Famous stand-up comedian Joe Rogan had a special guest on his podcast last September 6, 2018 - business magnate magnet, investor, and engineer Elon Musk (Youtube link below).


They had an engaging exchange of ideas and opinions on existential philosophy, societal trends, business management, electric cars and netiquette flavored with Elon’s confirmation-seeking “Makes sense.” and acerbic “Hahaha” remarks and Joe’s occasional swearing. The general tone is a mix of philanthropy and preferred optimism with a few brushes on controversial topics I would personally like to give insight to in this article.

So to whom does Elon bring his great ideas to (to make them happen)?

It is conspicuous from the nascent build-up of the conversation that Joe was trying to unveil and  understand how Elon was getting his innovative ideas to fruition. The first touch was on how Elon was effectively managing his time. Though Elon didn't give a direct answer, an interview with Time magazine (explained in their article a few years back) says he barely micromanages his activities in 5 minute time slots. This meant every second of his time is precious, and that the podcast was in fact quite expensive to him (maybe offset by the accrued PR incentive - a mayhap gamble Elon is seasoned in making). After discussing improvement in traffic through making tunnels, Joe brings up the question "When you have this bright idea, who do you bring it to?". Unfortunately, Elon responded by citing a case example of the hole-digging. If you've listened to the full podcast, Joe persists on this question twice but fails during both attempts. May it be that Elon is hesitant of dropping particular names, it is beyond peradventure that he brings it to one of his research and development (R&D) teams for prototyping. Because no matter how grand or ingenious the idea or invention, a sensible stakeholder or investor will not provide the necessary funds without concrete proof that it will work. And the best way to provide such evidence is through testing or giving a prototype. Even in integrated circuit design, a schematic has to be fabricated in a design sample and tested for errors, (see: https://www.eeweb.com/profile/aijazfatima20/articles/introducing-the-integrated-circuit-ic-design-cycle) before mass production.

Personally, I'm not aware of any existing studies that under-gird the claims of a tunnel solving issues in traffic for a densely populated urban region. Sure, subterranean navigation is plummy for its flexible 3-dimensional feature, but is still restricted to point-to-point (lest the number of elevators for the payload multiplies). Not to mention the exorbitant costs it portends to the public with the absence of a formal case study.

I'm a cyborg! You're a cyborg! We're all cyborgs! 

No kidding, when Elon said that man was already a cyborg with his/her mobile phone (albeit an abysmal data rate at the interface), there are no counter-arguments (or points of ridicule) to prove otherwise. Given the proper definition of a cyborg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyborg), the phone and it's connectivity can be considered an augment to the organs that humans use to engage in communication. However, (discussed too in the latter part of the podcast) smartphones and similar technologies seem to have reduced the quality of interpersonal relationships. Strictly speaking, a cyborg is "an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback". In this case, the effect is not an enhancement but an implicit detriment to human function. Is there a proper term for  such? If we are to stick to this reasoning, then the definition of a cyborg becomes ambivalent due to the equivocal nature of the underlying "artificial component" - i.e. a function of application.

Happy Bonobos on Instagram

Do Bonobos have things better than us? Is it because their primary response to every unpleasant stimulus in their environment is a pleasant stimulus to their privates? Or is it because they do not  deal with the daily pressures and anxiety caused by social media?  In my opinion, the biggest problem in discussing controversial topics is the reason why they are controversial in the first place. The constituents, role-players, and environment involved in a controversy change a lot and are mostly subjective, with a significant lacking of undeniable evidence and proof on essential elements (that make them otherwise). But to be on common footing with what was argued in the podcast, the following assumptions will be made:
  • Majority of the concerned demographic who are unhappy seeing the perfect lives of others on Instagram continue to use Instagram on a regular basis and do not stop to find more productive activities to spend their time on.
  • The benchmark of expectation for most of the concerned demographic is toward other people (which was to be fair stated in the podcast but not in an assumptive manner).
With these precursors, I find re-base-lining expectations an immediate sensible approach to reducing misery and disappointment. Though I would also like to toss in the perspective of seeing these perfect illusions as an inspiration, a challenge to better oneself. When we re-evaluate our expectations on ourselves, we are inadvertently admitting our jealousy of another's good fortune. Lowering self-standards may provide the feeling of self-satisfaction, but discourage us toward self-development in the long run. Whatever happened to the slogan - "If he/she can do it, I can do it too, maybe better."

After all, Elon did say it himself in the podcast:

I'd rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right.

If there is one treasure in Joe Rogan's podcast I find most valuable, it is this one. The more an idea stays on one's mind, the higher the probability it will occur. It hasn't (or may not need to) be proven, and may be a product of common sense, but I believe self-fulfilling prophecies occur due to unconscious action. Society's pessimism may foster intolerance to change and improvement, a "there is nothing we can do about it" attitude. Adhering to such pernicious beliefs furthers the probability of a dystopian future. Optimism, on the other hand, has the adverse effect. If people had a modicum of hope and faith, wholesome habits will form that can weather a conducive solution to problems that were once thought intractable. After all, most scientific data are based on simulations and do not factor in the effects of human behavior in their models.

Are we in a simulation?

I had feelings of uneasiness (not the only instance) when Elon came to this subject. Elon has a Bachelor's degree in Physics, so the word "simulation" could have meant a lot of things. It may have had a completely different meaning to Joe too, because he didn't make any replies that correlated to a unique definition. So what could he have meant when he said we all could be in a simulation? I could only give a biased (and funny) interpretation, limited by my "College Physics" know-how. *sob*

Maybe, we are in a controlled simulation, where higher dimensional beings similar to those in the film "Interstellar", manipulate the dimensions we humans can directly observe - time, length, width, and height (or maybe the higher dimensions too that involve situational circumstance and probability), to either their enjoyment (which Elon implied when he said these beings must be more boring) or their research. Honestly, they may have a completely different mindset as the concept of enjoyment is an invention of a flawed species, invalidating the mentioned purposes (perhaps an abstract reason beyond our comprehension). A specific case of the above would be religion, where the "God" may be the higher dimensional being.

Maybe, we are in an uncontrolled simulation, where higher dimensional beings are not conscious of our existence. I believe this borders on an atheistic belief - there are no outside observers and the salient arguments from the literary work of Albert Camus: the Myth of Sisyphus come into play (http://dbanach.com/sisyphus.htm)

On a less probable scenario (in my opinion), we can be inside a highly sophisticated machine that transcends time and space, running an infinite number of simulations of the universe. Each number of simulations can represent the higher dimensions described in string theory. It could be a machine that never breaks down (because it dominates time). I think this is highly unlikely because of the chaos observed at quantum levels. For a machine of a higher level to work, there has to be some degree of order in a pool of chaos.

The final assumption is something I really dislike (and may perhaps be the most improbable scenario of them all), because I'm personally pro-Elon Musk. But critical thinking has to factor all possibilities no matter how ludicrous, does it not? He may be fibbing around with Joe, mocking his poor understanding of the concept that any theory outside the observable universe will remain open to speculation until a firm method has been established otherwise.

A New Airplane Concept. More efficient. More dangerous.

Elon's new idea of an airplane is thought-provoking. But he may have gotten too carried away in elaborating the details to Joe. It's not entirely his fault because, he subtly mentioned the relationship ma=mg (force equilibrium) a few moments prior and Joe didn't make any objections. Hence, we can assume Elon thought Joe could still understand what he was saying (because the equation was still part of high school physics under the American curriculum). The concept does make sense, as Elon affirmed, air resistance is an exponential - so the higher the airplane, the lower the air drag/resistance (a lot LOT lower). Remember, an exponential grows and decays faster than a square (compare the curve of a charging capacitor to a parabola). A moving airplane is essentially governed by the balance of gravity (Fg), lift force, thrust force, and air resistance. At higher altitudes, air resistance becomes negligible, so the amount of energy required to generate the same thrust force is lower.

Bottom line: It's easier to fly a plane at higher altitudes.

But what about the energy needed to reach that height? We just go back to the inviolable law of  conservation of energy. Elon said he wanted to convert lost energy going up by generating it during descent. The big question is how to regenerate that energy?

One method I can think of is by hot air balloon during half the ascent, then expending some fuel during the rest of the climb (because it'll be harder to maintain the temperature of air at higher altitudes). Some energy may not be recovered but I think it is the most efficient method for now. It is also more dangerous because landing will be a hustle when problems occur.

NSA - "I don't give a damn about your data use."

This is just an amalgamation of a topic discussed by Elon in the podcast and an infamous Youtube video of him declaring his indifference to a College Diploma (video below)


I am inclined to have the same opinion with Elon on the NSA's acquisition and gathering of private data, but for a somewhat different reason. Yes, I also think it would be immature and preposterous for a limited man-power organization to spend time laughing about your weird choice of pornography. However, the real reason is the number of lives they are saving (similar to a watered-down "Minority Report" film where in this case - there is actual incriminating evidence available and not just some fantastic imagery drawn out from a balding lesbo). As an example, human trafficking is mitigated through the rescue of missing people by checking their SMS and call logs, determining the last cell towers that established a handshake.

Does Elon have Jennifer Lawrence's Nudes!? 

Dubbed America's sweetheart, it would be hard even for the likes of Elon Musk to not keep a copy of Jennifer's exhilarating physique. 

Just kidding, viewers may be under the wrong impression that Elon was apathetic to the big leak that happened some time ago, where countless sensitive photographs of celebrities leaked to the public - dubbed "the Fappening" (whatever that means?). And I myself, in all due honesty, have not seen any pictures from that event (so please send some to my email). This is in connection to the argument in the previous section about the NSA having access to an individual's private files. Joe asked if this mattered even if someone's naked pictures were leaked, and Elon remained steadfast to his claim that it didn't matter to the NSA (I'm not even sure if Elon knew who Jennifer Lawrence was).

From a personal viewpoint, it wasn't the most tactful thing to answer, maybe Elon was already too inebriated by the marijuana it clouded his judgment. The argument may have been better addressed by simply responding that "Jennifer Lawrence is a #%^&^^% celebrity damn it!" Of course it would be a concern for people with influence, like celebrities. So, they are exceptions. The original argument was whether it was alright for the NSA to become privy to the common folk's privacy, not perv on a celebrity.

Marijuana

The rest of the podcast revolved around less pressing matters. I am glad that Joe and Elon ended on a pleasant and optimistic note. Before I end this article too, I'd like to share my take on Elon's marijuana use during the podcast, which is quite similar to Neil's response below:



Aside from what Neil said, I think Elon has the faculties to control and discipline his marijuana use (if he ever does). The problem with drug/alcohol use has always been abuse. This business magnet does not seem like the kind to squander over something so petty.