In college, Elon Musk envisioned 5 things that would change the world

He was a college student studying physics and economics at the University of Pennsylvania, before Elon Musk became a billionaire or even a millionaire.

Musk was transferred on scholarship to The Wharton School in 1992, after spending two years studying at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. He dreamed of space travel and talked endlessly about electric vehicles, according to Ashlee Vance’s book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.”

A young Musk believed that five main issues would have an impact on the planet.

“When thinking about what would most likely change the future,” Musk said on February’s podcast “Third Row Tesla,” “there were five things that I felt were going to be.”

The Internet

Musk claimed the internet would “fundamentally change humanity,” early in the 1990s, he said on the podcast.

“I would not regard this as a profound insight but rather an obvious one,” Musk said.

He compared the internet to the human nervous system: “If you didn’t have a nervous system, you wouldn’t know what’s going on. Your fingers wouldn’t know what’s going on. Your toes wouldn’t know what’s going on. You’d have to do it by diffusion,” he said.

“The way information used to work was by diffusion. One human would have to call another human or write them in a letter. [That was] extremely slow diffusion. And if you wanted access to books, and you did not have a library, you don’t have it. That’s it.”

He thought that this could change the world.

And while Musk had only minimal access to the internet at the time (only to use it for his physics studies, he said), he knew that the internet would be a “fundamental and profound change.”

“Now, you have access to all books instantly, and you can be in a remote mountaintop location and have access to all of humanity’s information if you got a link to the internet,” he said on the podcast. “Now suddenly, human organisms anywhere would have access to all the information instantly.”

Multi-planetary Life

Musk claimed that “making life multi-planetary and making consciousness multi-planetary,” would change the world, he said on podcast.

As a boy, Musk was inspired by a number of science fiction books and he believed that one day, according to the book “Elon Musk,” he would “[build] spaceships to extend the human species’s reach.” (Musk previously said that scientist and author Isaac Asimov’s seven-book “Foundation,” science fiction series was “fundamental to the creation of his aerospace company, SpaceX.”)

On May 30, SpaceX successfully launched for the first time two NASA astronauts into orbit. It was a human spaceflight achievement and brought Musk one step closer to achieving his Mars ambitions.

Changing Human Genetics

Just as a character in Gattaca‘s 1997 film undergoes genetic engineering to pursue his dream of space travel, according to Musk, when he was younger he believed he could change the world by being able to change human genetics.

And it’s happening now, with Crispr technology, Musk said on podcast.

“I think it’s going to become normal to change the human genome to get rid of diseases or a propensity to different diseases,” he said. “That will be like the first thing you ‘d want to head out. When you have a condition where you would probably die of a cancer at the age of 55, you would like to get it edited out.

“It will become normal, I think, to change the human genome for getting rid of diseases or propensity to various diseases,” he said. “That’s going to be like the first thing you’d want headed out. If you’ve got a situation where you’re definitely going to die of some cancer at age 55, you’d prefer to have that edited out.”

“There’s the Gattaca sort-of extreme thing where it’s not really edited out but it’s edited in for various enhancements and that kind of thing,” he said, “which probably will come too.”

“I’m not arguing for or against it,” Musk said. “I’m just saying it’s more likely to come than not down the road.”

Sustainable Energy

As a teenager, Musk felt a “personal obligation” for the fate of mankind and felt inspired to create “cleaner energy technology” one day, according to the book “Elon Musk.”

So he believed that sustainable energy would change the future. 

“Sustainability, actually, was something that I thought was important before the environmental implications became as obvious as they are,” he said on the podcast. “If you mine and burn hydrocarbons [compounds that form the basis of natural gas, oil and coal], then you’re going to run out of them. It’s not like mining metals…. We will never run out of metals, but we will run out of hydrocarbons.”

He said the future may bring a carbon tax that would raise the cost of burning fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, which is a “no brainer.”

In 2004, Musk invested in and became a co-founder of electric car company Tesla. He became CEO in 2008. On Wednesday, Tesla became the world’s most valuable automaker when the electric vehicle company’s market capitalization surpassed Toyota’s for the first time.

Artificial Intelligence

“AI is a really major one,” said Musk on the podcast.

At the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in 2019, Musk (who co-founded the non-profit AI research lab OpenAI but later left the company’s board) said computers would “surpass us in every way,” even terrifying things, including work destruction from robots or even a possible AI race leading to a third world war.

AI is “capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential,” he said by Southwest tech conference in 2018.

Musk also founded Neuralink machine intelligence venture, since he believes that humans must merge with AI to avoid becoming irrelevant.

“We do want a close coupling between collective human intelligence and digital intelligence,” he said at the SXSW conference, “and Neuralink is trying to help in that regard by trying creating a high bandwidth interface between AI and the human brain.”

Reported by CNBC.

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