Elon Musk Said Teen Programmers Should 'Break the Rules'

Elon Musk went live with Hack Club for an AMA to discuss ways teenagers can pursue education in technology amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Brad Bergan
Image formatted to fit. Tesla Owners Club Belgium / Flickr

Elon Musk hosted a live AMA on YouTube this Friday with Hack Club students, as first announced via a tweet from the organization. The group works to create education opportunities for teenagers to learn about technology amid the barriers created by global efforts to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus.


Elon Musk hosts AMA with Hack Club amid COVID-19

Hack Club was previously a network of coding clubs across high schools and in-person hackathons. While they want to get back to that, during the COVID-19 crisis the organization is working to help teenagers learn about technology. This is essential for teens during the coronavirus crisis because many school districts around the world are still closed.

UPDATE April 24, 4:30 PM EDT: Musk stresses a need for more manufacturing

Musk said we're becoming disconnected from the physical "world of atoms," and praised manufacturing. "We should put more weight on manufacturing and making physical things," he said. "It's making the machine that's making the machine."

He added that creating and working on a production system is much harder than people generally think. "Designing a rocket is 1x hard, building is 10x, and building a production system of manufacturing line is 100x," he said.

UPDATE April 24, 4:33 PM EDT: 'We've got to fix capitalism in certain areas,' says Musk

Musk said that capitalism needs to be adjusted to control for the CO2 (carbon dioxide) output into the atmosphere, which is linked to climate change.

"Capitalism is a good system provided that the rules are set correctly. The issue that we have right now is basically an unpriced externality [...] which is simply responding to market forces — doing what people want," he said.

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UPDATE April 24, 4:45 PM EDT: Musk speaks about cyborg intelligence, neural interface

"Mostly the cortex system [of the brain] is trying to make the limbic system happy," Musk said in regards to cybernetic technology and brain-computer interfaces.

He added in reply to another question that the one difficult and recurring issue for him is switching contexts between SpaceX, Neuralink, and his personal life.

UPDATE April 24, 5:00 EDT: Musk considers worst-case scenario where AI goes 'too far'

Musk said that if the goal of AI-driven media is advertising revenue, it could "cause a war" if it isn't properly handled. "It would be responding much faster than a network of trolls or bots — [but] you could use an AI to detect whether an AI is being used," he said.

In general, Musk thinks that we should "beware of AI manipulation — not going rogue by itself, but somebody operating AI." He pointed to social media as a place where the human race has "weak mind-virus immunity."

UPDATE April 24, 5:10 PM EDT: 'You should absolutely question experts,' says Musk

Musk said that "it's very important to question authority of all kinds," and trust ideas or opinions not on the basis of merit or clout, but based on the "underlying reasoning."

Near the end of the call, Musk said he was "really impressed with the questions," and felt more optimistic about the future after participating in the conversation. Then at least 20 virtual backgrounds of teen programmers said goodbye in a colorful cacophony of gracious excitement for the future of programming, AI, hacking, and technological innovation.