'm guessing. Asher Miller Yeah, but who cares about those guys? In 2004, Musk had to go through new rounds of financing and became the majority shareholder with just a $6.5 million investment. Jason Bradford Ah, chump change. Asher Miller In 2021, Tesla reached a market cap value of $1 trillion. And that's what made Musk, for a period of time, the wealthiest man in the world. Jason Bradford There's a lot of gyrations in the value of his company somewhat because of what he does, which we'll get into a bit. But yeah, that was the peak. And then somewhat oddly, he ends up buying Twitter in 2022. Asher Miller Well, he was trying to save it and make sure it was a great platform for free speech. Jason Bradford Yes, exactly. Rob Dietz For his free speech. Alright. Well, let's get back to his personal life just a little bit. He has seven children from three women. And I guess, aligning with that he's said that he's worried about under population here on planet Earth. Even to the point where he goes after Jane Goodall for her concerns about overpopulation. I want to talk about that just for a sec. Because if you go after Jane Goodall, you go after every single one of us. This is not gonna stand. Asher Miller I think she should send some of her chimp friends after him. Rob Dietz Yeah, has he not watched "Planet of the Apes." So what happened is this video was played at a Davos Conference where Jane Goodall said these words. She said, "We cannot hide away from human population growth because it underlies so many of the other problems. All these things we talk about wouldn't be a problem if there was the size of the population that there was 500 years ago." Which was about what, Jason? Jason Bradford Half a billion. Rob Dietz Okay, yeah. So if we had half a billion instead of 8 billion, we could deal with our footprint issues better. Well, so Elon responded to this, of course via Twitter. He says, "This philosophy is the death of humanity." Jason Bradford So 500 million humans is the death - That's what I don't get. What does he mean? It's just a little absurd. Rob Dietz And we're not going to take Russian ICBMs into space, I guess. Asher Miller Now, the guy's had a bit of a fall from grace I would say in recent months, in particular. Especially with liberals after, you know, buying Twitter. But I think It's important to remember that for a while he was widely considered like the greatest mind, sort of CEO entrepreneur, since probably our buddy, Jack Welch, who we talked about earlier. Like, there were famous Elon trolls on Twitter. Anytime you criticize Elon for anything, they would sort of go after you. He had a huge following of people who thought he walked on water. Rob Dietz Oh, yeah. I mean, the hero status that his character kind of was built around is amazing. He was kind of the source for Tony Stark, you know, the Iron Man movies. And to the point that he actually had a cameo in "Iron Man 2." It was really awkward, I thought. But I guess to be fair, Bill O'Reilly had a cameo in that movie as well. So maybe it's not that great a thing. Jason Bradford Well it turns out, similar to Jack Welch, he is not a very likable character. Apparently, you know, he displays tremendous hubris, narcissism, he yells at employees expecting these 80-hour workweeks. He actually calls himself, somewhat proudly, a nanomanager. Asher Miller Micromanager is just too big. You can actually see a micromanager. And nanomanager, you can't even see them. Jason Bradford No, It's like Kurzwelian nanobots. Asher Miller He's in your bloodstream telling you what to do. Jason Bradford Exactly, yeah,. Invading the whole body with nanobots. Asher Miller Calls himself a nanomanager. Wow. Rob Dietz And I mean, he demonstrates some of these traits all the time. I mean, he plays this game of being overly confident and then he over-promises and under-delivers, and he has no apology, no reflecting, "Oh, maybe I was wrong." So an example is we were watching this video where he's got eight years of telling whoever will listen that they're gonna have autonomous driving Teslas all over the road. And it's amazing. Whoever put this video together, we'll put a link to it, but each year, he's like, "Yeah, we're one year out. Oh, don't worry. It's next year. Teslas are gonna make it from New York to LA autonomously. Oh, no worries. Autonomous driving." And it's all wrong. Jason Bradford Apparently, this absolutely drove the engineers at Tesla completely bonkers. Again, his poor staff is sometimes just being driven nuts by what he does when he's not being handled and he's just letting loose. Asher Miller Now, he also sometimes does strange and controversial things. I think that there's a, I would say, probably a real entitlement that he embodies. A sense of privilege to be able to do some of these things and kind of like, he thumbs his nose at the FCC at times. He's done all kinds of stuff. I mean, he went on Joe Rogan's show and smoked pot with him and dropped some real nuggets of quote unquote "wisdom." You know, he had this thing where I think when he offered to buy Twitter, he was putting out a $420 stock price or something like that. Was that not Twitter? Jason Bradford No, he was offering to take Tesla private. And so, he said he had a deal maybe worked out where he was going to sell Tesla stock for $420 a share from a private buyer. Asher Miller A little wink wink nudge nudge to the . . . Rob Dietz I don't know. 420 has something to do with marijuana. Jason Bradford With pot. I don't know why. We just had that day a few days ago - we're in April. Asher Miller You're so old that you don't know what we're talking about here. 420 is well known. Jason Bradford But apparently he was trying to make his girlfriend laugh. Asher Miller Yeah, he got in trouble, I think. Rob Dietz Yeah, it messes with stock prices. Oh, everything. Chaos. Chaos happens. SEC comes in. Asher Miller This is what I mean about entitlement. You know, he's adored. People say, "Oh, that's Elon being Elon," or whatever. And he gets away with doing shit like this. Rob Dietz Well, and it's one thing to say someone's narcissistic, but it's another to show some behavior that really drives the point home. And my favorite is just on Super Bowl Sunday this last year. Joe Biden, you heard of him? The President of the United States, right? He goes on Twitter, and he has a tweet about rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles Jason Bradford Were you rooting for the Eagles, too? Rob Dietz Nah, not really. I mean, you know, sadly still an Atlanta fan. Jason Bradford Okay, got it. Rob Dietz But they haven't sniffed a Super Bowl. Asher Miller They sniffed it alright. And then it got yanked away from them, 28-0. Rob Dietz So Biden puts out a tweet that gets engagement of like 29 million impressions. That's solid. Solid. Asher Miller Yeah, he's the President of the United States. Rob Dietz But Musk puts out a tweet in similar vein, kind of rooting for the Eagles, and it only generates 9 million. Jason Bradford That's not bad. Rob Dietz Not bad, but that's not gonna cut it. Asher Miller 9 million, just follow me Jason, is less than 29 million. Jason Bradford By 20 million. Rob Dietz We forgot to warn our listeners that math was coming here. So Musk gets really pissed off, and he flies back to the Bay Area. Jason Bradford Private jet. He's got a private jet. Rob Dietz Pulls together a team of roughly 80 people, gets those engineers who you talked about, Jason, Sunday night to address this unacceptable flaw. Asher Miller Did he have them all individually like his tweet? Is that what he did? Rob Dietz Well that's a start. So yeah, now he's gotten 9,000,080. No, he had the engineers pull an all-nighter. They were threatened with being fired if they didn't fix this engagement issue. And what they did is they made his tweets 1,000 times more likely to show up in your feed. And then there's kind of a backlash to this. It's like all Musk. And so they just scaled it back a little bit. So, he's still many times more likely to have his tweets show up than anyone else. Jason Bradford Okay. Asher Miller You're just jealous, Rob. You wish you had the same. Jason Bradford And he does all this bizarre stuff on Twitter. Remember this situation where this QAnon guy, just absolutely off the charts nutty QAnoner breaks into Nancy Pelosi's place in San Francisco? And she's not there, but her 80-year-old husband, Paul Pelosi, is getting attacked by this guy and is hurt. He has to go to the hospital. You know it's scary, right? This is the third person in line to the presidency and this nutter comes in. Well, he kind of passed on this bizarre conspiracy theory that - Asher Miller Musk did. Jason Bradford Musk did. That this guy was Paul Pelosi's gay lover. Just ridiculous, right? So it's kind of sad. Asher Miller But look, this is what we're saying. Musk likes to throw his weight around, troll people, do all kinds of things. He's messed with the valuation of different cryptocurrencies. He, you know, opens his mouth and says, "Oh, I like this one." Or, "I like that one." Jason Bradford You better not say the one he likes. Don't mess with that. Rob Dietz Well, if we say it, it'll bring the value right back down. Asher Miller So you know. . . And he's not the one who sort of created this, but you know, Tesla and SpaceX events, they can kind of seem like cult worshipping sessions. They cheer when the rocket blows up. I guess it's progress? Jason Bradford Did you see that? It was awesome. Asher Miller I mean, I was trying to. But for different reasons. Rob Dietz Well, I had to bring into this conversation what I think is one of the most spectacular scenes from his recent history. And that's the Thai cave rescue. Jason Bradford I saw that documentary. Oh my gosh. Rob Dietz You know, the actual rescue has gotta be like, it's the most amazing thing. I listened to this incredible podcast on it. And the rescuer, the guy's name, Harry Harris, he's a scuba spelunking pediatric anesthesiologist. Jason Bradford Perfect. There's like one of 8 billion people in the world with those qualifications. Rob Dietz Well, you know, over there at Penn, I thought about studying to be a scuba spelunking pediatric anesthesiologist and . . . Asher Miller Some schools allow you to make your own degree, you know. Jason Bradford You can put that in your LinkedIn profile and see what kind of hits you get. He had a team of people, but yeah, he was the head honcho I guess. Rob Dietz The Department of Scuba Spelunking Pediatric Anesthesiology is a little underfunded right now. It's coming on after this cave rescue. So this guy kind of heroically rescues this Thai soccer team from the flooded caves But you know, Elon wanted to be the hero. He kept inserting the SpaceX and Boring Company, which we'll get to in a bit, with the idea of, let's build a miniature submarine and run that through the cave. And on the day before - Asher Miller Let's build it. It doesn't exist yet. Let's build it. They're basically stuck in this cave - They can't get out. Let's just take our time to build one. Jason Bradford They built it fast. Rob Dietz Well, yeah. But on the day before the team was rescued, this is what he tweeted, "Just returned from cave three, mini sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts and named wild boar after kids soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful." It's like, over and out. The sub was not used at all. He's leaving it there in case in the future it's helpful, but . . . And then after the team was rescued, they kind of ensued this bickering and media posturing. And he's trying to say, we were very helpful. People are saying that was a media stunt. Asher Miller He shit all over the this guy. Rob Dietz Well, I don't know that he nailed him, but he definitely crapped on some of the people that were, you know - got in a Twitter war of course, and there was a defamation suit and all that. Jason Bradford These are the people that rescued the kids. Asher Miller It does remind me a little bit of, we talked about Bill Gates and sort of the whole philanthropic colonialism. You know, sort of the idea that we know best that we're going to come in and save and rescue - Jason Bradford The tech bros to the rescue. Rob Dietz Yeah. Especially bringing that Silicon Valley thinking to the problem. Asher Miller Alright. Well, so - Okay, we've kind of done a little bit of a survey of his life in works. Probably not focusing on the things that he might highlight. Jason Bradford That's what we're gonna do now. Asher Miller But we should talk about, you know why we picked Musk as a false prophet. And I think the key thing here is, he's an amalgam in so many ways of the species that we have in kind of this, and you know, Jason, you could talk more about this. Sort of this ultra modernist group that we have of the false prophets. We're talking about the myth of progress, neoliberalism, ecomodernism, longtermism, singulatarianism, doomerism. These are the folks who fully embrace modernism. It's interesting though because he's been so good of a false prophet across so many of those different categories - In some ways you could argue he's easily one of the most influential people in the world. And that's a testament to kind of how dangerous of a time we live in. Rob Dietz So he's kind of like the Frankenstein's monster, or the $6 million man of phalse prophets. He's been cobbled together from parts of all the others. Asher Miller Yeah, you stitch this arm on, this leg on, or whatever. Jason Bradford Which is a better analogy do you think. $6 million man or - Rob Dietz I don't know. Maybe $6 million man because he's like a cyborg. Asher Miller It's more similar to the Tony Stark kind of Ironman character, too. Right? Jason Bradford I'll go with $6 million man. Asher Miller He would like to be $6 trillion man. Rob Dietz I was gonna say we've joked about this before. Asher Miller $6 million for him? Rob Dietz It's like, how quaint is $6 million to these guys now. Jason Bradford Okay, so yeah. So you mentioned a lot of these sort of ideologies, Asher. Ecomodernism and longtermism, and all this sort of stuff. And the taxonomy, the very important taxonomy is really, of course, a fun way of putting these silly names on some dominant, but what we consider non-helpful ideologies. So when I talk about the ultra modernists group, I'm thinking of the species like the Double Downers, the Complexifixers, the Cyborgians, the Industrial Breatharians, and which we'll get to, Rocket Man. And so, we're gonna sort of go through how Musk is representative of these different species in various ways. How he is this Frankensteinian $6 million man. Asher Miller $6 million Frankenstein. Jason Bradford Okay, so we got into this when we talked about William MacAskill, right? The longtermism, right? Which is tied up in Effective Altruism, existential risk, singulatarianism, or whatever. Rob Dietz Basically like, think so long term about populating the stars and having as many humans alive and doing whatever they're doing. Asher Miller Well, and that's where that Jane Goodall comment comes from from Musk, right? Jason Bradford Yes. And we mentioned this author Emile Torres that is really kind of helping put this together and showing this as sort of a set of ideologies that actually look like they're different, but they're very cohesive. And the philosopher, Bostrom is really important in this. Bostrom and Musk really share the same goals And Musk seem to have been very influenced by him. In fact, Bostrom's paper called "Astronomical Waste" in 2003, Musk basically considered it one of the most important things ever written. Rob Dietz Well, he probably hasn't read the paper on the taxonomy. Jason Bradford No. Asher Miller Well, he's gonna listen to this episode, and then he will hear about it. Jason Bradford This is a little quick review of stuff we may have covered in the Kurzweil and MacAskill episodes. But basically, what this philosophy does is it defines very narrowly that human consciousness, and humans especially being happy or pleasured, is the highest value that exists in the universe. And so it argues that our moral imperative is to maximize the value of the universe, ergo, the maximum number of happy humans living quality lives. And so then, they make this next leap, okay. We've talked about how it's very human centric, of course. Then we make this next leap, and there's a back of the envelope set of calculations that Bostrom goes through, just dealing with the Virgo supercluster of galaxies which I guess we're part of as the Milky Way. But if we just colonize our local galactic cluster, we're not. We're not trying to overstep. Rob Dietz Not overstepping. Asher Miller Humble, just a humble, stepping out. Jason Bradford We're not trying to get to another galactic cluster or anything. Don't worry about that. Just our local Super Cluster. It leads to a truly epic number of human beings. If you think about all the energy from all the stars that can be gathered to sort of energetically power all these lies. Rob Dietz Nice. Asher Miller Now, and this is where I get confused. Are we turning all the stars into computronium? Are we . . . Jason Bradford Okay, Bostrom is a philosopher, not a technologist. He does the numbers two different ways. Rob Dietz You and I had the same thought about computronium? Jason Bradford I read the paper. It's brief. It's shockingly brief and horrible. horrible. And so it's really easy to critique because it's not long. Rob Dietz But go back to Kurzweil and remember how he explains computronium by holding up a rock? Jason Bradford Yeah, So basically, Bostrom does this: He says, "Let's assume that we maintain our biological form, and there's you know, X number of zeros. Like 29 zeros of humans. But if we can become like nano-whatever, then you know, you add you add another 10, 11 zeros, or whatever." Asher Miller Well, it becomes fused with the singularity. We could be physically embodied. We could also be virtual. Jason Bradford Yes. So he runs the numbers both ways. And either way, it's very impressive. He says, you know, "Either way - " Asher Miller It's a shit ton of people. Jason Bradford It's a lot of people. Asher Miller This is why I'm saying I'm confused. Because Bostrom and these guys, they're like all about maximizing human happiness. Kurzweil is maximizing computronium, the computing power of the universe, right? Jason Bradford Well, because each of those units of computronium is going to embody some sentient human-like consciousness that is being maximized. Asher Miller Oh okay. Rob Dietz This is the fourth time this season that I've started bleeding out of my ears while we're discussing this stuff. I really don't like it. Asher Miller It's fun to talk about this stuff like it's a real thing. Jason Bradford This guy went to fucking Oxford, Bostrom. Rob Dietz It's like a video game. Jason Bradford So there's two key things that Bostrom makes in his paper, this horrible little paper. Oxford philosopher. Oh my God, he's so horrible so bad. First of all, don't go extinct. And he repeats that a number of times. Don't go exotic. Don't go extinct. They call this existential risk. And the second is colonize space. Okay. But he basically says the quandary, the recognized quandary by these folks, is that technology we use to colonize space may cause our extinction. And so this is why Musk warns about the AI he helped to build through open AI. Genetic engineering, you know, to vastly improve human intelligence and longevity. This could also lead to super plagues. Nanotechnology itself can go out of control. And Kurzweil is worried about like - Asher Miller Yeah, but that's why we need the blue nanobots right? Jason Bradford Exaclty. So you look at as companies like SpaceX and Starlink, you know, they're about getting us to Mars, and then the next star system. And they're gonna pay for it by making loads of money from governments and internet service sales. Asher Miller Right. Rob Dietz Alright. Jason Bradford Well bringing it back down here now. Rob Dietz Okay. So let's jump from longtermism to another piece, ecomodernism. Admittedly, very closely related. But this is kind of your Complexifixer species. Am I pronouncing that correctly? Jason Bradford Yes, Complexifixer. Rob Dietz Thank you. And this is where you could look at this thing he unveiled recently called his Master Plan 3. Asher Miller What were the Master Plans 1 & 2. Do you know? Rob Dietz Well, you know, sequels are always better than the original. So we're just gonna stick with 3. Yeah, Jaws 3 was incredible. Asher Miller Amazing. Rob Dietz So, Master Plan 3 is something he unveiled at a recent Tesla investors meeting. And basically, the marketing for it is that we're going to develop a sustainable world, of course, tied to Tesla's products. And what it is, is he's promising a quick, affordable, seamless, and sacrifice-free transition from the world that we have that's dependent on fossil fuels to one that's fully sustainable. So just like some of our other guys. Jason Bradford Jacobson, Keith, Steward Brand. Asher Miller I love it. Rob Dietz Bill Gates, yeah. Asher Miller No sacrifice needed. No consequences. It's all good. Rob Dietz Yeah, to put it in his own words, Musk says there is a clear path to sustainable energy on Earth. It doesn't require destroying natural habitats. It doesn't require us to be austere and to stop using electricity, and sort of be in the cold or anything. Asher Miller Oh, thank god. Rob Dietz So it's all an easy, quick transition. So I don't think he would ever sign on to something like the ecomodernist manifesto, but his name might as well be there. Asher Miller Okay, so we got him as a longtermist, we got him as an ecomodernist, Complexifixer dude. He's also, you know, very much channeling a bunch of the other false prophets we talked about around sort of the myth of progress, doubling down on the things that we're currently doing, neoliberalism. So, yeah, let's start where we started this season, Pinker, right? Pinker and the myth of progress, right? So on SpaceX's mission page on its' website, it has headlines with this quote from Musk. He said, "You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. And that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars." Rob Dietz Now I thought you said space fearing, but you said spacefaring. Asher Miller Spacefaring, not space fearing. Rob Dietz Because I'm kind of a space fearing. . . Asher Miller That's because you saw "Alien." Rob Dietz I know. Jason Bradford There's no oxygen out there. Rob Dietz That's really the issue right there. Asher Miller Yeah. Little thing we can resolve. Gravity, atmosphere. You know, all those things. Rob Dietz I love piling on the quotes. So he shares this other view with quote, "Either we're going to become a multi-planet species and a spacefaring civilization, or we're going to be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event. For me to be excited and inspired about the future, it's got to be the first option." Asher Miller Right. Jason Bradford Yep. And this is where a little bit of the doomerism of these folks comes in. It's not the same as sort of like, well, what's the guy we covered for doomerism? Asher Miller McPherson? Jason Bradford The bunker guy? Rob Dietz Oh, yeah. Barrett Moore. Jason Bradford He's not quite like Barrett Moore, but he's actually worried about these asteroids. And they're worried about - Rob Dietz I just like the we've talked about false choice, where he's giving two options. There's no other possible way. Like here, I'm gonna give you this option and that option, like you would do to a two-year-old. Asher Miller Sure, they're worried about existential sort of stuff. Well, in previous seasons, we've talked about Jeff Bezos, right? And you know, when he launched his space company where his idea is not to go to Mars, it's to mine the moon. Jason Bradford O'Neill colonies. Asher Miller Yeah, and orbit around the Earth, right? Much smarter. And his whole thing was the same thing. We're hitting up against limits of energy. And that means we're gonna have to ration stuff. Jason Bradford No. Asher Miller Uh uh. Unacceptable. That's not the vision we want to have. So there's that Pinker sort of like willful, absolute, by the skin of your teeth, gritting holding on to this idea that we're going to be able to always constantly progress, right? And then we get the whole I would say, like Clinton, Thomas Friedman, neoliberal vision of private companies solving all the problems with the government, you know, subsidizing their profits and socializing the costs. Rob Dietz That's what electric cars are for, solving all the problems. Asher Miller So that right, Tesla, his most successful and well known company, claims to solve the climate crisis through luxury electric passenger vehicles, right? So that's doubling down on this sort of unsustainable transportation system that we have. And at one point, Tesla is valued, this is just mind boggling to me, as much as the 10 next biggest car companies combined. We're talking like Toyota, GM, Ford, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, a bunch of Chinese companies. Combine them all, and it's valued the equivalent of all the next 10. Kind of like the U.S. military compared to other militaries. But little understood is that a lot of Tesla's success was subsidized, right? Subsidized through federal tax credits. So like, they were able to keep the price of the car, you know, lower in a sense, because people would get this huge tax rebates for buying them. And I'm not opposed to the government playing a role. We're trying to foster this transition away from fossil fuelized vehicles. But the other thing, and this is even less well understood is that they sell a lot of carbon credits to other automakers, right? So in 2022 alone, they made $1.78 billion at Tesla selling carbon credits to other fucking gas guzzling cars. Rob Dietz So basically, they're not doing anything then because they're just making room for internal combustion engine cars. Jason Bradford I think they got a lot of flak for that, right? It was like - Asher Miller No. I don't think people even really understand this very well. Jason Bradford I know there was some like, wait a second Tesla, you're supposed to be about the sustainable transition. You're selling carbon credits to another - I think they got some flack. Asher Miller That's how, in a sense, we're subsidizing, right? We're subsidizing private industry to supposedly solve our problems. And this is a guy who's espoused a lot of views about governments not being well positioned to do things. You know, he's a true libertarian neoliberal from that standpoint. But of course, like a lot of neoliberals, they actually want the government to have a hand in supporting them to do the things that they're doing. And one example of that is basically, we're socializing the costs of them experimenting with self driving mode in their cars. Because they're basically, instead of them taking on the cost of trying to develop this technology in safe ways, like private roads or whatever. They're just doing it on the road. Like you just pick your customer, people sign up, you're an experiment, go have at it. Do you know what I mean? And there are car crashes, and deaths have resulted. Rob Dietz Well, he's also channeling Jack Welch. Again, we've mentioned him. Greatest CEO of all time. What he's doing here is he's really worried about, we're going to run into labor shortage. So rather than deal with economic policy conditions, you just make robots. Jason Bradford Yeah, that's incredible. Rob Dietz He has the idea of getting the robot factories up and running. Again, he's not watching the right sci-fi movies. I mean, has he not seen "Terminator?" Jason Bradford Well, a lot of their factories are already very robotic, but the leap they're making now, and it was called the Optimist Program, but it's now called Tesla Bots. So they rebranded it. And it looks like a human. I mean, well, not exactly. I mean, like a humanoid form with digits and everything, and all the articulation. Because Toyota had robotic manufacturing a long time ago. But this looks like a walking humanoid thing. Well he's taking Jack Welch a whole step further. I mean, Jack Welch's this thing was like rank and yank, right? His is like, you breathe, you leave. Exactly. Asher Miller You're out of here. You should become an ad man. Jason Bradford Oh my God. He's gonna steal that. Okay, so I'm gonna kind of go back again to the cyborgian sort of thing that's going on. You know, this idea, we've talked about Kurzweil and singularity. And there's two other companies, businesses, that he's been dealing with. One he's very closely aligned to, Neuralink. And the other is OpenAI, which actually was a nonprofit that his foundation was mostly funding. So he sort of stepped away from that because Tesla's getting so much into AI, he didn't want to have conflict of interest. But the OpenAI has given us that ChatGPT. So it really broke out this year and late last year, of course. But neural link, not many people have heard of this company. But it's one of several that is developing what are called brain computer interface. And you'll see the acronym BCI. And the goal is literally to turn humans into cyborgs. And after all, this may be the only way we can actually colonize space. Our meat suits aren't going to be up for the travel. And then this ties into the artificial intelligence work for a number of reasons. The robots and other systems that are required to do things like manufacturing, to get the self driving cars, they need the AI. And it's also part of this sort of transhumanist framework that Kurzweil has talked about quite a bit. Where we literally fuse with our computers, and our native intelligence then is augmented by supercomputers embedded in our brains via neuralink, and you can watch these videos of the surgical implantation of neuralink with this little computer sort of right in your skull. So they're working on this very, very fast right now. Asher Miller What an optimistic vision of the future. That's progress. Rob Dietz I've already seen it. Because we've talked about "Iron Man 3," "Jaws 3," whatever, "Rocky 3." In "Superman 3," this happened to Superman. The person gets turned into a cyborg. It doesn't end well. Asher Miller Okay. Too bad. Jason Bradford Yeah. I'm just astonished that there's so many companies that he's actually involved with. And as this nanomanager, how the hell does he do that? Asher Miller Yeah, as a nanomanager? Well, maybe he's cloned himself. You kjnow, he's already a cyborg. He's able to be in many places at once. I don't know. Jason Bradford It is an astounding story, and it is both highly disturbing and in some ways, awe inspiring I would say. I'm pretty excited about introducing Elon Musk to the show because he represents a new species. I'm really into finding new species and being able to talk about them, and see them. It's pretty exciting. Rob Dietz I haven't noticed that about you. Jason Bradford And so, he's a member of the species Homo phallus, which is also known as Rocket Man. Asher Miller Sorry, it just reminds me of “Life of Brian”. This character. I'm not going to reference the name of it, but - Jason Bradford Yeah, the Roman guy? Asher Miller His buddy, yeah. Jason Bradford Yeah. Okay, that was pretty funny. Okay. So basically, the Rocket Man species is not overly deterred by Earth's gravity well. It wants to move to you know, the shipping industry way up there. And this is a species that's both freaked out by the reality of limits to growth, but only because these limits exist on Earth. So, you know, we need to transcend the planetary realm. And it has an astonishing combination of abilities to make oodles of dollars, run rocket companies, and not appreciate the insanity of their plans. Rob Dietz Hey, earlier you said it's just limited to the supercluster. Jason Bradford They're trying to be modest. I'm sorry about that. Yeah, this is a very rare species. Because not many have the hubris to pull this off. You've got to be both a billionaire, and yet still needing to compensate for something, right? So the type specimen is actually Jeff Bezos, we sort of talked about what he talks about, you know. Can't have rationing. Rob Dietz Well, and his rocket ships are clearly the most phallic as well. But look, we've been sitting here saying how Musk is the Frankenstein, $6 million man who embodies all these different characteristics of a bunch of species. So I'm starting to wonder, Jason, if your <Jason Bradford PhD> taxonomy is, you know, maybe lacking. Maybe you don't have the right species for Musk here. You want to duke it out? Jason Bradford Well, of course, you know, your simple view of the situation is to be expected. You don't have a PhD, whereas I do. And well, there are a couple - Rob Dietz Hey, I went to the same school as Elon Musk, okay? Jason Bradford Touché Asher Miller And Donald Trump. Rob Dietz Damn it. Jason Bradford Okay, there are a couple of ways this can happen, okay? One hypothesis is that the Rocket Man is it's in this species complex I call the Ultra Modernists. I already mentioned this. And so, the Rocket Man species is sharing ancestral characteristics, also known as plesiomorphies. Or like superclusters. Rob Dietz He made that up. There's no - Plesiomorphy, isn't that a kind of dinosaur? Jason Bradford Those are ancestrally shared characteristics. Asher Miller No, it's a fear of dinosaurs. Jason Bradford You people. Oh god. Rob Dietz I know. You're working with such idiots on your podcast. Jason Bradford Now the alternative hypothesis is that the Rocket Man is a hybrid species and that reticulated phylogeny is possible. And this isn't always about divergence. There's convergence. And Lynn Margulis brought this up, okay? Rob Dietz I remember when a reticulated python ate a goat. And then that was like a combined species, wasn't it? Asher Miller Just for as long as it took it to digest, I think. Jason Bradford Some of the greatest changes in evolutionary history are because of this process. Okay, you know, you carry out the plants, lichens. Rob Dietz Oh, yeah. Like mitochondria coming into the cell. Jason Bradford Exactly. Okay. Now you're following me. Okay. So if anyone would like these two hypotheses to be tested, please donate to the special Phalse Prophet Research Fund at Post Carbon Institute. Thank you very much. Asher Miller Can we ask Elon to fund it? Jason Bradford Yes, he should fund it. Asher Miller He should. Melody Allison Thanks for listening. If you've made it this far, then maybe you actually liked the show. If that's true, then there's one very simple thing you can do to help us out. Share the podcast or even just this episode. Think of three people you know who would get a kick out of Crazy Town, use your podcast app to share it or send a text, or go way old school and tell them face to face. Let's build a Crazy Town community so that one day we might be able to escape it. Three friends, please share. Rob Dietz Before we get into a little more depth, a little more analysis on what's going on with Musk, and why his ideas and the way he operates are so dangerous, I got a little lament to share. So when we go about setting up a Crazy Town season, it's quite a ways before we begin recording. And I remember, we were putting together our false prophet candidate list and we had Musk on there. And at the time, it was kind of before his fall from grace. I was thinking like, oh, we're sort of on the cutting edge of wanting to talk about the problems with what he's doing. And he's gone from hero to villain status pretty quick. So that's a lament. But I will also, on the plus side, it's a good thing. Because that maybe means people are starting to see through the phalse prophets. Maybe your taxonomy has made enough of the rounds to give people the, you know, vaccine that they need in order to - Jason Bradford It's by far my most influential paper to date. Rob Dietz Yeah, so we pat ourselves on the back. Maybe we're playing a little role in helping people see these phalse prophets. Asher Miller I have another lament, which is honestly, I feel we've scratched the surface on some of the things that he's been involved with. We haven't talked about his relationship to the Chinese Communist Party. We haven't talked about him ostensibly saying that he wanted to by Twitter to make it a free speech zone, but actually censoring people there. There's so much that we could get into with this guy that we just decided we didn't have time to do. So that's my lament. Rob Dietz Yeah. Asher Miller Man's been busy. Jason Bradford He has. Pretty amazing, actually. Asher Miller Here's a thought for me. It makes me think of our good friend Chuck Collins, who wrote a book called "Born on Third Base." And that book was about his experience of having been born into family generational wealth. And in his case, Chuck gave up that wealth and has dedicated his life to addressing you know, inequality, economic inequality. Rob Dietz So he went back to the dugout from third base. Asher Miller I guess so. Rob Dietz We've got to give a little explanation of baseball to our international crowd. This is basically, well, I don't know. It's an American and Japanese . . . Asher Miller I think a lot of people probably know what we're talking about. Jason Bradford There are four bases, and three is one away from four. Rob Dietz Yeah, like you're about to score on third base. Jason Bradford Yeah, about to get points. Asher Miller Anyways, I was thinking about this when it comes to Musk because we talked about his early career, right? He made his initial money with the guide website that he had. And then he fell in with the PayPal Mafia. And you know, they made PayPal, made a shit ton of money from that. As I mentioned earlier, I think a lot of that was due to timing. You know, in terms of when they sold that to eBay. Had high valuation. So it's kind of like, I mean, he was born on third base. You know, his fucking dad's family came from some mining family, right. But beyond that, starting these companies, making a shit ton of money at a time where money is being thrown at everything, This is the Dot Com Boom. And he's really successful in that. And that gives you this idea in your head that you're fucking amazing. And so it's not recognizing the circumstances you're lucky or fortunate that you're born into that leads to this incredible hubris. And that represents Musk as an individual. But I think it's also a little bit emblematic of, in some ways, all of us who live in what you call high energy modernity, Jason, right? So we've talked about this a lot. Like, we happen to live and been born into a time of really anomalous - Jason Bradford Super abundance. Asher Miller Because of fossil fuels primarily, right. And it's the confluence of all these things that came together. And we talked about it when we talked about Pinker and economists and others who basically think that like, oh, because we've had this tremendous growth through this fossil fueled period of acceleration, that means that's gonna continue forever. Do you know what I mean? And that there's something special about us humans. So I think we could all look at ourselves now. I mean, obviously, we have different levels of individual fortune, right. It's not equal across all of humanity. Rob Dietz Yeah. If Musk is on third base, I'm not sure I'm out of the batter's box yet. Yeah, that's a tough one. But I totally get that point. We're living at a really anomalous time. Asher Miller And then the other thing that I was thinking about with him was that there's something really dangerous and very compelling for people when belief systems and self interest kind of overlap. Right? And you could wonder, what's the cart, what's the horse? Do you know what I mean? But when they reinforce each other, it's really hard to get out of it, right? So you'll get a guy like Musk who probably legitimately believes that he is a humanitarian, somebody who's spending his life trying to better the fate of humanity, right? He's got his vision out into the stars. And he's done some good things. We didn't talk about what he's done with his help for the Ukrainian people with the - Jason Bradford Oh, right. With the Starlink thing. Asher Miller - The Starlink thing. So I think he really believes that in himself, but you look at, for example, what they're doing with fully self driving cars, right? And I talked earlier about how they're basically experimenting on us humans, right They're signing up their drivers for this program, and this pilot project. And then the rest of us are part of the experiment too. Jason Bradford Because we're on the road with them. Asher Miller Yeah, those guys are out on the road. And basically, look, they need real-world, as much testing as it could possibly get, to improve the system. So they actually need crashes, near crashes. All these situations that kind of force the system to learn. So they're experimenting on us. And he says, "Oh, this is actually about saving lives. Because once all transportation is turned into fully autonomous, there are gonna be far less car crashes. Look how many Americans die on the roads every year." He's not wrong about that. Do you know what I mean? So fine, we break a few eggs in order to achieve that, And he probably convinces himself he's doing it again. Rob Dietz Ends justify the means. Asher Miller But in the meantime, what's happening for Tesla is their market share, their cornering of the EV market is getting undermined. They're really rushing to basically lap others around the self driving car technology, whether it's patenting it, or whatever, you know. Cornering the market on that as basically a way of ensuring Tesla profits. Jason Bradford Right. There might be other EVs out there, but only Tesla has that fully . . . Asher Miller Right. So he's going pell-mell to do that, but he's convinced himself he's doing it for the greater good. Jason Bradford The greater good. Right. Well, you know, what I sort of see is that we have this bigger system that really feeds and rewards people who are these sort of power seeking narcissists. And we really then turn to these people because they have so much power there. They have so much influence. We turn to them to solve the problems that have been created by the system that they helped create. And that reinforces their power. So there's his really bizarre feedback loop here. Rob Dietz Yeah, we talked about that feedback loop And the Bill Gates episode. Same thing. Create all these problems, then your philanthropy comes along, to try to solve it all. And I think given the scope that we're facing of this predicament, this tendency of hitting these narcissistic, I'm going to save you techno-people is going to be even stronger. Like we're going to want the salvation figures to come and save us. The problem with this feedback loop is they're going to keep taking more and more power all along the way. And it's going to become more and more dangerous. Jason Bradford Yeah. I'm kind of curious about you know, how somebody like Musk stacks up versus like Alexander the Great. Rob Dietz Oh, he's curious about that, too. He wants to be in the #1 position. Jason Bradford But in the past, you know, you would have these state actors that would get huge. And they would send armies across conquering and the waste this was, right? So anyhow, it's kind of curious. I think it's sort of the same personality types, but in now a new context of our global financial system, private corporations, high technology, but similar patterns, maybe. Asher Miller You know, it is interesting to think about because, you know, at the time of, you look at Genghis Khan, other kings or emperor figures, whatever. You know, that's in a lot of ways post-democracy, pre-democracy, right? And we live in a time now where ostensibly we believe in democracy, we believe in meritocracy, we believe in a lot more individual freedoms, or whatever. But we've created an economic market system that really is about individuals. And so we have to rely on these individuals to rescue us or to achieve things rather than us doing something collectively. Jason Bradford Yeah, interesting. Asher Miller Yeah. I don't know. . . Jason Bradford Yeah, how you compare Asher Miller . . . How you compare. Jason Bradford But we have talked about, you know, Richard Heinberg and the book "Power." We talked about that in our self domestication episode about, you know, we would keep these bullies in check. There would be ways of ostracizing them or killing them in groups. And we have prison systems, we have court systems. But it almost seems like at a certain point, you get sort of too big to get checked anymore on this in today's world. Rob Dietz And now they're like lionized, right? And actually, while you were asking, I don't know how we would compare him. I think we've got to see if he crosses the Alps with a herd of elephants. And then we'll know that he's at least in the same league as Hannibal. Jason Bradford Yeah. I also find it interesting how Bostrom's paper is called "Astronomical Waste." And the argument says that it would be such an astronomical waste if we did not colonize the Virgo Supercluster. Because the ultimate value potential here is just so phenomenal. And so what I kind of turn on this, and I say, actually, I see it as a futile planetary waste. We should be spending what remaining endowment we have on making sure that this planet is okay and makes it through the bottleneck of climate change, and biodiversity loss - Rob Dietz And soil. Jason Bradford Soil decline. And as our fossil hydrocarbon fiesta kind of winds down, what are we going to be left with? Asher Miller What about the waste of all of the other beings on this planet? You know, talking about the waste of human potential, but right now we're wasting the potential in the lives of millions of other species. Jason Bradford I know. It's really sad. Rob Dietz I mean, you talked about the whole philosophy. It's all human centric. There's no consideration. Asher Miller Yeah. So here we are waxing sort of philosophically about some of the things, but in some ways, he's a very complex guy who manifests all of these different characteristics of all these different guys. But fundamentally, he's just a con artist, too. Right? Rob Dietz Yeah. I can see it. I mean, just go to, I think his most laughable company is the Boring Company. Which, you know, maybe it's laughable because of the name, but I mean, it's pretty much a real failure, right? I mean, I don't know when this word hyperloop came out, but I remember seeing it and just being like, what the hell? He's just tunneling. How's that a hyperloop? Jason Bradford Oh, in a vacuum tube, though. Asher Miller Yeah. that's a little different. Yeah. Rob Dietz Well, we're not going to sit here and lampoon it because these other guys have done an awesome job. There's this guy that goes by Adam-something online with his YouTube videos. And he and another guy have also made a spoof video that the New York Times picked up. Just making fun of the Tesla thing as basically being a choo choo train, you know. Jason Bradford The Boring Company now is using just Tesla cars apparently, to drive on this Las Vegas tunnel. Rob Dietz Test track, kind of. Asher Miller Well, there are two ideas, right? There's this hyperloop idea, which is basically, we're going to shove people in a vacuum in a tube that's gonna go across entire country, and you could get from San Francisco to New York. Rob Dietz I think they were literally claiming LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Asher Miller Right. We can just shoot you in a vacuum, right? Boom. Rob Dietz It's like at the bank when you know, the old school used to put your check in a vacuum tube or something. Asher Miller What could go wrong? Okay, that's one idea. The other idea was like, he's complaining about traffic. Do you know what I mean? So his solution to traffic was like, well, we'll just dig tunnels underneath the roads. And you just get out of your car, and we'll send your car down. Rob Dietz So, you know, this is Musk pretending that basically an old technology, making a tunnel under the ground, is something new. Some stupendous breakthrough in transportation. The guys that made the videos are, they're actually urban planners, mass transit, public transportation people. And they just lampoon how silly he is. He talks about, what if instead of taking an elevator with your car down, we just had the people get down to the place where we're at. And it shows them on an escalator. He's like, we could call it the hype-stair. Asher Miller You mean like a subway? Rob Dietz Yeah, maybe. Something like that. Yeah, I mean . . . So yeah, con man. And the sad thing is that he's actually kind of sold this to some cities as like the future of their transportation. Jason Bradford But then it goes absolutely nowhere, right? Because there's nothing behind it. And so my thought is if he can even deliver on the idea of installing a subway, okay - Rob Dietz Hey, hyperloop Tesla transporting super underground hyperactivity. Call it by the right name. Jason Bradford I'm pretty down on the notion that we can become a multiplanetary species in any significant way. I think he's completely delusional about prospects to terraform Mars, for example. He says things about, all we've got to do is drop nuclear bombs on the poles and it will liberate a bunch of the frozen water and that will create the greenhouse effect and we'll . . . Like, no. It won't. It won't. Rob Dietz Have you guys seen that board game, Terraforming Mars? Literally. It's a board game that you play with your friends while drinking beers. He must play it all the time. Asher Miller "Let's turn this into real life." Jason Bradford You know how much of this is just a complete con, right? How much of this posturing on Mars is similar to what he says about the self driving cars that will be perfected next year, next year, next year? This hyperloop - I think this is just - He's a grandiose narcissist. He believes his delusions, but we should not. Rob Dietz Remember when we had clear headed, mathematically inclined physicist, Tom Murphy, on the program. He said straight up, he's like colonizing Mars, you realize how many many many, many more orders of magnitude complicated that would be then setting up human colonies at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, or at the top of Mount Everest. And you look at how hard it would be to do those things, and It's like, yeah, we'll just colonize Mars. No problem. Asher Miller This is where the being born on third base, and the whole idea of the reinforcing thing between self interest and belief systems is so dangerous. Because you're talking about Terraforming Mars and going there, I'm trying to think about, like, what's the profit motive for that? I mean, obviously, it's back to the days of colonization where you have private charter companies basically colonizing the quote unquote, "New World." That's sort of a similar model. So maybe there's profit seeking from that, but it's like he believes he could do it because he's been successful with these companies in the past. And then, he does have this legitimate belief that all this stuff is possible. And so he's pursuing these things. And then in some cases, he is a full on con artist. And it's hard to parse them. Because like, what he's doing with the Boring Company telling people, don't do public transit. Instead, do this fucking underground bullshit, and then not delivering it. That's a straight up con. This other stuff, I think it really is part of a weird religious belief system that he has. Jason Bradford Yeah, I think so. Rob Dietz You guys are just naysayers. He probably can borrow that gauntlet with the Infinity Stones attached to it from Tony Stark and just snap his fingers and make all this happen. Asher Miller But wasn't that about getting rid of half of the population of the universe. Rob Dietz Hey, it's whatever you wish. Asher Miller Doesn't he want the opposite of that? Jason Bradford Okay, the insufferability index. We're late in the season. I'm not gonna go over it in much detail, right? But zero is a very low score. High score is bad, like Tucker Carlson, who is having some trouble lately. So let's go through this, right, and score him on intentions, personality, ideas. Who wants to go first? Rob Dietz I'll take it because I want to be able to relax and hear how badly Asher ranks him. So intentions, I think the guy is pretty power tripping, wants to gain a lot of power for himself. But on the other side, he has these delusions of grandeur about doing humanitarian things. So I'm gonna give him about a 2 there. Okay, I'm not gonna go over the top. Personality, narcissism, I think he's a big time narcissist. He's getting a 3 there. His ideas? I think he's not quite at the way way - I mean, some of his ideas are. Colonize Mars, I think that's stupid. But you know, electric cars and stuff like that. Pay Pal, maybe that was, you know, within the realm of something that could work. So maybe 2 and a half there. So, I don't know. Help me out. What am I at? So far I'm at . . . Jason Bradford You're at 7 and a half. Rob Dietz Seven and a half. Wow. And I just don't really like him, so I'm giving him another point. 8.5. Jason Bradford 8 and a half. Okay, wow. That's pretty high. What about you, Asher? Asher Miller I'm gonna go 7.5. Jason Bradford What? Asher Miller Similar logic. Jason Bradford Dang. Rob Dietz I thought you were gonna give him a 12? Asher Miller No, I mean, I think there's a little bit of nuance to the dude. You know, a little bit. Rob Dietz Yeah, all these great areas. Jason Bradford You know, I have a little soft spot for the fact that he was probably abused and he probably suffers from some, you know, personality defects that make it a little hard for him to relate to people. And he's a wounded human. And I think this is what's interesting about it is like, almost all the people we've talked about this season, if you look into their history, there's something where you go, "Oh, God. I'm sorry, that happened to you." Right? So in some ways, I feel bad about having to bring This all up. But they're in these positions of power. And so, what else are we going to do, right? Asher Miller It's not like he's quietly minding his own business. Jason Bradford No. And it's not like he's getting therapy. So you have to call it out, and you hope for the best. I hope for the best for him in the future. But I'm still gonna give him an 8. Asher Miller Alright. George Costanza Every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right. Rob Dietz So I talked a little earlier about This New York Times opinion video by the two Adams, Adam Kovacs and Adam Westbrook. And they have this pretty good bit in there. They talk about this term, gadgetbahn. Which, they define it as futuristic transportation that looks cool but is unnecessarily complicated and is definitely not built for real people. And Jason, you've become fond of sending around when you find an animation or a graphic of gadgetbahn. Asher Miller Wasn't there that flying hotel? Rob Dietz Yeah, flying cruise ships and stuff. So these guys, they're down to earth. They're kind of like regional planner types, you know, urban transportation, and they tell you how to spot gadgetbahns. So I think this is a good do the opposite. So instead of buying into something like the Boring Company would present, you kind of use their filters. So this is what they say are the five warning signs that a mass transit idea is just a gadgetbahn, okay. One, the ideas proposed by a billionaire. Two, the proposed transportation solution carries only a few passengers in undue luxury. Three, its main feature is also its critical flaw. Like the vacuum tube. Asher Miller What could go wrong? Rob Dietz Yeah, they actually said this as a high potential to create human confetti. Four, the vehicle looks like a futuristic sex toy. And five, the vehicles are referred to as pod. Asher Miller That's perfect. Jason Bradford Yeah, that's good. Musk has this complexifixer element to his complex species Frankensteinian $6 million man. Anyway, so in the Jacobson and Keith episode, I was talking about how to be skeptical of techno-fixes, right? Yeah, that was really good. So remember, I'm just going to review these real quick. Always be aware of scale. Take off the energy blinders. Realize that time is not on our side and that complexity itself is what will confound the situation. And also, we prolong growth at our peril. So I think that's the other thing. Keep these in mind evaluating things. Rob Dietz Those aren't as funny as the two Adams, but it's a really good filter. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in the celebrity culture of someone like Elon Musk. It's easy to get wrapped up into these easy fixes. And so, really trying to like, I don't know how you get those filters into your system, but really being able to read and listen and see these things. Asher Miller Google glasses. Jason Bradford Well, my neural link reminds me constantly of these. Asher Miller That's right. Rob Dietz Damn it. I knew I wasn't gonna get good answers to that question. Asher Miller I'm sure Elon is working on a solution to that problem, Doing the opposite of what I was talking about earlier, sort of the really bad dynamic of belief systems being reinforced by self interest, that whole dynamic, right.? And we've talked before about cognitive biases and sort of the traps that we can fall into. And so thinking about doing the opposite of that in ourselves would be making sure that we're exposed to different worldviews, right? Different information, different perspectives, in our own lives. Because I think what tends to happen is that we fall into these traps of things being reinforced for us by the information that we're consuming or the people that we talk to. Jason Bradford The algorithms on the social media. Asher Miller Yeah, and I think it's important for all of us, you know, to have that checked a little bit. And it reminds me a little, we talked, I don't remember what episode this was, we talked about hunter gatherer tribes. You know, when someone goes on a hunt and brings back a kill for the group. Jason Bradford An impala. Asher Miller I think was a porcupine in this specific example. Jason Bradford Oh yeah. The porcupine, yeah yeah. Rob Dietz It comes with toothpicks built in for after the meal. Asher Miller Fantastic. Yeah, basically the tendency is to poopoo that kill. It's not that good, it's a little gamey, whatever. It's like, may we all have people who kind of check our . . . Rob Dietz Like the three of us do for each other all the time. That was a terrible analysis, Asher. Absolutely terrible. Asher Miller Thank you. I feel so much better now. Jason Bradford I think this is really hard nowadays. We almost have this, like our culture is slipping into sort of, you know illiberalism of tolerance, right? The idea that the other people, the other side is evil and they have bad intentions, And you need to shame them, or you need to cancel them. And I think that's really dangerous. And so I think, figuring out how to broaden and have sensible conversations with people that you may disagree with, but also not dehumanize. I think that is really critical. Rob Dietz Yeah, that probably means don't have that conversation on social media for one. Asher Miller Well, and I would invite Elon Musk to embrace different views. In this case, us. And send PCI a big fat check. Jason Bradford Yeah, exactly. Asher Miller Show that you're open-minded, Elon. Jason Bradford Now, our friend Phil, he had this meme he was gathering together for Earth Day that I thought was really good. So I want to share this. And it was this sort of fake press release. The idea being that, you know, planet Earth is announcing that the subsidy it has been providing to human civilization, commonly known as fossil fuels, will be withdrawn over the next few decades. And the statement noted, "This was always the plan. The original contract disclosed that the supply was finite and urged the humans to make wise use of this energy bonanza by building long lasting easily repairable infrastructure that would allow civilization to flourish using the ongoing energy flux from the sun." And I think that's really what we need to be doing is figuring out how we're going to use the remaining endowment we have and make things repairable, reusable, etc. So complete opposite, of course, of the Musk kind of technology and ideas. Rob Dietz Yeah, flies in the face of colonizing the Super Cluster. But look, maybe a parting final do the opposite would be, enjoy looking up at the stars. Be inspired, but don't spend most of your time trying to figure out how to get there and colonize them. Asher Miller Well, thanks for listening. If you made it this far, then maybe you actually liked the show. Rob Dietz Yeah, and maybe you even consider yourself a real inhabitant of Crazy Town. Someone like us, who we affectionately call a Crazy Townie. Jason Bradford If that's the case, then there's one very simple thing you can do to help us out. Share the podcast, or even just this episode. Asher Miller Yeah, text three people you know, who you think would get a kick out of hearing from us bozos. Rob Dietz Or if you want to go way old school, then tell them about the podcast face to face. Jason Bradford Please for the love of God, if enough people listen to this podcast, maybe one day we can all escape from Crazy Town. We're just asking for three people, a little bit of sharing. We can do this. Jason Bradford The Boring Company and the Chinese Communist Party's Belt and Road Initiative have announced a strategic partnership called the East West Mantle Penetrator Project. Up to now, human transport options to get from point A to point B have been limited to inefficiently moving along Earth's curvature. Not anymore. By this time next year, a vacuum tube will be constructed through Earth's mantle. Moving in a purely linear, rather than curvilinear, manner, enabling spies, businessmen, and politicians to move between Washington DC and Beijing in under one hour. The East West Mantel Penetrator Project: accelerating the movement of mad men between continents through the center of the Earth.