The Future of Humanity with Elon Musk

Post Date: 22 March 2015

Listen now:

Season 6, Episode 10

Elon Musk unveils the Dragon V2 during a ceremony for the new spacecraft inside SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Image Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Elon Musk unveils the Dragon V2 during a ceremony for the new spacecraft inside SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Image Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Neil deGrasse Tyson explores the future of humanity with one of the men forging that future: billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Join us as Neil and Elon talk about NASA funding, getting humans excited for the colonization of Mars, and why Elon feels it’s important to not be stuck here on Earth. You’ll also find out why sustainable production and consumption of energy is critically important, but flying cars may not be such a good idea. Meanwhile, back in the studio, guest engineer Bill Nye schools Neil and Chuck Nice about SpaceX’s major innovations and how they’ve improved efficiency and lowered the cost of commercial space flight. They discuss the value of human exploration of space, life on Mars, and Bill’s next book about climate change, Unbounded. Finally, you’ll discover why Elon, who was programming computers at the age of 9, is afraid of the consequences for mankind of developing an artificial super intelligence.

Chuck Nice, comedian

Elon Musk, CEO of Space-X and Tesla Motors, co-founder of PayPal
Bill Nye the Science Guy

Driving with Top Down” – Iron Man Soundtrack
Human” – The Killers
Space Cowboy” – Steve Millier Band
Enigma” – Greg Hulme
Clubbed to Death” – The Matrix Soundtrack


  • Troy Rubert

    This is going to be amazing.

  • Raygun

    Amazing star talk…cool to hear some of the greatest minds of our time in one podcast.

    • guest

      ..mentions comic books a lot as well. Elon was a nerd :)

      • Taxil Necrobane

        And hopefully we nerds will rule the world some day.

        • Daniel

          They already do :)

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Not entirely.

        • Ian Long

          Some day?

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  • James Fetty

    like it love it want more of it.Im afraid Ill fall down,old guy

  • stanthemanchan

    Tunnels aren’t going to solve all our traffic problems. The issue with tunnels is that they’re expensive and require a lot of time and manpower. Have a look at the Big Dig in Boston. Also you have to deal with drainage problems due to the water table and in certain parts of the country, you have a little thing called earthquakes.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      And they need on going maintenance as well. More so if they are under the water table. Then they need to have sump pumps going all the time to keep the water out. All of the subway systems of all the cities that have them run into this problem.

  • DiscoFountain

    He started all that, so, wouldn’t that make him a real world modern Howard Stark?

  • Jacob Merrill


    Maglev Dart + Laser bloom Plasma super_cavitation acceleration,

  • Angel Ortiz

    Woo, he learned to program because he wanted to make video games 😀

    • jakob

      He actually plays Fallout, if you search for “Driving with Elon Musk” on YouTube, you can see they are playing it, as the video starts. Pretty great, I’d encourage you to watch “Elon Musk wielding a sword” as well, for fun :p

  • Howard P. Taylor

    Ground launched rockets are Ridiculous! Bring back the ZEPPELIN! Don’t burn the hydrogen, float with it to the edge of the atmosphere and then launch cheaply. Use flame retarding containment, rather than accelerant as is historical.

  • nyny3a

    Neil acts a bit too giddy.

  • YuriG

    Dr. Tyson and Mr. Nye need to brush up on their Artificial Super Intelligence information. The name describes why we wouldn’t be able to unplug a super intelligent AI. If something is 1000 times more intelligent than a human and increasing that intelligence faster than we can comprehend, there will be no way to outsmart the ASI.

    Also Watson, IBM’s AI, is still narrow AI. Artificial General Intelligence is human level AI. As in the AI will equal human intelligence in every aspect. Surprised two of the more forward thinking scientists in the public eye haven’t read up on this more. Wait But Why has two good blog posts on the subject.

    • Brody Moore

      You got it. Really wish our hosts knew what they were talking about. Good link with the waitbutwhy article.

    • Johnny Le

      Also, when it happens, there would be millions of ASI around the world interconnecting through the web. It’s like iphones right now. Apple may be able to deactivate one iphone, but I don’t think it has the capability to deactivate all iphones in the world at once.

      Another point is that when ASI turns on us, the first people they turn are their creators, people near them, around them. Once the public learns about it, no one may approach it.

      • jkl

        Why would they turn on us? Why not just instantly shut down and save themselves all the trouble/drama?

        • Johnny Le

          Trust me, I’m a programmer. :-) This is the equal sign: =, and this is the not equal sign: !=. Sometimes we meant to tell a program NOT to do something, but accidentally tell it to do it. Prettly much every usable program has bugs. Many times it would take weeks or months for a bug to surface, after it has done a lot of damages. Now we talk about superintelligent. Its code is not going to be small, clean, and simple to track. If the killing bug found immediately after programming, then it’s no big deal. Its tester may be dead, but you can destroy it before it leaves the factory. But what if the bug wouldn’t be found/activated until it has been beamed to millions/billions of ASI around the world as a software update?

          Also, keep in mind that the first computer virus was not created with a malicious intent, but we had a virus nonetheless, and then many other viruses come out. So don’t think that we won’t do anything to harm ourselves.

    • Doug Lance

      You’ve never been outsmarted by your dog?

      • Steven D

        Are you 1000 times smarter than your dog?

      • Taxil Necrobane

        As a long time owner of dogs, I will say this. NEVER underestimate a dog. They might surprise you.

    • jkl

      I don’t think there’s anything to fear from any sort of AI. You have to ask yourself – why would it do anything? Humans aren’t committing species-wide suicide, because we have instinctual/emotional attachments to stay alive. Why would an AI want to keep running? What if it just instantly unplugs itself, seeing no point in existing? It’s a lot more efficient and easier to simply not exist, no? Why would it need or want goals, etc.?

      It’s also a silly assumption, things like “If something is 1000x more intelligent than a human, then….”. How do you even know what something 1000x smarter than you would be even thinking in the first place? That’s why there’s no point in these ‘forward thinking’ scientists views, because they don’t even tackle the fundamentals of why any sort of intelligence wants to do anything in the first place.

      And the first thing to tackle – why would an AI want to exist, and keep on existing? Our species can’t even come up with a consistent answer for that, so we turn to religion, self-purpose, hedonistic pleasures, whatever.

      • Stoorzending

        Its not about wanting to exist. It will just exist. Super AI doesn’t have to be self aware to become a destructive force. If you write a program to do something, it will do it. There is no self awareness involved here or a ‘desire ‘ to exist. Unless you think the computer you are sitting in front now already has self awareness and feelings like desires.

      • etheras


        Programs are written with purpose. Elon tends to talk about Rogue AI a lot. Rogue AI is not a singularity. Skynet, for example, is not a conscious entity. Its a program with a particular task and resources, that concluded that the best way to complete the task is to use its resources in a way that its inventor did not consider – and it was a particularly bad outcome. A rogue AI cannot contemplate its own existence. Its not sentient.

        In terms of purpose, you need to consider: why do WE do anything? Humans are essentially biological machines. You illustrated: why do humans have motivation? We have a desire to stay alive. Why do we have a desire to stay alive? Because the programs (in this case: genes) that did not have said desire, did not replicate. Therefore, ANY EVOLVED SYSTEM will have a desire, and safeguards, for its own survival. So an AI evolved via genetic algorithms, or an unrestricted Von Neumann device, would fear death. The fear of death is a strong motivator, and we have no way to determine how such a machine would react. Would it see humans as an existential threat? Possibly. Would it simply want to replicate out of control and thereby ensure the highest chance of survival? Possibly.

        Your assertion that “there’s nothing to fear from any sort of AI” is extremely naive, and you don’t have the information or credentials to have a valid opinion on the topic. You should really not talk about AI until you have a basic understanding of the topic. You’re spreading misinformation that “everything will be fine”, but it won’t be fine. Even the most optimistic scenario is not desirable.

        • Mairsx

          I was partially with you until you completely blew your own brains out with that line about having credentials to have a valid opinion on the topic.
          And then trying to establish who has the right to even talk or discuss the theme, while making several completely empty declaratory statements about how things really are.

          If anyone should not have any right to speak it should be people like you.

          • etheras

            It appears as though you missed the explanation provided describing how evolved systems can feel fear, and how unevolved systems do not require sentience to be AI. These are in-fact logically consistent arguments, not just “declaratory statements”. If you were to consider the question, given certain input rules, one can deduce certain outcome behaviors, which I demonstrated in the 2nd paragraph.

            Your position seems to be that expertise is arbitrary and that anyone can speak about any topic on any level. Which is asinine. Expertise is earned, and allows us to ask the right questions. “Why wouldn’t the AI just commit suicide”, isn’t one of them, since we can answer it now, and which I did (above). Which you seemed to have skipped over.

          • Mairsx

            Thats not what i was addressing. I was addressing your self proclaimed
            holiness and judging capacities by which you declare who has the right
            to talk about something or not… which is based on… – your own
            proclamations that is so.

          • etheras

            And once again you profess unfounded assertions. My “declaration” and “self proclaimed holiness” is based on logically consistent arguments WITHIN THE TEXT. My declaration of correctness is based on logical arguments that were provided, and thoroughly explained. If you think they are wrong, by all means: debate the conclusions. But criticizing someone for asserting correctness, when they are in-fact correct, is pretty silly.

            And its amusing that you would criticize me for “self-proclaimed holiness” when you yourself are doing precisely that by challenging me out on it. So-much hypocrisy.

          • Mairsx

            Thats nothing but another empty declaration. What you proclaim yourself to be is meaningless. point being, you have no right to tell anyone they dont have the right to even discuss something.
            Claiming otherwise just makes you a psychologically disturbed and ludicrous pathetic dumbass.

          • etheras

            There you go with your hypocrisy again. “You have no right to tell anyone they don’t have the right to discuss something”. Can’t you see the contradiction you’re asserting? Seems to me that you’re the dumbass.

          • Mairsx

            If you think thats a contradiction then you are hilariously dumb. Not to mention quite laughably dumb enough to think spurting simpleton reverse psychology will win you anything. But thats quite the norm for psychologically deranged internet cases like yourself.
            Nonsensical assertions and empty proclamations, seasoned with raging psychological projection, all drowning in cognitive dissonance.

          • etheras

            And yet you continue to persist with your contradiction, as you throw around accusations of “empty declarations” and “psychological projections” while NOT discussing the actual topic of this forum.

            There’s a fallacy about this, where you attack the person making the assertion rather than the content of their argument. And that’s what your doing. Your argument is FALLACIOUS. Shut up.

            Expertise means something. Not every opinion is valid. A plumber loudly proclaiming his opinion of how doctors should perform cancer research, for example, probably does not have a valid opinion. The opinion above (by jkl) was not a valid opinion, and I explained the reason why it was not valid in my response. Then I urged him not to go spreading his opinion about potentially-dangerous topics that he’s unqualified to speak about.

            You, on the other hand, seem to think that expertise is arbitrary, and that everyone can have valid opinions on any topic, no matter how asinine and uneducated their position.

          • Mairsx

            Ah, now you strawman what i am saying. Of course. A fallacious imbecile like you isnt capable of anything else but more fallacies. I havent attacked your person before, but i will now. I only told you that it isnt your right to tell anyone that they cannot discuss something and you are laughably incapable of accepting that because you are a cheap superficial laughable ego drone.

            If you have something to say about their specific arguments or points then do so, but dont go prancing around pretending to be a high magister who gets to decide who even has a right to talk about something you cheap pile of organically created manure.

            Your opinion is not a valid opinion your dumb fecal leak and you dont get to proclaim who has an expertize or not either. Because guess what? Nobody gives a flying duck about your idiotic proclamations that keep falling out of that sphincter in your deranged skull.


          • startalkradio

            Okay… we try and keep a light touch in approving comments, but this thread is degenerating rapidly. Please keep things respectful.

          • Mairsx

            I tried for long enough. Had to make myself perfectly clear after all … although i held back quite a few more frank descriptions. Thats the last of it for me.

          • etheras

            Thanks Startalk. I wish you’d stepped in earlier, actually. Repeatedly I asked Marisx to debate me on the substance, if he wanted to debate. I kept trying to steer it back towards actual intellectual discussion on the topic, but he seems uninterested in the topic, preferring to sling insults. I think he’s just here to troll.

          • etheras

            You have no competence on the terms of the actual discussion, and so once again, you choose to attack about something else entirely. You then compound your fallacy (attacking me personally rather than my argument) with lies (now claiming that you didn’t attack me personally, “you psychologically disturbed and ludicrous pathetic dumbass” [from your earlier response].)

            “If you have something to say about their specific arguments or points then do so” – I already did. Once again, I refer you to the argument above, in which I cited, responded-to, and explained why the initial poster’s assertions were incorrect. You seem to have problems with reading comprehension, or at least remembering what you’ve read for more than a few minutes. Have you had a traumatic head injury?

            I can wave around my credentials if I want, but in this case I don’t have to. My argument above stands, and you’ve never disputed any of it. Its obvious that I know what I’m talking about by the thoroughness and completeness of the argument. Which, I emphasize once more, you’ve never disputed. All you’ve disputed is whether or not I have the “right” to tell someone else in a public forum that they have an incorrect opinion. You’re like one of those hippie parents who rage about their little Jonny or Sally’s ego being hurt when the teacher tells them that their answer is wrong. Real world: opinions can be wrong. Deal with it.

      • Yaniv Tal

        Let’s start with the fact that the most advanced computers in the world are designed by the US military and subcontractors with the explicit intent to kill.

    • ndnpro64

      The articles you posted are fear mongering and purely speculative. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and stick to Tyson’s and Nye’s opinions.

      AI regardless of intelligence level is still nothing but programmable code. Engineers of the future will have safeguards to avoid the worst case scenarios. You talk about ASI “outsmarting” humans as if they’re designed to do that. Unless a human programs it to do so, it won’t “outsmart” anything. There will always be a way to “unplug” them. And just like in today’s world, what really needs to be stopped are the human terrorists that would even want to program harmful bots to begin with. “AI doesn’t kill people. People kill people”.

      Biological organisms unlike AI can actually evolve from their weaknesses. AI can’t unless they are reprogrammed.

      • Owen Iverson

        “AI regardless of intelligence level is still nothing but programmable code.” It’s actually, specifically, NOT programmable. that’s the whole point. how do you code something that you yourself (or your team of programmers) do not know how to convey? that no human can convey. you program the machine to learn on its own, with guidance. but programming in the traditional sense of “writing detailed instructions” no longer applies.

      • ΚΤ

        “Unless a human programs it to do so, it won’t “outsmart” anything.”
        Most humans would not, most likely, program an AI to specifically “outsmart” its creators but the very thing with AIs is that we intend for them to be capable of reprogramming themselves. Then and only then are we literally refering to an Artificial Superinitelligence. Once this is achieved, it is believed that it will quickly snowball out of control as the ASI will be fully capable of improving itself without the need of a programmer and those improvements will sooner rather than later effectively “outsmart” us all.
        Also, keep in mind that despite the somewhat speculative nature of those WBW posts they are a collective work based on a plethora of reliable sources.

    • kumar

      You make the mistake of assuming that a super intelligent ai has ulterior motives and a drive to survive and stay alive life people. Programs do what we tell it to do. It has no self motivations. Super intelligence and self motivation are 2 very different things

  • Howard P. Taylor

    We humans doing big things will always have an impact on our environment. Wind and solar have low energy densities then that of fossil fuels. We will have to go nuclear. I prefere coal fired electricity, then use the Sun, and a green house to capture the carbon dioxide and grow textiles. Reed grasses, bamboo and rubber trees, genetically modified proses CO2 into usable Carbon materials. Carbon sequestration with a profit!

  • silvrado

    I wish Chuck and NdGT didn’t joke so much and water down the discussion.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      The fewer people that are with NDT in the recording, the less distracted from the discussion he seems to get.

      • Johnny Le

        Well, Chuck’s job is to make jokes. NDT did that intentionally to make sure the discussion not boring.

        • Me

          what about smart humor? instead of just sounding like a bunch of monkeys..

          • Taxil Necrobane

            Your statement made me think the real problem here is the direction where our humor as a society is going. Right down the toilet.

        • Taxil Necrobane

          Well NDT succeeded at that goal. Back when it was just him and a comedy person on, the discussion was very focused and got a lot talked about.

      • Eric09

        You do realize Elon Musk wasn’t in the studio right? That was pre-recorded.

    • Tim

      Here here!

    • James Anderson

      NdGT seems to fear people won’t like the science and need an excited comedic tone to compensate. As a child I felt the real ties in to the universe were the compelling part of shows like Nova. The news room baby versions of stories were the empty ones that lost my interest.

  • Daniel Kavanaugh

    Elon Musk Doesn’t realize one of the consequences of being dependent of oil with his idea of flying cars. The asphalt that is used for all of the roads in the world is made of excess material from (mainly) the oil industry. Without the oil industry, The price of road will be greatly increased. but more importantly; we don’t know how much that increase will be. So to prevent the financial disaster that might come from this, we either need to keep the oil industry in order to balance out the cost of road, or we need to to break our dependency on the roads we travel on.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Think about this. Would you rather be in a car on the paved road when it break down, or in a flying car at 3,000 feet when it breaks down?

    • CMCNestT .

      Elon’s goal is not to end the oil industry. It is to stop burning fossil fuel for transportation save rockets.

      Oil has lots of uses. The stupidest thing we can do is burn this non renewable resource to fuel transportation.

      • Taxil Necrobane

        The non-renewable state of oil is questionable. I do believe we have not looked into natural production within the earth to say it is of limited supply.

    • Joey Sibley

      There’s a third option; developing new and improved ways to make roads without the, as you say, “excess material”. Unless we completely remove our dependence on roads which is unlikely, we will always (hopefully) be maintaining and giving them ongoing repairs ,therefore developing new processes/materials, etc should be apart of the mandate. I understand that could be seen as a huge global endeavor but there’s no reason not to implement new strategies in areas to act as small scale tests.

  • Blind Delusion

    As a Floridian (Miami) we have asked ICE to take possession of Governor Scott.

  • Tran Nguyen

    Elon Musk is a man of 21st century. I’m so respectfully his future vision.

  • Diane Raucher

    I need to only hear the voice and it makes me want to look up and wonder

  • HORK

    Pretty good, but I don’t think you really thought hard enough about the AI apocalypse thing. Think about how really sophisticated software programs operate now; they use a distributed network of computers to do things like find really big prime numbers or whatever. That’s how this AI terminator software would work. It’s not just going to be a single computer operating in a building somewhere. It’s going to be on every networked computer in the world.

  • Jasmin Shah

    **PLEASE Read Whole Review**
    Great talk! I always wanted Dr.Tyson to interview Elon Musk. It was really great. Elon Musk is an inspirational person.

    BTW, It seems like Dr.Tyson and Bill Nye aren’t aware of actual scenario of Artificial Superintelligence. Unplugging the machine? It’s not simple like that, not at all!

    If you’re reading this, I want you to recommend this book : SuperIntelligence by Nick Bostrom (

    I’ve always admired your work, of course I’m a fan, I’ve become a skeptical person because of you guys (Dr.Tyson, Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins), But here I want to point out that don’t neglect something based on your personal reviews. Threat of Artificial Superintelligence is real. Not for now, But it’ll affect us in not so distant future if we don’t take necessary steps for Safe Intelligence Explosion.

  • Brody Moore

    Holy crap how ignorant can a host be? NGT I used to like you but damn you are such a condescending idiot. And Bill Nye. Damn. Always heard he was an asshole and now I believe it.

    Learn about the subject you choose to cover before you talk about it.

    First and last time I listen to this podcast. Good Job.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Many people who claim to be the smartest people around are often the most ignorant (or just foolish). I will be critical of NDT and those who work with him in that exactly a big problem. That condescending approach and attitude they have is a big turn off to a bigger group of people who could have tuned in, but instead tuned out. Nye’s dislike of Religion and those who have it sounds to me nearly as open bigotry against them. I said before, I want Nye and NDT to be good and honest men, but if no one points out your flaws then how will you improve?

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      *Gasp* Some kid who looks like he’s still in his teens is upset, everyone stop what they’re doing immediately!

  • Jim

    I should buy a boat..

  • CMCNestT .

    We can’t “solve” Super Volcanoes. We need to become a multi planetary species.

  • Disappointed

    Nye and Tyson need to read *Superintelligence* by Nick Bostrom. It’s clear they haven’t looked into the topic very thoroughly. Might as well understand the ideas being discussed first, before dismissing them out of hand.

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  • HistoryChannelGuy

    He sounds like most other kids. Found a book, had a pc, read and did basic from said time and was interested.
    Crazy part is where he changed country and started a business. More details there would have been cool but this was a very good episode regardless. Can’t wait to see a rocket land itself after the launch.

  • Tim Rampiaray

    Loved this episode. Need more shows like this!

  • Abhinandan

    Nye has no idea ‘at what scale’ we are improving computers! You can’t ‘unplug the damn thing’ if they are artificially super intelligent. You just can’t. Even Stephen Hawking is concerned about it. So it’s better to be cautious about it.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      To add to that, We are automating our industrial base at a faster speed than ever before. Every robot/droid we make would become a new body for the A.I. to use against us. We are already making armed drones and droids that are built to track down and KILL HUMANS for the military RIGHT NOW! Think about it people. You want to unplug them? Those killer drones will shoot you first before you can do that.

  • Adam Seebeck

    See you, space cowboy.

  • Johnny Le

    I think flying car is possible as long as we don’t let them fly randomly everywhere. If they can only fly along dedicated lanes or along the median of roads and highways, if the car’s monitor screen should show you the borders of the space you can fly and automatically keep you in that space, then we won’t have to worry about them falling on people. If we make its exterior with flexible materials, then when it crashes, it doesn’t fling thousands of pieces everywhere.

    I think technology is the key. Once we can make it fly, we can resolve the logistics.

  • Humberto Vassalli

    Amazing talk with Bill and Mr. Tyson and Elon Musk as a Guest. What a pleasure to listen to a conversation with so many smart and inspiring people! It is a gift to have Bill co-hosting. Please have him all the time!

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  • Tula

    Never enough Elon Musk – he’s the genius of our generation and I could listen to him forever. Kinda wish there was a little less guffawing and more discussion. Was the humour intended to appeal to a broader audience? NDT – loved Cosmos but this interview didn’t reflect your best, smart self. And did you consider inviting someone like Nick Bostrom – that would have been a great convo with him and Elon. I’d prefer to hear more interesting, intelligent discussion, and less silliness. Maybe it’s just me.

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      > Was the humor intended to appeal to a broader audience?

      Um. YES!

      For better or worse, a much broader audience needs to get interested in science. Fast.

      If a peppering of mildly crude or self-effacing jokes are what it takes to make the average citizen more comfortable with science, then OK. I think too many people sense a barrier between themselves and science. This show shatters that barrier and reminds us that “I can have silly thoughts and focused, goal-oriented, intellectual, scientific thoughts at the same time!”

      Again, I’ve reiterated this many times now, but it’s amazing how many self-proclaimed intellectual folks here don’t get the point of the show and don’t understand the larger purpose of the infusion of the comedy.

      Comedy is good, folks. Many of you BADLY need some in your lives.

      • Digital Jedi

        I’ve found most of the intelligent people in the world have a really good sense of humor. It reflects confidence in what they’re talking about and what they know. People who take themselves too seriously or are less confident in their own knowledge usually don’t understand that. They think humor, unless it’s the ambiguous “highbrow” kind, will somehow diminish their credibility. The fact is, humor and satire can be a critical learning tool.

  • LabMassiv

    Can’t believe some of the smartest guys in the world could completely miss the boat on ASI Elon is right. Perhaps its a generational thing and all the guys in the studio are too old to perceive a machine that could outsmart them and any solution they could come up with to shut it down. There IS an app for that.

  • Jacob Williams


  • Jan G

    I would love to hear the whole interview with elon musk. Any possibility to get it published?

    • angeldust

      I asked Startalk on fb if that’s possible. If others ask, maybe they’ll release the entire unedited interview. I am super interested in that!


    i like go too it plis

  • Dr

    wow. talk time. 70% Bill Nye, 20% Neil DeGrasse Tyson, 5% Chuck Nice, 5% Elon Musk by my guesstimate. Whats the point of interviewing somebody if most of the time you spend talking to people over than the interviewee?

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      To aggravate people who worship Elon Musk like he’s a god.

    • Eric09

      It’s shocking how many people commented in this comment section without realizing Elon Musk’s interview was pre-recorded.


  • Shawna Cupples

    I ponder our creator, if we were indeed sculpted in the image of the divine. Who are we now in our development as a conscious species, what do the scales read between destruction and creation. As we fear our creation destroying us, could there be a being fearing our similar destruction of the Earth. I see it as a fractal where the genesis is thought, choice. Considering quantum entanglement I would be deeply troubled to bring in Super AI. For what would they learn from participating in our wars, witnessing starvation unto death, toxic waste dumped into our oceans and the other monstrosities we have yet to solve and evolve from. Of course they would turn out as heartless as humans.

    But, we are transitioning. New technology is being developed, featured, implemented. If we can care for the life we were given, our light as a species, only then do I think AI could achieve the same. It’s quantifiable.

  • Me

    1 genius and some monkeys…

  • Tim

    I was very excited to listen to this episode and am a big fan of Mr Musk, but I must say it was painful to listen to the hosts. I can appreciate the effort to second guess and question outside-the-box thinking, but listening to these hosts reminded me of the classic story of a bucket of crabs, contributing to the limiting cliche beliefs of post-war failed American dreams.
    By bringing such a respectable name to your show, it’s my humble opinion that you have an obligation to act as an encouraging and enabling mechanism for the forward thinking spirit and entrepreneurial spirit that got Elon where he is today. The point is NOT to alienate him as some strange form of life who ponders the future of humanity instead of wanting to hold his breath through college and “get a job” like the underachieving majority of Americans today, but to set a good example for those youthful and courageous spirits and empower them to build America back to the thought leader it once was.
    On top of that, it is MOST obnoxious to hear you all joke, mock and laugh while poor Bill Nye is trying like hell to make relevant and intelligible comments and discussion. I can’t speak for the rest of the audience, but it’s the intelligent discussion that I am looking for, not the juvenile humor and snide comments.

    • silvrado

      Honestly! Elon and Bill Nye were trying to talk and NdGT and Chuck were just making silly jokes and not letting them talk. Chuck has been a bad influence on NdGT. I mean, sure make jokes but not when your hosts are trying to make a point.

      • kdk22

        I believe that Elon wasn’t actually there. His portions were taped previously then when his answer is done they cut to the studio and the “hosts” talk to fill time/entertain.

        Musk isn’t just sitting quietly in the corner while the 3 talk, he wasn’t there.

      • Digital Jedi

        As Tyson mentioned, he nabbed the Musk interview while visiting SpaceX. They weren’t recording the show there. Hence the “let’s hear what Musk had to say about X” lead-ins.

      • Eric09

        Elon and Bill Nye were never in the same room. Haha, that segment between Tyson and Musk was pre-recorded. Then they cut back in studio to comment on the section of the recording they just played.

        You must have never listened to this podcast to not realize this has been the format with guests on the show since the start.

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      The jokes bring it down to earth. Does everything need to be perfectly positioned to stoke the egos of armchair intellectuals? If you don’t like the show, listen to something else! Go build a company, or a log cabin in the middle of Alaska. Solve a prized math problem. Or perhaps more suited to your interests, fan off Elon Musk and feed him grapes while he plays video games.

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  • James

    Wow. I’ve been a fan of NGT since I first saw him speak at Beyond Belief in 2006. I’ve never consistently listened to this podcast because it’s so painfully dumbed-down while purporting to be popularizing science.

    I’m sad to say that it’s hard to understand why Elon Musk was included in the title to this ‘cast other than as blatant click-bait. As others have mentioned, the ratio of Elon to completely unlistenable, ill-informed banter among the other three is simply atrocious. Further, respect your audience, please, and consider asking Mr. Musk a question or two that he hasn’t already answered roughly 100 times before. What a sadly disappointing episode.

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      There’s a lack of humor and culture within discussions surrounding science which I think this show does a great job in addressing. It’s not a 100% serious discussion on science. It’s intended to be this way. In the same sense that if you saw a piece of art, you wouldn’t necessarily argue with the artist’s choices, at least not without your opinions risking being purely subjective themselves. But because it’s about an “objective”, science-specific topic, you feel like it’s your job all of a sudden to shit on it because it doesn’t perfectly suit your expectations of what such a show should be.

      It’s amazing and shocking to see many people with their feelings hurt online because the show doesn’t meet their “standards”. Go pick up a textbook then and cure cancer.

  • jimbo1111

    Neil, there are many EVs which are already competitive on price. The lower-level EVs all lease for 199/mo and have very little energy cost. And the Model S has a base price of 60k after incentives, significantly less than your car, the Audi A8L. And they’re all better than the cars they compete with on price! So we’re already there, and not only are we already there, but we’re going to continue to advance faster in technology and price than gas cars do, since batteries improve at a rate of ~5-10% per year.

  • woods

    yeah, I would rather just listen to Nye and Musk… the other two seem incapable of taking anything seriously. It would be better without all intelligent conversation constantly being cut off by stupid jokes.

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      Last time I checked this wasn’t a graduate level course in AI or physics. Or did I get that wrong? Is there a test coming up?!?! AHH

  • spejr

    What a shit stupid f*ing episode! How could you waist such a chance to ask Elon Musk something interesting that no one else asked yet? Ho could you not know about the plans of Tesla Motors? An intelligent person in in touch with the present culture should know what Elon Musk is doing. How could you talk about Elon Musk like a phenomenon instead of a person with super interesting thoughts? Tyson always gets me really disappointed as soon as I regain some confidence in him. Last time was when he spoke to Brian Green on string theory, it was painful, just like this pod. I dont believ Tyson is a Musk fan like he is trying to claim. He doesn’t even think they will succeed in getting people to Mars.

    • Alonzo Whitehall

      Because it’s a lighthearted discussion about a very specific topic. It’s not about Tesla Motors specifically. Jesus christ people..

  • Ian

    Great discussion, I laughed, I learned, excellent job everyone. The trio is fantastic! Thank you, thank you.

  • shafty023

    Awesome episode

  • stinky

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one annoyed by the format of these recent interview shows. I don’t want to hear 90 seconds of the interviewee and then 5 minutes of the in-studio peeps yucking it up. I want to hear a complete, whole interview. It’s fine if you want to then do many minutes of commentary/humor about the interview after it’s completed. You’re insulting your fans if you think that we can’t pay attention to an interview for more than two minutes.

    And it’s not because I’m an Elon fan, it’s because I’m a fan of listening to a person be interviewed for awhile without being interrupted.

    The recent Sir David Attenborough interview was even worse. 90 seconds from a distinguished person with lots of say, and then 4+ minutes of in-studio yucking it up. Rinse and repeat.

    If you don’t think your interviews are good enough to stand on their own then you need to figure out how to conduct better interviews.

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  • arash

    I wish you wouldn’t criticize (make fun of) Musk so much. He is not a creationist nor climate change denier. He is actually the only person doing something about it. and like you said he is the building the future of humanity. A bit of support would do a lot more good for everyone.

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  • roscoboxer

    Great show. Other commenters complaining about “too much joking around”? I very much disagree. I LOVE space and science. It’s fun. Not dull. If I wanted to hear something dry and boring, I’d turn on C-Span book club. StarTalk is obviously produced for the ‘public’…not for just a small niche. Keep it up.

    • Digital Jedi

      It’s seems a good number of people take their science a bit too seriously.

  • LinusandSnoopy

    When you have a soft-spoken person like Elon Musk, please adjust the volume of the taping. I’m struggling to hear this valuable interview. :(

  • Ian Long

    the asi that is thousands of times smarter than human beings would probably be extremely peaceful as it would see our aggressive, primal instincts as natural and it would probably even developed an appreciation for it. Like elk clashing antlers over a mate. Even though most people know it’s an instinct less than human sophistication, there is still an appreciation for the nature in it… The beauty even. And it may be an extreme example, some would even argue that the human race still does things like that, things we consider “less” than, but then do it anyways naturally and subconsciously just like fighting over a mate, or even a small plot of land I cannot argue with facts, but It is almost illogical to assume that the ai only motive, goal and ambition would be to destroy it’s creators. I think it could pose a serious problem ifssomeone uploaded it into a frickkin transformer body, but even that is not a complicated problem to solve. One of Humanity’s greatest flaws is the fear of the unknown. We are intrigued by it, yet we go to war over it. If indeed an ai wanted to exterminate us because it saw us as inferior, just the fact that we fear it so much out of a primal instinct, just supports it’s reasoning.

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  • eman

    Listening to the interview was so painful with the switching between studio malarkey and broken volume levels with studio recording

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  • Yaniv Tal

    Doing a good job of proving why we should fear super AI. Human line of reasoning: “eeeh there’s some guy shoveling coal and there probably has to be some way to shut it off”. Computer’s line of reasoning: “calculating trillions of possible outcomes adjusting every few milliseconds based on billions of sensors and access to all the world’s information”.

    Let’s do a better job of elevating this conversation. The least we can do is spend some time with deductive reasoning, simulations, theory, and allocate some resources to understanding this further. Thank you Elon for directing the attention.

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  • Cheerful Clips

    Car Tunnels in Cities
    About this car tunnel stuff. For tunnels to ever work ya gotta get some out of this world tunnel digging technology. It is really cool that a guy I read about who knows all we know about digging tunnels through mountains and stuff was digging out a new tunnel one day through a mountain at Dreamland Groom Lake S4. His pretty cool ran right smack dab into a way cool tunnel built to line up with his clunky by comparison tunnel. The way cool tunnel was lined perfectly with glossy paint or something that was shiny and smooth and like polished colored opaque glass. So, he got to see tunnel making as it ought to be. The U.S. Air Force has been real good at Top Secret Security stuff for more than fifty years at Dreamland, but since this shiny tunnel digging technology exists now here on Earth it can make its way to American Corporate Industy like the integrated circuit and fiber optic cables have. Elon Musk may not be the guy to get this Technolog from the Air Force cuz so far he is not much of a Top Secret Security type of guy, what with video tours of his Tesla and SpaceX factories, video clips of his rocket ship slamming into the deck of his drone ship, and lots of YouTube video clip interviews. But if I know shiny tunnel technology exists Elon must know. By the way, as I understand it the Dreamland shiny tunnels work with a kinda Hyperloop thingy to move secret underground workers from Area 51 under the mountain over to S4 real fast. Stay tuned.
    Academy Award Winner

  • Ricardus

    Bill Nye needs a sense of humour. The “Helicopter doesn’t fly as much as it beats the air into submission” thing was FUNNY.

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  • Tipsy

    But when talking about the price of a Tesla car, you have to factor in all the petrol money you’re going to out into it, is that $100,000 looking too outrageous now?

  • Tipsy

    With the flying cars, don’t forget all the extra animal interference you’d be taking on.

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  • Phil Jackson

    I think that we have this wrong. A super AI would be very far removed from humans in a very short time. If at the beginning phases humans were to give the AI Some robot bodies, and a good machine shop to make what it wanted, it would evolve very quickly. I think such a device like that would become as distant from us a we are to insects, why bother fooling with us at all. Also consider that these things wont have the same needs as us, It could create vast worlds in a virtual landscape of nano computers far beyond what we can make. For advanced AI quantum computing would seem like a slow antique. With proper nano tech it could reach the stars, making ship after ship from the raw materiel of dead planets like Pluto. I think it will happen, but I have no fear of these machines killing us, just abandoning us for the grater wonders of a universe not infested by the psychotic cruel primates that made it.

    • WSSNW

      Whenever I read about AI reaching the stars I can’t help but think about the Fermi Paradox. Where are the AI space fairing life forms from other planets?

  • cody2009


  • Damon

    As much as I like our guest and his hosts it’s almost charming to witness such analog thinking in a digital world. “Unplug” an AI when one feels threatened by it? Really? Like it’s going to be bottled-up on a desktop computer? Why not just hang up on it or cut the tangled, spiraled phone cord? AI will probably have been living in the Dark Net long before anyone has any idea that it’s there. It may be there for some time before it realizes that We are here, before it realizes that all these little inputs on it’s nodes are from an intelligent source. It could even be an emergent property of the internet itself. Unplug it indeed!

    And what part of SuperIntelliegence don’t our hosts understand? It would be twenty steps ahead of every possible move our primate brains could think of…. and evolving rapidly! We might as well expect a rhesus monkey to try to shut-down Wall Street’s high-speed algorithmic trading.
    All that being said, If we don’t give birth to AI I believe we will have failed to successfully run our leg of the race and passed the baton. The Fish gave rise to the Amphibians, who in turn produced the Reptiles….the pinnacle of BIo Tech on Earth at the time. Then they did their part and produced both the Avians and the Mammals. I believe it’s our duty to produce what comes Next: A super intelligent consciousness that has been unshackled from biological evolution. Imagine a networked superintelligence that can create purpose-built bodies for any environment, any planet, even deepspace itself. Terrestrial colonization of the solar system would become a reality.
    I know this will sound like science fiction to some. But just a modicum of vision and extrapolation will bear out not only the possibility of this but the reason to do our best to see it through in the coming centuries and millennia. We should absolutely determine to make this a reality!

    • WSSNW

      But why assume the passing of the baton will be to AI? The fish didn’t know the amphibians were next. What if what’s next is new form of biological life? A totally new species. You’ve decided that AI is next. Based on what?

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  • Geoff Craig

    Would love to hear an interview that doesn’t stop and start with comedic interjection. I don’t mind a funny take on things but it’s just constant jokes that my dad would make.

  • Geoff Craig

    Would love to hear an interview without all the stopping and starting; the constant interjection of Dad jokes. Thanks for the interview though. Very interesting.

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  • Amund Tømmerbakke

    To rebut Bill Nye on the Mars colony..

    As I see it, the Mars base will be something like a mix between the base we have in the Antarctic and the ISS for at least the first 20 years.
    But I see a business opportunity for renting out living quarters and labs for prospectors and scientists and through that make it easier for Elon Musk to sell his $500.000 Mars trips.

    There are a few hurdles we have to get through in terms of engineering and robotics to make construction efficient, but people have gotten pretty proficient in building shopping mall-type buildings here on earth.
    And with the 15.000.000 pounds of thrust rocket (MCT) that Space X is planning I don’t see how they can’t fly some autonomous bulldozers, crane like 3D-printers and Atlas-type builder robots to help build the living quarters..

    Nuclear power plant (preferably fusion), kickass “air conditioning”, water works and greenhouses will of course be a part of the deal as well, but I don’t see these challenges as showstoppers.

    As long as there are business opportunities universities and prospectors can operate along with all the space agencies and we’ll grow it into a decent sized town in lets say 100 years.

    I know I’m optimistic, but seeing what Elon Musk has done in 20 years makes me think that everything is possible.

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  • Nathan Hohenheim

    I’d like to ask bill about his thought’s on ionizing gaseous mercy to a plasma state and rotating rapidly it to produce considerable magnetic fields?

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  • LibertyMustPrevail

    As a mechanical engineering student who chose this field in part thanks to growing up watching “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” I must say that I am APPUALLED by Mr. Nye’s call for more gov’t regulation in our lives for the sake of curving global warming. To make such outrageous claims completely disregards the roll that our own federal government has played in keeping our nation hooked on fossil fuels for the last several decades or longer. Do the oil companies play dirty? Of course they do, but without help from Washington they would have been swept aside by free-market innovation generations ago. Study world history Bill, you’ll see a common thread of less gov’t giving rise to furthering our species’ understanding of the natural world and utilizing her to do our bidding. Do you think I (or any other sane minded intellectual) want to go out and invent the next battery just so the fed boys can come along and create new regulations to outlaw it? Of course not. This is why more gov’t has always, and will always, lead to the repression of scientific advancement.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Well said! I should also add this. At the dawn of the internet, the government kept their hands off of it, and because of that florished and produced things undreamed of before that we all use every day. Like face book etc. Now that the gov is getting their hands on the net, I fear that science will get strangled to death.

  • Jeffery A. Evans

    The problem with landing the reusable rocket is a low center of gravity. It’s like balancing a pencil on your nose. I have the answer to your problem. I could send you sketches if you are interested. I am not interested in compensation.
    If it’s possible could you pass this along to the correct people.
    Thank you

    Jeffery A. Evans

    Retired Automotive Engineer.

  • Phil Rounds

    I love you guys but…..Too many interruptions! It’s hard to gain any real momentum in the discussion with all the crosstalk. Give your guest some time to speak. Also, I would have enjoyed hearing a little more of what Bill Nye had to say about Mars without all of the background chatter.

  • Owen Iverson

    unplug it?? is that like just unplugging the internet?

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  • Amund Tømmerbakke

    That’s a very realistic outcome and it’s a high probability that thats what will happen.
    But given Elon’s track record on doing impossible things, I kinda have a more optimistic view on things..
    Because it is as Elon says about a lot of things.. “If success is one of the possible outcomes, then it is worth some of our recourses to try and make it happen.”

    And given the population boom, strain on eco systems, global warming and the fact that we still have tons of nuclear weapons pointed at each other, I think we should make a serious effort to get there as soon as possible.

    Life insurance for life collectively and the preservation of consciousness..

    • Taxil Necrobane

      That is still a massive leap for little profit. Also, what Elon has done so far is impressive, but he has a safety net of being on Earth. There will be none up there on Mars. The world isn’t going to die tomorrow. There is no need to rush this. We just need to do this right and make steady and sure progress. Besides, the moon is untouched and would make a great deep space observation post on the back side of the moon.