Feb 29, 2024

Elon Interview Transcripts | Bosch Connected World Conference

Discussion with Elon Musk at the 2024 Bosch Connected World Conference on 19 February 2024. The interviewers are Stefan Hartung and Markus Heyn from Bosch.


Interviewers: How are you?

Elon Musk: Good!

Interviewers: Fantastic! We have had two days of AI and and whatsoever, but you look real.

Elon Musk: My head is very big in the screen and in reality too, I suppose.

Interviews: Elon, we have had so much talk about AI these two days, so we need your opinion. What do you think about the next 5 to 10 years on AI? Please give us a view.

Elon Musk: Really? Artificial Insemination? [SIC] Haha, just joking. Artificial intelligence is certainly going to profoundly change the world. One of the most significant ways is self-driving. We've been putting a lot of effort into self-driving technology for cars. You don't see it quite as much in Europe because we first have to make it work in the US before we increase the complexity of trying to make it elsewhere in the world. I think we're quite close to having the car be fully autonomous. For example, right now, I could be in Austin, and if I want to drive to the airport, the car could take me there with no interventions using digital neural nets, in other words, artificial intelligence, and cameras. So there's no LIDAR, nothing. If you think about how humans drive cars, humans are biological neural nets and we use eyes. So it's the eyes and biological neural nets. The analogy for digital is cameras and digital neural nets. This is working remarkably well. It has been quite difficult to do this because the car has to be quite fully intelligent. For example, it has to learn how to read everything and assess intention among drivers and pedestrians. You end up creating sort of a baby artificial general intelligence to solve this, but this will obviously be extremely profound. And talking about automotive here, the average use of a passenger vehicle is only about 10 hours per week out of 168 hours. The point at which it is autonomous, I think you would see probably a third of the hours being used, maybe like 50 to 60 hours, which means that the utility of a passenger vehicle would increase by a factor of five. This is gigantic. But we'll see. Then there's what people have experienced online, where you can ask it a question, ask for an essay, or a picture, or to understand a picture. And that is progressing rapidly. What I'm seeing in terms of AI compute, I've never seen any technology advance faster than this. The AI compute coming online appears to be increasing by a factor of 10 every six months. Now, obviously, that cannot continue at such a high rate forever, or it will exceed the mass of the universe. But I've never seen anything like it. And this is why you see NVIDIA's market cap being so gigantic because they currently have the best neural net chips. It's quite high. So, yeah, it may go higher, who knows. The chip rush is bigger than any gold rush that has ever existed. And then there will also be robots, humanoid robots, not just industrial robots. We are familiar with industrial robots, but they don't walk around. Tesla, with the Optimus program, is making a humanoid robot that is capable of doing almost anything a human can do. I mean, I hope the robots are nice to us.

Interviewers: We hope so too, Elon, that the robots will be nice to us. And let's say, in this regard, because you are working on Optimus, what can we expect in terms of support which is going to come maybe also a little bit with regard to production? Because in the Bosch connected world, we were also discussing the application of AI gen into production in order to boost productivity. Maybe a couple of thoughts on this one.

Elon Musk: Well, the plus side of AI is that I think productivity will increase dramatically. So, across every field, whether it be manual labor, supply chain logistics, there's already a lot of movement to use sophisticated chatbots for customer service, for example, where they can answer quite complex questions already. But I mean, I think we really are on the edge of probably the biggest technology revolution that has ever existed. There's supposedly sort of a Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Well, we live in the most interesting of times, the most interesting. And for a while, I was a little bit depressed, frankly, because I was like, "Well, will we be useless? Will they take over?" But then the way that I reconciled myself to this question was, "Would I rather be alive to see an AI apocalypse or not?" I guess I'd like to see that.

Interviewers: That's a good thought because you mentioned it's a twofold every six months. That's an exponential curve, right? Exponential curves are beautiful, but there's kind of a question where does it ever end, right? Do you see any end yet, or will it go on for three, four, five years like this because then we talk 100 folds, right, a thousand folds of time?

Elon Musk: Yeah, that's why obviously, I mean, you can't grow at that rate without quickly exceeding the mass of the universe, so clearly, it's going to hit some constraints. The constraints that AI compute are very predictable. I've actually predicted this over a year ago. So, over a year ago, the shortage was chips, neural net chips. Then, it was very easy to predict that the next shortage would be voltage step-down transformers because you've got to feed the power to these things. So, if you've got 100 to 300 kilovolts coming out of your utility, and it's got to step all the way down to 6 volts, that's a lot of stepping down. So, now we're in step down. This is why there's not that funny joke, which is that they need transformers to run transformers. Because the AI is like, there's this thing called a transformer in AI. It's a neural net thing, and they're running out of transformers to run transformers. Then, the next shortage will be electricity. So, I think next year, you will see that they just can't find enough electricity to run all the chips.

Interviewers: I mean, during the chip crisis, we certainly all did have many contacts. Fortunately, we were able to master it together. Of course, we all would like to avoid a second chip crisis, but with regard to your comment on power demand, we all know today vehicles have three to four kilowatt power demand for the peripherals, but this is continuously going up. And Tesla has recently launched the Cybertruck, which I believe is mostly coming with 48 volt. Do you see this as a let's say further disruption of the automotive industry, another technology change within automotive?

Elon Musk: Yeah, I think the automotive industry has been living with 12 volts for a very long time, a century roughly. It started off as six volts, and then they needed a more powerful starter motor, and then they doubled it to 12 volts, although it's actually more like 13.7 volts. And the bus voltage actually varies a lot. For those, probably some electrical engineers in the audience, 12 volts is a very rough approximation. But it's really kind of an arbitrary low voltage. And if you look at power ethernet, it's running at 50 volts or roughly 48 volts. And we set it at 48 volts because anything really above that, you start to run into regulatory concerns. And power ethernet is like I said, roughly at that level. But the advantage of obviously quadrupling the voltage is that you can substantially reduce how much copper or conductor is used in the car. So, you can use very small copper wires for roughly a quarter as much copper is needed for 48 volts as for 12 volts. So, I think it's a logical move. That's really the next step for the low voltage architecture for the car. I think ultimately, long-term, cars will be 48 volts.

Interviewers: It's interesting that many people love electric vehicles and want to have them, but some are hampered by a missing infrastructure. That would be the same actually as the AI thing. We will have lots of chips ready, but we will not have the power to operate them. There's a race between infrastructure and technology right now, and you're also certain technology may win, which is a problem because actually, infrastructure should win. We should have all the infrastructure we need. Is that correct?

Elon Musk: Are you talking about charging infrastructure for cars and that kind of thing? Well, the reason Tesla developed the global supercharger network was specifically to address that point, the point you're making, which is people need to be comfortable that they can travel long distances and charge their car wherever they go. Fortunately, electricity is almost everywhere. So, you need the supercharger network. You need the charging infrastructure and the electricity to charge electric cars. In fact, the simultaneous growth of electric cars and AI, both of which need electricity, both of which need voltage transformers, is actually creating a tremendous demand for electrical equipment and for electrical power generation.

Interviewers: Maybe one more question, Elon, with regard to new vehicle designs coming to the market. Of course, you cannot share with us confidential secrets, but anyways, what are the things you believe we will see over the next years in the market? And maybe just a small comment, in Europe, we see a shortage of affordable battery electric vehicles in the offerings because many people in Europe are only able to spend like 20,000, 25,000 for their vehicle. So, what are the new vehicle types, vehicle designs you are thinking about at Tesla?

Elon Musk: Well, our next-generation vehicle will be a lower-cost vehicle, but one also that is very focused on autonomy. Like I said, we really are getting to the point where the car can drive itself well. When you're in the US, I would recommend perhaps trying out our car and seeing how it works. It's remarkable. As the AI gets better and better, it actually feels quite humanlike in the way that it drives. It does things that you wouldn't expect a computer to do. It's not like a robot dancing. It feels smooth and intuitive. Our next-generation vehicle, which we're quite far along on, is very much anticipating autonomy. And then, of course, we've got some fun things as well, like on our new Tesla Roadster, which will be able to do 0 to 100 kilometers in under 2 seconds.

Interviewers: Great, thank you very much, Elon. That's good news. You're going to have the fun stuff too. That's the dessert, that's the cherry on the cake, but it's fun. Well, that's very good news because, in the end, there are a lot of people here in the room that still on their list to buy an electric vehicle, and you just announced something which they probably want to buy. So thank you very much.

Elon Musk: Thank you very much, and thank you extremely for 15 years of partnership and work together. We are inspired always by your speed, attitude, and the things that come out.