Master Plan, Part Deux

Elon Musk has been in the headlines a lot over the past few years. If he's not sending rockets to the International Space Station (and then landing them again), he is making massive batteries that allow individuals to store solar energy for their homes, engineering cars that drive themselves, planning to colonize Mars (no, seriously), and generally being the Tony Stark of virtually every major industry.

But despite Musk’s ambitious plans in space with SpaceX, it seems that he is using Tesla to ensure that he can take care of things down here on Earth.

Case in point: He just published an updated "Master Plan" that is clearly aimed at creating a sustainable future for our planet. And as one dives into it, it becomes clear that, if realized, Musk's vision will fundamentally alter the very nature of our society.

Diving Into Tesla 2.0

As Musk puts it, the previous plan that he wrote over 10 years ago was rather basic and straightforward. In the opening segments of the recently published Master Plan, he asserts that the original goals were basically thus:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
    And finally...
  4. Provide solar power

However, at this point, many of those things have already been achieved by Tesla. To that end, Musk has a list of notable updates. Although he goes into the ins and outs in some detail, the basics are the following:

  1. Create solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
  2. Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  3. Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  4. Enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it

However, the most dramatic lines of his plan are not the goals, but the way that Musk rationalizes them. Ultimately, he reveals that his focus is on creating a future in which the Earth (and the life that lives on it) is able to flourish. And this, of course, means altering how our society operates. He writes:

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.

To accomplish this, Musk lists several specific goals, such as uniting Tesla and SolarCity. He also offers some compelling reasons for the current direction (and actions) that the company is taking. For example, and perhaps in light of the recent accidents involving Tesla cars that have autonomous features, Musk explains why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until later, asserting:

When used correctly, it is [autonomous cars are] already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.

Finally, Tesla is planning on making a pool (no, not a swimming pool...though that would be cool). According to Musk, people will be able to add their Tesla cars to a "shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app." And in that way, they will be able to generate income when the car is not in use. This will help make Tesla cars more affordable, allowing people to offset the cost of ownership, and thus, allowing a vast majority of individuals to purchase sustainable transportation.

In the end, it is an eye-opening look at where Tesla (and thus, our society) is heading. You can read the full updated plan here.

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