Here’s a Recap of ELON MUSK’s Interview on the ALL-IN Podcast with Key Portions Transcribed
Here’s a recap of Elon Musk’s recent interview on the All-In podcast. Key portions of Musk’s responses to questions regarding Twitter, Joe Biden, inflation, and other topics have been transcribed.
In a new interview with Chamath Palihapitiya, David Friedberg, David Sacks, and Jason Calacanis of the All-In podcast, Elon Musk spoke about a handful of topics that have been in the news lately, including inflation, California politics, and why there are so many bots on Twitter.
Below is a recap of Musk’s interview with Palihapitiya, a billionaire venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur; Friedberg, an early Google executive who started Climate Corporation, which he later sold to Monsanto for $1 billion; Sacks, an entrepreneur, and investor; and Calacanis, an internet entrepreneur, angel investor, author, and podcaster.
(The segment time stamps are pulled from the All-In YouTube channel.)
0:43 Benchmarking Twitter’s Bot Problem, Thoughts on Slights from the Biden Administration
Elon on the number of “bots” on Twitter:
“Right now I’m sort of debating the number of bots on Twitter. And currently what I’m being told is there’s just no way to know the number of bots. It’s like it’s as unknowable as the human soul basically. Alchemy and witchcraft is needed to determine the bot percentage. I’ve said why not try calling people, but I haven’t got a response [from Twitter].”
“[I] care about the number of unique, real people that are on the [platform]. It’s extremely fundamental. And anyone who uses Twitter is well aware that the comment threads are full of spam, scam, and just a lot of fake accounts… It seems beyond reasonable for Twitter to claim that the number of… real unique humans that you see making comments on a daily basis on Twitter is above 95%. That is what they’re claiming. Does anybody have that experience?” … “[I think it’s] probably some number that is at least four or five times that number. If you did sort of the lowest estimate would be probably 20%. And this is—a bunch of quite smart outside firms have done analysis of Twitter and looked at the daily users and their conclusion is also about 20%. But that’s a lower bound. It’s not an upper bound.”
Musk adds during this portion of the interview that he currently holds the title for most-liked tweet of all time—the one below, in fact, noting facetiously(?) that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO wants to start putting cocaine back in Coca-Cola. The tweet, Musk notes in the interview, only earned 4.8 million likes, despite being the most liked tweet in history (from a living person); a very tiny fraction of Twitter’s supposed 217 million daily active users. For reference, YouTube has a billion users and its most popular videos have billions of views.
Elon on Twitter’s left-wing bias:
“The reality is Twitter at this point has a very far left bias. And I would classify myself as a moderate. Neither Republican or Democrat. And, in fact, I have voted overwhelmingly for the Democrats…I might never have voted for a Republican, just to be clear. Now this election, I will.”
“The point I’m trying to make is…this isn’t some right-wing takeover that some people on the left may fear. But rather a moderate takeover in an attempt to ensure people of all political beliefs feel welcome on a digital town square and they can express their beliefs without fear of being banned or shadow banned. And we obviously need to get rid of the bots and scams and trolls. And people that operating huge bot armies in an attempt to unduly influence the public opinion.”
“As far as people have thought about it, [they’ve held] free speech is important. For a healthy democracy it’s important. And free speech really matters. Like say, when does free speech matter? It’s when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like. That’s when it actually matters.”
Elon on the Democratic party:
“The Democratic party is overly controlled by the unions and by the trial lawyers; particularly the class action lawyers. And generally, if you’ll see something that is not in the interest of the people on the Democrat side, it’s going to come because of the unions, which is just another form of monopoly, and the trial lawyers. That’s where actions will be happening from the Democrat side, although not in the interest of the people. Although to be fair, on the Republican side, if you say, when is something not ideal happening, it’s because of corporate evil and religious zealotry. That’s generally where the bad things will be coming from on the Republican side, that are not representative of the people. In the case of Biden, he is simply too much captured by the unions. Which was not the case with Obama. So, in the case of Obama, you could have—he was sort of, quite reasonable. And I think he took more of a view that…he took the unions into account, but there are bigger issues at stake. And unfortunately Biden does not do that.”
13:26 Breaking Down Tesla’s 6+ Businesses, Comparing Them to a Traditional Car Company
Elon on Tesla’s full self-driving software:
“Full self-driving beta at this point can very often take you with zero interventions across the Bay Area from San Jose to Marin. So, through complex traffic; it’s really quite sophisticated. And I’d invite anyone to join the beta or look at the videos of those who are in the beta. We have like 100,000 people so it’s not tiny. And we’ll probably have millions of people, or a million—on that order—by the end of the year.”
“We also built a chip team, because there wasn’t hardware that we could run the freakin’ AI on. We couldn’t just fill the trunk with a whole bunch of GPUs… that would’ve been very expensive and take a massive amount of power and cooling, just to do what the Tesla-designed full self-driving computer can do. And we started a chip team from scratch, designed it, and made it the best in the world. And still is the best in the world several years later.”
“And we’re also designing a… supercomputer [named Dojo] to process all the video that’s coming in from billions of miles of data. Because just sort of the way it’s critical to compete with Google because they have so much data and they have all the people doing searches all the time, and humanity is training it, the same is true of Tesla. You really need billions of miles, and ultimately tens of billions of miles of training data, combined with a vast training computer, and then optimize[d] inference hardware in the car [to create] specialized software across the board to be able to achieve a full self-driving solution.”
21:42 Concerns Around the Twitter Deal, Crypto Payments on Twitter
Elon on purchasing Twitter:
Musk tells Calacanis that his pending purchase of Twitter “really depends on a lot of factors. He adds that, regarding the social media platform and bots, “Twitter is refusing” to tell Elon and his co-investors what percentage of the user-base they make up. “Seems like a strange thing,” he adds.
“They claim that they… know” how many bots are on Twitter, Musk says, but to arrive at their conclusions, they use, supposedly, a “complex methodology that only they can understand.”
The tech billionaire says that—despite the bot problem—purchasing Twitter is “not out of the question.” Although he says that “the more questions I ask the more my concerns grow.” Musk points out that the bots are not only an exceptional nuisance, but they make Twitter’s supposed “brand advertising” seem far less appealing for potential marketers.
Elon’s possible future plans for Twitter:
“For those that have used WeChat, I think that WeChat is actually a good model. If you’re in China you basically live on WeChat, it does everything. It’s sort of like Twitter plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of other things all rolled into one and with…a great user interface.”
Musk adds a WeChat type app isn’t available outside of China; especially one that’s free of spam and shares revenue for content creators.
Creating an app “from scratch” is also apparently not off the table. Musk’s ultimate goal, either way, seems to be to develop an “all-encompassing app” that serves as a “digital town square where important ideas are created” and where payments can be made amongst users in crypto or fiat money.
30:19 Building vs. Acquiring, Early Tesla Stories
“[Let me be] crystal fucking clear: no, [Martin Eberhard et al.] didn’t bring me in… I was going to start an EV company with JB Straubel based on the AC Propulsion tzero. And when I asked AC Propulsion if it was OK to do that, they said well there are also some others who want to create an EV company, but had not created one yet. [They asked] Would you like to do that? And I said OK… That was a huge mistake.”
39:52 SpaceX’s Grand Vision and Business Model, Nuclear Fusion vs. Solar
Elon on the future:
“We need things that are inspiring and exciting and make the future seem like it’s going to be better than the past. Life can’t just be about solving one miserable problem after another.”
“The goal of SpaceX is to build the technology that enables life to become multi-planetary and make humanity a spacefaring civilization. Which I think is [a] very exciting, inspiring thing. It’s… one of those things that I think just makes kids be excited about the future. And we need things that are inspiring and exciting and make the future seem like it’s going to be better than the past. Life can’t just be about solving one miserable problem after another it’s gotta be like ‘what’s inspiring and exciting?’ And I think a future where we’re a spacefaring civilization is one we can all get excited about. And we can go out there and find out what’s out there in the universe and what’s the meaning of life. And where are the aliens? Hopefully they’re friendly.”
Elon on the existence of aliens:
“I have not seen any evidence of aliens—and I’ll be the first to tweet about it or whatever—I will definitely tell you if there [are] aliens.”
Elon on declining birthrates and the potential rise of the robots:
“Because of generally low birthrates, almost worldwide, civilization is not headed to a population that is an order of magnitude greater than wherever we are currently. We are currently headed toward a population decline. And this is almost everywhere in the world.”
“So not sure who will use all that energy, unless there’s a significant change in the birthrate. Or we have a very robot-oriented economy. That’s also possible. [With] four-wheeled robots—cars—androids, [which are] humanoid robots. And you could certainly see a need for an order of magnitude more energy. But it’s not coming from the humans unless something major changes on the human birthrate level. This by the way, I think is the single biggest threat to civilization right now.”
“There is this weird mind-virus-y thing where people think that having fewer kids is better for the environment. This is total nonsense. The environment is going to be fine. The environment would be fine even if we doubled the size of the humans. And I know a lot about environmental stuff, so we can’t have civilization just dwindle into nothing. Japan is a leading indicator here. Japan’s population declined by six hundred thousand people last year. They have the lowest birthrate in history. It’s pretty bad. And I think, one element of it is a lot of people just think having kids is somehow bad for the environment. I want to be clear it’s not; it’s essential for civilization, that we at least maintain our numbers, we don’t need to grow dramatically, but at least let’s just not gradually dwindle away until civilization ends with us all in adult diapers [with] a whimper.”
56:37 Moving from California to Texas, Fixing California, Macroeconomic Takes
Elon on California Governor Gavin Newsom:
“To be fair to Gavin Newsom—if you had a gun to Gavin’s head, and said ‘we need to start building this factory in California right now,’ he couldn’t do it. Because there are so many regulatory agencies. And so many litigators in California that want to stop you from doing anything. [So] even if you’re the governor of the state, you cannot get it done.”
Elon on California:
“California used to be the land of opportunity. And it’s a beautiful state and I loved living there. I still spend a lot of time in California even though every time I go there—literally every day I go there I get the bejeezus taxed out of me—the sheer cost of me going to California to work per day just boggles the mind. But I still do it. California has gone from the land of opportunity to the land of, sort of, taxes, overregulation, and litigation. And this is not a good situation. And really there has to be a serious cleaning out of the pipes in California.”
“I think ultimately with California the people of California just have to get fed up and demand change. That’s the thing that really has to happen. And there’s gotta be an above-zero percent chance of the Republicans winning in California. If it’s just the Democrats every time… Occasionally, the thing is that right now, [at the] level of gerrymandering, which is basically just treating the people like sheep and is terrible; that’s gone on in California [and] it’s outrageous. In California the Dems have a super majority in the house and senate and the governor and everything. And how responsible is any political party to the people if they are guaranteed to win? It’s a one-party state. I’m not saying go and elect the Republicans every time, but if it’s never, you’re just making California a one-party state that will no longer be responsible to the people. And they’ll only be responsive to the ones who funded their political campaigns.”
Elon on the recession we’re heading into:
“Predicting economics is always difficult, and one should assign probabilities to these things. But, ironically, I did, last year, [when] people asked me what do I think about the economy and I said I think we might enter a recession in approximately spring of 2022.”
“Recessions are not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve now been through a few of them and what tends to happen is if you have a boom that goes on for too long, you get misallocation of capital. It starts raining money on fools, basically. It’s like any dumb things gets money. And you’ve seen a few of those. And at some point it just gets out of control. And it just has a misallocation of human capital. And people are doing things that are silly and not useful to their fellow human beings. And there needs to be sort of an economic enema if you will, to have everybody shift uncomfortably in their seats… Eventually the economic enema does its job, it clears out the pipes, if you will, and the bullshit companies go bankrupt and the ones that are doing useful products are prosperous…”
Musk added that “More likely than not [we are now in] a recession. I’m not saying it is, but it probably is.” He estimates that it will last 12 to 18 months.
1:10:20 American Exceptionalism, a New Immigration Strategy
Elon on immigration into the U.S.:
“Anyone who wants to work hard and do useful things we want in the United States. And it’s not just people who are intellectually strong, but it’s anyone with a strong work ethic. If they’re coming from Mexico, or if they’re coming from Europe or China or wherever, if they’re going to come here and crank hard and contribute more than they take, hell yeah; that’s a no-brainer.” (Emphasis Musk’s.)
Elon on Joe Biden:
“It’s hard to tell what Biden is doing to be totally frank.”
“The real president is whoever controls the teleprompter. It’s like, the path to power is the path to the teleprompter. ‘Cause [he] has to read the teleprompter. I do feel like if somebody accidentally leaned on the teleprompter, it’s going to be like Anchorman.”
“This administration doesn’t seem to get a lot done.”
“The Trump administration, leaving Trump aside, there were a lot of people in the administration who were effective at getting things done. So this administration just seems to not have the drive to get shit done. That’s my impression.”
Elon on inflation:
“The obvious reason for inflation is the government printed a zillion [more dollars] than it had, obviously. So, it’s like the government can’t just have issued checks far in excess of revenue without there being inflation; [with] the velocity of money held constant; unless there were something to change with the velocity of money. It’s just that the federal government writes checks, [and] they never bounce. That is effectively the creation of more dollars. And if there are more dollars that are created than the increase in goods and services in the economy, then you have inflation. Again, [assuming] the velocity of money held constant.”
“This is very basic. This is not like, super complicated. And if the government could just issue massive amounts of money, and deficits didn’t matter, then why don’t we just make the deficit 100 times bigger? And the answer is you can’t. It will basically turn the dollar into something that is worthless. Various countries have tried this experiment multiple times. It’s not like ‘oh, I wonder what will happen if this is done?’ Have you seen Venezuela? The poor people of Venezuela have been run roughshod by their government. Obviously you can’t simply create money; the true economy—it’s very important, the true economy is the output of goods and services. It’s not money. It’s literally what is the output of goods and services. Money is simply a way for us—or anything that you call money–is a way for us to conveniently exchange goods and services without having to engage in barter. And also to shift obligations in time. Those are the two reasons you have money.”
Elon on China:
“China is not monolithic. It’s not like everything is some plot by the Chinese government. There are many factions that compete vigorously within China. And perhaps most important is there is just a tremendous number of hard-working, smart people in China who want to get ahead and who want to get things done. And they’re not complacent, they’re not entitled; they want to get things done and make a better life for themselves. And what we’re going to see with China for the first time—for anybody who can remember who’s alive—is an economy twice the size of the U.S., possibly three times the size of the U.S.; it’s going to be very weird living in that world. So we better stop the infighting in the U.S. and stop punching ourselves in the face, because there’s way too much of America punching itself in the damn face, which is dumb, and think about ‘hey, we got to be competitive here.’ And there’s a new kid on the block who’s going to be two to three times our size. We better step up our game. And stop infighting.”
Feature image: All-In Podcast
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