Speaking of world building, there are two living people who are in the process of doing that in real life and in real time. I’ve been watching them lately trying to gain some insights for world building of my own in my writing. To me their lives and their ideas are fodder for countless novel plots and either one would be an excellent subject for a non fiction book if you were so inclined and started tracking their lives right now.
Top on the list is Elon Musk who not only founded Tesla Motors to produce electric vehicles (which were just rated 5+ for safety) but is the founder and CEO of SpaceX whose rockets have already made a couple of supply runs to the ISS and has about 2 1/2 billion dollars in back orders.
The central character in the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark, was based on Elon Musk. I think a much more accurate comparison would be the character of Reid Malenfant in the Manifold Time series of novels by Stephen Baxter. During a time when the world was turning inward to try to resolve mans misuse of the planet, Malenfant bootstrapped some mothballed shuttle engines and decided to go explore space with the idea of mining and colonization. Musk has beaten Malenfant by not relying on old technology but designing his engines from scratch so he could build his own rockets from the ground up. He not only surpassed the fictional Malenfant but has gone well beyond him in some areas. Musk is going to skip mining for the time being and go directly to Mars. Plans for his Mars Colonial Transporter are already well underway. I believe he will make the trip before I’m pushing daisies and I’m already starting to toddle. If he were a normal human being, his plate would be full with little time to spare for other projects but, being an intellectual super mutant with enough cred to wear a cape, he has decided to pursue building a hyperloop bullet train and is designing a hologram system to build rocket parts with hand gestures alone. This man is a walking, talking sf novel who could make Tony Stark beg for a better armor design.
Next on the list is Geordie Rose who is the founder of D-Wave Systems out of Canada. I recently watched a two hour video of Rose who discussed D-Waves adiabatic quantum computing system compared to current approaches taken by mainstream science. The clarity of the man’s thinking is astounding. He is very exciting to listen to and I can’t count the number of plot ideas that popped up just by listening to him for a short time. He views the mainstream approach to quantum computing as an attempt to martial the worlds resources to build a conventional ladder from earth to the moon. Perhaps with super materials we could eventually get the job done but why bother when it has no chance of ever being used. So his approach is not to worry about superposition and decoherence because adiabatic computing completely avoids those herculean obstacles.
Here’s the link to Roses video. I hope you’re as fascinated as I was listening to this man. You wouldn’t think that a former college wrestler who stayed as an undergraduate for an extra year so he could continue to compete on the wrestling team would be an interesting entrepreneur-scientist to listen to. But after watching him for a while you begin to understand why Google, NASA and Lockheed Martin recently purchased D-Wave’s quantum computers. Don’t miss the end where Rose talks about the progress in machine learning and how AI will be achieved sooner than we think.
Elon Musk has said that he won’t consider an initial public offering of SpaceX like he did with Tesla Motors until the Mars Colonial Transporter is fully functional but I think his venture capital friends will put pressure on him to IPO long before that. Rose will be offering an IPO perhaps sooner than Musk. In any case I’ll be first in line to purchase a tinnie bit of that stock so I can maintain my dotage in an upscale nursing home.