X marks the spot


23 July, 2018

Critical Thought in Action No.5

This one is about the perception of reality and the example I will play with is, Tesla and Elon Musk.

This is a little tricky as Elon Musk has legions of followers / believers and Elon himself is a little 'unstable'.

As you read this, you may have an emotional response. This is what many call being triggered. Elon himself might be overwhelmed and twitter that I am a pedo. If you are triggered, simply stop reading and allow the emotion to visit itself upon your consciousness. When the emotion has passed, perhaps continue reading.

One, very general, perception of Elon is that he is an engineering genius, making cars of the future which makes the world a better place for us all.

Well, that would be very different from my perception.

I shall start with profit. Most people haven't realised that Tesla cars are sold at a loss. That the Tesla car company loses money. This fact won't sit well with Tesla fans. However, a fan will simply ignore this as a 'lie' or justify it with 'reasons'. The 'fans' perception of Tesla will take a great many 'hits' before it will begin to change. I call this 'cognitive innertia'.

You may ask how Tesla can remain in business if the company loses money daily and on every car sold. Great question. I have a better one. Why are his cars considered to be self driving?

Anyway, selling 'self driving' cars at a loss is easy. Continuing to do it for months and years requires a rather specific skill set that Elon Musk does have. The government have helped by extracting vast sums of wealth from the standard car makers and giving it to Elon, under the guise of carbon tax or some such like. In other words, we the people are paying for a lot of this whilst agreeing that Elon is saving the world.

What is difficult is high tech / highly automated production of motor cars. This is where many perceive Tesla to be at the cutting edge. Elon has spent billions building fully automated lines capable of efficiently creating Tesla motor cars and their associated batteries. Did you know that a single paint booth can easily cost half a billion? The difficulty here is actually getting the cutting edge automation equipment to actually do anything other than create an expensive mess. My perception is that these lines are not up and running yet. Dear reader, we are now in my area of expertise. Allow me a brief thought experiment, which by definition is not based on reality.

If I were asked to build a highly compact and fully automated production line then a great deal of time needs to be spent in design. Otherwise a great deal more time and significant costs will be incurred later when I must try and get the machinery to actually work. If my boss was very loud and demanding and kept insisting that there wasn't time to fully design the line then I may well start building the line whilst looking for a new job. Thus the next engineer inherits a highly compact array of machinery that does nothing useful. If this nightmare was to continue, the new engineer would need to 'chop' the machinery into sections, position it such that men could surround it and manually operate it.

This would require a vast amount of space and man power. The production line would no longer be highly compact and fully automated. It would look much like the production line for the Model T Ford from one hundred years ago.

Many will wonder what I am on about as many will not know that this is exactly what Elon Musk has done. This is one of the many ways that Elon Musk manages to lose hundreds of millions of dollars rather than make a profit.

Now many Elon fans will be furious and be shouting about batteries. I listened very carefully to what Elon said about his new car and lorry. Their range will be awesome. Hurrah. The key words were 'will be'. Elon has decided how good his batteries will be after three more years of development and announced that as if it were already a reality. I feel sorry for his key battery development staff, I truly do. I hope they are looking for jobs else where, or perhaps they are Tesla fans too.

It is all down to perception which all depends upon your beliefs. I merely ask that you use critical thought to inspect your own beliefs.

The key belief here is simple, do you believe Mr E Musk is more of an Engineering genius like I K Brunel or simply a great entertainer like P T Barnum? My own opinion is that he is neither, he is Elon Musk and I am appalled that society enables him to waste our wealth.

The critical thought in action here is to be sensitive as to how your current view of the world effects how you perceive new information.

How did you perceive the 'new' information I have listed above?

I have mentioned to a few people that Tesla cars are all sold at a loss. That Tesla loses money. Lots of money. Everybody was surprised but nobody was interested. They believed that Tesla was the future, which requires zero critical thought but lots of belief. This is very much the future we are heading for. This is the future that society conditions us to accept without critical thought. This future is bleak.

I suggest that this future is bleak because a government taking wealth from the many to give to the few for the betterment of all requires the few to be God like in their abilities. Many may believe Elon to be God like. Let us assume that he is. Is it a good idea for government to keep gambling the wealth of the many on the talents of so few? Is it moral?

As in all things there is a balance to be found.

In the UK our government gambles vast fortunes on the NHS. As controls in the NHS becomes tighter, as power is collapsed into fewer hands, service levels continue to drop as costs rise. A crisis is either upon us or nearly upon us. This is the direction that we are sprinting ever faster towards. The near future for the NHS is bleak but with critical thought, things can start to get better immediately. Or we can believe whatever we like and things will still start to get better but only after a brutal and horrific simultaneous crash of a great many systems such as the NHS.

Now back to Elon Musk. You are astonishingly successful and continue to do exceptional work. It is mankind's responsibility to make sure your contribution to the world is fully harnessed and leads us all to a bright future. Your companies were birthed in society and could easily be the catalyst to the start of a great human Civilisation. That responsibility is collectively ours. You Mr Musk have truly excelled and so have added your own name to the list of immortals.

Tesla cars have excited the worlds imagination, including my own - thank you.

Take care