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tv   Book Discussion on Elon Musk and How to Fly a Horse  CSPAN  December 30, 2015 8:56pm-9:42pm EST

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you are the sun filled cafeteria, this guy looks like a cross between mark twain and albert einstein with wild hair. he has this mechanics jacket, like fonzie. it says pony on there. this idea that ceos for these beans are just ripping the crap out of their employees, his employees are calling him by his first name, hugging hugging him on the factory floor. despite the setbacks that he has had, the outsourcing that has been going on that he fought tooth and nail. the competition from china, $100 million that he had to
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defend at home and around the world. 8484 years old, he is still going. i'm thinking, this guy guy does not want to stop, he understands what the value of the american dream is. he is not going to quit, so neither mi and neither neither should you. thank you so much. [applause]. >> of their nonfiction author book that you would like to see featured on book tv? send us an an e-mail, book tv at c-span.org. tweet us at book tv, or poster, on our wall, facebook.com/book tv. >> this new year's weekend, book tv tv brings you three days of nonfiction books and authors.
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on new year's day presentations on in-depth starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern, nationally syndicated talkshow host of tom hartman. his many books include the crash of 2016, rebooting the american dream. then at 10:00 p.m. eastern, economist walter williams, his most recent book is american contempt for liberty. his other books include race and economics. saturday evening at 10:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, call rove deputy chief of staff looks at mckinley's 1896 campaign. >> ..
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>> joined book tv as we attend the book parties thrown for karl rove sunday on in-depth doctor david marinus will be live with calls, e-mails, and texts from noon to three pm eastern. a detroit story as well as 1st in his class biography of bill clinton, telnet to shut up and barack obama the story. book tv this new year's weekend three days of nonfiction books and authors on c-span2, so a vision for serious readers. >> coming up to writers talk about science and innovation.
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author of a book on businessmen from adventure, an engineer in one mosque, kevin ashton's book is how to fly a horse, the secret history of creation, and mentioned command discovery, part of the texas book festival held in austin earlier this year. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. thank you all for joining us for the silicon valley atx panel. i will be your moderator this afternoon. i was want to take a moment to thank the folks that make this festival free, fun command fantastic. please help me in thanking the volunteers. [applause]
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in a moment i will introduce our two authors. ii just want to make a couple of housekeeping announcements. we will spend a few minutes with each author. we will certainly save plenty of time for q&a afterwards. i ask that you ask your questions only have that time and as soon as we are done i will take kevin ashley over. i encourage you to pick up a hard copy of their books and i'm sure they will be good enough to sign them and maybe take a photograph or volunteer for a baptismal bar mitzvah. i encourage you to purchase the book through our barnes & noble partner, very generous in giving a portion of the proceeds back each year which we appreciate. i guess to funds not only this festival of a year-round texas library grants maintaining a robust system and also for a
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limited time your local library is running a great promotion of free books. i encourage you to take advantage of that plan to help us with reading rock stars,program were young inner-city schools and out authors read there books to the students and in many cases give the students a hard copy of their book. important stuff, so we hope to see you there. thank you again for coming. let me introduce 1st ashlee vance and the author now the new york times bestseller elon musk tesla space x in the quest for a fantastic future. many technology startups, cofounder of the auto id center and the internet of things, fantastic book how
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to fly aa horse, the secret history of creation, and mentioned command discovery. [applause] >> all right. let me start with kevin for the simple reason that his book, as all great stories do the story of a man named wolfgang. [applause] in this case it was mozart not myself. it starts with wolfgang mozart and in the book wonderfully wizened brilliant narrative of the historical and contemporary tales of innovation and i got the sense of how important setbacks and difficulties were. could we at least start with the impetus for inspiration for the book originally? >> well, so i found myself at mit through a very kind of random.
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i studied scandinavian studies, i know how to read and 19th century norwegian. i was hired by company name procter & gamble to launch a a range of color cosmetics. and i found myself at mit. and so i felt like a complete fraud because i was there reading this group of amazing creative people. and i assumed i guess as many people do that they were having ideas and things are coming to the spontaneously. all of my ideas were the result of trying and failing. ifailing. i felt like a fraud. it was about the same time everyone was getting into hearing. i felt like i was ati was at hogwarts. then i realized they were not doing any magic. they were trying and failing
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started asking me to talk. i started talking story which resonated. >> the muppets are prominently featured in this book which i did not see coming. but you leave so many -- they all have a similar arc in narrative. what were some of the other ways. in the universe of innovation how to decide what to grab what to leave? >> the big.here is that the way human beings create is
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basically the same no matter what there creating. i talk about mozart in the book. the way you create is not that different from bert and ernie, jim henson. so by looking at lots of different, apparently different creative works i think i was able to show the fundamental process for inspiration is the same no matter what. the stories were in some cases ones i had already heard from owens i was curious about and a lot of the book is about one thing leading to another. >> your own personal background or experience? >> absolutely. my experience is very much i read some books about what people call creativity and brought into this myth of genius in solving problems
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and all moments. >> not only history but this goes back 50,000 years. the beginning of homo sapiens and i immediately they began to evolve. allergy drawn that history? >> that is something that intrigues me. human evolution. it is incredibly relevant to the process of creating. this is not something we hear often enough improve within our lifetime. i give you an example. the birds us today in a business 20,000 years ago it
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will be exactly the same. there is no meeting going on right now where there is a burden a black turtleneck on the stage and failing person a 6.0. quite a few animals. in fact we're discovering more and more. the difference between us and them the product of instinct. they change as a result of evolution. i'm doing it right now. language is symbolic. interesting thing about languages it is actually not primarily for speaking but for thinking.
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consider what might happen if we put these things together. that is creating. the ability to ability to be creative is uniquely and innately human. we all have it which is why the game this incredible successful species within the space of 50,000 years. when it also is why i could tell stories and see that they are basically the same. we all have this innate ability to be creative. it is not equal but it is present in the way we do it is basically the same no matter who we are. >> the biologist, not so much disturbed by all the harmon violence all of these
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things, how many had in their blood in their dna the process of overcoming adversity. believing in themselves from innovation, and so that seems to be a prevalent thing. >> this is fundamentally important. everybody can create. i don't care if you're male, female,male, female, black, white, straight gate, you have this innate ability to be created. as a species we depend on our creative ability, all of our creative abilities to survive and thrive. the myth of genius which by the way is generally go for a white man. all these other people who are being oppressed. by oppressing them we are diminishing our own
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potential. it is important to recognize the facility and nurture that because we benefit from and ultimately. >> in your opinion what are ways we can do that? >> we have to get rid of this myth of the creative genius. and you can see it. you see it there. ostensibly a book about one guy who is achieving incredible things tens of thousands of people working with them and he may be the most important among them, but he is nothing without them. and so my crusade is really to have us all recognize our own humanity and potential and help one another develop the myth of the one white guy is genius. it's just not true. >> i smell sitcom.
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kevin now is actually in a loss tonight but now lives in austin. you are here now. >> am writing my next book. i have a great time. if you're not from here i'm supposed to tell you to go home but i welcome you and want you to stay. >> it will confess spin hours here in the capitol
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lobbying for the removal. i do want to thank ashley for joining us today. his book is a fantastic, the only in-depth look. fantastic dream into his background and the biography. what they see for the future and believe it or not a lot of it will be dictated by the sky. yet another rich white guy. but in my opinion is a little bit special. if you would also start with a cliché question: was the inspiration and impetus? >> sure. a technology reporter and silicon valley for about 15 years now. in a lot of ways this would have been an unlikely book
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for me to do. he was never a guy i was not interested in. these companies and i would cover regularly command he seemed like a guy who was a blowhard and silicon valley, promising fantastic things and they seem to take much longer to deliver. and then around 2012 it changed for me. not a space tourism company, while commercial satellite launching company. the dr. the international space station and replace this patient or an give us give us a chance to get to space. tesla, electric car company, came out with a model accident. as compared to the 1st car which was seen as more of a 12 for rich people, the model s still caters caters
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to rich people but it was view is maybe the best car ever built. people in detroit who were skeptical gave the company credit. solar city is the 3rd company. a solar power company filing throughout public offering and became the united states largest installer. this all happened in the span of about three months. as far as industrial scale even though he has a lot to prove there is no one in history that has been in this diverse in the field. and so i did a cover story on him and ended up to father went to the factory in silicon valley and then went to the rocket factory in los angeles. that blew methat blew me away as well, and this time we are told we can't make anything. this guythis guy was building these complicated things in the most expensive cities. it is not for show.
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the space x rocket factory is about 4 miles from lax. i thought they would be hand making one rocket for their mass-producing rocket. it kind of blew me away. i had a chance to interview elon and he was just much more interesting. i pegged him as aa techno- utopian kind of guy but he was authentic, a good interview, surprisingly down to earth in a lot did not have a lot of answers. it was just me and him. i've been looking for a book to do and thought this was the guy. he was running counter to so much of the stuff and silicon valley which is quick hits, entertainment, consumer services. >> backtrack a moment, how did you originally pitch it to him? >> those were difficult. we had a pretty good rapport
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coming out of that. he has a controversial relationship with journalists. we had gotten along okay. i like to do a book on you. he said colloquy that he was going to write his own book. so i took that is unlikely and he definitely brushed me off and then i took a risk i went and sold the book in new york a couple months later. i thought that would force his hand. if i sold the book and came back to him and told him that he would end up cooperating. we have this big meeting in tesla one saturday. tesla's. tesla's office, the factories in fremont california on the edge of silicon valley and the office is in palo alto in these days most people do
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not work on the weekends like they did back 20 or 30 years ago. the parking lot was full of cars and i walked in and he has everyone working on saturday. he made me wait about an hour for our meeting. he comes in, and he sits down and made small talk. so impressive, you have all these people here on a saturday. the 1st thing out of his mouth, it's funny that you say that come i was just about to send an email to everybody tell you how softly gotten andsoftware gotten and i expect more people to be here on the weekend. >> we got off to a rough start and then i told him i sold the book and again he told me he was not going to cooperate. there was this moment where i decided, can i do this and not know decided to go ahead and spent the next 18 months interviewing about 200
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people, ex-employees. new line also cofounded paypal. his ex- girlfriends, his worst enemies call the stuff and after 18 months that seem to where him down. one day i was at home and got a call. he decided that we would chat it out. he ended up cooperating with the book after that. i interviewed him for about eight months ago access. >> i want to give too much away, but this is the only access irc like this. the book has been out. it is a new york times bestseller. has there been any feedback indirectly? >> it has been a bit of a roller coaster. he was -- he wanted to see the book before was published. >> did he pick out the cover
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photo? >> thank me for that photo. >> whatphoto. >> what is standing in front of? >> that is a space x engine. he wanted to read the book. he wanted to put footnotes in the book and i would not let him. i did let them see the book before. hehe did not have to buy it on amazon. and so his initial reaction at about 50 e-mails waiting for me. he works 24 hours a day. keep it going paragraph by paragraph through the book. nothing too controversial. a couple days passed and he said the book is accurate.
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he gave me a 90 percent accuracy rating. and he said it was well done and the press got a hold of the book and mostly focused on what a glossy is. then he had a bigger reaction after that. i had to make comparisons, but were talking about the tech giants. what similarities or differences that have? >> definitely different.
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there are comparisons you could make. preserving the company because off to the cover letter. looking at the sun visors of the car. it is very elon way. and so that is absolutely something that elon wanted and his engineers fought him on. the new it will be difficult to do. did have problems. it has become one of the signature things. it is exactly the same way
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he actually makes sometimes good, sometimes bad decisions. he goes down to that level. i probably draw more parallels to like edison getting huge quantities of people. bright ambitious and capable people to dedicate there lives. i think that's probably the biggest accomplishment.
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space x in particular, he was to create a colony on mars which is a tough thing to sell on wall street. has been determined not to take space x public. everybody else. you have a little bit of everyone. having interviewed most of these people more capable across a broader set of things. makes plenty of mistakes but is quite good.
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>> we want to thank him for putting the facility in brownsville. you mentioned this earlier. you are on aa flight from san francisco with a guy reading the book. >> i don't want to oversell. this guy, it was interesting. reading the book and told me my tapped him on the shoulder near the end of the flight. he said, i've gotten a few e-mails like this. i guy who was kind of midcareer and he was going to quit his current job and go do something that was more risky. he wanted to go -- you identified to startups. it has been funny since the book came out.
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people, this is sort of what i wanted to do. going to law school. maybe they were cursed me in a few years. they wanted to get a job or go back get an engineering degree. some of that is rewarding. >> his book does such a wonderful gob of weaving together the narratives. the process in the life experience. the penultimate example of that. i was particularly thinking of elon, alito case of malaria. foster child is a young man. but those types of things command you talk about similar problems, butbut i
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want to give you both in conversation about the process. the importance of passion. difficult passionate about something superficial. you're probably not passionate about the drapes, passionate about your children or your family are some higher purpose. what you see with creative people, they are passionate about something very meaningful. one of the most important innovators alive today.
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it is a very good job of explaining this. he kind of gets it. we depend on technology for survival as a species. it made us a successful species. they will come a point when this planet is not big enough for the human race anymore. probably not that far from now we have to live on another planet. if wewe're going to continue to thrive and grow. so you have to become an interplanetary species. that's why he wants to go colonize mars. that sounds incredibly unbelievable but it is also
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incredibly predictable. the ability to overcome terrible because they are passionate about something greater. musk epitomizes that. he may die very young because he is working incredibly hard. but the reason he is doing at his because he has higher purpose. that is motivating them to work longer hours, work harder, is one of the reasons he gets mad and matted employees who want to take one sunday your offer something. that is what i see able to suffer the terrible experience. rebound from a bad illness. there's something more important.
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>> there are things that are both refreshing and sort of probably would be disturbing the most people. i don't think most people would want to live their life completely like he does. as a kid he by the time he was 14 he may have read every science-fiction book ever penned. where some kids would sort of revel in the fantasies committee took this as his life's calling and internalized it and decided, i'm the guy who will do this .-ellipsis life really a low-levela low-level like know when i have ever seen, very utilitarian. have aa finite amount of time on this earth and going to maximize my time going after my goals. if that means i have to be
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rough on my employees, family life will implode, i have to lose every dollar and so be it. when he sold paypal he made $220 million. i don't think there is anyone near here who would sacrifice every last penny, which is what he did, burned through the entire 220 million building rockets and electric cars, like taking all your money and lighting it on fire, the two worst things you could possibly do. and he in 2008 both companies are going bankrupt. is going through divorce, lost a child, and he basically through sheer force of we will and chicanery gets through this period, and there are a few people that would have walked out of that let alone end up with ten of 13 billion a few years later that is why i wrote the book. he is passionate, level you
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rarely experience. >> there was a chapter in your book. rockets. >> it takes you on a tour de force. almost 50 years of a remarkable rise to future shape. the last question, some of you may know, is part of a group called the long now foundation. many others are involved, jeff basis one of them. but one of the projects which will sound strange is a 10,000 year clock that will be self winding up perpetuating, something to remind us we need to think more long-term and think more into the future.
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it will be housed in west texas in the cave. where do you see the future of innovation? it is in the story, but of themes or evolution. >> how they foster the creativity. >> one of the really interesting things about the human propensity to create is how it keeps accelerating. if you look at the 1st 50,000 years of human history and it was like about 10,000 years ago only that we started looking out for animals are domesticating animals. 5,000 years before we got agriculture, writing emerged
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about that time. and now i've gone through seven models the last four years. elon musk has self driving cars all over the world and is flying rockets to space in that. what is driving the acceleration? there are far more of this now. everybody is created. the more people created more things could created. they are building on the knowledge of previous generations, taking advantage of the innovation. if you take that to the future we're going to be had about 10 billion people and 2100. that is more than twice what we have now. they are benefiting. were able to communicate with each other globally. so we have unprecedented creative ability.
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the tremendous social progress we've seen. the ability of more and more different people. that's going to accelerate. and we're waiting in parts of the world where people are not been able to create much before. it is an incredibly bright future, which you don't get to hear very often. it is so much easier to be pessimistic. that is not the whole story. >> please help me in thanking the two of them. [applause]
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i like to turn it to the audience. there's a microphone here in the center. please direct your question to either of the two authors or both of them and we will try to keep on schedule. >> my question is when you look at people that have had all moments do you see any pattern that goes around that, what might lead them up to that momentfor what they do when they have that moment? >> great question. they don't actually have those moments. if you are not familiar, the idea that when we mentioned mozart, mozart is alone in a good mood and suddenly as
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symphony appears in his head and he writes it down is done. one of the things from the book, that is a myth based on a letter that is a forgery. we have known it's a forgery for about hundred 50 years but you still see it enacted papers about creativity as if it were true. people like the myth. the reality is step-by-step process, someone with a lot of skill and experience trying and failing until they come to this wonderful feeling of finally finishing something. the 10,000 peace may be the one that feels the best but you have to put the others in 1st. that is the truth. it is a great feeling that comes at the end of a very long series. >> this is a question for both authors. i want to go see the new steve jobs movie. it was brilliant, but there is a theme for people like steve jobs, try to change the world. they seem to be a hassle's.
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>> this is public television. >> is there a way to change the world without being an acyl? >> we get it. by the way, that's the only time. >> i get asked this question a lot. he seems to rub people the wrong way. he has what i describe in the book is a strange sort of empathy. he is not very empathetic for what is going on in his employees daily lives. they come down and say, they have to miss some function because the kid is going to go to a soccer game. he really doesn't care about that at all. they get fired because of it. we would talk he was sort of honestly breakdown almost completely in tears when he would start talking about
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building a colony on mars and how important this was for mankind. i mean, he seems to viscerally feel the peril of the human species from some kind of unforeseen event. such a different way that it is hard to draw the shoot parallels. since steve jobs they're have been a tendency to glorify people that are jerks. although i have interviewed most of these guys and there does seem to be a propensity to be really hard on people. >> there are plenty of examples of people who change the world have had a great charm and grace social skill.
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the 2nd thing assays am sadly talking about a bunch of privileged white men. non-charming people. and many of them were not changing the world in any way. so i would say it's a coincidence. >> well put. very diplomatic. >> another question for both of you. can you talk a little bit about how he put together his team for tesla, specifically how many people he actually hired himself, interview and hire and then just a following question, after you get these e-mails from them having read the manuscript, did you make any
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changes? >> i can answer the 2nd one quickly. it was already printed by the time you read it. there is nothing factually that i would correct. i don't know if it's going to be as fulfilling because is a different story for tesla. he was founded by two other gentlemen. he was the original money men. they were responsible for hiring the initial team. what was remarkable about that, it was a small group of people on the over 40 engineers in silicon valley who had never done that before.

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