Alternate Reality: Elon Musk Gets Metaphysical at Code Conference


Elon Musk Code Conference

He may be a god of the tech world, but now Elon Musk has moved on to playing God. And his most amazing pronouncement to date is that we’re all just living in a vast computer simulation game being controlled, Matrix-like, by some unknown higher intelligence.

The odds are overwhelming that this is actually what life is about, Musk said—among many other things—at this week’s Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. And the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX—and one of the foremost entrepreneurs of this stage of the cosmological video game called life on Earth—added that we should all be glad of it.

The odds are only “one in billions” that his supposition is incorrect, Musk calculated self-servingly, and if it’s not true, it’s too bad for us. “Otherwise, if civilization stops advancing, then that may be due to some calamitous event that stops civilization.” Er, OK.

The wackiness of Musk’s metaphysical construct helped to make his other remarks at the conference somehow more….believable. For example, he also said that humans will arrive on Mars by 2025 and that artificial intelligence will soon advance to the point that homo sapiens will resemble house cats.

As far as the world he actually controls today, Musk also had a lot to say. He expects his space-exploration company, SpaceX, to be able to launch a rocket to Mars by 2018. And he considers Apple, not Google, to be the bigger competitive threat to Tesla, his electric vehicle company—though he asserted that Tesla workers who’ve left for Apple were only heading for a “Tesla graveyard” at his huge Silicon Valley rival.

Still, Musk sounded anything but omniscient or even ethereal when making excuses for Tesla’s continual failure to meet his own sales and production targets. He identified one obstacle that surely will not be news to Tesla’s rivals in the traditional auto industry, for instance: “If you use tier one and tier two suppliers, there end up being several thousand suppliers, [and] things move as fast as the least lucky and least competent supplier.”

Musk also blamed acts of God (the real one) for Tesla’s interminable delays, including a tsunami, a hailstorm and an earthquake, as well as misbehaving humans involved in a shootout on the Mexican border that delayed shipments of trunk carpeting.

If fellow humans don’t start behaving up to his expectations, Musk at least has an out that no one else can claim: a spot on one of his rockets.

“I’ll probably go to orbit in four or five years,” he said. And he allowed for the possibility that he also explore other planets. “I mean if you’re going to choose where to die,” Musk opined, “then Mars is not a bad choice.