Elon Musk: Mars test flights in 2019

Courtesy of Matt Lief Anderson  HBO

That is, in part, what his quest to establish bases on the moon and Mars is about.

There was even a sing-along with Kimbal Musk, Elon's brother, to the tune of "My Little Buttercup". "There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning".

Musk, who also heads Tesla, is speaking at South by Southwest in Austin, where he's talking about the concept of traveling to Mars.

The Q&A comes after Musk's unexpected cameo (or, technically, his crashing) of HBO's Westworld panel on March 10, where he discussed the sci-fi show's themes while ruminating on inspiration and why it's so crucial to balance out "the negative things in the world".

"The biggest thing that would be helpful is just general support and encouragement and goodwill", Musk said.

It was Musk's long-range plan for sending settlers to Mars that took up most of the attention.

"Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints to nightclubs".

Getting to that point hasn't been easy - he said early on that SpaceX nearly didn't survive.

"For SpaceX, the first three launches failed".

Pointing to AlphaGo and its predecessor AlphaGo Zero, Musk said AI is capable of vastly more than anyone knows, and said the rate of improvement is also exponential.

Elon Musk says SpaceX will launch rockets to Mars by 2019.

"AI scares the hell out of me", he said, telling Nolan that while he's not typically a fan of regulation, he feels AI is more unsafe than nuclear weapons and it's not like we let just anyone build nukes.

"The rate of improvement is really dramatic, but we have to figure out some way to ensure that the advent of digital super intelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity".

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