I'm starting to believe the only difference between those who start their own companies and those who don't is that the latter convinces themselves that it is impossible, never builds anything, and from their own lack of having ever produced anything, concludes that their original supposition was indeed correct.
You can break down the world into the 99% that "know" that it's impossible. They'll never invent that world-changing thing.
That leaves 1% that "don't know" that it's impossible. Of that 1%, 99% will try and fail.
The remaining 1% of the 1% succeed, like George Dantzig (who came late to a Stats class at UC Berkeley, thought some problems on the board were homework, and a few days later handed the professor solutions to some famous open problems in statistics), and Jack Kilby (who, seeing computer performance limited by the number of wires soldered by hand, demonstrated -- against the protests of his "we-know-better" co-workers -- that you could get rid of the wires, resulting in the integrated circuit).
It's important to remember the 99% of the 1%. There are probably people on HN who have tried and failed. But rather than simply saying that it is impossible, we should encourage people to share share how and why the problem is difficult, so that hopefully the next person to try won't waste their time retracing the failures of the previous generation.
Those people get flack -- they really do. Despite the inundation of aphorisms all over Facebook and LinkedIn belaboring the concept of radical thinking, when it happens in this, the real world, it's still met with rolled eyes and often anger.
We know we can create lifts that do underground and then connect entry points and exit points by tunnel networks. We already have very miniature things like this.
What the video shows is a vast network of underground tunnels with a tram system for personal vehicles and some public transit connecting different points in the city or connecting other cities. I can kinda see why you might do this and it sounds like a fun ride.
But even a layman can see this is going to be incredibly expensive and you have to wonder why would build this ahead of other types of mass transit. I'd like to see a business plan. Until then, I'm a sceptic.
The problems of zoning alone make this a massive undertaking. Much of the counter-criticism in this thread is misdirected. Very few people are doubting Musk's technical ability to pull this off, they are suggesting it worn't work for practical reasons. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand those, just have to have lived in a city, or simply lived.
The only way to justify a good idea is to have people argue that it is a bad idea. It's up to the person behind the good idea to prove the arguers are wrong.
The 1% of the 1% succeed because they are driven to find success, because they are relentlessly applying logic to the problems they face, because of determination - because they don't give up. I think the term thrown around these days is grit.
So yes, share what happened before, but more than likely those with 'grit' are going to figure out what has been tried before on their own and sometimes they'll reapply what failed in the past and make it work.
The Boring Company however, yeah, he messed this one up.
HN is full of Elon fanboys. I'm one myself. The die hard, willing to say "the world is flat" fanboys are out here defending him. Look, I like Elon. But the sane fanboys are trying to save Elon a lot of headache by not pursuing this venture.
Why would you use this instead of a system where you take a neighborhood bus to the local transit station & shopping center where you can pick up a light rail to the closest subway station, where you take the express train downtown to the high-speed rail station, where you take that to visit the next state for the day? No cars, and you can sit and read a book or take a nap or enjoy the view if you wanted to.
The only scalable transit solution is mass public transit. The world can't afford to pave a private luxury road for everyone to go wherever they want to go. They need to learn to sit next to random strangers on the subway or the bus. If people can't sit next to random strangers on the subway or on the bus, they should be seen as dysfunctional and sociopathic.
This really is one of the worst things I've seen. It may possibly be worse than his Hyperloop, another truly awful idea.
Elon Musk strikes me as one of those guys that defunds mass transit, and then wonders why mass transit is so bad. "It's always breaking down and never on time hurr durr.. So, therefore, buy one of my shiny new cars!"
He really hates mass transit for some reason. Maybe he just can't stand the general public? Is that why he's so into Mars, because he hates everyone here?
We need less pampered and coddled people like Musk, and more people with grit that has the ability to interact with the general public.
I'll take that one.
Because I love my car - not the car itself, although I really do think it's beautiful - but the freedom that it gives me. I can get in it right now, without any planning or waiting and drive almost anywhere using exactly the route I choose. While sitting behind the wheel, I'm forced to not be able to do anything else than driving. That is a very nice time to think and just be. Some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen was in places where the nearest public transport option was a hour's drive away.
I can leave stuff in the trunk if I buy it one day and then need it the next day. I also do grocery shopping weekly - carrying 5 bags of food by hand gets old really fast.
The car is also where my younger kid's car seat is. I'm pretty sure nobody else would put their kid in there, the shape of the chocolate and cookie crumb mountain is exactly the shape he fits in you know.
So, yes, you can do what you described. In fact, you can do it already today, but having a car? There's a reason people buy and repair and like them.
When you consider the costs, cars just don't have the appeal they used to, and you can spend money elsewhere that'll make you just as happy if not happier, especially as more services orient themselves to remove cars from the picture, such as Amazon & grocery delivery services.
Besides, do you want a system that forces the rest of the public to buy cars? The congestion alone should be enough to discourage people from cars.
I often don't buy the cheapest food, but the food that I like.
I don't want to force cars on anyone - it should be an individual choice of course. What I'm saying is that there are a lot of reasons people want to own cars.
It's the choice between working with the existing system to make it better versus demanding that everyone adapts to a new system that you claim is better.
Maybe it is, but getting the whole world to change at once to a completely different and in many ways harder system is very un likely to happen.
Ah, and this is where we come to the root of the discussion. Because ultimately the question isn't "Why would ANYONE want to drive cars" (though I confess it was originally presented to you as such), but rather "Why should society and governments INCENTIVIZE continued use of cars."
The Boring Company's proposal here directly benefits people like you (and by the way me - I also love my car), those who can afford that privilege.
But our tax dollars and policies should be going towards systems that benefit the most people, and that will only happen in North America if we fall out of love with the "freedom" promised by our cars and realize that waiting 2-5 minutes at two different transfers, with a total trip length of 15-25% longer (optimistic, but that is realistic in cities with good public transport) is a worthwhile tradeoff for the greater good.
Indeed, which is why we need as a society needs to pay for more rail systems, a tried-and-true mass transit system that's been around a lot longer than the more inefficient cars.
Right now roads are such a wasteful government mess that's completely unprofitable. The personal automotive transport system is a failed experiment that society needs to move on from.
And we need to stop subsidizing the wasteful and destructive suburban lifestyle.
How much more of my money do you want me to pay for your roads so you can have the luxury of riding in comfort?
Is there anything else that you would like me to pay for you?
That's how a proper public transport network works too. For example in London, when I want to go somewhere, I just whip out an app that plans for me the best combination of busses/subway/train/walking to accomplish that and I'm immediately on the go. The wait times are minimal (under 2-5 minutes) most of the time.
I live in the Netherlands which is a very densely populated country, and anywhere outside the city center or early/late on the day, the busses go every 30 minutes or hourly. At night there are barely any options, esp. between 2 and 6 AM.
This is the idea I was responding to. I think cars are mostly practical in suburbs and rural areas (I live in a city and basically only bike and walk), mass transit isn't the best solution for all personal transit.
People go shopping, they don't want to carry on $200 worth of groceries onto public transportation.
Finally people have kids. Kids require a plethora of specialized items including car seats. I dont want to put my kid in a car seat a prior kid just urinated in. Kid's are also messy and require snacks and water bottles.
People who can afford it are going to take cars. I hope The Boring Company is a rousing success.
I am not arguing against the need for mass transport but I see no reason we cant have both.
Your point about rural scenarios is pointless because this video and idea are clearly aimed at the urban transport problem which needs to be solved due to the fact that, around the world, people are increasingly moving to cities rather than the to rural areas.
When it comes to shopping, I don't know about you but I often find myself looking at other peoples trolleys and asking myself "Why would anyone buy 10 2L bottles of coke? Do you really need all those doritos? My word random stranger, do you subsist entirely on junk food?". There are times that one does come away with a large load of shopping but my wife and I have found that when you start planning your meals for the week and optimising what you buy to fit that plan you tend to come away with a lot less shopping than if you just go in an randomly buy stuff. Would would have guessed?
Your point about children is good but ignores the fact that there are huge numbers of people throughout the world with children who somehow manage to make life work despite not owning a 7-seater SUV...
I think it's better to say that people who can afford it might want to use a car now and then but they'd probably also love to have access to viable public transport for all those scenarios where getting into a car is more trouble than its worth.
Light rail and subways are key to effective public transportation and affordable connected cities. Buses are best for last-minute/first-mile transport.
Commoditization of tunnel boring technology around a couple standard sizes for any soil condition would radically reduce subway construction costs around the nation. That same technology could be leveraged for commercial transportation as well.
I strongly suspect "tunnels for cars" is just marketing. Elon is known for doing his research, and the research shows that traffic is reduced by getting people off the road... Traffic is the equilibrium of convenience and discomfort, adding roads just puts more people on the road.
Making mass transportation more convenient and cheap is vital to reducing traffic... the other piece is zoning for high density to support mass transportation.
The video shows an electric rail system, that isn't incompatible with moving larger numbers of people. Look at the high occupancy car at :47.
>If people can't sit next to random strangers on the subway or on the bus, they should be seen as dysfunctional and sociopathic.
Mental illness is probably not going to disappear any time soon. Viewing them hatefully isn't going to get them to like riding the bus. It's just going to make you a hateful person.
Because I don't want to walk four miles in weather that could be 90 degrees or 9 degrees to get my "neighborhood" bus, and then waste hours of the day because I have to change to other buses (sometimes going in the wrong direction) to get somewhat close to my destination. I especially don't want to do that carrying heavy or fragile things, or in the rain or snow.
As long as the US continues to be a sprawl, personal transportation will be important.
> We need less pampered and coddled people like Musk, and more people with grit that has the ability to interact with the general public
Meat-space engineering is hard. I'm an early '90s kid who grew up hearing about how we're going to put people on Mars by 2020. I got a degree in aerospace because of that! Then I realized that physics hates you most of the field is about eking out 1% more fuel economy every decade so United can turn a slight profit. Even Space X is more interesting from a business model point of view than an engineering point of view. It's like someone figured out how to make a $10 iPhone 3g in 2017. Neat, I guess.
 Almost everything pop science said would happen was a lie. Moon bases, NYC-London flights, flying cars, etc. Outside of computers and pharma, technology has progressed at a glacial pace over the last 40 years. If you transported someone from 1890 to 1950, planes, international calls, etc. would blow their minds. If you transported someone from 1950 to 2010, I think that they'd frankly be disappointed.
I think that's why people think Global warming is false. There are other people saying that all life is going to disappear, which is funny and clearly alarmism.
Not that it's not a problem - it obviously is - but it's not like the earth is going to be barbecue'd in our lifetime.
The video is clearly made to just hype it up. It serves no purpose other than Science fiction.
And I think there are no causation and correlation between thinking reasons that make it impossible and starting a company.
Not really. It's easy to think of reasons why something won't work. It requires an insanely small amount of effort compared to finding a way to make something work. "Reasons why not" are a dime a dozen.
> And I think there are no causation and correlation between thinking reasons that make it impossible and starting a company.
I certainly think there is. I haven't collected any evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if those who find success are always looking for reasons why something will work, and those who run into failure are always looking for reasons why something won't work.
Now, to be fair, thinking of reasons "why not" does have its specialized use cases. Safety, for instance. But even then, that requires thinking outside of the box for unusual failure situations.
"Reasons why not" are indeed a dime a dozen, but that doesn't mean they are useless. It may be a bit annoying to have to filter through the feedback that identifies the wrong risks, but we shouldn't use that as an excuse to ignore critical feedback. Some of the best feedback I've ever received that got my mind churning was from people who truly understood the problems and were able to identify "reasons why not" that I hadn't thought of.
On the contrary, it seems more likely that Musk would've not only thought about risks already for more than a couple hours, but that he would've consulted a lot of domain experts about such things before even deciding to take on such a project. Even the most optimistic business person isn't naive enough to take on something they see as a sure bet to fail. Not to suggest that there haven't been entrepreneurs attempting silly businesses before, but rather that one should pause and think about the possibilities of how something might work, before jumping to the conclusion that they already understand everything there is to know about a project, and that it definitely won't work.
As another comment mentioned elsewhere in this thread, a good entrepreneur's main skill is being able to figure out some unique/unorthodox way to make something work, and capitalizing on that. Now, that doesn't mean that everyone opposing these ideas are wrong or don't know what they're talking about, it just goes to show that a lot of people's default state is one of risk-aversion.
Three months ago, after the Bloomberg feature was released, he literally said that they had no idea what they were doing.
Also, there's a ton of companies with a ton of knowledge who have done things which failed spectacularly or have refused to do things that would work. Tesla's whole existence is sentiment to that.
Is Musk immune to making such mistakes? The consensus on his Hyperloop idea still seems to be that is infeasible.
I'd enhance that a little and say that it's easy to think of facile reasons it won't work. But let's say you think of a reason why a thing won't work after two minutes. If someone else has been working at the problem for two hours, or two days, or two months, or two years, what's more probable?
- They never made the initial connection to the flaw, and have failed subsequently to notice it or account for it.
- They thought of a solution to the flaw which you haven't.
Hrm. Maybe I just don't have that high of an opinion of my own faculties, but I tend to assume it's the latter. Especially if the person in question is a very intelligent person with a strong track record of outperforming expectations.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't probe, or seek clarification, or ruminate on the flaw. But if you tell someone who's been working on a tunnel boring problem for a whole quarter that "boring through rock is the most expensive way to connect 2 places (sic)" as at least one person in this thread has observed, I'd argue that that's not a useful reaction. My reaction is, "I wonder what he knows that I don't."
If we didn't have critics we'd still have kings with divine right. This seems like an exaggeration, but it's really just to say that we need people to look at things critically.
I haven't collected any evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if those who find success are always looking for reasons why something will work, and those who run into failure are always looking for reasons why something won't work.
This isn't that far from prosperity gospel preaching. Believing doesn't make things happen, otherwise NeXT would be dominating the industry and not Apple because boy did Jobs believe and give it his all.
Sometimes smart people are wrong, and it doesn't hurt those people anyway if dummies are discussing their work.
That's an extreme straw man that trades a lot on what a "critic" is.
Martin Luther didn't criticize the papacy because he doubted the papacy's capacity to realize its ambitions. He criticized the way the papacy was then operating.
People holding forth on how something can't be done are best described not as critics but doubters (or haters). "I can't imagine a way to do X, therefore X can't be done." How many impossible things does Musk have to do before people take serious Musk's ability to realize his visions?
Hating is so easy. But today's capacity to develop technology is utterly unprecedented.
Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way.
We're talking about strawmen: nobody is saying that. Nobody is saying it can't be done. They are saying...let's wait until it is done, because right now it's just a video. Is that hating or an entirely reasonable stance to take?
The technology Jobs believed in and developed at NeXT really did dominate the industry. It's in the phone I'm typing this on right now.
I think Linux on the desktop would have been a better example though. Millions of hours of dev time have been spent on it and it's no closer to providing any competition to Apple or Microsoft now than it did in the 90s. I think there was a complacency in the Linux desktop world that success was inevitable given enough effort. I don't think Musk has ever been complacent about the success of his businesses. I don't think Jobs was either.
It would be interesting to hear what experts think, though
The latter are also aware of survivorship bias
I think that taking advice from those who failed is as important as from those who might suffer from a "survivorship bias". I am sure most of these failed startups initially followed Musk's (et al.) "impossible is nothing" mantra before venturing out into the market.
While that may be true, it would be interesting to compare the frequencies with which successful founders bring up the topic of survivorship bias vs the rate at which those who never found anything bring it up.
Thinking about tomorrow can be counter-intuitive as to the way things work today, and it is pretty easy to construct negative arguments about tomorrow that are based on what we know right now.
Most of Musk's companies are about kicking the can down the road. I admire that he is mostly burning his own money on this but then skepticism of such ideas is natural. The man should probably stick to one thing and take it completion than starting 10.
His projects are cool.
The incessant "Elon is so smart and will save the world!" from this place is tiring. Everytime he tweets it makes the front page. Some people see there's more to these businesses than Elon being generous to us,and run a bit more skeptical. Perhaps it's you that needs to take a step back and assess what the other side is saying?
Not even close to true.
It's about wasting time and money and talent instead of directing it towards "winning" ideas.
That said, to assume feedback against one project is a testament to lack of entrepreneurial spirit, rings about as true as claiming people who don't like Justin Bieber are deaf.
And not because of socio-economic factors, obviously, no, it has to be that.
The fucking pretentiousness HN can have never ceases to amaze me.
The lack of good mass transit is a political problem: why European mass transit is in general so good and why American mass transit is problematic? It's not a problem of technology. It's Politics, stupid. :)
Post-war London tried something similar, a futuristic vision of pedestrian walkways ("pedways") to separate people from the traffic. This failed, for various practical reasons, and you can see the remnants of the experiment throughout parts of London to this day.
This scheme would come at an unimaginable cost, surely changing planning laws to create less car-centric cities is a more realistic approach to the problem?
Freaking solar roadways got 2 Million and more. A City payed them 500k to install that stuff. It is not hard to calculate the stupidity of this. Especially of a couple who is doing this in a garage. There is a reason why big companies are not doing it. It has to make sense and money.
This video above looks nice but if you think just a step back, it is probably 1000x cheaper and a much better solution to make the existing streets automaticly drivable instead. How much does it cost to build this? How much does it cost to build automatic driving into every car who wanna use a highway which is only accessible to automatic driving?
It doesn't take to long is still much cheaper.
In munich you have a autobahn/cityring in the city. It takes perhaps 20 Minutes in city traffic to get onto the autobahn / highway.
There is a reason why we have only underground trains and why it takes years to build a new tunnel for them.
Also having the city traffic more autonomous would increase the traffic flow.
With Musk's established track record I think it's pretty arrogant for anyone to call his ideas foolish. He has achieved things that people thought were impossible or bound to fail. You can say: “I can see this potential problem”, or “I wonder how he's going to deal with this physical limitation” or similar sorts of statements. That's feedback and analysis given with respect. Simple dismissive negativity against ideas put forward by a person who would already rank in the top 10 in the world today for technological and engineering achievement is arrogance and narrow-mindedness.
I dislike this sort of miscasting of what I just said. I'm a very strong proponent of free speech and the right of anyone to say anything. But with my support for free speech comes a commitment to try to be considered and careful in what I personally say and I'm encouraging others to do the same in this particular context. You can take it or leave it and of course you can go on calling him foolish if you like. Musk doesn't probably care a whole lot and in the end, I would say that the negativity simply reflects back on you.
Reminds me of the "Are we the Baddies?" sketch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn1VxaMEjRU (I'm not calling anyone nazis)
He didn't launch the Hyperloop, though. He explicitly said he wasn't personally going to pursue it, he was just putting the idea out there. You can't put the fact that it hasn't yet been implemented (even though there are people working on it) on him. I've seen no evidence that the concept is infeasible, or poorly thought out.
Maybe it will pivot into something not-as-originally-hyped by the same name.
Did you miss the bit where he never at all claimed it was 'impossible', only that it was bullshit that it would be doable within two orders of magnitude of the claimed price, with the claimed speed advantages, or with any acceptable amount of safety?
What a terrible misrepresentation of the video.
The fact that people think they can spend two seconds evaluating and dismissing an engineering idea from someone who literally sends things into space is hilarious.
> If you live by hype at some point you gotta start delivering.
If putting cars on the road and rockets on the launchpad doesn't count as "delivering", I don't know what does.
He and his companies have delivered the Falcon, Model S, Modex X, and a concept Model 3 set to be delivered soon, along with a Falcon Heavy.
If any person were able to deliver even one of those products, they'd be deserving of attention. And that's not even everything he's delivered.
If delivering three groundbreaking products (as in you can go out and use them right now) is hype, then I think maybe you need to revise your definition of "hype".
The Tesla stuff is over-hyped by people who think that it's currently the global leader in everything they do, be it manufacturing or self-driving tech. In reality, the EV space is competitive as all get out and Tesla is a pretty small player.
The boring stuff? I have no idea.
He's delivering to the freakin' International Space Station. What have you delivered lately?
In your book, Musk hasn't delivered enough yet? But why am I arguing with a Ph.D student. I wish you that your life is as fullfilled as Musk's.
I'm confused as to who exactly you're referencing here seeing as Musk has no stake in any of the hyperloop companies currently operating.
Fundamentally, this is about short-circuiting the regular road network and establishing a managed packet network that can bypass congestion. Interestingly, that's also the value proposition of public transit, though it also runs into issues of cost, and too low of a population density make it unfeasible.
I still think we haven't fully leveraged the potential of busses. In most cities, they are slow because they combine the disadvantages of road traffic with the disadvantage of time tables. But what if busses operated on their own dedicated network? Bogota deployed a public transit system made with busses but with a UX of a train. This is a genius idea that could work in many US cities, which have a lot more space to spare.
But back to the original idea, I think we might see in the future a "managed" road network, reserved to self-driving cars which are driven by some central management system, optimising routing for the whole network so as to prevent congestion. This won't require tunnels, just gates, dedicated roads and lots of software.
Also, buses don't have the same capacity as rail does—it's difficult to string together 10 buses and still accelerate quickly, navigate turns, and deal with grade crossings with street vehicles (although guided buses maybe can get partway there? ). You can feel the burn in the Bay Area if you try riding the lines on Geary or Mission during hot hours.
And the speeds at which buses run within dense metros often cannot compete with modern subway trains—BART, which is an old system already, hits 70 mph and can go faster, which would be kinda scary to do on city streets in a bus.
Not to mention that buses can serve many routes that don't have enough capacity to merit a train, bus routes can be reconfigured without it taking years, and a bus system doesn't cost billions upon billions of dollars to build. Heck, even a single line of a metro system can cost a billion dollars to build.
My favorite is Vancouver skytrain. While building highways they built a train track on pillars. It's fast and usually got me in and out of the city quicker than a car.
I imagine train tracks on pillars cost effective than underground tunnels. For a dense city it makes sense. Not for outskirts.
I get the impression Musk looked at that expense, brought in some subject matter experts, probed them on why that was the case, and decided there must be a better way. From what I've read of tunnel boring, I can see that happening. Not uncommon for a tunnel boring machine to be custom-built and then abandoned in place at the end of the project. A more general-purpose or modular machine might be what he's thinking about. Unexpected geologic formations come up frequently, a function of the expense of manually-intensive sampling processes today. A robotic sampling crawler that bores hundreds of samples, and automatically classifies as it goes instead of sending to an off-site lab, building a 3D map as it moves, might be what he's looking into.
There might be red tape issues even if these technical challenges are overcome, though. Even if you propose going so deep you avoid all other underground infrastructure altogether, government bureaucracies' permitting and related processes will put a floor on the cost avoidance Musk seeks.
While this is true, getting very good at boring underground could be helpful for building underground habitats on mars.
But if you're building a dedicated network in a major city, why on earth would you limit it to buses? Even with a dedicated network, I don't believe buses can be as fast, comfortable or quiet as rail.
I spent a lot of time in Melbourne, Australia and the trams there are fantastic. You can barely hear them when they're operating so they do a lot to decrease noise, they have a ton of standing room and are quite long, so they can carry a lot of people and I don't believe a bus can come close to the comfort of rail.
Even buses are useless during/after disasters in my experience (avoiding legal liability, lack flexibility to mitigate problems, inability to publish changes etc).
Yes, but so do roads. Tunnels especially!
Highway 7 started as a car-only multi-lane highway. They took a multi-phase approach to building out a light-rail system. The first phase was adding bus rapid transit, increasing fares, and increasing density of new construction. The second phase was adding dedicated bus lanes and light-rail-ready stations. The final phase will be to add tracks and trains on top of the road.
For now. I think that's the whole point of this company. Reduce cost and risk of drilling just like SpaceX's goal is to reduce cost and risk of space flight.
I also get a feeling he's read "foundation" from Isaac Asimov which talks about this.
My impression is the boring feasibility and costs will not be the limiter of a very cool tech like this happening, but a more boring practical cost, probably the "zoning" cost required to get compliance and permission for all that state and federal land needed to build the underground link network.
I'm not convinced that the video you linked on sheepletv above the "underground alien bases" one is the most reliable info.
Finally, from my point of view, getting your ridicule feedback hurts because my aim is to contribute to substantive discussion here, and I don't want to feel discouraged from posting something substantive because it might also have info that could be cherrypicked for ridicule, then letting me feel like I wasted my effort contributing because the info was later unfairly presented. I don't want to feel like I have to do extra work "defending" the original effort to contribute, against such ridicule. So, please, before you rush to ridicule something, really take a look to see if there is substantive content there, and refrain from misrepresenting it, thanks.
* Several videos about Pizzagate (and I don't mean critical examinations, either)
* A number of anti-Semitic images ("Jews control the banks", etc)
* A video literally titled "Hitler Survived WWII & Occult Nazi Scientists Developed VRIL Haunebu Foo-Craft (UFO’s) at Secret Antarctic Base-211"
* Another video literally titled "Illuminati Hip Hop Blood Sacrifices Exposed"
* A video about how Christmas is a "Satanic Illuminati Holiday"
* And this video
It's not a great stretch to say that their description of a "nuclear tunnel boring machine" is every bit as absurd and untrue as the other videos they distribute.
I linked to that page and specified NTBM. You could have substantially commented on the Los Alamos patents and their discussion on that page. But you chose to go off that page and to emphasize easy-to-ridicule parts. Please don't do that, thank you.
It might be a logical error, but it's not a mistake. If someone tells you lie after lie after lie, and then says something new, whose truth you can't immediately evaluate, the sensible thing to do is to think: this is also probably a lie.
It just didn't work as a strategy if you actually wanted the find the truth. That's one thing this is about here.
The other thing I think you missed was the emotional context of these comments. I'm clearly asking for support and help to make HN welcoming, by not misrepresenting or cherry picking easy-to-ridicule info. It hurts when they do that and I don't like it. Please don't do it, don't ignore the people behind the comments, and don't quote this
> You just did the thing I suggested was insubstantial and said hurts and I didn't like. Please stop.
pretending that you've contradicted this, and made it somehow okay. You haven't and it's not.
At the moment boring machines do not work like that, a conveyor belt of small pieces comes out. What if A380 fuselage sized pieces of rock came out instead and were conveyed off to the coast for coastal defence purposes, or even land reclamation? Carrying objects weighing thousands of tonnes to the sea is not simple but the amount of material excavated the hard way - ground to pieces first - would be significantly lower.
Maybe they have a 'coring machine' rather than a 'boring machine'?
If he's looking for mega-good, Musk would do significantly better to drop a full subway network.
edit: tunnelling is a broadly solved problem. It's difficult, expensive, slow, etc. But there's no engineering reason why a hole in the ground can't happen. Musk might be able to drive some significant improvements there. No idea. But tunneling itself is not a reason to knock an idea beyond the cost and geoengineering involved.
The real question is: is this new solution more efficient than the current alternative of driving on the highway?
But to answer your question: maybe, but it doesn't matter. American cities are already bankrupting themselves in road maintenance. Adding a series of super car tunnels for an efficiency benefit? Out of the question.
Problem: if you drive to the subway, then take the subway, then you have two problems: where do you park your car, and how do you get to your destination once you get off the subway if it's not walking distance?
Currently - people just drive. And the surface streets get progressively more crowded. We could drill more regular roadways - but it's notable that one reason we don't is controlling emissions and safety is difficult with human drivers.
So, taking that back to the video: replace the subway with general purpose transport stations that provide a mix of subway-like transport of passengers, or entire vehicles, powered electrically.
No vehicle emissions (huge problem with tunnels) and no endpoint transport issues - the subway becomes an extension of the road network, and if it's cheap enough to do, hopefully a very scalable one.
Also cost. Drilling car tunnels is more expensive per passenger served than a mass transit system
> if it's cheap enough to do, hopefully a very scalable one
That's a big unproven if, and a hope that's almost out of a science fiction novel. If Musk has ideas about how to solve those problems, let's hear them.
We already understand that tunnels with electric cars would be great. Everything we do has a cost and if we're going to work together on something as a society, let's do something that benefits more of us than luxury car owners
You are right, I imagine that we should just have teleporting gates!
> if you drive to the subway
How about not driving to the subway? how about having local buses or that can take you there?
> where do you park your car
Car parks next to the station?
> how do you get to your destination once you get off the subway if it's not walking distance?
Buses or trams.
> Currently - people just drive.
Not everywhere, look at London for example.
> We could drill more regular roadways
No we can't, tunnels are expensive and bring a whole new set of problems like how do you handle an accident, how do you get to the surface etc.
> subway-like transport of passengers, or entire vehicles
That is horribly inefficient in terms of space and weight, average car weight is ~2 tons.
> powered electrically
Having it electrically powered does not mean that it's clean energy.
American cities are already spending more than they can afford on road maintenance. Are these underground trains going to be cheaper than above ground roads? Public money for this doesn't seem all that likely.
Here in Tokyo, the Yamanote above ground train serves a million riders daily. Costs a couple dollars to go 10km. The boring concept looks much more expensive than that, as it is underground, but those costs are spread out over many fewer people. Private money seems hard, too.
Solution for problem 1: Park and Ride. Giant multi story parking lots. Cheaper to build even underground than the tunnel
Solution for problem 2: Local transit like Tram, bus, or bikeshare.
Obviously having a network of underground express tunnels for cars would be amazing. It's just economic nonsense when municipal governments are racking up huge debts in normal, above ground road maintenance. If it's not publically subsidized, drivers will be exposed to the true cost, which will be enormous. That high cost cannot be supported will prevent mass adoption.
Well, suburbanization was a totally dumbass move. Maybe instead of building tunnels, we could be rebuilding cities. We could be designing them to be attractive enough that people would want to live there.
which of course is seems crazy to most people. But the consequences are all around us.
Because - the exurbs and beyond simply don't have the density numbers to make this kind of investment pencil out without something like a 1000x class drop in costs, which would be wildly optimistic for physical equipment cost savings. Some suburbs might be able to handle it; Bellevue in the Puget Sound comes to mind immediately, but it's only a suburb in the context of Seattle; it'd be a major city in its own right in most of the US.
Further, you're not even getting to the fun part of driving a car - the wind, the sights, the open road. You've got a dang tunnel there. I'd get mildly claustrophobic and probably nauseous: subways already do that to me a little bit.
It's probably much more effective public policy at the federal level to focus on densifying American cities and reversing sprawl: this generates a nice sequence of network effects related to funding and infrastructural improvements. Among those would, eventually, be the demand for nice buses and nice trains with a regular security presence.
I sure do love the wind, the sights, the open road of stop and go traffic every day.
Low-speed maglev: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8SqDVUdMtY
Caltrain has two primary constraints, neither population-linked: diesel trains accelerate badly, and freight track scheduling.
Diesel trains are theoretically being swapped for electric, which will permit the trains to stop and start more efficiently. They predict one additional train during peak rush hour per day for this improvement, iirc.
Freight traffic consumes a fixed amount of rail time, focused primarily on the "one hour between" segments of the schedule. Increasing frequency can only occur within existing scheduled route times, and cannot disrupt that freight traffic.
In effect, this is a subway system. It's an underground rail system. The major difference is that you have a mixture of public and private passenger vehicles and smaller vehicles.
..not to mention all the energy required to move each of those vehicles compared to a train that can move hundreds of more people in a similar space.
Americans need to get over all their train/bus hate. Other countries love mass transit. Many Americans try to shoot down any attempt to even put in a small system (small systems can grown) and kill off attempts to grow existing systems (see the Seattle Green Line).
Self driving cars can work great in Europe, where there is tons of transport and you just need to solve the last leg (or where self-driving trucks are rented just to move large items). In America we have massive gridlock due to a lack of rails and that needs to be fixed before self driving tech will fix anything.
Because real subways have miserable sardine-can standing room conditions during commute times. Public transit is dead in the water in the US because its advocates use terms like "incredibly wasteful" to describe making systems anywhere near as comfortable as private cars.
For most people, the most comfortable chair they own is their driver seat. For many, the commute is the only time they get to be alone, meditative, and in complete control of their environment (cube farm or open office at work, children at home, etc).
When the CIA forces people to spend hours with their arms fully extended over their heads while bombarding them with 100db noise, there's a Senate inquiry. When BART does it, it's a regular Tuesday at 9am. (Yes, this is an extreme comparison, real stress positions are much worse, but your average Midwestern suburbanite used to his Toyota Camry is in for a real shock).
If you want Americans to get over their train/bus hate, then don't advocate such drastic reductions in the quality of our lives or the livability of our cities. Your average SUV-driving Wisconsin soccer mom has been to Manhattan as a tourist and decided that her one accidental peak-hours train ride was enough for one lifetime.
That, or densify the environment. We might put up with transit if the rides were shorter.
(I am a daily BART rider, and public transit dependence is the #1 reason I want to GTFO of the Bay Area).
Have you ridden on systems that are better than our crappy one before? Riding in cities like Singapore and Hong Kong is a wonderful experience.
The real problem is that we have nowhere near to as much capacity as we need, and nowhere near to as much coverage either. And that's 100% a result of political incompetence and a lack of funding for something that almost certainly would improve the livability and productivity of this city.
Coupled with how filthy San Francisco is and how pitifully little we do to address affordability and the resulting, predictable homelessness and mental illness crisis we see here, you get an uncomfortable transit experience.
Our lack of a robust, functional public transit network is a big reason I want to GTFO of the Bay Area.
Centripetal acceleration on a curve with radius r is (v^2/r) so it seems that it grows quadratically, not exponentially.
Exponential growth would mean that the v appears in an exponent in the formula.
Quite frankly, I would much prefer to not have the costs and issues of owning a private vehicle.
Maybe this is me being ethnocentric, but it seems the American way of embracing diversity (through political correctness, affirmative action, etc) has come at the cost of craving for isolation and independence from each other.
It's not clear how public transit advocates will convince us to vote to downgrade our lives. Maybe the bicyclists and pedestrians in cities will be able to block suburban drivers from entering.
If there was more public transportation, the problems you bring up about personal space would go away.
When the problem you're trying to solve is "some people aren't in Times Square right now," you might need to engage with the fact that it's crowded.
More public transportation, sure, and I'll vote for it every time.
Less car infrastructure, and there is no pressure for public transportation to be comfortable or effective because the only way to opt out of it is to move away.
That is to say, there's a known solution already: funding.
Same for the North Bay (original plans had the BART go almost all the way from Petaluma to Gilroy).
It's a shame. Public transportation would be so awesome if it weren't for the bad press.
The number of people that can fit on 1 bus can hit in the ballpark of 50 people, so we're getting a roughly 10x capacity boost here. You lose the "ever-moving system" benefit doing this, but I highly doubt some stopping and starting would lead to an order of magnitude slower speed.
Now, the number of people that can fit on 1 SF BART train is in the realm of 10 cars * 200 = 2000 people per train. The spacing is not going to be on the order of 100x longer than in the individual car case, and the starting-stopping speed is going to be not a bit slower than the bus case.
I'll let you work out the math on that, but it's not even orders of magnitude close. Don't need to be a "visionary" to see that.
The real issue is not highways, but what happens when people try and get off or onto them. It's possible but rare to do this well.
Further, roads and bridges do get used from 2-4 AM when subway systems are generally not operating, so it's the use over the full day that's important not just peak usage.
On page 4, 2006: 80% used a carpool or single occupancy car. 2013: 76% used a carpool or single occupancy car which is counter to their narrative. Further, metro areas are rather large, I commute less than 3 miles on secondary roads in the DC metro area from just outside the beltway to just inside of it and encounter approximately zero traffic.
In addition a subway or bus system has to run on a schedule even when the train is mostly empty. The train and bus is always starting and stopping and causing all it's passengers increased delay to serve the needs of the few entering or leaving.
Public transport is the token ring networking of transportation. It's just inherently less efficient compared to a P2P routing system that only operates when there is a need and with the minimum number of stops (which is exactly 1).
But it's also important to note that the numbers for Amtrak are averaged across the entire system -- and most Amtrak routes outside the Northeast Corridor operate way below capacity, despite it being very inefficient to do so. If you look at rail systems where this is not the case, like in Switzerland (716 BTU/passenger-mile) or Japan (534 BTU/passenger-mile), you end up with 5.4x and 7.3x improvements energy efficiency over driving, respectively.
The tunnels could use solar energy which is not wasteful.
Actually it's the land use on roads and parking which is most wasteful. Maybe we could solve half the problem with this, even if it is boring.
Edit: I mean, sure, great science fiction fun to think about!
The drag:person inefficiency is a price we still consider worth paying presently, even when it also requires an inefficient decentralized gas-burning energy conversion.
Add in reduced vehicle wear, and of course the time advantage, and with some of the efficiency gains like centralized power/reduced friction/huge electromagnetic actuators/maybe partially evacuated tunnel, it could still conceivably be profitable at a bargain on gas travel.
However, i think the advantages permit it to be sold for more than we are paying for gas travel. People already pay daily just to use a special lane which is nearly the same hassle with only slightly reduced traffic.
In places where land is cheap, and there are single family houses, cars will be the most efficient way to commute for years to come. We'll switch to self-driving electric cars, but still.
The point of the boring company is to make excavation of tunnels an order of magnitude cheaper.  And if he succeeds, I suspect demand for the tunnels will push them out to the burbs.
Nor, presumably, transfer from an autonomous taxi or bus to a subway train at that station.
Maybe he's right? Think of this as a subway for cars!
Also people per hour is not really the metric the average person cares about. It's travel time to destination.
Also, each LA subway car can fit over 50 people seated and probably three times that standing. $3M divided by the price of the cheapest Tesla is about 85. So the number doesn't seem high at all.
Actually I'm not. I just want to point out that public trains cost huge amounts of money for investment, they need special infrastructure which many US cities don't have, and the only way they work feasibly is if the population density is high enough so the taxes will support them.
In other words, there's a huge upfront cost to even considering building a system that most cities/governments will choose roads over rail.
A bus on the other hand is $300,000, holds around 60 passengers, and uses the same infrastructure the city already has, and doesn't incur the need to have right
of way fights with land owners.
What would you realistically do given the choice?
If I had the choice of spending $3 million to buy 10 buses, or to do nothing at all, I'd save the $3 million and wait until it's feasible to develop something that the city will keep wanting to fund.
That seems high to me, full-stop. The London Underground S-Stock order came to around £1 million per car (though was a much, much larger order); even smaller orders of Bombardier Movia family trains have come far closer to that than the $3 million per car.
As rockets were before Space X?
It costs a billion dollars per mile to dig a subway tunnel. If the costs could be brought down, it would change a lot about the way we build mass transit systems.
It seems that $1B/__km__ (not mile, you're right) is sadly par for the course in the US, and Crossrail passes that threshold too. Projects elsewhere are below that threshold though.
Also, fwiw, I think cut and cover is a much better approach, despite the street level disruption. Ce la vie.
The question is if he can drop those costs substantially. I certainly wish him the absolute best in doing so. But, if he's going to propose building transportation systems with huge operational costs (SOV tunnels), they had better be efficient in the cost per rider mile and competitive with other technologies.
Mass transit is fundamentally superior and realistically inferior. The second any rational actor has the economic advantage necessary to not ride in a box packed with people of questionable hygiene they'll chose option #2 no matter the negative externalities.
I love this place but people aren't packets in your stream, they actively decide against your well designed "optimal" systems and opt for less efficient "luxurious" options as soon as they possibly can.
I get the train to work each day and 99% of the time I get to sit down with space to comfortably work on my laptop and I get through a bunch of stuff each way. When I think of the alternative - spending 20% less time but dealing with the risk and frustration of driving and getting nothing done in return - driving myself seems positively toxic.
:: raises hand :: I can easily afford to drive and park. I bus to work instead. No time difference. A number of people are like me.
(the fact that buses allow people who aren't very well house trained on board is a matter that needs to be addressed, no question about it)
There seems to be this weird thing where people are embracing things that strip autonomy from them.
(That being said, building a bunch of tunnels in the bosom of San Andreas strikes me as hubris... But having lived in LA and its traffic for many years, I'm willing to be convinced. :-) )
Even in London, where you have a major, successful transport engineering project (Crossrail) completing, and an entire city dependency on, and supportive of, public transport, you only hear the most anemic plans for future expansion.
For example, TFL is pushing a "New Tube For London" plan that consists of little more than trivial improvements. Some new trains, platform edge doors, etc., scheduled to be delivered in 2050 or so. But absolutely nothing with real ambition, like entirely new lines, that would actually solve London's insane congestion problems.
If you want to see ambition in infrastructure, check out China. Being a technocracy bent on having world-class infrastructure, combined with the ability to remove people from their homes for the greater good with little repercussion, they've built some of the most thorough infrastructural improvements ever seen on the planet. For instance, the first line of the Shanghai Metro was opened in 1993; today, it is the longest metro in the world, with 14 lines. And this rapid growth can be seen not just in the megacities like Shanghai, but in countless smaller ones throughout the country—not to mention their incredible construction of their thorough long distance high speed rail network. And on top of that, since their system is so modern, the trains are a hell of a lot safer and more reliable than any piece of infrastructure in the USA.
I think they've made mistakes with how car-oriented the streetscapes are, the generic architectural styles throughout that country, overbuilding before demand arises, and a lack of mixed-use neighborhood zoning, amongst other things; but when it comes to imagining an integrated, efficient commuter rail network, they've killed it.
I think you underestimate how poorly compensated the relocated people are. Unless it's an outcome of "Weird China" reporting, which is very possible, I've seen plenty of reports of people being forced out of their houses in exchange for flats with smaller floor space and property in an inferior location.
I'm not saying what Chinese infrastructure officials isn't impressive. I'm just saying it has massive costs for the people being displaced.
It costs the moved people a great deal, but the government doesn't care.
You can reduce demand by not needing everyone to go the same place every day. Why does everyone have to work in London and why don't they already live where they work?
He's proposing the transportation equivalent of a personal computer with perfect security, completely crash free, 1000x faster than current PCs that cost lesss tha. We have today. It's not impractical, it's laughable.
> On the other hand, whenever I read stuff by politicians and engineers with real knowledge and influence in this field, I'm astonished by the total lack of vision.
If you want to see total vision, come to a Transportation Research Board annual meeting. Or an APTA annual meeting. Visions are out there. The political support is not.
but we don't have the political leverage today, and the little we have is with the Democrats, not the Republicans.
Decide which one is it.
He misses all his deadlines for precisely this reason.
Right now, it's just a video mocked together over two days. It's just a very, very broad "idea".
Things will change over time. Why knock something so early in the development phase?
Well, unless you count damage to whatever happens to be in the way of the tunnel and buildings on top of tunnel. This might be more of a problem in Europe than in the U.S. though.
And now Musk is trying to solve for those three factors
In the same way a road offers private and public transportation, a tunnel can do both. Why can't the car be a bus, say?
I live in Paris, France. 100% of its inhabitants have at least one of the 300+ subway stations under 1 km (0.6 miles) of their home. The subway system transports 5M people every single day. That’s twice the city population. That’s also 1.9B per year. During the peak hours you can have up to one train every 90 seconds for a capacity of 700 people each.
That's actually pretty awesome, but you may have noticed that Americans don't really care about efficiency.
Once the tunnel is built, you can put anything you want into it. But I suspect we would still choose cars over trains.
Depending on the specific location, there may very well be. Underground tunnels are vulnerable to earthquake-inflicted damage, for instance, and you would want to avoid repair as much as possible.
Similarly, there may be environmental or conservatory reasons not to build tunnels, or reasons related to cost, or obstacles not yet encountered (that last one is less likely though).
Are subways targets for terrorism the same way that airports are?
just like software is doable. :)
sometimes you can't do it. but generally... you can. :)
If he's looking for mega-good, Musk would do significantly
better to drop a full subway network.
That's 600km/h. For 600mph you'd need Hyperloop to prove they can do that speed first.
China is building new, high-speed maglev trains and there's many lines already open for business.
Maybe one day Hyperloop will get built and will be open for passenger travel. When that day comes it's possible that surface rail may have already achieved the same speed because third or fourth generation maglev trains are in service.
China is looking at building something like that: http://www.zdnet.com/article/china-developing-600-mph-airles...
Note that it's an above-ground system because the costs of building underground are utterly ridiculous for long distances.
The video looks more like a high-speed form of personal rapid transit , which is a sort of hybrid system that tries to achieve the best of both. It's like a bus or train system, except the vehicles are smaller and don't operate on a timetable. Instead, they pick you up when and where you want and they take you where you want to go.
Well, which is it? Solved, or difficult/expensive/slow?
Agree, except that while many ridiculously wealthy people would be willing to help pay for private access to some tunnels — _perhaps_ subsidizing a system that is later available to others — many fewer wealthy people would help pay for a subway.
I think it's neat. I like London, but it'd be sweet to have my car while I was there.
I doubt it. I think he's looking for the same thing as everybody else: mega profits.
Obvious, got to get to space somehow
Build cars/machines to run on something
that is guaranteed to exist on Mars (the sun) vs. Oil
How to build batteries 101
- Solar roof:
While Earths environment may not be as
harsh as Mars you still learn something, and improve
solar panel production in the process
May not make too much sense on Earth with
existing infrastructure, but undereart..undermars?
transportation is protected from the environment/sand
How to go to Mars and stay there:
1. Figure out what you need
2. Build it
Or he just hates LA traffic.
That our current methods are unsustainable? There are plenty of ideas for solutions.
That the current state of human cooperation is below the necessary threshold to achieve a self-sustaining society on Mars? Maybe, but I'm optimistic that we'll find the inspirational leaders that are required.
- Even if all of Musk's enterprises were aimed at colonizing Mars (like gp suggested), they can be quite useful here.
- Turning Mars into a self-sufficient habitat is both an absurdly long-term (and laudable) goal and no guarantee of survival. We have to worry about the problems of surviving on Earth today and, in the very long run, how to live in many other places.
(upvoted your comment, because I agree with it)
It seems to me that this really isn't the case. Our attempt to make a home here is causing a mass extinction, extremely fast change in atmospheric makeup (compared to historical models), depletion of fresh water reserves (in some areas anyways), increased frequency of bad weather, earthquakes, etc. Under a 'business as usual' model I have trouble seeing our current ecosystem supporting us for long (e.g. another 100 years).
In my opinion that's part of "knowing how" - knowing how to make something actually happen outside of theories. Hopefully we'll get there soon.
PS: Don't think this comment is down vote worthy, just healthy discussion imo.
In practice, it might be a little tougher than it sounds. :-)
Musks starts a healthcare company? Mars-related of course, he wants to solve the cosmic radiation problem on route to Mars. Buys Netflix? Heh, that's pretty obvious, people on Mars will need some entertainment!
Nope that's the main one. You obviously haven't lived in LA :)
I agree with the theory that Musk is aiming these boring machines at Mars. That makes more sense than using them to attack the traffic problem when that problem is already being solved by one of his other companies.
But self-driving cars will enable a sort of ad-hoc, on demand carpooling style 'mass' transit: something like ten-passenger vans that deliver commuters from similar downtown areas to similar home neighborhoods. If only ten percent of commuters switched to that method, taking ten cars off the road and replacing it with one van, the volume of traffic drops immediately to 91% of what it was. That alone, plus significantly smarter, denser, more efficient, networked AI driving, will hugely reduce gridlock.
And at some point as more jobs get automated, and the jobs that remain human-accessible become more knowledge-based and less presence- and specific time-based, we'll move away from the huge spikes in traffic at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., spreading traffic volumes more evenly out across the day.
I've been assuming the latter, but I realize now that I don't actually know.
Not to mention that you need to make the materials such that they resist a huge side pressure, water leaks and so on.
Psychological costs are also costs.
Tangential: the source  is pretty interesting.
I'm totally down with that, by the way: I believe there's a nonzero risk that our resource consumption trajectory, population growth and environmental carelessness will combine within centuries (if not sooner) to make this planet incapable of supporting us.
If plan A is "fix human behaviour", then we need a plan B. Plan B must be get another planet.
"All of this was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars." - Sinclair.
Apparently the problem of martian storms is not that rocks are flying around but just plain ol' dust reducing the efficiency to very low levels, both by deposit and by floating in the air.
Consider a man/machine interface where the man controls the intent and the machine controls the precision.
Build cars/machines to run on something
that is guaranteed to exist on Mars (the sun) vs. Oil
Still fascinating to see all of this stuff take shape. It's definitely like living in the future. You would think there wouldn't be money in it... but there is!
Kinda like in Verne's "From Earth to the Moon", both try to move and accelerate objects, maybe enough to launch something into orbit?
Or maybe im reading to much scifi :)
PS: sorry for the broken english, not my native language.
You can throw OpenAI in the mix also. If there are strong advancements in AI then it could possibly be used to automate the facilities if there are not enough workers or as a possible fallback option, among other scenarios.
You might not agree with all/any of it but I think it's hard to say this isn't thought-provoking.
I'm as liberal as they come, I'm very sensitive to disguised racism, but the tweets' entire basis of comparison between Musk and Moses is "both are/were ambitious men and now musk is talking about infrastructure". It's free-association garbage.
The Moses story is fascinating because he accomplished great things that built NYC but was also a horrible person. The tweeter you linked is like, "hey, Musk is trying to accomplish great things, he must be just like Moses".
I think it's your rebuttal that's facile here, not the comparison in the Twitter thread, but, like you, I might be wrong.
> Robert Moses weaponized Civil Engineering and Urban Planning to suppress marginalized communities. Engineering is always political.
Words like "weaponized" and "suppress" suggest that Emily thinks Moses was ill-intentioned, not merely an ambitious guy who in his monomania happened to overlook some of the more sinister side-effects of his work.
Everyone thinks what they do is right. Ill-intentioned refers to whether the characterizer thinks it was right, not the actor.
How does that have anything to do with whether he was horrible? In general, people think they're doing the right thing. That doesn't mean they're not horrible.
As one of his friends described him:
"He's so forthright and honest that if he saw a man across the street who he thought was a son of a bitch, he would cross the street and call him a son of a bitch, lest by passing him in silence, his silence be misconstrued".
Musk also claimed Tesla's solar roof would cost less than a "normal" roof... (PS Musk considers a "normal" roof to be made of slate)
The "affordable" (his words) Model 3 has a standard configuration of about $40k.
I think he's a super interesting guy doing amazing things... but I think he's vastly out of touch with what concepts like "affordable" or "normal" mean to the majority of this country. His "normal" doesn't extend very far outside of silicon valley.
He's more Tony Stark than Iron Man.
The whole thing comes off so self aggrandizing and baselessly accusatory.
In particular, I enjoyed this person's tweet when challenged for some evidence of Musk's racism. Apparently, the rock solid evidence doesn't even have to do with tunnel boring, infrastructure, or urban planning, but instead with Musk not following any/enough women on Twitter. Truly revelatory stuff right here.
Elon Musk doesn't strike me as an innovator when he talks about building tunnels and subways. He strikes me as Robert Moses. Who are these tunnels going to serve? The Latino communities in LA? Or are we just running them straight to the rich neighborhoods?
It's hard for me to believe someone doesn't have an axe to grind when they make statements like this. On what basis does this person claim that Elon Musk bears resemblance to Robert Moses?
This is my problem with many politics-in-tech discussions. People who take politics seriously say, "technology always has political implications." True enough; we do indeed seem to forget that. They stir some history into their argument. Even better. But once they have to perform analysis, free of the rigorous standards of thought you have in e.g. math or science, they start saying baseless things.
When you see a technology like this and think of the benefits, considering who gets those benefits is a big part of the value of the idea practically. To me, it's nothing against the ideas technological merit, academic impressiveness, creative ingenuity, etc. It does reflect what ideas someone like Musk is focused on though, and I don't think bringing it up inherently means they have an axe to grind. I think Elon is doing a ton of good and is one of the few SV bigshots that deserves hype (looks sideways at Peter Thiel), but we should have realistic views on who his projects are exactly helping both short and long term.
(Sorry for replying to a long, substantive comment with a short one; I just don't have anything to add.)
Sure it would be very nice and charitable of Musk to make sure that poorer communities are served by tunnels too, but that runs more risk of his already super risky business going bankrupt. In that case nobody, rich or poor, would benefit.
I imagine he'll follow a strategy similar to Tesla where he starts by pursuing the most wealthy markets while his costs are high and as the company refines its technique he'll go down market and become accessible to a broader swath of the population.
However, I think the tweetstorm misses that it is poor and middle class people who are most hurt today by inadequate transit, and one thing that would have an enormous effect is an order of magnitude drop in tunneling costs.
My other post <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14225045> links to a look at why the Second Avenue Subway's $2.2 B per km costs are 20x higher than other cities. A technology that drops tunnelling costs will be great for the poor, and thankfully, I do not believe the news media (with all of its flaws) would ever allow someone like Moses (or Musk) to operate the way he did today.
(Real question - I don't understand the relationship between technical contractors and cities in this context.)
Not through-provoking; just more verbal diarrhea from a very angry, misguided individual that uses twitter as a platform to spread their dumb ideas.
You all sound like Balmer.
This is a CONCEPT!!
Elon is THINKING you all are pointing, laughing and adding no value to the conversation of "What comes next?"
If your idea is "the metro works", a 150 year old system, then this video is not for you.
To the video, I like the concept of combining public and private transportation in the same path.
It also makes sense as a way to directly link far distances. To me, this is a modification of the hyperloop concept. Something more feasible in the shorter term and definitely less risky.
Of course all this depends on the economics and physics of boring becoming cheap and 10x faster. keep thinking Elon.
Earth needs more of your "fantasies". Let the pointers keep pointing.
So perhaps instead of 'pointing' you should take your own advice?
Maybe you're referring to SpaceX in proving skeptics wrong? We have yet to see if that company ever becomes profitable. Reusing rockets is not what made people skeptical as much as pretending it'd make financial sense to do.
Most of his other popular pet projects are even more pie-in-the-sky. Neuralink? That's nothing but talk. Hyperloop? not a single prototype built in the real world, in a real location.
OpenAi sounds like what a conspiracy theorist would come up with.
Not saying it isn't possible or what he has achieved isn't great. Just saying his existing successes don't prove what he's proposing will succeed, since, his new goals are as big or bigger than his initial as-yet-incomplete goals.
Maybe it takes more than 5 minutes to make all cities capable of powering electrical cars then competing with the existing car market? He's already built a successful product, has successful competitors, prevented the 2000's era proprietary cell phone charger fiasco from happening again. It's a little too late to be skeptical.
Citation needed. I see teslas multiple times daily. In my book that counts as mainstream.
This just isn't a very rational statement.
Good luck, Elon. It'll be another moonshot company if you can pull it off.
That may be a lofty goal, but at least the message I got is that it is the one they want to reach.
Former tunnel boring engineer here.
There is a ton of room for innovation around tunnel boring machines built by the major manufacturers (primarily Herrenknecht and Robbins), around reliability, durability, ease of serviceability etc. I cannot emphasize enough how modern TBM's require an unbelievable amount of engineering attention, repair labor, spare parts infrastructure etc, similar to many super-early-stage fragile prototype technologies. Unfortunately TBM's are no longer early stage, but for some reason the technology is frozen at just-good-enough-to-barely-work."
However I don't know if the economics will work out to fix any of these. Here are a couple of the big problems:
* Most TBM's are semi- or fully-customized for a single job. This raises machine costs. It'd be better if there were only a small range of small-medium-large TBM's that work ~everywhere.
* Most TBM's are fully assembled in the factory, smoketested aka turned on to make sure they work, disassembled and shipped to the job, then reassembled and used. This is not efficient, surely we can figure out a better way.
* Most TBM's are entombed aka thrown away at the end of the job, because getting them out of the hole is expensive and difficult.
* Changing the cutterheads is labor intensive and dangerous and requires highly trained very expensive humans, and it's slow. While you change the cutterheads, your billion dollar toy is sitting there doing nothing.
* TBM architecture is highly dependent on geology. A slurry faced TBM that works in mixed soils is a totally different beast from a hard-rock TBM. It would be cool to have one machine that works in many geologies, perhaps with minimal or automated modifications.
* TBM's require lots of care and feeding from a small army of humans. This raises job costs.
* Topside support infrastructure such as slurry plants and ground freezing machinery comes from different vendors, often even from different countries. E.g. it's common to buy your topside slurry plant from the MS company, in France, while your ground freeze vendor might be Tachibana from Japan. Often each subsystem's engineers on site literally don't even speak a common language. Hilarity predictably ensues. Vertical integration would pay huge dividends here.
Ideally Elon can mass-produce TBM's that just work out of the box for most jobs, and that are easier to work on. Then we can laugh him out of town for his stupid "put cars in tunnels" ideas and use his miracle machines to build sensible train tunnels.
Here's Crossrail's video explaning how their TBMs work. This gives enough detail that you can get an understanding of what's going on.
There's so much variation in geology. The Seikan tunnel to Hokkaido had huge variations in soil and the project went very slowly. Eurotunnel is mostly through chalk, and went well. The Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland was a long grind through hard rock well above water level. That's a slow process, but was reasonably uniform. SF's BART tunnel, unusually, was built onshore in sections and lowered into a dredged trench. NYC's Water Tunnel #3 was in hard rock, and that project went very slowly.
Many things can go wrong. Hard rock may not be competent rock capable of supporting itself. The Tom Lantos tunnels south of San Francisco were through a small mountain of loose shale. One tunneling project in Japan hit an underground river.
The most advanced underground rail project today is probably the Tokyo-Osaka maglev line. 43 kilometers of this is already operating, and most of the route is in tunnel. Tokyo to Nagoya is scheduled to open in 2027. The connection through to Osaka was scheduled for 2045, but the Government has decided to accelerate the program and get it done sooner. Here's what the ride looks like. 500km/h. Working now.
They are often custom built (at least partly) and thus not mass produced. While we won't see that for rockets any time soon, it believe he managed to bring down the cost of building rockets and continues to do so (he uses his own money after all and does not have the support of every tax-paying citizen like NASA used to during the Apollo missions).
Sure the engineering challenges are probably different for the most part but the economics are the same. Rockets are more expensive then they should be. Boring is also more expensive then it needs to be.
> he uses his own money after all and does not have the support of every tax-paying citizen like NASA used to during the Apollo missions
This isn't really true. SpaceX, like pretty much all private Spaceflight providers, has received many development contracts from NASA. These are basically NASA giving the company a bucket of money to develop launch capabilities to certain requirements.
SpaceX has _absolutely_ been supported by the US taxpayer, and likely will continue to be. It definitely has been _much_ cheaper for the taxpayer than Apollo, but we haven't gotten a free lunch on this one.
They had to prove that they could do it before they saw a dime. The NASA has a project and gets funded without having at least a prove of concept (e.g. A single rocket that can do the job) as long as congress likes it. I'm not saying that this is bad, but this way he earned the money.
Furthermore, unlike the Apollo missions, sending satellites into orbit served a practical purpose. Sure the apollo missions were really cool and have helped science a lot but their practicality was a lot less.
I know Cincinnati's subway failed because of some bad tunnelling that caused foundations to sink .. well that and the great depression. If they had started earlier or designed it better, Cincinnati could have a Chicago like transit system today. Unfortunately it took them years to get a tram and there are people still trying to shut that down instead of expand it! Unbelievable.
I know in Seattle, many of the tunnels (like to Northgate/UDistrict) have actually been fully bored. The new stations are still not due to open for a few years, mostly because the majority of time isn't spend on the tunnels, but installing track, electrics and building the underground rail stations.
If Elon could make tunnelling 10x faster, requires much less Human labour and reusable, this will dramatically cut down the cost of building SubWay, or other underground Networks. I am not sure if such tech could be used to build like a underground Shopping Mall in Cities. But if we could build a Walk way under every Car Road would be great for urban cities.
I have a naïve question about subterrean _housing_.
With the real estate skyrocketing in some cities, and scarcity of terrain, I wonder why there is not much more underground liveable habitations (for example, near an expensive city center with no space left).
I think this is really just Elon's goal, and the talk and fluffy marketing video are just that. Fluffy marketing and PR for his companies.
Actually in some ways it bears a resemblance to the spaceflight industry (expensive, custom-made, few players). Coincidence?
Sending rockets to another solar system would be cheaper than the tunnels depicted in this video. I'm not even kidding.
Where is all that material going to go? There's so many tunnels there you could build a small mountain with it. Maybe he can team up with some sea-steading outfit and build a small continent off the shore of San Francisco.
You'd need three or four orders of magnitude reduction in tunnelling costs to make that anywhere near affordable, and even then you'd still have unbelievably complicated logistical issues. How much concrete do you need for those tunnels? What about ventilation? Safety procedures? Flood control? A single one of those could cost upwards of a billion dollars and I'm not sure there's a lot of cost savings by doing more of them, the complexities don't scale that way.
The more you dig, the more you're likely to hit something expensive you're going to have to pay to fix.
Musk's a sales technique to promise the moon (Mars really) and then use the cash to build a revolutionary but realistic company.
SpaceX isn't going to colonize mars, but its putting satellites in orbit.
As absolutely insane as his goals are, betting against him overall tends to be a losing bet. I'd be careful about what you think SpaceX "isn't" going to do. If it is technologically possible, they will do it. Period.
And X.Com didn't become Paypal. Paypal became Paypal. Paypal was already developed before the merger and it was not Musk's idea.
Next up: Elon's Space Elevator! Elon's Fusion Reactor! Elon's Teleporter!
No, it's a hellacious mess of rocks of different types, of muck of all kinds, of brittle, water-filled pockets of who knows what, and every inch you dig you find out there's another problem up ahead.
In the case of Seattle they planned, they surveyed, they did test drilling, and they plotted a course that should have avoided everything, yet they still managed to slam into a steel pole that shouldn't have been there. It set their project back months, the machine was trashed and had to be dug up and fixed.
Plus, these tunnels are only part of the package. You need those surface access lifts, and those may well be the most logistically complicated of the whole system. To make this accessible you'll need hundreds of them, potentially thousands, and each one is a mega-project unto itself if you've sunk the tunnel down deep enough to avoid all those hazards you're now digging straight through.
The deeper you go, the more those lift stations cost. The shallower you go the more you'll come into conflict with infrastructure. There's no easy win here.
I'm pretty sure Elon Musk doesn't enter a market unless he intends to do just that.
Edit: I got downvoted a bit but it is his MO. He takes things that are expensive and makes them cheaper. For what it's worth though, I do think the tunnels in that video are ridiculous.
> And concrete production? And underground hazard detection? And coordination with city infrastructure? And...
> And battery production, and driving hazard detection, and coordinating with the FAA and NASA, and rockets, and...
It's not guaranteed success (not even remotely) but if I had to bet on anyone...
You act like Musk does all the work himself. If he wanted to he could hire the best and brightest in each of those areas and they can work in parallel.
I don't even know if the guy is a good engineer. But I'm pretty sure to have the success he has had he knows how to inspire them.
But he might succeed at something somewhere in between the tunnel he is boring in his parking lot and the video.
Context: I lived in Boston during much of the Big Dig. Large tunnel projects scare the heck out of me as a tax payer.
If he retreats from this and builds some kind of pneumatic tube system to transport goods, people, or whatever, he still might have a chance of a win. Those systems have been proposed, and in some cases actually built, and in many cases they've been great ideas.
If he stubbornly insists on pursuing this batshit insane system of tubes he will fail, and he'll fail hard. There is not enough concrete in the world to make that many tunnels.
A rocket can go to the moon and come back safely, that takes an abundance of caution and significant attention to detail, but it's a fixed-length trip. Civil infrastructure has to exist for decades, or in the case of many American undertakings, well over a century. That requires extreme caution.
If you invented a concrete alternative today it'd take at least twenty years for it to be considered a viable alternative to concrete because long-term studies of the mechanical characteristics of it under a wide variety of conditions will have to be taken out.
Concrete is an extremely complicated material, I know people that have gotten a Ph.D. in aspects of it, and it's very well understood. This hypothetical alternative you're talking about has a lot to measure up to.
That's true. But techniques like compressed stabilized earth blocks can reduce the required percentage of concrete from ~30% to 4%. For example, recently a 4% concrete and 8% ash CSEB was shown to be as strong as class 30 concrete. Fly ash can also be used. Obviously considerations like longevity and manufacturability need to be validated, but the strength is there.
Essentially you're mechanically squeezing all the air out of the concrete, thus reducing the cement requirement. Since TBM tunnels are made from precast formed concrete currently, it seems like a natural cost (and CO2) saving improvement.
And battery production? And crash test safety? And coordination with NHTSA?
He's cut component costs on the Tesla by maybe 70%. On the SpaceX project it's more like 80% compared to the highest cost competitor. Both of these are huge achievements.
The problem with tunnels is they're not cars, not rockets, not anything like he's ever done before. If he had a functioning Hyperloop system, if he'd proven he can build out infrastructure on a geographic scale and not just product from a factory I'd be more likely to agree with you.
This is a bad idea, a bad project, and a total waste of time.
If, by some stroke of genius and fluke of luck, this thing does get built it will go down in history as the most absurd thing ever constructed.
Then perhaps a hundred years after it goes bankrupt someone will be drilling down there and hit a tunnel that nobody knew existed and re-discover its brief and absurd history just like Chicago has done with their own boring company: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Tunnel_Company
Your phrasing is interesting given that SpaceX announced sending two people around the moon next year.
So I suppose my above was wrong. I'd guess the more reliable enablers are only sufficient density, coupled with good geology and a cooperating regulatory / permitting structure.
Not sure what the geology of San Francisco / California tends to be like, but I believe most of the Manhattan skyscrapers are anchored down to the bedrock. Which I'd expect would require cutting and reinforcing vs just "drill on through".
(which were during construction, but happened in "finished" sections, I believe. NATM applies a single pass of shotcrete to the cut rock surface)
He's going to involve the government? :|
I wonder if anyone has tried that yet?
And, hell, the fact that many cities aren't built on rock (e.g., London, Berlin, Moscow), so even if you can bore through solid rock you're probably not actually that well off: can you also bore through clay and gravel?
This is a marketing fluff video untouched by engineers
This is far from the hardest problem to solve in the video.
A damn disappointment for something hyped a while back from Musk himself. He should learn from Hollywood, movie trailers are far more important than the movie itself when public interest is involved.
Now imagine having tens of thousands of subway cars instead of a couple hundred.
We have a hardwired respect for heights, but at no time in our evolutionary history did we ever have to deal with the kind of speed cars move at. So we look at a 10 foot deep unprotected hole in the ground and instantly think 'Hey, that's a hazard', but we don't give nearly enough consideration to speed, and as such 2 million people each year who are killed and injured in US motor vehicle accidents, and we just sort of shrug our shoulders.