THE INFLUENCE OF ELON MUSK'S CREATIVITY ON TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY

THE INFLUENCE OF ELON MUSK'S CREATIVITY ON TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY

THE INFLUENCE OF ELON MUSK'S CREATIVITY ON TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY

Doktorski studij na FSB: Uvod u znanstveno istraživački rad 2017/2018 Daria Ćurko THE INFLUENCE OF ELON MUSK’S CREATIVITY ON TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY UDC 62:65.01:159.954 Essay Summary What a lot of people try to understand these days about Elon Musk is how his thinking process goes, from the way he comes up with ideas to turn them into reality. The fact that he was involved in diverse industries, such as commercial banking, military industrial complex, automotive industry, space exploration, artificial intelligence, all fields in which he thrives in, makes Musk an extraordinary individual. There is no obvious pattern that connects these industries, so the question remains: what is his approach to innovation, how does his creative process look like? This paper contains a review of Elon Musk’s visions and innovations, from Zip2 Corporation and PayPal to the newest technologies of Tesla, Inc.

(formerly Tesla Motors), Solar City, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and OpenAI. These are Elon Musk’s former or present companies, all of which have had an enormous influence on engineering world as we know it today, bringing along technical breakthrough innovations and greatly changing the general public’s view on what is possible. His main goal revolves around creating technologies that would create an important effect on future in humanity. Keywords: Elon Musk; innovations; engineering; technology; creativity 1. Introduction It is safe to say that Elon Musk is a genius, not just as a visionary but also in marketing.

He knows what his final goal is and will stop at nothing to achieve it. His greatest dream has always been the colonization of Mars. Many of his achievements today were criticized in the past because they were believed to be resembling science fiction more than reality. For Elon Musk, little is impossible. He pushes the boundaries far beyond the rational mind following the first principles reasoning. He inspires other people and companies to pursue the “impossible”. Musk’s point of view on technology and the way it should be handled and shared is what distinguishes him from the rest. This is the reason why he is well known and respected all around the world.

It would not be wrong to call him a little bit of a dreamer, but most believe in the ways he is changing the world and technologies he delivers and shares with the world. He is a visionary, a leader and ultimately charismatic person. In many interviews, Musk tried to explain the creative process that turns seemingly crazy and impossible ideas into reality. He says that some of his ideas came to him while in the shower, while others, such as electric vehicles, he was sure of in the early 1990s while he was a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying physics. According to 2014 interview with Steve Jurvetson about the five areas that would have the most important effect on humanity, Musk told Jurvetson: “it was super obvious” that all cars would at one point be

THE INFLUENCE OF ELON MUSK'S CREATIVITY ON TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY

Daria Ćurko The Influence of Elon Musk’s Creativity on Today’s Technology 2 electric [1]. Other areas that Musk recognized in the early 1990s, that would most likely affect the future, include the Internet, sustainable energy (both production and consumption), space exploration and making life multiplanetary. Not a lot of people can so easily see this far into the future. Musk tries to bring the future as close as possible to the now. He recognizes technology advancements that will for sure happen sometime in the future and gets the urge to accelerate things to minimize environmental and economic damages.

His primary goal are not the profits, but the advancements in technology that include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption. He sees things as they need to happen, so he tries to do so. While he was starting his SpaceX or Tesla Motors companies, he thought the probability of success for these companies was less than 50% [1]. Still, he said he had to try, thus creating an effect far greater than the internal effect of the products he designed. He made others recognize the importance of these innovative technologies and he helped other companies so they would start developing and advancing technologies.

In short, he got things going. 2. Biography Elon Reeve Musk, South African-born entrepreneur, moved to Canada at the age of 17 to attend Queen’s University. In 1992, he went to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. After two years he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he received two Bachelor of Science degrees, in physics and economics. He later moved to California to obtain a Ph.D. in applied physics and materials science at Stanford University but left after just two days to become an entrepreneur and to work in the areas of the Internet, renewable energy, and outer space.

In 2002, he became a U.S. citizen [2]. Fig. 1 Elon Musk [3] 2.1 Elon Musk’s Endeavors In 1995, Musk and his brother started Zip2, one of the first internet maps and directions services, which helped bring major publishers like the New York Times and Hearst online [4]. He got the money for the start-up from a small group of angel investors. In 1999, the company was acquired by Compaq, and with this sale, Musk got the money that he would later use to start PayPal, the world's leading Internet payment system, firstly founded as X.com. In 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay [2].

THE INFLUENCE OF ELON MUSK'S CREATIVITY ON TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY

The Influence of Elon Musk’s Creativity on Today’s Technology Daria Ćurko 3 Today, Musk is CEO and lead designer of SpaceX, that he co-founded in 2002 with the money he made with his previous ventures. Musk's role in SpaceX is overseeing the development and manufacturing of advanced rockets and spacecraft for missions to and beyond Earth orbit, with the goal of creating a self-sustaining city on Mars. Fig. 2 The successful launch of Falcon Heavy rocket [5] Another very important company that takes a lot of Musk's time is Tesla, Inc., founded in 2003, where he is considered to be the co-founder.

He became the CEO and Product Architect in 2008, overseeing all product development engineering and design of the company’s electric vehicles, battery products, and solar roofs. One of the subsidiaries of Tesla, Inc. is SolarCity, a provider of solar power systems in the US. Musk co-founded it with his cousins in 2006, and it was acquired by Tesla, Inc. ten years later [2]. Fig. 3 Falcon Heavy rocket carrying Tesla Roadster as cargo in space [6]

Daria Ćurko The Influence of Elon Musk’s Creativity on Today’s Technology 4 Another one of his companies, where he is a co-founder and a chairman is OpenAI, a non-profit research company, founded in 2015, working to build safe artificial intelligence and ensure that AI's benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible [7]. Musk actually fears AI and sees it as a potential threat to humankind. This is the reason why in 2016, Musk co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology start-up company that is working on ways to implant technology into our brains to create mind- computer interfaces.

Maybe it doesn't have much sense at first glance to fight AI this way, but Musk thinks that the only way not to get beaten by machines is to allow our brains to keep up in the intelligence race [7].

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about The Boring Company. It's an infrastructure and tunnel construction company founded by Musk in late 2016. The company aims to solve the problem of traffic jams. A large network of tunnels many levels deep would fix congestion in cities. Currently, tunnels are really expensive to dig, with some projects costing as much as $1 billion per mile. In order to make a tunnel network feasible, tunneling costs must be reduced by a factor of more than 10 [8]. Musk recognized that there are no investments in tunneling Research and Development, and after analyzing the process, came up with two main points where the costs can be reduced: reduce the tunnel diameter and increase the speed of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).

He then proposed five ideas how to deal with the later. Fast to dig, low-cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes. In order to gather money for the project, the entrepreneur came up with an idea to design and sell flamethrowers. In just five days, the company sold all of its 20,000 devices, 500 $ a piece. The company has already started digging in February of 2017 on the premises of SpaceX's offices in Los Angeles [9].

3. The First Principles Method The origins of the philosophy of first principles are over 2000 years old. It started with Aristotle, who defined the first principle as “the first basis from which a thing is known.” [10]. Rene Descartes used the “method of doubt”, now known as Cartesian doubt, to systematically doubt everything he possibly could until he was left with indubitable truths, also known as a priori truths. Knowledge would then be deduced from these foundations [11]. In physics, if a calculation starts at the level of established laws of physics, and does not make any kind of assumptions, it is said to be from first principles, or ab initio [11].

Musk is guided by the philosophy of the first principles, or reasoning from first principles, rather than analogy, which gave him the ability to solve seemingly unsolvable problems. In layman’s terms, the philosophy suggests innovation in clear leaps, rather than improving something that already exists. Most people approach solving problems by looking at what has been done and then think of the ways to improve what already exists. It is mentally easier to reason by analogy and make variations of what exists. First principals is reasoning up from the fundamental truths. It takes a lot more mental energy because people are not used to thinking that way.

It gives more opportunities and clears different paths to original solutions of a certain problem. What has been done in the past is only one way of looking at a problem. First principles method talks about how different starting approach can have the even better end result. This is the practice of actively questioning every assumption you think you “know” about a given problem, and then creating new knowledge from scratch [12]. This is the way of learning how to think for yourself.

The Influence of Elon Musk’s Creativity on Today’s Technology Daria Ćurko 5 In his quest to send the first rocket to Mars, which began in 2002, Musk ran into major challenge right at the start. After inquiring about a number of aerospace manufacturers around the world, he found that the prices of rockets were astronomically high. Knowing that with those prices he wouldn’t achieve his goal, Musk calculated the cost of producing a rocket and decided to make one himself rather than buying one. That’s how the SpaceX started. Within a few years, his company had cut the price of launching a rocket by nearly 10 times.

Musk gives another example in an interview with Kevin Rose [13]. He talked about prices of battery packs, that used to be expensive, but by applying reasoning from first principles, they managed to lower the costs by 7,5 times and produce their own batteries. 4. Conclusion “When something is important enough you do it even if the odds are not in your favor” [14]. This is one of the most famous quotes by Elon Musk. He is the type of person that dreams big and never gives up. His first rule is to break down the problem to the fundamental truths, define what it is you want to solve and build up from that.

He also thinks it is important to really like what to do, otherwise, you won’t have much energy to actually solve the problem.

After introducing his work to the public, he felt it was important to accept the negative feedback, especially if it comes from friends [13]. He does get, and accepts, criticism. With the latest achievements with SpaceX, launching Falcon Heavy rocket, with Tesla Roadster cargo, to Mars’ orbit, people criticized him when it turned out the calculations were wrong so the rocket overshot the orbit of Mars and went for the Asteroid Belt. People criticized him in the past for losing profit in most of his endeavors or being involved in too many different projects, losing focus on what is his main goal.

One could argue that Musk is too distracted with all the new companies, but what most don’t realize is the manner in which Musk parts his work hours. In most of these companies, he actively partakes just by a few percent [15], and he mainly serves as an associate or as an advisor. What he achieved with this is activating other companies to compete in the technologies.

When it comes to taking risks, Musk thinks that a lot of things are very risky with a low chance of success. However, if one wants to come up with an innovative breakthrough, it doesn’t leave you with much other than to take the risk. There is a significant risk of failure for anything which is significantly innovative. Musk believes that if the outcome is exciting enough, then taking a big risk is worthwhile [16]. Musk also learns from past failures. After the Falcon 9 explosion, Musk continued to develop and advance the technology. To date, Falcon 9 has a success rate of 96%, with only two rockets destroyed during launch [17].

Musk admitted that he didn’t think that Falcon Heavy launch/landing would work. He took the risk, hoped for the best and achieved tremendous success. The launch of the rocket, separation of the upper stage and landing of the two side cores, or boosters, of the rocket is the biggest and most significant case in rocket science in history [18]. It was never imagined, or done, before, and what it means is that Falcon Heavy can carry more than twice the payload (64 metric tons) of the next closest operational vehicle at one-third the cost. The rocket was designed to carry humans into space, as it can carry the Dragon spacecraft [19].

Musk is a successful entrepreneur who invests in humanity, wanting to make things better. He is not driven by money, but with all the great things that could be done to improve the ways of life. He is an inspiration and has already made his mark on the world.

Daria Ćurko The Influence of Elon Musk’s Creativity on Today’s Technology 6 REFERENCES [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4vsjP_sKTo [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk#Education [3] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/elon-musk-im-looking-for-love-but-its-ha rd-to-meet-people- hkb5wj6dc [4] https://www.tesla.com/elon-musk [5] https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a13974792/spacex-falcon-heav y-launch-pushed-back- to-2018/ [6] http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-tesla-and-spacex-have-already-merged-2018 -2 [7] Strauss, Neil (2017).

"Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 23, 2018. [8] https://www.boringcompany.com/faq/ [9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD3pflBggM [10] https://medium.com/swlh/aristotle-and-the-importance-of-first-principles-94 31aa60a7d1 [11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_principle [12] https://mayooshin.com/first-principles-thinking [13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-s_3b5fRd8 [14] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QygpaIJclm4&vl=en [15] https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-criticisms-of-Elon-Musk [16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTI5IqAZQAE [17] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Development_history [18] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0UUhFTZr0I [19] http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy Defined by Daria Ćurko: 19.01.2018.

Delivered: 23.02.2018.

Supervised by Kalman Žiha Daria Ćurko, dcurko@fsb.hr Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture Ivana Lučića 5, 10000 Zagreb