Elon Musk's Eventful 72-Hours: Satellite Launches, Space Tourism, A.I. Dangers and Bill Gates' New Car

Elon Musk had a pretty busy holiday weekend.

The billionaire entrepreneur sounded the alarm about artificial intelligence, finished boring a tunnel under Las Vegas, launched 60 satellites into the atmosphere, and unveiled plans for space tourism. He even found time to pick a Twitter fight with Bill Gates over a Porsche.


Musk also fared well on Wall Street Tuesday. Tesla's stock, which has been on a wild ride during the past six months, shot past $855 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. Three analysts — who have mostly been bearish on the electric car maker — increased their price target on the company. Among them was Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, who predicts the stock will hit $730 during the next 12 months.

But, it was Musk's Hawthorne-based SpaceX that made the most news on Tuesday. The company reported it is teaming up with a space tourism company to sent private citizens into orbit on free-flying missions that would take them far above the International Space Station. The first flight could take place as early as late 2021, carry up to four people on an autonomously piloted Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission that lasts up to five days.

"This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it, and we are pleased to work with the Space Adventures team on the mission," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and chief operating officer.

The Virginia-based Space Adventures said the four-person mission would enable tourists to "see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program."

The announcement follows up on governmental efforts to commercialize space operations in low Earth orbit, and on the Crew Dragon's successful uncrewed demonstration mission to and from the space station last year.

On Monday, SpaceX launched 60 more satellites for its Starlink internet broadband constellation on a Falcon 9 rocket Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This brings the total number of satellites at 300.

Musk earlier that day turned his attention to the potential dangers of artificial intelligence. He took to Twitter to warn that Open AI, one of the world's leading labs that he helped launch, needs to focus on safety.

He said the company "should be more open" and that his confidence OpenAI will prioritize safety "is not high." The company is currently researching how to provide human-level intelligence to machines.

Musk tweeted as a response to an MIT Technology Review report that claims OpenAI is too secretive about a project whose original goal was to be more transparent. The company was launched in 2015 with a list of billionaire donors like Peter Thiel and tech giants like Microsoft.

As for Bill Gates, Musk didn't like his choice of auto purchases. Gates told a YouTube influencer earlier in the week that he bought a Porsche Taycan, an electric vehicle that runs into the six-figures to purchase. Gates called it "very, very cool."

Musk tweeted his displeasure: "My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming tbh."

GeekWire's Alan Boyle contributed to this report.

The Conversation

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Sometimes it's better not to raise money. I know this sounds strange coming from me. I'm an angel investor in over 50 startups, my Twitter is essentially a ticker for funding news and I've always been a huge proponent for going public, which requires a long road of investments along the way. But there are great reasons to turn down venture capital investment and bootstrap it yourself or take just a small amount of funding. This was the crux of my discussion the other day with a founder facing this big decision on whether to raise a seed round.

This founder's company is getting great customer traction within a niche of a skyrocketing industry that has some very powerful players. He's at a fork in the road. If he pursues funding, he'll likely be able to raise a round. But is it the right thing?

Read more Show less

Amazon unveiled a new lineup of spherical Echo devices, an autonomous flying indoor Ring security camera, a new cloud gaming service, and new features to help Alexa converse and interact more naturally with users.

The flurry of news came Thursday morning during the company's annual Devices & Services event, a virtual version of a fall tradition in which the company typically shows its newest Echo speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices.

Read more Show less

Santa Monica-based Snap continues to grow its gaming operation, announcing two new leadership hires for the division on Thursday.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS

Trending