ELON MUSK IS THE AL CAPONE OF TECHNOLOGY
ELON MUSK IS THE AL CAPONE OF TECHNOLOGY
Al Capone had a huge cadre of Fan-Boys who, just like Musk, who worshiped him and refused to see the crimes he did!
Elon Musk Helps California Rank No. 1 for Hillary Clinton Fundraising
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Dreamworks co-founder Steven Spielberg, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio also join in.By
Tesla's Elon Musk, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Dreamworks co-founder Steven Spielberg, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio are among the Silicon Valley and Hollywood stars making California the No. 1 state for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign fundraising last quarter.
- authors Peter Rothman
I was enjoying a quiet weekend when my news feed started to pop up with stories such as Elon Musk warns us that human-level AI is ‘potentially more dangerous than nukes’ and Elon Musk: AI could be more dangerous than nukes. Wow! Now usually I am a huge fan of Mr. Musk, his approach to innovation, and many of the amazing things he and his teams have accomplished at Tesla and SpaceX for example. But I have to say that I strongly disagree with Mr. Musk about the dangers of AI. First and foremost, AI is not now nor will it ever be “more dangerous than nukes”. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, restricting AI research is in itself dangerous. Let me explain.
What Exactly Did Musk Say?
This series of articles was all generated by a couple of tweets posted by Musk to his Twitter account. I’ve included them below.
Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.
While on the subject of AI risk, Our Final Invention by @jrbarratis also worth reading
Hope we're not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable
He’s a bit vague here, unsurprising given that we are talking about just a few tweets, but let’s examine the details.
How Dangerous Are “Nukes” Anyway?
Mr. Musk’s exact statement was that AI is “Potentially more dangerous than nukes.” But just how dangerous are nuclear weapons anyway? Simply stated, nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous and constitute an existential threat to humanity and all life forms on Earth. So to be “more dangerous” than nukes, AI has to be really really dangerous. Only two nuclear weapons have been used in warfare and together they killed around 250,000 people and destroyed two cities. However the testing and manufacture of early nuclear devices was itself dangerous and entire populations were exposed to radiation. Many of the scientists working with early devices and materials were also exposed to radiation. The total number of deaths from radiation exposure resulting from testing and manufacture of nuclear devices is unclear, but an estimate of 20,000 people worldwide dying from cancer as a result of nuclear testing wouldn’t be unreasonable and might be quite low. Current nuclear arsenals however number in the thousands of warheads and the devices are also more powerful and destructive than the first devices.
|Country||Warheads active/total[nb 1]||Date of first test||CTBT status|
|The five nuclear-weapon states under the NPT|
|United States||1,920 / 7,315||16 July 1945 (“Trinity“)||Signatory|
|Russia||1,600 / 8,000||29 August 1949 (“RDS-1“)||Ratifier|
|United Kingdom||160 / 225||3 October 1952 (“Hurricane“)||Ratifier|
|France||290 / 300||13 February 1960 (“Gerboise Bleue“)||Ratifier|
|China||n.a. / 250||16 October 1964 (“596“)||Signatory|
|Non-NPT nuclear powers|
|India||n.a. / 90–110||18 May 1974 (“Smiling Buddha“)||Non-signatory|
|Pakistan||n.a. / 100–120||28 May 1998 (“Chagai-I“)||Non-signatory|
|North Korea||n.a. / <10||9 October 2006||Non-signatory|
|Undeclared nuclear powers|
|Israel||n.a. / 80, 60-400||Unknown (suspected 22 September 1979)||Signatory|
Even if we only consider active warheads, there are around 3000 active nuclear devices currently in the world. The above table should make it clear that this is a very conservative estimate of the number of devices, i.e. the U.S. has 1,920 active warheads but 7,315 total. Russia has 1,600 active devices. according to one estimate, just 300 of these devices used against the United States it would cause 90 million casualties within 30 minutes. A U.S. strike against Russia would be expected to be similar in scope. Now we don’t really know what Musk is talking about when says “nukes” as this is a pretty imprecise terminology. Again he is just tweeting quickly here, and this is expected. But since he uses the plural I think he does not mean just one nuclear device. A full scale nuclear exchange, global thermonuclear war, would be expected to kill at least 200 million people in the first hour. This is a highly conservative estimate, and many more people would die from radiation, starvation and other causes within hours or days. It seems conceivable that something approaching 1 billion people might die within 24 hours depending on the specifics. The map below gives you some idea of the effects of a limited nuclear strike on the U.S. with the resulting fall-out indicated with the darkest considered as lethal and the least dangerous fall-out zones colored yellow. (from FEMA-estimated primary counterforce targets for Soviet ICBMs circa 1990).
And this doesn’t include second or subsequent nuclear strikes. Both the U.S. and Russia have the capability and strategy to launch a second strike should such an exchange occur.
Beyond the immediate casualties and deaths from radiation, some scientists believe a full scale nuclear war could cause a “Nuclear Winter” which would possibly terminate all life on Earth. While the Nuclear WInter scenario is speculative, we don’t exactly know what would happen, we can clearly see that it would be very bad. At least 1 billion deaths and possibly ending all life on Earth is within the reach of existing and disclosed nuclear arsenals. So when Mr. Musk is saying AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons, he is claiming that the technology will result in millions if not billions of human deaths. To summarize, nuclear weapons have probably killed 250,000 people or thereabouts and have the capability to kill pretty much everyone. It’s not exactly clear to me how AI can be more dangerous than killing everyone and all life on Earth, but if we just take my limited estimate above of 200 million in one hour, then to be more dangerous than nuclear weapons, an AI has to be able to kill more than 3.3 million humans per minute.
Musk is making a very extraordinary claim here about how dangerous AI is.
What is Musk Really Worried About?
Again all we have is these two tweets so perhaps it is a bit presumptuous to say exactly what Mr. Musk is thinking. However, he does mention reading Nick Bostrom’s recent book Superintelligence and his statement was made in the context of having just finished the book. So we can assume that he is talking about the scenarios presented in Bostrom’s book, and specifically the idea of an intelligence explosion leading to a system with a rapidly increasing intelligence that becomes superintelligent shortly after being created, that is, more intelligent than all humans combined.
In science fiction stories such as The Terminator, War Games, The Forbin Project, etc. the rise of artificial intelligence is depicted as dangerous. Bostrom’s book is technical nonfiction, but it essentially falls into this same mold. Various arguments are presented and discounted by Bostrom. But the entire book has a massive flaw. How realistic is this idea of an Intelligence Explosion? It’s not entirely clear.
To see why, consider that I’m the best tic-tac-toe player in the world. I don’t care how smart you are, you can’t beat me at tic-tac-toe. No superintelligence is better at tic-tac-toe than I am no matter how vastly intelligent it is. With tic-tac-toe, it’s easy to see why. The game has a finite number of possible moves and once you know the best strategy you can’t lose. But consider a larger tic-toe game like 4×4, 5×5, 6×6, etc. You can also consider 3D tic-tac-toe and even higher dimensional games.
A superintelligence might be able to beat me at larger games, say a 100×100 tic-tac-toe game, or 3D tic-tac-toe. However, the game is still finite and so it is unclear that another intelligence, much smarter than the first, can play better. It depends on how much each player knows about the game as well as the specific properties of the game itself. So depending on the environment in which we are acting, an unbounded intelligence explosion might not happen. An AI might get smart enough that being smarter wasn’t an immediate advantage and the cost of increasing intelligence could outweigh any advantage. Certainly humans tend to overestimate the advantages conferred by their own intelligence.
Intelligence vs. Autonomy
More importantly, autonomy is more dangerous than intelligence. Dangerousness requires the ability to do harm and therefore also the ability to act freely (autonomy). It does not however require intelligence. A simple feedback loop could kill everyone on Earth and it would be dumber than the simplest flatworm. It is easy to see that intelligence is not the same as dangerousness and it isn’t even always correlated with it. Consider who you would rather fight to the death:
a. an unarmed man with 170 IQ and both his arms tied behind his back or
b. a huge angry man with 70 IQ holding a blunt instrument.
You don’t have to be smart to be dangerous.
This is a pretty important point because in all of the recent discussion of the potential dangers of AI the discussion is focused around “intelligence” and “superintelligence”. But intelligence alone is not dangerous. For example, a super-intelligent system that is not autonomous but can only act with my permission is not dangerous to me. Further, in order to do harm, the system has to be able to act in the world or cause someone or something else to act. An appropriately isolated superintelligence also can’t hurt anyone. So the fear is really not about only the rise of a super-human intelligent system, but also the rise of one that is autonomous and free so it can act in the world.
Sure, I agree, such a system could be highly dangerous and we’ve all seen the movies and read the books where this is what happens. However the focus on intelligence is misleading and in itself dangerous.
Elon Musk is more dangerous than AI because he is autonomous and free to act in the world.
Reality check: A machine that hunts and kills humans in large numbers wouldn’t need to be more intelligent than an insect. And yes it would be super dangerous to make such machines especially if we add in the idea of self replication or self manufacture. Imagine an insect like killing machine that can build copies of itself from raw materials or repair itself from the spare parts of its fallen comrades. But notice that the relative intelligence or lack thereof has little to do with the danger of such a system. It is dangerous because it has the ability to kill you and is designed to do so. The fact that this machine can’t play chess, converse in English, or pass a Turing Test doesn’t change anything about its ability to kill.
The danger then is not that we will create an intelligence greater than our own, but that we will embody these intelligences into autonomous systems that can kill us either on purpose or by accident.
Preventing the Rise of Dangerous AI
Let’s accept for a moment Musk’s assertion that AI is potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons. What should we do about this?
The best thing to do would be to keep the secrets of building an AI secret and to hide even the possible existence of such a machine from the world. But it’s already too late.
For a while that’s what we did with nuclear weapons. But then we detonated two of them, and the cat was out of the bag.
Since then, the U.S. and the world have created a vast security and surveillance apparatus largely devoted to managing and controlling nuclear weapons and materials. The operation of this apparatus is formalized through a series of complex agreements, arms control treaties, and it also includes the operation of vast technical systems and is supported by the involvement of a large number of people in multiple nations and organizations. Few people have any idea how vast and far reaching this apparatus is. The Snowden revelations will give you some idea and that isn’t the whole story.
And despite this almost omnipresent global security apparatus with vast financial resources, nations such as Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, and others were able to gain access to the technology to make nuclear weapons and various subsystems and in some cases they have demonstrated working weapons. This is despite the best efforts of the global security apparatus to prevent this exact outcome. We can’t secure nuclear weapons perfectly, so the idea that we can secure AI perfectly is at least in question. What would be required?
With nuclear weapons both the materials and designs are illegal to possess. Manufacture of a weapon requires both the raw materials, general scientific knowledge, and also specific design details and engineering knowledge. The details of working weapons are all highly classified and even just possessing them without permission will land you in prison. Imagine a similar security regime applied to AI. First, we’ll have to restrict the materials used to make AIs. Those would be computers and software tools like programming languages and compilers. Only individuals working on classified projects with appropriate security clearances would be given access to them. Further, illegal possession of programmable computers or development tools would be a serious felony and would carry high criminal penalties. Surveillance and law enforcement would be involved and would act with extreme prejudice against anyone suspect of having these items or developing AI.
But creating an AI is something you can do at home on your personal computer. Even when you need a larger computational resource, these are now available on demand in the cloud or can be built fairly inexpensively from commercial components such as graphics accelerator cards. Restricting AI would mean restricting access to these tools and systems as well. Beyond this, the specific engineering knowledge associated with making dangerous AIs would have to be protected.
It would become illegal to implement or possibly even know about certain algorithms, areas of mathematics, etc. This idea isn’t unprecedented, for example consider the efforts of the U.S. government to restrict knowledge of cryptography algorithms in the 1990s. Certain programs, i.e. those associated with classified weapon systems, are themselves classified and unauthorized possession of these codes is illegal. If we follow Musk’s argument, simply having access to AI software will become a crime. But would it be enough?
Some attention has been given to the notion that intelligence is an “emergent” phenomenon of the human neural system. This suggests that machine intelligence could also be an emergent phenomenon of an underlying system or network. Could a dangerous AI emerge unexpectedly from a safe system? Certainly if we build and field systems whose operation we don’t fully understand, unexpected events can transpire. Existing deep learning systems are examples of systems that work, but do so by a mechanism which humans don’t and possibly can’t really understand.
Some other researchers have focused on the creation of provably beneficial or provably friendly AIs. The notion here is to build AIs according to some rules or within certain constraints that ensure the resulting AI is friendly. But the idea is fundamentally flawed in a very deep way. First, defining “friendly” is a huge problem. Even seemingly friendly systems can become unfriendly if the context changes or when taken to extremes. Bostrom covers some of these scenarios in his book. But this is also true about simple maximizing systems that have poorly specified goals. It isn’t about AI per se.
Further, a friendly program can be modified or subverted to become unfriendly. Alternatively a seemingly friendly program might contain hidden functionality that is unfriendly. There is in general no way to prove that an arbitrary presented program is friendly and secure. In fact Rice’s Theorem, a not very well known result in computer science, states that in general this can’t be done. So we can’t know if a presented piece of software includes a dangerous AI or not simply by looking at it.
I don’t understand how one can assert that AI is so dangerous that it might destroy the human race and yet at the same time invest in it. But that is exactly what Mr. Musk is doing. Perhaps he will close Vicarious or use it to promote the security apparatus described above. But perhaps he just thinks the research they are doing at present is “safe”. The problem is that we don’t know what they are doing.
Moreover, a bad outcome might look nothing like The Terminator scenario, for example we might cede control over our lives to such systems giving them control over food production and our ability to survive. Consider a plausible future in which food production is entirely robotic and food is produced in technological vertical farms or similar systems. We might lose the ability to produce food ourselves, or forget how to repair or maintain the systems, and so on. The point here is that not all bad outcomes are obvious; they might start off looking like good ideas.
The security regime that would be required to secure AIs would be similar to that for nuclear weapons, but it would have vast negative consequences for our society and intellectual lives. Knowledge of computers and programming would be tightly controlled, rendering our economy less innovative and productive. All employees of AI companies would require high level security clearances. A lot of smart people would simply refuse to go through the hassle and our competitiveness would suffer severely.
Notably those who fear an AI doomsday aren’t the only people that want to limit your access to free general computation. The recording and media industries also would love to terminate the ability of citizens to compute arbitrary programs on unlocked machines. The President of the United States just signed a law allowing Americans to unlock their phones. What is being proposed here is a vast leap backwards; you wouldn’t even be allowed to own a phone that could be unlocked. Cory Doctorow’s essays Lockdown: The War on General Purpose Computing and The Coming Civil War on General Computing cover this subject nicely.
Consider instead of “copying”, we replace in Cory’s essays “creating dangerous AI”, e.g. “In short, they made unrealistic demands on reality and reality did not oblige them. Copying only got easier following the passage of these laws—copying will only ever get easier. Right now is as hard as copying will get.”
Right now is as hard as creating dangerous AIs will get.
But trying to stop people from creating them will end our ability to have a free and open society.
Of course Mr. Musk never says any of this and I have no idea if he has even considered this aspect of the issue. However if as he asserts AI is really more dangerous than nuclear weapons, you can see the immediate need for an appropriately significant security regime. This is implied by his assertion that AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes” and it is a highly dangerous idea itself in my view.
Imagine a world in which it is illegal for citizens to own programmable machines or to own tools for programming. People would be surrounded by complex and intelligent systems, but they would have no idea how they worked and no way of accessing this knowledge. They would quite literally be prisoners of the matrix.
I think we need to move in the opposite direction, empowering more people to code and to understand code and how it works.
Ignoring the Real Benefits from AI
This is a case where the proposed cure is far worse than the disease. As I have argued above, intelligence isn’t dangerous by itself, but restricting the development of intelligence might be.
Beyond suggesting the need to control general purpose computation, perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Musk’s tweets is that he ignores entirely the possible benefits of AI. Again its easy to read too much into these tweets. I assume that a belief in the potential for good was in part his interest in Vicarious, and that Musk imagined that their technology could be used to create things to make people’s lives better.
He seems to have forgotten this part. See for example, The Promise of a Cancer Drug Developed by AI.
We are now just at this time starting to see some really interesting results from AI systems like Vicarious’ and IBM’s Watson. These systems have amazing potential applications in areas such a medicine and health care. They will help us live longer and be healthier. Banning or restricting AI research would limit or restrict research into beneficial uses of AI in areas such as medicine, drug design, or aiding in developing longevity therapies. Imagine if we restricted humans from getting smarter too. It obviously makes no sense. If we succumb to this sort of fear mongering , and Musk is not alone in propagating it, we will lose all sorts of advantageous developments that rely on AI for their operation.
This is a clear case where the proactionary principle applies, especially if you agree that the existential risks of AI are being overstated here. AI might also help us end poverty, prevent wars, and more. You need to consider both the possible benefits and risks of the technology not only the risks to make a rational decision about it. Just like other technologies such as SpaceX’s rockets which are also sometimes known as “ballistic missiles”. So please Mr. Musk, let’s also talk about the potential vast benefits of AI for humanity and not just frighten people by talking about movie doomsday fantasy scenarios. Hyperboles and hyper-exaggerated risks do not move the debate forward. Please don’t support the rise of an even more pervasive and oppressive global security regime to control AI research and computing more generally. That idea is even more dangerous than AI.
Elon Musk Says Crack Cocaine Helps Him Survive on No Sleep
Elon Musk isn’t sleeping much these days. While he usually pulls in a solid six, it’s been “a lot less these days,” as he told Twitter followers over the weekend.
To be fair, the founder has a lot going on, from the Tesla crash aftermath, to plans to acquire SolarCity, to sticking a SpaceX rocket landing for the fifth time in seven months.
Yeah, dude’s kinda busy.
i have insomnia plus I'm up with a non-sleeping baby. I enjoy reading your tweets at all hours. How much sleep do you average?
6 hours normally, but a lot less these days
So, just how does he stay sharp on so little sleep? The answer isn’t rocket science. It’s crack cocaine, and “large amounts of it,” as the billionaire boss jokingly tweeted back, in a cheeky exchange with fans on the social platform.
what's the trick to keep concentrated and not distracted with this little sleep?
large amounts of crack
Yep, you read that right. Large amounts of crack.
It's irresponsible for @elonmusk to joke @ using crack to boost productivity. Everyone knows #Meth gives more focus. https://twitter.com/Jalopnik/status/754438772813664256 …
Saturday’s surprising tweet wasn’t the first time Musk publicly joked about using drugs. He made a crack in 2013 at a Computer History Museum event that he’d have to take them to enjoy kicking back at the beach. “The idea of lying on a beach as my main thing just sounds like the worst,” he said. “It sounds horrible to me. I would go bonkers. I would have to be on serious drugs. I’d be super-duper bored. I like high intensity.”
Monday's news headline: "Tesla CEO does crack; stock up 10 points" #tesla @TeslaMotors
From CNN: SpaceX rocket explodes after launch:
An unmanned rocket by Elon Musk's SpaceX on a resupply mission to the International Space Station exploded Sunday just minutes after launch.
SpaceX said that an "anomaly" had caused the spaceship, named Dragon, to fail and was investigating. NASA is set to hold a press conference later Sunday.
"It is not clear what happened," NASA said initially. "The vehicle has broken up."
SpaceX -- which is headed by Musk -- has made seven trips to the ISS under a contract the company has with NASA. It is the first company to complete a return trip to the space station, a feat previously achieved by only governments.
The failed cargo flight was carrying more than 2 tons of supplies, including 1,500 pounds of food and provisions for the crew aboard the space station.
Mark Polansky, a former NASA astronaut, tweeted that the failure will not immediately affect those aboard. "ISS priority is crew safety," he wrote. "Though tragic, @SpaceX cargo failure doesn't pose immediate impact to that."
Three space station astronauts, two Russians and NASA's Scott Kelly, were awaiting the arrival of SpaceX's shipment, which was meant to arrive on Tuesday.
In a tweet from space, Kelly, who is the brother-in-law of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, said he watched the launch. "Space is hard," he wrote. Read on...
Nov 09, 2017 · Police have publicly responded to inquiries only to confirm that a 43-year-old man from San Francisco was arrested on suspicion of rape ... Hyperloop One ...
Nov 09, 2017 · A billionaire ally of ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was arrested at a posh London hotel this past May after being accused of rape, ... the Hyperloop One ...
He recently went into business with Virgin boss Branson to move the Hyperloop forward and ... Roman Polanski will not be charged over latest rape allegations from ...
Uber investor arrested but not charged with rape in London. ... chairman of the transportation startup Hyperloop One, was never charged with a crime.
Billionaire Kalanick ally was arrested on rape ... a tech tycoon who also co-founded the HyperloopOne high ... Twitter boss Jack Dorsey said it never should ...nypost-24.com/nauka-1129
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Until he was suspended without pay after yesterday’s revelations, Kaloyeros oversaw $43 billion in tech investments, including private money leveraged by state funds. He also did quite well for himself, collecting more than $10.4 million in pay over the past seven years, supplementing his $549,947 salary in 2015 with $877,078 from the SUNY Research Foundation.
Meanwhile, regardless of what happens in the corruption cases, New York taxpayers are locked into what amounts to a business partnership with SpaceX and Tesla tycoon Elon Musk, who’s proposing a takeover of heavily indebted SolarCity.
If it doesn’t work out, Musk can always fall back on SpaceX, which has announced a partnership with NASA to launch an unmanned mission to Mars — where Musk has suggested he’d like to retire. And if not the Red Planet, there’s always Buffalo.
Just another example of Corporatism
And don't think it is just the left. Here is a right wing favorite:
Pharmaceutical Company Supports Cannabis Prohibition To Protect Its Profits
The left loves its environmentalists and the right loves its prohibitionists. Corporations/Government take advantage of both.
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MSimon wrote:It was once thought that we were running out of petrochemicals. That is no longer true. So why is he still playing?
He is playing the long game...even with fracking eventually we will run out of petrochemicals; especially with the inevitable rising consumption of oil the boom will likely cause; better if the next technology (renewables or for that matter polywell) are developed before we really must have them. Makes the transition easier for us.
The long game? There is no point in deploying technology we don't need. For a problem 50 years in the future. Twenty five years of tech advances ought to be a big help.
But there is all that money on the table isn't there?
The Chemical Rockets needed to lift a Polywell into orbit will probably need a unique design.
Space travel is possible already. Making long distance travel affordable seems like a good long term goal. And it solves a few problems on earth as well.
Tesla battery production creates as much CO2 as 8 years gasoline powered driving.
http://www.nyteknik.se/fordon/stora-uts ... er-6851761
At least initially, solar was subsidized to encourage development and adoption of solar electricity generation. It has definitely become much more widely used that it was 10 or 20 years ago, not to mention the improvements in efficiency and price.
I've never heard of base load power being required for solar to function. If it was, you'd have to plug your solar powered calculator into the wall outlet to use it. With enough panels and proper storage it could be used for base load, but I agree that other solutions (hydro, fission, fusion, hydrocarbon) are much better in that role.
CO2 is included as a 'major factor' because "everyone" "knows" its the amount of CO2 created that matters. /s Solar panel providers/manufacturers tout CO2 output in manufacturing/usage because that is the going thing to do when discussion power generation today. If the makers didn't talk about it, the detractors would.
And even with fully functional, in production pB11 plants solar electric generation would still be a thing. I doubt it would be a growing percentage of power generation like it is now, but it would most definitely still be useful : satellites, small (or not so small) remote locations, homes, covered parking lots (i wish this would catch on here in Texas, where it would be useful), and probably a number of other things.
choff wrote:Tesla battery production creates as much CO2 as 8 years gasoline powered driving.
http://www.nyteknik.se/fordon/stora-uts ... er-6851761
Stop Elon Musk's Tax Money Gravy Train
Musk’s SolarCity has become an albatross of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
From Enron to Bernie Madoff, at the end of every great American financial scandal, the totality of the perpetrators’ greed seems to be matched only by the public’s incredulity at how such a thing could be allowed to happen.
And thanks to Elon Musk, there’s a good chance we may all be asking this question again soon.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have launched a probe into tax incentives paid to solar companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The committee probes, led by their respective Republican chairmen, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, have found an appropriate and disturbing target to begin this work.
SolarCity, a solar installation company set to be purchased by Tesla Motors Inc., is one of the seven companies named in the initial investigation.
Renewable Crony Capitalism
Already grossly subsidized, Musk’s SolarCity has become an albatross of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. As legitimate earnings and cash become even scarcer for SolarCity, its entanglement in the Tesla empire suggests that a drastic reckoning is not only imminent but emboldening Musk to become more outlandish and reckless.SolarCity has been doubling down on the failed model of taxpayer support.
Notably, SolarCity is run by Musk’s cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive. During his chairmanship at SolarCity, Musk’s family enterprise has taken in billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies from both the federal and local governments. But the subsidies and sweetheart deals were not enough, as losses and missed projections continued to mount.
Ultimately, rather than endure the embarrassment of collapse and further damage to the public image of Musk and Tesla, the cousins conspired to have Tesla simply purchase SolarCity this year. The conditions of the deal screamed foul play.
To say nothing of what sense it might make for an automaker to purchase a solar installation company, Tesla stockholders were being forced to absorb a failing, cash-burning company and pay top dollar to do so.
While cost-cutting and corporate restructuring should have been the priority for a company swimming in debt and burning through available cash, SolarCity, in fact, has been doubling down on the failed model of taxpayer support. The desperate thirst for handouts has manifested itself in some of the murkiest political waters imaginable.
Thanks to Musk’s cozy relationship with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, the state has granted at least $750 million of its taxpayers’ money to SolarCity, building the company a factory and charging it only $1 per year in rent.
It would be hard to imagine such an operation would not be lucrative for its shareholders. And yet, somehow, SolarCity has never made a profit.
How Extensive Is This Problem?
It’s not just in New York. In this year’s race for Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s public utilities overseers, only one outside group funneled cash into the contest. SolarCity has never been able to survive without serious help from government subsidies and grants.
All of the $3 million donated by that group, Energy Choice for America, came from SolarCity. The beneficiaries are candidates who have signaled their willingness to be part of the “green machine” that greases the skids for lucrative government subsidies.
Burning through taxpayer dollars, buying elections, and expanding a network of crony capitalism has become so inherent to the SolarCity model that $3 million to a public commissioner’s race, brazen though it may be, is only a drop in the bucket for Musk and SolarCity.
In 2013 alone, SolarCity received $127.4 million in federal grants. The following year, in which it received only $342,000 from the same stimulus package, total revenue was just $176 million and the company posted a net loss of $375 million.
Despite an expansion of operations and claims to be the leader in the industry, SolarCity has never been able to survive without serious help from government subsidies and grants. The failure to responsibly turn taxpayer dollars into a profitable renewable energy provider has led to SolarCity’s collapse into the welcoming arms of Tesla.
And with Tesla, SolarCity, in fact, will be right at home, compounding a disastrous shell game that Elon Musk is playing with government resources.
You're Paying to Keep Musk's Lights On
It has been widely reported that among SolarCity, Tesla, and the rocket company SpaceX, Elon Musk’s confederacy of interests has gotten at least $4.9 billion in taxpayer support over the past 10 years.
This is almost half of Musk’s supposed net worth – taken from the pockets of American citizens and put into companies that can survive only by cannibalizing each other, spending without end, and promising that success is always just beyond the horizon and yet never arrives.
The American people are being taken on a ride by SolarCity, Tesla, and Musk. The ride is fueled by a cult of personality in Musk. And it costs billions of taxpayer dollars as he promises us not only the moon but to harness the power of the sun and send us all to Mars.
In the cases of Enron and Bernie Madoff, in the end, the cheated victims wished to have woken up sooner to the hubris that enabled such a downfall – or at least that regulators had pulled their heads out of the sand before the full impact of the collapse was realized.
We’ve seen this story before and we know how it ends.
The congressional investigations underway are not only necessary but a signal that more must be done, and soon. We may not be able to help Elon Musk stop himself from failing again, but we certainly shouldn’t be the ones to pay for it.
It’s past time for the American people to stand up to Musk and demand that our legislators and other elected officials bring him back to earth before spending one more dollar of our money. He’s wasted enough of it already.
Gotta admit it, Elon Musk can make me feel the Bern.
I’m with Bernie on the billionaires. Some of them are ruining the country. It’s not those who use their own noggins to come up with ways to make money, whether by starting companies or investing wisely.
The ones who bug me are the ones who are rich off my tax dollars.
Elon Musk has made a ton of money on his own – and continues to. He founded X.com, an online payment company, with profits he made off the sale of Zip2, the first online version of the Yellow Pages. X.com eventually merged with Confinity and became PayPal.
Now, he’s worth $14.3 billion and he’s into space travel, solar panels and electric cars. His partners in these cutting-edge — but not-yet-profitable — industries are the taxpayers. None of these businesses profit, and none would exist without massive government subsidies.
Tesla, which makes electric cars, struck a deal with Nevada in 2014 to build a battery factory in Reno. The state gave Tesla $1.3 billion in special incentives, including an exemption from paying property taxes for 20 years and $195 million in transferable tax credits Tesla could sell for cash. That’s 15 times the size of any previous package of incentives offered by Nevada and one of the largest giveaways in American history.
Gov. Brian Sandoval says the factory and the 6,000 jobs will “change the trajectory of this state, perhaps forever.” But was he bidding against himself? Where else would Musk have built it? Reno is easily accessible by rail and highway to Fremont, and Nevada has the only active lithium mines in the United States.
As for those tax credits, laws in 10 states require car companies operating in those states to sell a certain number of “zero emissions” vehicles. Since only electric cars qualify as “zero emissions” vehicles, and these companies don’t, in general, make electric cars, they buy these tax credits from Musk. So far, Musk has made $517 million in profit at taxpayer expense.
In addition, Tesla gets a 30 percent federal tax credit, which can applied to any tax liability the company may incur. Thanks to tax credits and carry-forward losses, the company already hasn’t paid any federal income tax since 2008. In 2014, it paid $2.5 million in corporate taxes — $178,000 to the states, $2.35 million to foreign governments and a big fat zippy to Uncle Sam.
Since Tesla will be connected to the grid, it can sell any excess renewable power in its battery facility to the Nevada electric utility for 50 percent higher than wholesale. In fact, not only can Tesla sell excess electricity at a premium, it buys it at discounts of 10 percent to 30 percent pursuant to its agreement with Nevada. Taxpayers pick up the cost of that discount by having $1.84 added to their annual electricity bills.
In all, according to a 2015 story in the Los Angeles Times, Musk has raked in $4.3 billion in government money. SolarCity, the solar panel firm that operates out of office space abandoned by Solyndra, the poster child for crony capitalism in the Obama era, got $300 million in federal grants and tax incentives. SpaceX, the space travel firm, received $5.5 billion in government contracts.
And then there’s Tom Steyer, another Californian who has learned to work the levers of power to his benefit but not ours.
He fashions himself the new Al Gore. He assails the Koch brothers as purveyors of evil for profit. But he has become America’s largest political donor – he gave $75 million to supposed green candidates in the non-presidential 2014 election and plans to give more this year. He gives so much money, in fact, that, according to the Wall Street Journal, Democrats would rather lose control of the U.S. Senate than cross him. And he’s used that influence to do a number of things that benefited his bottom line.
He pushed through a measure to force California to use half renewable energy by 2050 – a boon for his green energy companies.
He supports President Obama and his move to crack down on consumer lending, but he engages in similar practices through Kilowatt Financial, LLC, a company that finances solar panels at predatory rates. Even Democrats in Congress are asking how this differs from the practices that led to the subprime lending crisis.
He made much of his $1.6 billion in estimated net worth from the sale of fossil fuels but now finds them irredeemably evil. He fought the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried tar sands from Alberta in western Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. But he so happened to own stock in a firm with a pipeline from the tar sands to the Pacific coast.
He haughtily promised his Farallon venture capital group would divest in fossil fuels – but kept those outside North America. Those he not only kept but sought to grow. He’s had a long and prosperous relationship with Russian energy firms facilitated by his friends in the Obama administration.
He’s up to his neck in the scandal that led to the resignation of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, making payments to the governor’s fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, a green energy advocate. And, despite his admonitions that others cut energy use to save the planet, he owns six huge homes and travels the globe constantly in Trumpian luxury.
Bernie is right that these guys are growing rich by making government’s priorities their priorities rather than ours. He’s right games are being played that average people can’t take part in. He’s right that corporate cronyism is a huge problem in this country.
And his enemies in this — the folks most guilty — are closer than he probably thinks.
LEFT-WING JEWISH CONTROLLED MAIN STREAM MEDIA COVERS-UP ELON MUSK'S CRIMES
- The MSM refuse to allow any news coverage of Elon Musk's criminal and illicit corruptions because he is part of their gang
- Bribery is a fact-of-life for the MSM bosses
The truth behind venture socialist Elon Musk & the Paris deal
TESLA, SPACEX CEO MAKES A CAREER FREELOADING BY THE BILLIONS OFF AMERICAN TAXPAYERS.by Jordan Schachtel
With President Trump declaring that the U.S. is leaving the Paris climate agreement, Elon Musk’s unsteady business model of relying upon government cash has become even more threatened.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has made billions of dollars off the backs of involuntary contributions from the American taxpayer, and America’s withdrawal from the global climate accord spells troubling times ahead for the entrepreneur.
After Trump’s announcement Thursday afternoon, Musk promptly declared that he was leaving the president’s advisory council.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.
His decision was hailed as a principled, selfless act on behalf of the planet. News outlets like CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and countless others glorified Musk’s decision to sever ties with the president.
However, a closer review of Musk’s energy businesses shows a much more self-centered motive was likely in play.
All of the tech pioneer’s major businesses rely on taxpayer subsidies. But specifically concerning the Paris agreement, America’s withdrawal most threatens his Tesla solar subsidiary. The fact SolarCity has already received around $1.5 billion (thanks to massive, cronyist tax credits), and hardly pays any taxes, seems not to enter into the equation for Musk.
When former President Barack Obama committed America to the deal, SolarCity stocks jumped 12 percent in one day. After the election of Donald Trump, who has long been a skeptic of climate change alarmism, Musk’s energy businesses has taken a plunge.
The Paris agreement devoted the United States to the principle of “enhanced deployment of renewable energy.” As demand for residential solar installations continues to slow, U.S. commitment to the agreement would serve as a lifeline for SolarCity, as it owns about 35 percent of the solar residential market share.
Even on the backs of the American taxpayer, however, SolarCity consistentlyreports quarterly losses to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year, the company reported a net loss of over $820 million and laid off thousands of employees in response.
That’s why it was so important for Musk for the U.S. to stay in the climate deal. It plausibly had little to do with the climate, and everything to do with his bottom line.
Under President Obama, the United States delivered billions of dollars to the Paris accord’s Green Climate Fund for renewable projects. Now, Musk must syphon local and state governments — which have unilaterally committed to the Paris agreement —for his green dollars.
Elon Musk is no “planet-saving superhero.” He is the ultimate venture socialist — a man who has mastered the art of forcing citizens to subsidize his businesses because his projects cannot make it on their own. Was Musk on the president’s council simply to try and convince Trump to further bail out his companies, to the detriment of the American people?
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Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.