Technology only gets better if smart people “work like crazy” to make it better, said Elon Musk, the creator and chief executive of electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc., solar energy service provider SolarCity Corp. and rocket Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX).
In an e-mail interview with the Maeil Business Newspaper on Monday, Musk emphasized the importance of establishing an environment where smart people can work hard and keep pushing the limits.
He founded SpaceX on conclusion that “if something didn’t happen to improve rocket technology, we’d be stuck on earth forever.” At the time, there were no big aerospace companies who had interest in “radical innovation”, he added.
Who once had been regarded a bizarre dreamer on the technology scene with his epic quest of creating human colony beyond the Earth now is heavily sought by government officials, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), financiers, and investors after SpaceX came closer to his lifelong dream of commercializing space travel by making first touchdown with a reusable rocket earlier this year.
His motive for creating Tesla had been equally extraordinary. “I thought the odds of a car company succeeding were extremely low,” he said. But what he envisioned were beyond the odds. He needed to perfect electric vehicles for his human colony in Mars. And success came naturally. Model 3, the affordable take on the electric car is ready to hit the road next year and bring him enormous bigger riches and fame. Musk claims Tesla would become bigger than Apple within the next decade. But his business pursuit has more important design as “Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
When asked to give some advice to Koreans who are dreaming of starting their own businesses, he said they shouldn’t be afraid of challenging themselves. “People shouldn’t think, ‘I feel fear about this and therefore I shouldn’t do it’ It’s normal to feel fear,” he said. “There are just times when something is important enough that you believe in it enough that you do it in spite of fear,” he added. He would know as SpaceX succeeded landing the main-stage rocket booster Falcon 9 on an ocean platform after 25 trials over the last 13 years.
Tesla which opened business in Korea earlier this year plans to install its own charging facilities called Super Charger in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, Daejun in Chungcheong Province, Daegu and Busan in Gyeongsang Province, to expand its presence in Korea.
Following is the full interview with Elon Musk.
Q: What social changes do you think the 4th industrial revolution technologies will bring?
A : Like every other significant technological development, from the printing press to the automobile itself, autonomous vehicles will in the short term replace some jobs while creating many others. In the long term, there is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation.
Q: There surely were people who were skeptical on the electronic vehicle and self-driving car. Your mission to Mars, Space X, Solar City, Hyperloop and the vehicle that travels under the water are all growing upon such skepticism. I do not think they are irrational accusation since most cost-benefit analyses told us that such technological inventions are massively expensive compared with uncertain earnings. How did you make such hard decision and how did you keep yourself up to go through till the end?
A: I came to the conclusion that if something didn`t happen to improve rocket technology, we`d be stuck on earth forever. And the big aerospace companies had just had no interest in radical innovation. Everyone thinks technology just automatically gets better every year, but actually it doesn`t. It only gets better if smart people work like crazy to make it better. That`s how any technology actually gets better.
Same with Tesla I thought the odds of a car company succeeding were extremely low. Tesla`s mission is to accelerate the world`s transition to sustainable energy. To achieve this, energy needs to be sustainably generated, sustainable energy needs to be stored for later use, and sustainable energy needs to be used for transportation.
Q: Could you give some advice to Korean people who respect and admire you and want to start their own businesses?
A : Find something that has high value to people, frankly even if it`s just a little game or some improvement in photo sharing. If it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, I think that`s good. Stuff doesn`t need to change the world just to be good. People shouldn`t think, well, “I feel fear about this and therefore I shouldn`t do it.” It`s normal to feel fear. I actually think I feel fear quite strongly. So it`s not as though I just have the absence of fear. There are just times when something is important enough that you believe in it enough that you do it in spite of fear.