Elon Musk: Mars will be great, if AI doesn’t kill us first

Elon Musk: Mars will be great, if AI doesn’t kill us first

AUSTIN — The most interesting businessman in America came to SXSW to dance. And to talk.

After dancing his way onstage to the tune of Randy Newman’s “My Little Buttercup” — a longtime favorite of his — Elon Musk spent over an hour talking to Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan about his hopes and fears for technology, from colonizing Mars to the risks of “digital super-intelligence.”

Mars as startup hub

The founder of SpaceX, Tesla (TSLA), Solar City (SCTY) and the Boring Company led off by discussing his Martian ambitions. A month after the successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in service, Musk said work on a much larger launch vehicle called the BFR — you may think of that as short for Big Falcon Rocket — is proceeding well.

“We’re making good progress on the ship and the booster,” he said of this gigantic, fully reusable spacecraft that can lift 150 tons to Earth orbit. He hopes to see the first test flights next year.

SpaceX’s schedule calls for the first Mars cargo flight in 2022, with humans following in 2024. Musk allowed that people might not trust that forecast: “People have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic.”

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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy takes off making it the most powerful operation rocket in the world. (Bloomberg)

Musk warned that life on Mars would be difficult at first. “It kind of reads like Shackelton’s ad for Antarctic explorers,” he said. “Difficult, dangerous, good chance you wil

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