A recent interview between Elon Musk and Air Force Lt. Gen. John Thompson is even more relevant in the post-pandemic market. In the interview, Musk explains the importance of beating out China when it comes to new technology and renewable energy.
According to the Tesla and SpaceX founder, China’s economy will eventually more than double the size of the United States unless the U.S. continues radical innovation.
“The foundation of war is economics,” Musk told an audience of Air Force members. “”In the absence of radical innovation, the US will be militarily second.”
Especially when it comes to space parts, the supply chain is limited. Musk said how less than 10% of SpaceX rockets can physically be made in the United States today due to limited resources.
He went on to discuss how China’s people, albeit controlled by an authoritarian state, are intelligent, hardworking, and determined to invent new technology.
As a solution, Musk proposed an incentive structure that doesn’t punish those that try and fail, but rather those that don’t try at all. For him and most others, he says the hardest part of innovation isn’t coming up with an idea, but executing it at a large scale.
“If you want the world’s best technology, you need to find the world’s best engineers and put them in an environment that is as innovative as possible,” said Musk. “You need to really reward and encourage innovation and punish lack of innovation.”
The next big competition? Space exploration. Musk says the “holy grail” of space is reusable rockets, which his company Tesla is currently working on. This would save the U.S. millions of dollars in space manufacturing instead of creating new rockets every time they launch. His ultimate goal is to bring regular citizens into outer space to colonize Mars.
“We should want the sci-fi futures, the good sci-fi futures, to become real” he said.