Elon Musk has come up with a test flights of his Mars spaceship next year. “I think we’ll be able to do short flights, up and down flights, sometime in the first half of next year,” he told an audience at the South by South West (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. He said it was vital humans reached the Red Planet before the next probable world war. Elon said a Mars colony would reduce the chance of an extended new Dark Ages if a nuclear conflict was to wipe out life on Earth. He added that “Sometimes my timelines are a little... y’know.”


At the event, Mr Musk painted a picture of what he felt such a society would need to look like in order to be a success. “I think most likely the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, where people vote directly on issues,” he said. “Everyone votes on every issue and that’s how it goes.” A Mars colony is a pressing matter, in Mr Musk's eyes, if we are to ensure the survival of the human race. “I think it’s unlikely that we’ll never have a world war again,” he said. “This has been our pattern in the past.”


Mr Musk is excited about launching new industries from a complete fresh starting point. Mars will need pizza joints, and one day people will drink at a Mars Bar, he said. He said a bigger threat to human life was artificial intelligence - not nuclear war. “AI is far more dangerous than nukes," he said, dismissing the pushback from AI experts who suggested Mr Musk was more interested in controversy than studying the work. “I’m not normally an advocate of regulation and oversight,” he added. “This is a situation where you have a very serious danger to the public. There needs to be a public body that has insight and oversight so that everyone is delivering AI safely. This is extremely important. “Nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to just build nuclear warheads if they want, that would be insane. “My point was AI is far more dangerous than nukes. So why do we have no regulatory oversight? It’s insane.”


The prevailing mood here, of course, is that Mr Musk is a visionary of the highest order. And if he doesn't try and get us to Mars, who will?

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