Elon Musk talks about the importance of learning to learn. In a Reddit AMA, he says most people sell themselves short without even trying:
One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.
And in his work, he focuses on solving the right problem.
Tim Urban says a study of Tesla isn’t about a car or a car company—it’s about how change happens. And about why it often doesn’t happen. When real change arrives, we can tell. Like Urban, I had a similar feeling to that of Tesla's unveiling when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007.
Innovators know all too well that change doesn’t happen on a familiar landscape—change has to construct the landscape itself. Yet none of the change would be possible without the determination and persistence of the people that bring it to life.
Some highlights from his long article on how Tesla will change your life:
A Tesla-quality car that’s affordable to the middle class would seem to have only pros in the Pro/Con list:
Pros of an affordable, high-quality, long-range EV over a comparable gas car:
- Drives better. The instant torque of an EV is like exploding out of a gun. There’s no lag time between your foot touching the pedal and the car moving. Without gears, it accelerates perfectly smoothly. The handling is incredible. It’s silent.
- More convenient. No stops for gas. Much less need to take the car in for maintenance. No oil changes. More storage because with no engine, the hood is now the frunk (the front trunk).
- Safer. With no engine, the entire front of the car becomes a crumple zone. That’s part of why the Model S has blown away the safety ratings.
- Cheaper. No gas or oil, and less maintenance. No longer beholden to fluctuating gas prices.
- Healthier. No smog in cities, which cause many, many health problems.
- Oh yeah, and the whole thing about avoiding an environmental, economic, or geopolitical catastrophe.
Cons of an affordable, high-quality, long-range EV over a comparable gas car:
- People who love to shift the manual stick around with all their muscle because they’re a cool cat on the open road to destiny can’t do that.
- Five days a year, when you’re on a long drive, you have to stop for 30 minutes every three hours instead of five minutes every four hours—a con that becomes moot if you would have stopped for 30 minutes anyway every few hours.
EVs aren’t there yet. Right now, there are legit cons. But as the next few years pass, EVs will get cheaper, battery ranges will get longer and longer, Superchargers will pop up more and more until they’re everywhere, and charging times will just decrease as technology advances.
Tesla’s mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” Big oil’s current mission is “to delay the advent of sustainable transport by making people think EVs aren’t actually better for the environment than gas cars.”
The battle going on isn’t about gas cars vs. electric cars. That one’s already decided. This is a war about time.
Our intuition tells us that technology, social norms, movements and ideas just move forward through time, as if forward progress is a river and those things are on a raft gliding through. We so associate the passage of time with progress that we use the term “the future” to refer to a better, more advanced version of our present world.
In reality, if a more advanced future does happen, it’s because that future was willed into our lives by a few brave people.
New and disruptive technologies are often met with hostility as they emerge. Tesla is the beachhead of a bigger change in energy that goes beyond transportation.