Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Elon Musk

Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewed Elon Musk on Tyson’s podcast, StarTalk.  The interview covers a range of topics, and Tyson includes Bill Nye in a running commentary on the interview.  (Chuck Nice is also there to add his usual laughs.)  I found Nye’s take on many things, such as the problems with the idea of colonizing Mars, to be as interesting as Musk’s.

Somewhat related to the previous post, toward the end, they talk about artificial intelligence, and its putative dangers.  Musk pretty much relays what he’s said many times, essentially fearing what AIs might do to us, but I found Nye’s and Tyson’s discussion in the commentary more interesting.  (Neither of them are particularly worried about AIs.)  If you’re interested in the AI part but don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, it starts around the 46 minute mark.

14 thoughts on “Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Elon Musk

  1. Musk didn’t seem quite as negative in the podcast as some of the quotes I’ve read from him. Maybe I missed something (I have to admit, I tuned out a few times…I couldn’t figure out how to fast forward). It sounded to me like he was just saying, “Be careful.”

    Got a good chuckle from Tyson’s point—if we can colonize Mars, why can’t we just deflect the astroid?


        1. I had actually gotten away from the StarTalk podcast. It went through a stretch of not having compelling content. But the last few months have had some impressive looking episodes. Just downloaded a whole bunch to my phone this afternoon, which I’ll hopefully get to in my lunch walks. (Which I’m cautiously doing again by the way.)

          How are you feeling? (No worries if prefer not to talk about it, particularly with everything going on with Geordie.)


          1. I haven’t listened to podcasts in a long time. I used to listen to them while I cleaned the house, but for some reason I stopped. It’s a nice way to pass the time, especially when you’re doing a boring chore.

            I was just wondering how you’re doing. I’m glad to hear you’re able to start walking again. Is it looking like you won’t need to do the surgery?

            About a week before the Geordie drama, my symptoms got a bit worse, unfortunately. It’s the same symptoms only stronger. I still don’t have the results of the spinal tap. It should be coming any day now, I guess. I hope.

            In any case, taking care of Geordie has distracted me from myself. I haven’t given much thought to that spinal tap since this rattlesnake thing started, but now that things are settling down I’m feeling pretty worn out. I did finally get 8 hours of sleep last night, and that’s helped a lot. I spent all day today just hanging out and following Geordie around to give him little bits of food. You would laugh if you saw me arranging his steak and sweet potatoes on a plate. Even then he’s still a bit finicky, so I have to put a little bit on my finger and feed him that way. But this is easy compared to feeding him with a syringe, so I’d say overall I’m doing much better today.


          2. On the surgery, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to say with any confidence. My shoulder still isn’t 100%, but it does feel better. At some point though, I’m going to have to start trying to use it more vigorously. I suspect that’s when I’ll learn where I really am.

            Sorry to hear your symptoms are getting worse. I hope the spinal tap results shed at least some light.

            I totally know where you are with feeding Geordie. I had to do that for mine on occasion. Steak and sweet potatoes? Wow, Geordie is getting the good stuff. I can imagine the fun of feeding with a syringe. I once had to force pills down my Geordi’s throat (burying it in cheese often works, but only if they’re eating), and another time give her ear drops; neither were pleasant experiences.


          3. I’m glad your shoulder is doing better…hopefully it’s the real deal and you won’t have to go through surgery.

            I think if the spinal tap comes up normal, that’ll be a pretty good indication it’s not MS. If not, it could still be other things, depending on what the results are. I don’t know what those other things would be, but hopefully something treatable.

            Oh yeah, Geordie’s getting the good stuff. And I chop it up until it’s almost a paste, and I microwave it. There was some concern that he would no longer be able to smell and might not have an appetite for that reason, but I think he can smell. He might just be a little clogged right now.

            Funny thing, before he started eating on his own I said something to him like, “You’d better get the good stuff while you can. You don’t get opportunities like this every day!” And then he started eating. Total coincidence, but it was funny.


          4. Oh, I meant to tell you that I saw the movie, Life of Pi, the other night. Unfortunately I missed some of it because I was a bit distracted. It would be worth an analysis. It was definitely my sort of tale, filled with interesting metaphors and begging for interpretation (even a discussion of interpretation itself). I love movies that spark a discussion. Thanks for the recommendation!

            I found this on wikipedia:

            “In 2010 Barack Obama wrote a letter directly to Martel, describing Life of Pi as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.'”

            I would argue that the fantasy tale is trumped by the realistic one. They may be equal in their inability to account for the accident and Pi’s survival (and the “realistic” tale is overly pessimistic in its assessment of human nature, and unrealistic for other reasons), but the “realistic” one at least jives with experience in some way.

            That said, the movie does refocus the discussion on religion in an interesting way. We can ignore my criticism above when we consider the intent: to tell two equally plausible stories and present the question as a matter of choosing according to preference.


          5. Glad you enjoyed it. I found the news about Obama’s letter interesting. His reaction seemed to match that of many believers, that there are two stories here, neither of which can be proven. The message seems to be that which one we accept is a matter of choice.

            I agree though that the fantasy tale seems completely nullified by the dark realistic one, which though it has its issues, at least doesn’t violate the laws of physics. But then, supposedly we would react that way, as people who haven’t chosen the God story.


          6. The thing I thought could have made the movie better would be if it weren’t “fantasy tale” vs. “dark realism”. You don’t have to be a believer in miracles and such to be religious (although I understand that that’s a somewhat esoteric view nowadays) and you don’t have to think reality is dark to be a realist. If the choice had really been equal, that would have been more appealing. Although I have no idea how that would play out in the context of the movie. Plus, the fantasy tale was just good fun. I loved the whimsy of it and the fact that Pi was actually named “Swimming pool.”


          7. I suspect the choice was made stark to highlight its nature, or at least its nature as perceived by theists. For them, a reality without God is probably perceived to be a pretty dark one. (Some atheists of the Nietzsche type outlooks might agree.) I agree with you that reality isn’t necessarily that dark. But then a choice between a miraculous story and a mundane one wouldn’t have made the point that Yann Martel was going for.


          8. I was wondering how someone might convey the same story with our added subtleties, and I couldn’t come up with anything. I think the point would get muddied for sure.

            Anyways, it’s refreshing to see big ideas in fiction made into a movie.

            Liked by 1 person

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