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Published on July 26th, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan


Edison & Tesla Video Interview (EEI’s Ted Craver & Tesla’s Elon Musk & JB Straubel, That Is)

July 26th, 2015 by  

Things being better — that’s what this conversation with Ted Craver, Elon Musk, and JB Straubel (the first video below) is all about. This interview took place at an Edison Electric Institute event and is a conversation worth adding to any collection of Elon Musk or Tesla Motors videos (Nikola Tesla is briefly mentioned by Craver as well).

Craver, Chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, leads the interview with Musk, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors, and Straubel, Chief Technical Officer of Tesla Motors. Musk shares energy vision at the 2015 EEI Annual Convention, talking of the profound commonality between Tesla and SpaceX. He mentions there is not as much commonality with his work in solar as a long-term sustainable energy source.

However, he believes solar will be the most relevant long-term sustainable source of energy. He also mentions that electric cars are a key solution to air pollution. While Musk refers to solar energy as the key long-term source of sustainable energy, he also mentions nuclear, hydrothermal, hydro, and wind. While there are these many forms of energy generation capable of being sustained in the long term, though, he stresses that he believes the primary means is solar in the long run. He also makes the point that, if you include the clear area around a nuclear power plant, as it typically has to be today, solar power (panels spread across that area) can actually generate more electricity than nuclear in that space.

Whether you are a business type or not, this video may be interesting as a brief discussion of business. Ted Craver (MBA and bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from the University of Southern California) leads the discussion into some of Tesla’s business beliefs. Ethics is a valid reason some business types end up on organic farms. Ethics is central to Tesla’s drive, and I find the segments about ethics interesting.

–> Recommended: 18 New Tesla Model X Pictures & Videos

Communication is touched on quite well in this video discussion, and the interview reveals something of Musk’s interest in good communication. In the discussion, Musk highlights how much he wants to avert communication loss for the sake of good business standards. He does not want a broken telephone. Musk explains that, the more layers and voices information is processed through, the more possibility of information changing, even with good intention. It’s called the “broken telephone.” Musk chooses words carefully in this discussion, as he always does. He discusses values, but with a focus on action.

Ethics continues to echo when Musk discusses a list of 5 things he once made early on when he was a student (of business and innovation). Musk mentions that the list of five things he made a list of were what he believed would most affect the future: 1. the internet, 2. space exploration, 3. sustainable energy, 4. artificial intelligence, and 5. genetic engineering. He adds the last two, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, “could go wrong” (to a room full of laughs). No kidding? According to news radio shows I have listened to from Pacifica, NPR, and such trusted newsworthy and noteworthy programs, it seems that 4 and 5 could go tortuously wrong. Stephen Hawking is actually about to do a reddit AMA on #4 potentially going wrong tomorrow, Monday (July 27).

Straubel chimed in at one point to highlight that Tesla’s engineering team sometimes has to visit SpaceX to learn how to do something better, and the SpaceX engineering team sometimes visits Tesla for the same purpose on their end.

–> Recommended: New Tesla Gigafactory Pictures

Craver’s interest in the conversation leads to Musk’s style of business meetings. Musk reveals that Tesla keeps meetings minimized. The size of meetings is kept to 4 to 6 employees. It is not necessary to stay in a meeting that is not helping a Tesla employee (or one that the employee does not give to). It is considered useless, interfering, or perhaps impolite to stay in a meeting as a Tesla employee if he or she is not contributing to the meeting. It seemed more respected and polite to get up and leave — thus, returning to productive work.

Craver leads the discussion to “disruption.” Disruption means transformative business technologies and displacement. Musk responds in this conversation:

“Well, I think I am not actually a fan of disruption for its own sake. I think that if there is a need for something to be disrupted, and it’s important to the future of the world, then sure then we should disrupt it. I don’t think we should just disrupt things unless that disruption is going to result in something fundamentally better — for society. A lot of people think I am a fan of disruption. I am not really a fan of disruption. I’m just a fan of things being better.”

The video continues by touching on the relationship between Craver and Musk (Edison and Tesla). The three discuss the Powerwall and Powerpack quite a bit.

Ethics sprouts up again towards the end of the video. Musk responds to some misinformation or at least confusion about subsidies. He politely remarks, “I wouldn’t even call what the LA Times wrote journalism.” Craver asks Musk to continue explaining his polite statement about this misrepresentation of Tesla in an article on subsidies in the LA Times.

At this point, we gather the article was quite lacking. Again perhaps an episode of the broken telephone. Or perhaps something less innocent.

–> Recommended: New Tesla Model 3 Rumors

Musk mentions the shareholders meeting that I listened to briefly on video as well. In my experience of sustainability in regards to businesses, one often reads about the lifeboat metaphor for our small planet Earth. Yes, we are all in this little lifeboat, or are we in this lifeboat country by country? Do all countries have such a lifeboat?

I have read ethical discussions about who should stay in the lifeboat. Should we help other troubled countries into our lifeboat? And what to do if someone else wants in the lifeboat and then if saving that person or helping that country entails the lifeboat being vulnerable to sinking more? Should we let that small country up into our particular secure lifeboat and chance it sinking?

I introduce the lifeboat sequence as a way of adding to the video of the recent Tesla shareholders meeting. Several Tesla shareholders who are vegan address their issues with the use of leather in Teslas. Not just the use of leather, however, but the requirement to choose leather. One of the shareholders successfully used the lifeboat metaphor in his educated question to the Tesla shareholders group. You can watch & listen to it all here:

There’s a ton more in both videos above, so I encourage you to watch them both if you have some time. 
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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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