Every other week, some automotive CEO or founder you’ve never heard of will make news and keep their stock prices stable by guessing at the future of self-driving cars. Late Wednesday night, the robot-fearing space explorer and transportation tycoon Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX took his turn when he told the Wall Street Journal that Tesla would have self-driving cars ready in six years.
“The big car companies have been a lot slower than I thought,” he said.
Mr. Musk is fond of making fanciful predictions and projections about the future of transportation, but saying that he’ll have a self-driving car in six years isn’t as far fetched as, say, a bullet-speed interstate monorail in the sky. After all, Nissan says that they’ll have self-driving cars ready by then, too.
We guess Elon Musk won’t be attending the robot Olympics. The billionaire mastermind behind technology companies like Tesla Motors and SpaceX says artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” Oh, shit.
It’s that time of year! Google has released the year-end numbers for searches and top trends in 2013. Betabeat has pored over the lists and separated the wheat from the gluten-free chaff to bring you this year’s most popular in tech.
Tumblr Goes Hard Taking a break from reblogging, faving and figuring out when their shares are going to vest, Tumblr employees threw themselves a cute little Halloween party. We spotted them sharing some photos on rival social network Twitter, but it looked like they were having a good time. The sales team dressed up as the cast of Spring Breakers, Betaworks’ golden child Poncho was spotted in the crowd and some jokester decided to be a Yahoo! employee. That forced smile and suit looks rigid enough to fit in the corporate world, so well done.
IRL Iron Man
Video circulating of a Tesla that caught on fire is making investors worried about the safety of its lithium-ion batteries. [Business Insider]
Sure, the Silk Road is blocked, but that doesn’t mean the Dark Web is going anywhere. [The Verge]
Turns out Tom Clancy could be pretty prescient. [Time]
“Ultimately The Circle is just Read More
Elon Musk really wants to convince everyone that the Tesla Model S won’t constantly run out of juice, leaving you stranded in traffic more than the lemon of a Triumph this reporter’s dad drove in the late 1970s.
Now, it seems, he’s decided to rope his kids into promoting the Tesla brand with a cross-country road trip, designed to demonstrate that you can get wherever you need in a Model S.
This sounds like a fantastic opportunity for Mr. Musk and his five sons to subsist entirely on Vienna sausages and cheese and peanut-butter sandwich crackers. But let’s hope the experience is more Crossroads, less National Lampoon’s Vacation.
IRL Iron Man
When the Department of Homeland Security seized the funds from Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox’s Dwolla account, we were unsure just how much was taken; now, according to court documents, that number totaled $2.9 million. [Gigaom]
Yesterday Twitter added “related headlines” to tweets, and everyone momentarily freaked out. [PandoDaily]
If you’re building an app that connects to Instagram, better not put “Insta” or “gram” in the title or else you’re gonna have a bad time. [Techcrunch]
Internet citizens, typically reasoned and level-headed when it comes to these sorts of things, freaked the fuck out yesterday when Amazon temporarily went down. [Fast Company]
Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S achieved the highest safety rating of any car. Ever. We like to imagine Mr. Musk celebrating with a lavish party on Mars. [Tesla]
IRL Iron Man
Hey, do you love Space Mountain and hate bumper-to-bumper traffic? Boy, does Elon Musk have the highly theoretical transit system for you!
The PayPal cofounder just released the open-source plans for his pipe dream, the Hyperloop, along with some futuristic renderings we’re pretty sure he stole from Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s basically the love child of a supersonic jet and the monorail at Epcot. Mr. Musk says it’s “the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart.”
Anything more and you just want to upgrade to supersonic air travel. (As one does.) Though he’s not entirely done hashing out the details, after pulling an all-nighter working on the plans:
Did Elon Musk’s pie-in-the-sky promises about releasing a plan for an ultra-fast “Hyperloop” get you all excited for the future of travel? Bad news: This time, even Mr. Musk has to admit he got a little ahead of himself.
On Tesla’s quarterly earnings call, someone asked (wholly seriously, it seems) whether shareholders would “see any benefit” from the Hyperloop, for which he’s supposed to release a plan on August 12. According to a Seeking Alpha transcript, that’s when the backtracking began:
What do you do if you’re a Google Glass beta tester and a Tesla owner? Aside from eating caviar for every meal, you hack together an app that controls the electronic car via the use of your face computer. Sahas Katta, a software engineer, did that with the creation he brilliantly calls the “Glasstesla.”