Most people have a strong reaction to Elon Musk—they either love him or hate him. That being said, Musk has consistently been an impactful innovator who privatized space, started Paypal, and made self-driving cars mainstream. Musk has recently been playing tag with Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos for the “richest person” crown.
Musk is known for setting what some believe are “ridiculous” goals regarding the future of his company and the overall future of man, predicting humans will be overtaken by Artificial Intelligence by the end of the century. The 2021 predictions by Elon Musk are fairly extreme, but should it turn out he’s right, our world might never look the same. Musk’s prophecies about what we can expect from 2021 include:
- AUTOPILOT: As you would expect, self-driving cars top the list of Elon’s 2021 predictions. As the innovator of Autopilot—a feature that would take over from the driver and is capable of handling intersection lights and stop signs—Elon and Tesla have long been at the forefront of self-driving innovation. Musk has even bolder self-driving goals for 2021, in the form of Robotaxis. Users would have a ride-hailing smartphone app; while the vehicles’ owners could theoretically be at home watching Netflix, they could send their cars to work. Some may remember that Musk promised to have one million of the Robotaxis on the roadways by the end of 2020, but, well, the pandemic. Elon is now saying his Robotaxis will be seen across the United States by the end of 2021 and will turn ride-sharing on its head, taking the price down from $2-$3 per mile to a mere .18 cents per mile. As an aside, in July 2020, Tesla became the world’s most valuable automaker, surpassing Toyota for the first time.
- SATELLITE INTERNET: Elon’s next prediction for 2021 concerns satellite internet for the entire world. Musk’s company, Starlink, a division of SpaceX, had a record year in 2020. The ambitious (is Musk every anything else?) plan is to build an interconnected satellite network, known as a “constellation.” This constellation will beam high-speed internet anywhere on planet Earth. To date, more than 1,015 Starlink satellites have been launched; the constellation will eventually consist of thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit. These small satellites will work with ground transceivers. Beta service has already begun in North America, and SpaceX has received government approval to launch up to 12,000 satellites.
- RETURN TO THE MOON: Elon’s next 2021 prediction concerns a return to the moon for the United States—and life on Mars. China landed on the moon in 2020, and while NASA is shooting for a 2024 moon return, Musk thinks it can happen sooner, with remote-controlled buggies landing on the moon. SpaceX is “almost ready” to begin building a “permanent human settlement” on Mars with its Starship rocket, expecting to launch a mission in as little as four years. This comes on the heels of NASA, China, and the United Arab Emirates all launching Mars missions in July 2020. There is a “window” for landing on Mars every 26 months, with the next window opening in 2022 and the next in 2024. Musk is working on a reusable rocket/spacecraft combo vehicle in his South Texas facility. Starship will also be used for missions to the moon and point-to-point trips around the earth.
- SOLAR POWER: For his fourth 2021 prediction, Musk believes solar power will grow even faster than electric vehicles. The price of solar is finally becoming cheaper than fossil fuel; Musk has in mind virtual power plant projects which link batteries to the national grid, providing support when needed. These virtual power plants are considered alternatives to actual power plants, able to shift megawatt loads when necessary. Musk’s solar predictions include battery storage—Tesla deployed a record 759 MWh of battery storage and doubled solar installations in 2020. Thus far, demand has vastly exceeded the supply for Tesla’s Megapack battery storage product.
- IMPLANTS IN THE BRAIN: In what may be his most world-altering prediction, Musk predicts that microchips will be implanted into the human brain to cure illnesses such as dementia and potentially even curing blindness and brain injury. Neuralink has already been tested in pigs; while Musk hoped to begin human trials in 2020, the testing has been pushed to 2021. Musk hopes that Neuralink could eventually remove the confines of verbal speech, “allowing users to transfer data directly into each other’s brains.”
We will have to wait and see whether Musk’s predictions hold true in 2021 and whether Elon Musk will be the first trillionaire in the world.