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[flagged] Elon Musk sub 'impractical', won't be used (khaosodenglish.com)
36 points by oldgradstudent 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments



It is possible to both do good and generate positive PR.

If he was getting in the way or come uninvited would be one thing, but other than that nothing wrong with an extra option.

Rich and well known people can’t win really. They get criticised for helping and also criticised for not bailing out bad government policy.


> Rich and well known people can’t win really

Counter-argument: they are already winning, and will continue to win until the day they die. I think the obscenely rich can cope with a small ding to the ego every now and then.


Don’t treat people differently based on their financial situation


But think of the mega-ultra-rich billionaire's feelings!


"Billionaires are people, too. We are leaders in technology, in industry, in finance. Look at history. Do you know who else vilified a tiny minority of financiers and progressive thinkers called the Jews?"

~ Gavin Belson


My thoughts as well. Celebrity businessmen like Musk can't really win because no matter what they do there are people who dislike them, rightly or wrongly, because of other things they have done.

Personally I don't think Elon was doing this as a PR stunt. I believe he saw it was a very difficult problem with life and death time constraints and he has a bunch of the world's best engineers that build things for extreme environments.


Being a billionaire isn't winning? Just because he gets criticised doesn't mean he can't or isn't winning.


It's also possible to just use a dangerous and potentially tragic situation for PR, as a distraction from your business issues and increasing criticism for unhinged behaviour on twitter.


>>> Rich and well known people can’t win really.

They can, they just need to no interact outside their bubble, make sure they pay their taxes in a fair way (because, you know, the Panama is 100% legal), and do not show up when their not asked to.

Musk is great at building cool toys, but I'm not sure he's great at making humanity better. (hint: we don't need more battery, we don't need to go to Mars, we don't need more cars on the roads, and some people sure don't need a submarine). Now if Elon wants to go in the cave and bring oxygen bottle to those who need it, or explain the kids to never give up, well, that'd be nice.


We absolutely do need batteries, though. Energy storage on a large scale -- e.g. Tesla's projects in Australia and Puerto Rico -- is going to be hugely important for an all-renewable electric future. Their cars aren't that important.


The cars are hugely important. The demand for those is what is driving down the per unit cost of batteries. Without the cars, utility scale storage wouldn’t be financially feasible.


On one hand it's nice to see the valley: 'let's solve this' attitude. On the other hand, it's common to see them blinded by hubris, resulting in problem solving approaches divorced from reality.


Weird to see comments like this. Elon Musk was asked to help, he agreed to come there and now people talk about "hubris" as if he had tried to force his help on them?

Can't famous people even help kids stuck in a cave without someone criticizing them for it?


>Can't famous people even help kids stuck in a cave without someone criticizing them for it?

Yes, easily:

1. Don't press release (or tweet); treat what you are doing with confidentiality.

2. Actually help in a way that's helpful.

Here's a good example http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/01/15/george-michael-secretly...


1) If someone is helping, I don't give a ---- what they say about it. Actions speak louder than words. People criticizing Musk probably haven't lifted a finger themselves to help the kids.

2) How do you know if Musk's help wasn't helpful? Do you work at the rescue site?


I think the criticism of Musk is exactly that the words spoke louder than the actions.

Very few of the people criticising Musk had the ability to do anything to help the kids. He is in a rare situation to have the flexibility and resources to make significant financial and/or logistical contributions to literally any cause he notices. In this case, he did it in the most self-aggrandizing way possible, while appearing to make no actual contribution.


> People criticizing Musk probably haven't lifted a finger themselves to help the kids.

True, but I recognize that I don't have any relevant skills or any way to help from the other side of hte pacific.

The main difference is I'm not tweeting about how I'm totally going to solve this, and then getting credit doing pretty much just that.


I kind of agree with (1) but (2) in this case is just 'built something to meet the requirements but everything had moved on by time of delivery' which I think is something all of us engineers here have experience of.


Elon Musk could have given money to the experts on the ground who were actually in the situation and knew what was needed.

Instead, he wrongly assumed he knew better.


They didn't ask him for money, money was not the issue. If they had asked him for money he would have probably helped out. They asked his engineers for help and they tried to help. He didn't think he 'knew better' he tried something and offered it as an idea to the people responsible. Did he say 'fuck those assholes they should have used my solution'?

The toxic nature on the internet is so disgusting and unnecessary.


How do you know if Musk gave them money or not? How do you know if money was even the issue? How do you know Musk thought he knew better?

Where is this coming from? Do you always assume you know everything that other people are doing/not doing or thinking/not thinking?


Not that he knew better, just that he/spacex could contribute something that no-one else could. I don't think money was ever a problem in this situation.


From where do you get the impression that money can solve any problem?


These are some new level religious terms and conditions.

Expecting and feeling entitled for help to arrive on your terms and conditions.

In fact you seem to have taken this a little tad too far. The observers wish to declare on what terms(moral, ethical or others) the victim and helper need to comply with to work with each other. With the observers themselves contributing nothing to improve the situation at hand.


A little common sense here. He’s trying to develop a de novo hardware solution in short time. If you wanted to help, you’d buy/rent top of the line drysuits with helmets, send those through with instructors and be done with it. You probably wouldn’t decide to start on hardware development.


They already have that stuff (drysuits). Thailand is not a poor country and they do a lot of diving. You are talking about a situation you don't understand while accusing musk (who actually talked to people on the ground) of not understanding. Musk builds things, that's why he was asked to help and that's why he built a thing.


I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. I can’t read the guy’s mind, but my instincts point towards publicity stunt. I doubt arguing further is going to change anyone’s opinion.


Tbh I think it's more like a displacement activity, albeit a worthy one. I am surprised that he visited in person.


> I can’t read the guy’s mind

Yet you write as if you could.


And so do you, but with the opposite assumptions. Is this going anywhere?


What have I claimed about Musk's intentions or actions? I'm not the one who criticized him, but I have not lauded him for it either. I don't know what's going on at the rescue site nor am I claiming that I know. I'm just seeing Musk trying to help and people claiming (without any evidence) that he has some hidden agenda. Of course he could have a hidden agenda (again I don't know), but I'm not making a claim in either direction, just calling bullshit on people who think they know.


From your comments elsewhere in this discussion, your motivation seems pretty clearly to be to defend Elon Musk by inventing the spectre of things he might have done, but very likely did not. And at the same time pretending to be impartial about it.


Nah, I'm simply tired of people trashing someone without a reason.

The things he might have done are just examples; there's loads of different scenarios that might be true and we don't know really much about it. I'm not speculating, that's what all the shit talkers in this thread are doing. I'm reserving judgment instead of latching onto a forced narrative created by the media outlets with just a few tiny pieces of information that has leaked out of the rescue effort.


Yeah, and while you are doing that you are pulling stuff out of thin air, like the fact that he was asked to help – by some unknown stranger on Twitter. Surely doesn't look like that neutral stance that you are claiming to take.


> Yeah, and while you are doing that you are pulling stuff out of thin air, like the fact that he was asked to help – by some unknown stranger on Twitter

But he was...? https://twitter.com/MabzMagz/status/1014251869760249856

What's your problem?


Do you want to prove my point? Well done.


You said I pulled it out of thin air. I didn't. What the hell...?


What about high end rebreathers? The top of the line ones can sustain their oxygen cycle for six hours it seems that the divers are using oxygen canisters and there has already been one death due to a diver running out of oxygen.


Rebreathers are frail and bulky, and not good for cave diving (one of the divers involved had a special front-mounted rebreather to work around this). A lot fewer divers are trained to use rebreathers, too.

Cylinders are hardy and portable, and can be carried with one hand through narrow openings. They can be attached to lines, and stored along a prepared route for other divers to use during a single descent.


I remember they said at some point that the children could not be rescued with diving equipment because it's dark, they are not experienced divers and they might panic under water. Maybe his solution to build a submarine instead comes from there?


Where did you get the idea they were short on money or rescue equipment and/or Elon Musk hasn't rented or bought them rescue gear?


There’s no evidence for anything other than the submarine, and he really isn’t shy about announcing these things.


The lack of evidence or tweets doesn't mean that Musk didn't help them in other ways.


You’ll forgive me for not relying on faith.


I am not asking you to rely on faith, I'm simply asking you to drop your faith on "knowing" what goes on at the site and in Musk's mind and admit that you simply don't know.


It depends on what he wanted out of it. It was quite obvious nothing of the size of that submarine could fit in that narrow portion of the cave.

That begs the question on whether it was more for publicity or it was actually intended to be used.

Would it be realistic to see that submarine in Thailand or on some video camera in an LA pool?


> It was quite obvious nothing of the size of that submarine could fit in that narrow portion of the cave.

What? How did you come to this conclusion? They deliberately designed it to be 31cm so that it would fit through the narrowest parts they knew of (38cm? 35cm?), and it was obvious to you that it wouldn't fit?


There's a diagram if you look around. Sure the narrowest portion is narrow, but you need to bend your body because this narrow portion is at a curve.

A solid metal cylinder that can't bend had no chance at all to begin with. If a human cant go through without bending their body how can a cylinder containing a flat standing human get through? An engineer designing for this situation knows to optimise for the camera instead of the cave.


You know, I actually had been wondering about the length myself for a while, but I hadn't seen any comments or quantifiable information on that one way or the other. I was wondering how much they had considered that even in a narrow hole they might need extra room of more than twice the length of the tube afterward to make sure it goes through, if the passage doesn't go straight. The bendability per se I admittedly didn't explicitly think about, though (though it kinda factors into the size). Every diagram I've seen so far has been grossly not-to-scale for something this small, and every objection I've seen thus far has been about the diameter, not the length or the shape. If you have any information on the shape (besides the diameter) it'd be awesome if you could link it here. (Unfortunately I have to go offline so I don't have the chance to Google further right now.) Thanks for the reply!


Are you an expert on cave diving and rescue or where does this analysis on what is obvious and what isn't comes from?


It's obvious from the pictures of the submarine. When the press reports state that the cave is so narrow in places that you need to take off the scuba to get through, obviously the submarine that has a bigger diameter than a diver with a scuba won't pass.


Again. This armchair analysis cannot decide whether a solution is fit for the job or not. You don't know everything that's happening at the site.


This is bollocks. "In narrow sections, rescuers will have to take off their air tanks and squeeze the boys and the tanks through". https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/25F2/production/...


> This is bollocks. "In narrow sections, rescuers will have to take off their air tanks and squeeze the boys and the tanks through". https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/25F2/production/....

Do you see that diagram says "gap approx 40 cm"? Do you see that I already told you they deliberately designed their submarine to be 31 cm in diameter? Do you see that there's a chance that the oxygen tanks and their human chest combined are indeed more than 31 cm, and hence having to take them off might not say anything about whether a 31 cm tube will fit?


I can see that but I can also see that there's an air tank mounted on the outside of the submarine. This could probably be taken off while passing the narrow passage.

On the other hand you would need to squeeze a person in that submarine over the whole diving range. That would probably not help feeling them more comfortable.

Last not least in article you will find the quote "'The equipment he gave us is not practical for our mission,' Narongsak said Tuesday morning", that might prove my point.

Finally I don't get why you are arguing that the submarine is such a great idea when it's clearly not.


> This could probably be taken off while passing the narrow passage.

> That would probably not help feeling them more comfortable.

> that might prove my point.

All this doubt in your assessment and all of a sudden you deduce their plan is "bollocks"?

> I don't get why you are arguing that the submarine is such a great idea

Where did I argue a submarine is a great idea? Why must something either be "bollocks" or "a great idea"?


He was asked to help? Where did you get that information?


The governor of Chiang Rai, Narongsak Osottanakorn, was quoted as saying:

"I am the one who invited @SpaceX because my friend works there."

https://twitter.com/yayqe/status/1015287476284346368



Are you serious? You mean some unknown person on Twitter asked him for help? Someone who has a link to an obscure Play store app in their profile. Oh well ...


I'm pretty serious. You asked a question, I answered it. I'm sorry if you don't like the answer. I don't personally know the full set of people who have asked him for help, but the conversation following the tweet I linked is more than sufficient to prove to you that it was others asking him for help rather than Elon's hubris prompting him to dive into a situation he wasn't welcome at.


It's actually a bit saddening that you are serious. But on the other hand there are people who are doing global politics on Twitter. Usually when you are using the phrase "he has been asked for help" I would imply that he was asked by someone officially responsible for the rescue and not by random people on Twitter. Obviously that hasn't been the case.


> Usually when you are using the phrase "he has been asked for help" I would imply that he was asked by someone officially responsible for the rescue and not by random people on Twitter. Obviously that hasn't been the case.

How do you know?


This is a "words mean things" type of thing.

If you aren't sure exactly who asked him for help, it's good to say that explicitly at the beginning, because saying it with no qualification actually does imply that the asker is someone involved in the situation and not just some rando.


Well for one, you were the one who claimed that he was asked for help, and now don't tell me, like your buddy, that this is true because someone one Twitter did that. For two, if the Thai government had actually asked Elon Musk for help, surely this would have made the news (and also been tweeted on his account).


He was asked for help. I never claimed that the Thai government had asked for his help, I simply don't know. Could be, could be not.


The problem is that you used the "he was asked for help" in context of "he didn't force himself on them":

> Elon Musk was asked to help, he agreed to come there and now people talk about "hubris" as if he had tried to force his help on them?

It does sound like it was an invitation or request for help by a relevant person - rather than just a random twitter user.


> the conversation following the tweet I linked is more than sufficient to prove to you that it was others asking him for help

That's technically correct, a random stranger on the Internet asked for help.

Has anyone actually involved in the rescue effort asked for help in that effort, though.


If you read the above discussion first: this question didn't pop out of the blue. It was a direct response to someone suggesting Elon's hubris got the better of him and made him insert himself into a situation where he wasn't wanted. If you read the Twitter conversation I linked you, it addresses this point pretty directly. It's obvious that he had no plans to insert himself into the situation until someone else (random guy or not, I don't know) nudged him to.


I did read the discussion first, and my common sense interpretation of the question was whether someone of relevance to the event asked.


> I did read the discussion first, and my common sense interpretation of the question was whether someone of relevance to the event asked.

Right, so in coming up with that interpretation you completely ignored the rest of the discussion and what the point of this question was. The point was not who the person asking was, or what their credentials were. The point was to figure out whether it was some external or internal force that prompted Elon to help. The status of the person who requested his help does not change whether he was the one who came up with the idea of helping or whether it was someone else who did.


By your logic, I can personally consider myself invited to any party, as long as a random person (even one who has no connection to the party) on Twitter invites me to said party.

That tweet might have motivated me to join the party, and I might even contribute to and be very welcome at that party, but to claim that I was invited to the party because some external force prompted me to go there is not common sense.


> By your logic, I can personally consider myself invited to any party, as long as a random person (even one who has no connection to the party) on Twitter invites me to said party.

Or, you know, you could use try to be more sophisticated in your reasoning and realize it's completely possible and sane to have different criteria when evaluating whether Musk's decision to join a party in response to a stranger's suggestion was an act of hubris compared to when the event in question was an international rescue effort.


Or, you know, you could just admit that the wording was poorly chosen and caused a lot misunderstandings, and that Musk wasn't officially asked for help, but that a random stranger on Twitter asked him to do something.


> Or, you know, you could just admit that the wording was poorly chosen and caused a lot misunderstandings, and that Musk wasn't officially asked for help, but that a random stranger on Twitter asked him to do something.

I would rather not claim more than I know, given that I don't know if he was asked officially.


> Elon Musk was asked to help

wasn't he asked to help by one of his twitter fans who eat up the "ELON IS LITERALLY TONY STARK" kool-aid?



Well I feel embarrassed for him. I genuinely think he wanted to help.

I guess it's like automated cars maybe? It'd save million's of lives but we're so stuck on validating that it might not come in time.


He did nothing to be embarrassed about. He tried hard to quickly help out, using his own resources, asking nothing in return. They started getting kids out suddenly (after they already started on the sub), to take advantage of the lower water levels.

I see nothing here that would embarrass him. He tried to do a kind thing. His speed about it wasn't anything he had control over. To be honest though, they built that thing fast as hell.


Some comments I have read throughout the internet, tweets, etc, suggest that he was too slow to react and that they had over half the kids out already etc.

Reminder that he started this when they were expecting them to be stuck there possibly MONTHS. The rescue in action now was executed quite quickly and surprisingly (to me), as they had said it could be a long term ordeal. The sub too, was designed it to fit in the narrowest parts of the tunnel as well.

I think it's admirable he quickly got this put together and tested, and flew it over to them as fast as he could.

Likewise, he was respectful and didn't take too much of their time or resources when visiting.

I think he tried to do the right thing. He gave them an option that they didn't have previously. If it's not used, so be it. If they had no other options, then they would have another.


> and didn't take too much of their time or resources when visiting

No, why would he. He got what he wanted already.


It might have been useful. A week ago they were talking about the boys being trapped for months. He'll get stick of course, but people suggested he might be able to help and that's why he got involved.


Pretty sure most divers agreed it was way too dangerous. If there's barely space in the cave for an adult diver then there's no space for a submarine.


... no space for a submarine.

Recent tweet from Musk on this subject: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1016686032907931656

Moreover, based on extensive cave video review & discussion with several divers who know journey, SpaceX engineering is absolutely certain that mini-sub can do entire journey


Well that's what I thought too. But he came up with it based on conversations with one of the divers. I think initially people though the Boring Co would be able to do something but that wasn't feasible so this is what they brainstormed. It's not a terrible idea by any means, it's just not needed this time.


update: A tweet from Elon Musk (in response to a BBC article similar to the OP) showing his correspondance with one of the dive team about the subs development. As of a few days ago they were urging Musk to continue with the project because they though it might be needed.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1016684366083190785

Also this is interesting:

Jiradette Kerdsri: I agree with @elonmusk , actually my team was asked from Thai authorities to design a capsule similar to his prototype. But our design is still on the paper while he already has a finish field prototype. Really admire your inspiration https://twitter.com/Jiradett/status/1016690284619599873


I just couldn't understand why he thinks the container should be made of hard metal. Sure maybe the current equipment like dry suit + full face mask has limitations. But shouldn't the natural path be building on top of that? Why is a hard long object that can't bend to fit through some narrow gaps, don't have power and don't use the power of the human it contains, and much heavier, be their go to solution?


Remember he didn't have the luxury of time here. He'd have surely designed something better if he had the chance to design, manufacture, and test it from the ground-up, but I doubt there was enough time to do such a thing. He probably tried to do the best with whatever he had at the time, on the off chance it'd still be useful. So he took the pre-designed parts of his Falcon rocket that could be useful and tried to use those.

Also see this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17496684


This is another reason why people like me are skeptic about that whole "submarine" thing. Taking "pre-designed parts of his Falcon rocket" is ... also a bit ridiculous.

If I were do design a rescue capsule getting a stainless steel pipe and welding a flange to it or anything would be the least of my worries. You can get stuff like that off-the-shelf with same-day delivery.

But surely a submarine made from Falcon parts makes for a nice myth or headline.


Musk is a "technology can save problems"-guy and his team got something done in a short amount of time.

With all his involvements in the past years he likes to tackle complicated technical problems (SpaceX) or use modern technology to disrupt a segment (Tesla/Powergrid/Hyperloop).


Literal money quote: "Anuphong said the two spoke about helping the remaining people out of the cave. He said Prayuth encouraged Musk to invest in the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor. Musk then said he would return to Thailand in the future."


What procedure do they actually use? I'd guess SEALs allready have standard procedures for transpoting persons under water in difficult circumstances. Secret procedures probably, so we might never know exactly how they do it.


The people who like Musk will say he is doing good trying to help even if they can't/won't use what he offers.

The people who dislike Musk will say he is using this awful event for PR and such.


As it is with every politically charged event.

The truth in this case, and most similar cases, is "it's probabaly a little bit of both".

Its a joke to think elon is the pure saint many hope him to be. It's also a joke to think that he's just a rich selfish big-egoed businessman.


Although I see the hubris point of view people here have, if oxygen dipped or some other catastrophy and someone fell unconscious, they could have been in a situation where this contraption was Useful.

People like to jump to black and white but maybe it’s shades of grey, some hubris and also a chance of being genuinely helpful.


local Australian media is saying that the report that the kids cant swim was wildly inaccurate, they even showed photos of the kids swimming with their friends.

The "sub" was never really needed... but good on him anyway.


I’m torn on whether this was a publicity stunt or not. If it was, it’s an amazingly transparent one. That almost makes me think it was sincere, but absurd. I don’t see how Musk et al score points either way.


I think it's sincere and well intentioned 'here's a difficult, interesting problem, lets put my big brain to work on out-of-the-box solutions'.

There is touch of hubris, perhaps.


Interestingly I can't find the 'impractical' quote. Just found this one:

> His equipment is technologically complex and advanced, but we cannot bring it into the cave for this mission


A simpler one: «we cannot bring it into the cave»


Just at the basic level of what the experience for these boys would have been like, sealed in a metal cylinder and towed through the cave system for hours - it seems a greater feat of endurance for them than being lead out - particularly with how traumatised by darkness and claustrophobia they must already be.


The boys were extremely weak and unhealthy. The trek was demanding and risky for experienced, healthy and prepared divers; there was a lot of doubt as to whether the boys would be able to make such an arduous journey.


This is the best outcome for Musk, as he gets the positive PR (and bolsters his supposed "Iron Man" image), but bears none of the risk of his half-baked idea failing and killing someone.

More generally, one should be wary of capitalists claiming they can solve all of your problems. They're likely just in it for themselves.


From the pictures I don't see how the "submarine" could have worked, when they say the cave is so narrow in places that you need to take off the scuba to get through. Also probably not cylindrical.



The cave, not the submarine.




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