If Elon Musk's vision of the future proves to be correct, we'll zipping around in driverless cars by 2018 and colonizing Mars not long thereafter.
Musk, who founded Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal, shared these and other bold predictions when speaking on stage at Recode's Code Conference on Wednesday. Here are a few of his boldest statements:
- People will go to Mars by 2025. "If things go according to plan, we should be able to launch people probably in 2024 with arrival in 2025," said Musk. When asked about how he views establishing law and government on Mars, Musk said he believes a direct democracy would work most efficiently. "I think that's better because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus representative democracy."
- Video games will become indistinguishable from reality. Musk has heavily considered the possibility that we may very well be living in a simulation. His main argument to support this is the rapid advancement of the technology that powers video games, which he believes will one day become so realistic they will be impossible to distinguish from real life. "Forty years ago, we had pong," he said. "Now forty years later, we have photorealistic, 3-D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it's getting better every year . . . If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality."
- Completely autonomous cars will arrive in fewer than two years. Companies like Google, Uber, and Ford are already experimenting with self-driving car technology. While many of these advancements are in their early stages, Musk believes automobiles will be completely autonomous in two years. "I consider autonomous driving to be a basically solved problem," he said. "We're less than two years away from complete autonomy. Regulators however will take at least another year; they'll want to see billions of miles of data."
- An Apple Car is coming in 2020. Musk said he expects Apple's much-rumored yet unconfirmed electric car to go into production by 2020. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Apple's first vehicle could arrive in 2019. He also added that he believes Apple should have "embarked" on its car project sooner.
- "We're already a cyborg." Musk has never shied away from arguing that artificial intelligence could pose a threat to humanity's future, and he touched on the topic again on stage at the Code Conference. When answering a question about how to avoid a doomsday-like scenario, he offered another bold stance: humans are already cyborgs. Musk pointed to our social media personalities and reliance on computers to perform everyday tasks and communicate. "You have basically superpowers with your computer and your phone and the applications that are there," he said. "You have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago."