As the news of Elon Musk’s grand visions settles around the world, reaction has been mixed. If you missed it, entrepreneur founder behind PayPal and SpaceX yesterday unveiled his new straight-out-of-science-fiction high-speed super transport system.
The Hyperloop would be a traveling at very high subsonic speeds and reach San Francisco from Los Angeles in around half an hour.
Critics, engineers, professors and the whole of Twitter seem to be weighing in on whether or not the proposed technology would actually work.
What a lot of people are missing in one key point. Musk didn’t actually say he was going to do it. He hasn’t got time of course; he’s got other astonishing projects to be working on – like SpaceX’s Grasshopper.
Hyperloop was detailed in his 50-odd page report, but at the end of that report Musk leaves it up to other people to carry out the job. Hyperloop is open-source. Musk wants someone to pick it up and run.
I think Hyperloop is something much more than a super-fast transport system. I think Hyperloop is a political message.
It’s an undercut, a statement of intent, a "look at me, I’m better than you" message to the US government, other entrepreneurs and peers at Silicon Valley.
He’s just stormed in, slapped down the report on the desk, and said: "Right then, I thought of this last night. Someone want to take it off my hands whilst I go conquer space?"
Overnight, Musk has mocked the US governments monopoly over public transport, and given us a near supersonic rail system at a fraction of the cost of the already proposed high speed rail in California.
"How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley – doing incredible things like indexing the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?" said Musk about the California High Speed project.
That project is meant to cost a proposed $60bn, with a journey time of over two and a half hours. By cutting the cost to $6bn and making the trip 35 minutes all with already existing technology, Musk’s "low priority" project must’ve caused a lot of red faces yesterday.
Musk is no stranger to the political battlefield, with opposition to his big projects always raining down on him. SpaceX has been a juicy target for many, and he’s still battling lawmakers in some states who are opposed to him selling Tesla cars directly to consumers – but insofar, Musk has easily dealt with this opposition and nothing has yet to really slow him down. His biggest asset is the advocacy of his belief that anything truly world-changing must come from ambitions of the private-sector.
Yes, lying underneath the squabbling of experts over whether Hyperloop can ‘technically’ work is the true meaning of the program. A manifesto of technological power that is much more than the sum of its words, written by a unique 42-year-old with big dreams and the motivational power to make people see that perhaps the government is not always the best option for innovation.