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I think it's more nuanced than that.

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.




Everybody is trying to invent shit and make things better. It's true from your waiter at your restaurant who will try to find a way to be more amiable to you, or it's true from the public researchers who just invented the artificial utero when they're being paid nips and wont become billionaires out of their invention. This is not Atlas Shrugged. This is the real world.


You're missing the point: This isn't simply about those who are trying to make things better, which is truly many people and is wonderful. This is that subset that go down road others have abandoned or won't go down because the solution is "known to definitely not be down that road."

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.


I have to point of out that over-criticizing stuff is an important part of the human psyche. People "who follow the rules" get as much flack as people who don't. Example in mind: your tax administration officer that you will probably criticize once a year for following the rules.


This particular example is not like other inventions though.

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.


Definitely. Musk is not immune from the same socio-political factors everyone else faces.

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.


I agree.

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.


Sometimes (usually?) that proof comes only in the happening of the impossible thing.


The 1% of the 1% had a good idea that no one else has ever had. This is not such an idea. This is a video of "what if subways were much less efficient?".


I find it hard to believe the common case for the 1% of the 1% always succeed because of sheer luck, brillance (although those things certainly can help).

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.


Those things are not mutually exclusive.


How many people in the world have tried this, let alone people on HN? Very, very few people even attempt things on this scale.


I love Elon as much as the next guy. I think SpaceX, Tesla, OpenAI and even Neuralink are great companies tackling meaningful problems and wish them the best.

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.


Care to explain how he messed this one up?


Because you are now more dependent on private cars for transport.

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.


> 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.

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.


What about the effort of finding parking spaces (and the effects those large parking spaces have on urban environments), actually having to concentrate on driving, having to keep in mind to bring the car home again, fueling (or charging), servicing your car, etc etc. I find there are a lot of inconveniences related to having a car, even without considering the huge effects of congestion, real estate, climate change, air and noise pollution, etc etc.


Your beautiful automobile is also a multi-ton death machine. Worldwide around 1.3 MILLION people are killed by them every year. At that rate they should be banned, or, at a minimum, have much stricter licensing and renewal requirements (every year a challenging written and driving test, much easier to lose license and have car impounded).


Those things aren't free, though. You're paying $500-$1000/month for the luxury of doing those things, compared to the $100-$150 cost of a monthly transit pass.

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.


Yes, of course they aren't free. I also live in a house, that's more expensive than an apartment because I like it more this way.

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.


> I don't want to force cars on anyone - it should be an individual choice of course.

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.


I used to get a lot more reading done when I used public transport too. I miss those days :-(


> 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.

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?


> I can get in it right now, without any planning or waiting

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.


That's only economical in very dense urban areas, though.

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.


Sure, but in areas that aren't densely populated, you don't have the same traffic problems, so why do you need it?


>> The only scalable transit solution is mass public transit.

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.


I really don't think cars are going away any time soon for several reasons. Cars offer individuals far more freedom, go anywhere when you want. Also people live in rural areas, I'm not going to wait 3 hours for a bus to take me to my mom's house in the country, I'll just drive. In addition there is probably not a bus that goes there.

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.


Guess what rural areas don't have? Traffic. I love the way that Musk hacks the American economy, government subsidies, value system, marketing engine, and the capacity of the public to fall for bullshit, because that is how truly new things get made in this country. But this amusing semi-joke is just reflective of the fact that LA proves car-based transport doesn't scale, no matter who is driving. Mass transit is the answer.


you need a car unless your life plan is just to limit yourself to only urban areas. If you ever want to leave the urban area you will need a car. If I have my own car, even if there is public transportation I will likely take my own car for the convenience of it being my own space.

I am not arguing against the need for mass transport but I see no reason we cant have both.


Why not rent a car when you want to go on trips outside of urban areas? Seems far cheaper if you can actually get away without a care in the city.


You make plenty of good points but also ignore a whole bunch of bad ones you've made.

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.


We're talking about LA, not rural areas.


Um, what? Tunneling costs are blocking​ mass transit in high-density regions.

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.


>Because you are now more dependent on private cars for transport.

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.


> Why would you use this instead of a system where you take a neighborhood bus to the local transit station

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.


If I'm not wrong, there's actually a scheme for Tesla owners to rent out their cars while not in use(still in development). So, I envision these tunnels as part of his broader vision of having mass transit for everyone, except the biggest thing being that the mass transit need not have time tables. That's the worst thing about mass transit. Having to plan your day completely around it. Fine for the most of us, but isn't going to end private transport. I totally see the vision he has. It's a 30 year game he's playing, not a 5 year one.


Think of it with 100year horizon. Where it will outlast Musk. Where all cars are self driven autonomously. Where all cars are electric. We already have all the bits and pieces of it... The boring company is attempting to stitch it all together.


> 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

Spot on.




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