Ilon Musk is not the future

Original author: Paris Marx
  • Transfer

Technology managers do it for their own sake and not for the common good.

In Silicon Valley do not find ideas on transport. In their vision of the future, we all catch autonomous vehicles for trips over short distances — or we are generally driven into an underground network of tunnels that supposedly take us to our destination faster — and for long-distance travels we change to booths located in vacuum tubes, shooting us towards the destination at a speed of 1220 km / h.

However, all these fantasies of rich directors of technology companies remain just that - fantasies. None of these technologies are implemented in the way they promise — if at all. In fact, technologies for the transformation of our transport networks already exist, but Americans are stuck in an outdated system that depends on cars, and they are denied modern technologies - not to mention future ones - politicians sitting on the lures at energy companies' lobbies, addicted to harmful ideology "Free market". They will believe any snake oil vendor — or a wealthy entrepreneur — who has come to them with a solution.

And of all such entrepreneurs, the worst is Ilon Musk .

Unhealthy Cult Mask

For the most part technopress, every statement Mask - like a voice from heaven. Together with frequent positive comparisons with Steve Jobs, the idea is being promoted that simply because Musk created several successful companies, he is infallible; if he claims that he has a solution to the transport crisis looming over the United States, he must be right. After all, he is a rich entrepreneur, and if the US political discussions of the last couple of decades have taught us something, then this is what entrepreneurs need to believe.

In fact, Mask’s ideas about transport are ill-conceived at best, and at worst, they are specifically delaying the creation of transport infrastructure in the United States, which could pull the country into the 21st century.

Does this mean that everything with which Musk works is bad? Not necessary. He deserves certain honors for promoting electric cars and helping push industry in this direction - but in the field of transport that’s all. His vision of the future is not liberating, or even particularly innovative; in fact, it is even rather conservative.

Imagination Mask is trying to go beyond car limits; Tesla is at the heart of each of its intended decisions. SolarCity advertises suburban housing dependent on cars. Boring Company is an inefficient and non-working attempt to solve traffic problems without reducing the number of cars. Even his proposal Hyperloop leaves the option of stuffing machines into vacuum tubes.

The unattainable suburban future that Ilon Musk imagines

does not surprise anyone, given Mask’s recent comments that public transport is “ hemorrhoids ” and that “there are a lot of random strangers driving around, each of whom can be a serial killer.” He glorifies individual transport because he does not want to be close to other people - he even, judging by the comments, is afraid of them - but the decision putting each person in an individual machine will not work in the increasingly dense and urbanized world in which we live.

In fact, instead of cringing to Mask and his ingenious comrades-technicians, we need to take a critical look at their proposals in order to understand who will really benefit from them, and if their fantasies are not missing the fundamental considerations necessary for the viability of these ideas. . We cannot afford to be deceived by the directors of technology companies, who give priority to their own transport activities and the thirst for profit, and overshadow the needs of many people.

Transport solutions from techies do not work

RoboMobi are central to the Silicon Valley transportation ideas, and the media, by and large, bought into statements from major companies claiming the imminent appearance of these cars - despite the fact that people like Mask promised that we would see them in two years, then two years later, and now they promise to show them again in two years.

In fact, they don’t have two years left - at least not those capsules without a driver and a steering wheel that can drive on any road and in any weather. Many technological and automotive companies have graphics that look like Mask graphics, and almost all of thempushed back the launch of technology for 2021 or later. And although they were well on their way, teaching cars to drive through wide and empty suburbs, in states with clear and sunny weather, the latest figures from Waymo, one of the industry leaders, demonstrate that progress is stalled.

In the next couple of years there will be more taxis without drivers, but it is important to understand that the capabilities of such cars will correspond to the 4th, not 5th level.. This means that they will be limited to work in certain places - as a service Waymo, working in the suburbs of the city of Phoenix. Arizona, and will hardly cope in the centers of cities where the streets are occupied, or where it often rains and snow that can interfere with the work of sensors. Companies that still place their cars in such conditions as Uber and Tesla do may face problems - reports of traffic accidents and traffic offenses continue to pile up.

But if we arrange everyone in a separate vehicle, where do they all fit? Musk wants to build a subway for cars, for those who need to overtake traffic. He claims that this project will be open to all, but in reality the limited space and high construction costs will reduce access to the project, leaving it to the rich or even narrower groups, given that the first Maskom’s planned tunnel will conveniently pass from his work to his home .

Huge engineering miracle, necessary for the realization of a dream Mask about city cars without traffic jams

Musk does not recognize the exclusivity of its tunnels. He advertises the Boring Company as a means of seriously reducing the cost of drilling tunnels - it may even be beneficial to public transport - but again his assumptions demonstrate his ignorance . He argues that his approach will reduce the cost of laying tunnels, however, the cost of laying the metro in Madrid, Seoul and Stockholm has already dropped to a level similar to the one that, according to Mask, is available only to him. [Musk promised to reduce the cost of construction of the subway 10 times, keeping in mind the cost of the Los Angeles Metrowhich costs the city $ 600 million / km - that is, up to $ 60 million / km. In Stockholm, the cost of a kilometer of suburban metro line was about $ 90 million / km . In Moscow, deep stations build for about $ 110 million / km, shallow ones - about $ 70 million / km / approx. transl.]

In a journalistic investigation into the exorbitant cost of building a subway in New York, the New York Times found that the construction of Second Avenue Linecost the city $ 1.6 billion per kilometer, despite the fact that the roughly similar expansion of the Paris metro cost $ 280 million / km. Many factors that increase the cost of construction in the United States, Musk ignores - either out of ignorance, or from the desire to deliberately mislead. The same may be true for the Hyperloop project.

Musk proposed his own Hyperloop project in 2013, after voters voted to set up a high-speed railway in California, but before its construction began. It sounded futuristic: a vacuum tube that will shoot you from San Francisco towards Los Angeles, so that you can travel this way in half an hour and cost only $ 6 billion - many times cheaper than a high-speed railway. What then may not like it? Yes, a lot of things.

First, the speed that does not combine with comfort, which can even bring to nausea. Secondly, Hyperloop can transport less people - 3360 per hour in one direction, against 12,000. The cost of construction was also recognized as absolutely unrealistic, Musk simply lied about the power consumption of high-speed trains. Companies really trying to build Hyperloop find that construction costs are radically higher than what was stated in the first sentence of Mask: a section of a 172 km long road in the San Francisco Bay would cost twice as much as the amount voiced by Maskom all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles [500 km in a straight line / approx. transl.]

As with tunnels, the California high-speed rail is too expensive compared to international standards. In China, a similar project costs $ 17-21 million / km, in Europe - $ 29-39 million / km. In California, it is about $ 52-72 million / km. A hyperlup in the Gulf would have cost $ 52-75 million / km. The high cost of high-speed rail is not a technology issue. This is a problem with the approach to infrastructure projects in the United States.

Delayed progress for personal use

The promotion of utopian ideas to delay progress is not a new scheme for Silicon Valley, although the media do not present this at all. Remember that many technical “innovations” were based on public funding , and the main tech companies are world leaders in tax evasion. On every public transport ballot, people are offered autonomous vehicles and search for travel companions to push them away from financing buses and subways, calling them past technologies - although nothing could be further from the truth.

In our world, where urbanization is growing, transportation is necessary for the rapid and efficient movement of large numbers of people. The personal transport, which is preferred by techies, will not give the same level of efficiency, since there is simply not enough room for everyone to move into cars or capsules, especially within the trend of decreasing road width and expanding sidewalks and adding bicycle paths.

Musk and his colleagues, heads of technical companies, advertise unmanned vehicles as the future of transport, because they want to achieve exactly such a future. They do not want to go to the subway or train next to the usual people - as Mask already said, one of them could be a serial killer! What worries me is how much they want to isolate themselves from ordinary people, but the reality of urban movement is that only a small part of the population can move in a separate transport, and in the end, this scheme will stop working. This is one of the problems that cause such terrible traffic jams in our cities - all these machines simply do not interfere, and the solution is not to transfer control to artificial intelligence, but to move people more efficiently.

In addition to his personal hake, Mask has a financial interest in maintaining the dominance of cars in the 21st century - he controls the car company! Public transport and high-speed trains are opposed to his interests, so he spreads ideas that are never implemented, but which certain groups can use to counter the financing of efficient modes of transport.

And while the US infrastructure is collapsing, and basically everyone is engaged in repairing existing projects, rather than building new ones, China and Europe are building advanced high-speed train networks and public transport systems. Their citizens benefit from technologies designed to efficiently move large numbers of people, and poor Americans stand idle in their cars, seeing an increase in the time it takes to go home from work.

Americans need to stop drinking Kool-Aid in Silicon Valley - or rather, say " soylent"- and start demanding the creation of improved transport opportunities that will be able to free them from car dependency. Apparently, this process is already starting; across the country, cities are referendums for expanding public transport networks, and California is promoting its high-speed train line pressure from myopic conservatives.

It is not true that investing in community projects does not lead to prosperity — just look at the federal highway system — but for the government to start investing again in the future, political will, increased oversight of technology entrepreneurs, and an end to austerity policies will be needed. Huge investments in science and infrastructure helped the United States to become a prosperous country, and building a high-speed rail network along with expanding public transportation — something like what China has achieved over the past ten years — will be a strategic step to demonstrate to the people of the country still capable of great things.

Also popular now: