From Brain Chips to His Tesla Pay, Elon Musk’s Highs and Lows Converge 从脑机芯片到特斯拉巨额薪酬:马斯克犹如坐过山车

Billionaire wins with Neuralink’s brain-implant success, and loses with judge rescinding record $55.8 billion pay package at Tesla

From Brain Chips to His Tesla Pay, Elon Musk’s Highs and Lows Converge 从脑机芯片到特斯拉巨额薪酬:马斯克犹如坐过山车

On Monday, he celebrated a breakthrough with his brain-computer-implant startup, Neuralink; the next day he watched his record $55.8 billion pay package at Tesla TSLA 0.84% increase; green up pointing triangle get rescinded by a judge who called the six-year-old scheme unfair.

The pay package, approved by shareholders in 2018, was supposed to be like past “dopamine hits” for Musk, Kathaleen McCormick, the chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, noted in her opinion. She cited a former Tesla board member’s words about the board’s motivation for giving him such a big payday in exchange for meeting lofty targets, such as adding as much as $600 billion to the company’s market value. 

“We needed him focused on the Tesla objectives,” former Tesla board member Antonio Gracias told the judge during a late-2022 trial sparked by a shareholder lawsuit over the deal. 

Except Musk, who currently oversees six companies, doesn’t punch a single time clock. 

Even the idea that the Tesla board might ask that he agree to a time commitment at the electric-vehicle maker in exchange for what was a record pay package was a nonstarter. Rather, Musk testified that such a suggestion would have been “silly.”

“If encouraging Musk to prioritize Tesla over his other ventures was so important, why not place guardrails on how much time or energy Musk had to put into Tesla?” McCormick wrote in her 201-page ruling, which will presumably be appealed. 

At the time the package was being considered, behind the scenes, Musk was already thinking about other ventures. In September 2017, according to court testimony, Musk turned to trusted advisers on the Tesla board with a question: Should he be spending more time on his pet projects in AI and brain computers? 

In Musk’s view, the two are connected in a future when artificial intelligence is as powerful—or more so—than the human mind, a terrifying prospect. Neuralink, the brain-chip startup he founded in 2016, would give people the ability to keep up with the machine through what he has called “symbiosis,” or working in tandem, quickly exchanging ideas and, hopefully, taming its power.

From Brain Chips to His Tesla Pay, Elon Musk’s Highs and Lows Converge 从脑机芯片到特斯拉巨额薪酬:马斯克犹如坐过山车
Elon Musk holding a Neuralink disk implant, in an image from a Neuralink livestream in 2020. PHOTO: -/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

“My instincts tell me that I should be devoting a much higher percentage of time to them,” Musk, then deeply involved in expanding Model 3 sedan production as Tesla’s chief executive, texted in 2017 to Gracias and to Musk’s younger brother, Kimbal, also a board member. 

They agreed that such work could help mitigate the danger to humanity that AI posed,  according to court testimony. 

So while Musk kept himself in the weeds at Tesla, he would also figure out a way to squeeze time out of his hectic schedule to devote more time to Neuralink—giving, at times, an estimated 5% of his time instead of 1%.

The fruits of that labor were announced Monday: The first human had received a Neuralink implant and “initial results show promising neuron spike detection.”

In typical Musk style, little else was shared. But the announcement itself marked an important step in the ambitious journey he is proposing. It is a milestone similar to successfully launching the first rocket at SpaceX in Musk’s effort to one day reach Mars, or delivering the first electric vehicle at Tesla in his goal of eventually ushering in a renewable-energy world. 

This week, Musk demonstrated he can bridge the gap from monkey experiments to human trials, even if rivals are pursuing something similar, with some having already beaten him to the punch.

Musk’s vision, of course, has his own spin, adding a dash of his razzle-dazzle that helps attract popular attention to an otherwise esoteric field. “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer,” Musk tweeted Monday. “That is the goal.”

Musk began talking about the idea of a “neural lace” in 2016, a concept drawn heavily from one of his favorite science-fiction authors, Iain Banks, whose books revolve around superintelligent AI. 

According to the picture Musk has been painting, he wants the technology to eventually allow the mind to communicate directly with the computer. “If you can solve the data rate issue, especially output but input, too, then you can improve the symbiosis that is already occurring between man and machine,” Musk said on a podcast a few years ago. 

From Brain Chips to His Tesla Pay, Elon Musk’s Highs and Lows Converge 从脑机芯片到特斯拉巨额薪酬:马斯克犹如坐过山车
Elon Musk and a surgical robot during the Neuralink presentation livestreamed in August 2020. PHOTO: -/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Monday’s announcement came as Musk’s other ventures push further into the field of AI, an area of technology that the entrepreneur has long cautioned is ripe for risky, unintended consequences.

Last year, he founded xAI to pursue superintelligent AI development after breaking with OpenAI, which he helped found. The creation of the new startup raised questions about how that effort would mesh with Tesla’s own AI development. 

For years, Musk has painted the automaker as being among the most advanced AI developers as it pursued driverless cars and, more recently, humanoid robots, dubbed Optimus. 

“Neuralink plus Optimus has potential for incredible artificial limbs,” Musk tweeted in November. 

Yet, ahead of the judge’s ruling, Musk in recent weeks had a change of tune, warning he felt “uncomfortable” working to make the automaker a leader in AI and robotics without having 25% voting control of the company. It was an unusual public demand for a new pay package that, he said, was being held up as the board awaited the court’s decision. 

Tuesday’s ruling further complicates that effort. Musk directly holds 13% of Tesla’s shares outstanding and had held unexercised options from successful completion of the 2018 pay package that would have boosted the holdings to about 21%, according to a regulatory filing. 

Musk’s large ownership stake is part of the reason why the judge questioned whether the board legitimately had a reason to worry he might leave the company. The judge noted Musk had made clear he had no intent of doing so and that his stake gave him a huge incentive to “push Tesla to levels of transformative growth.” 

Still, hours after her ruling came out, as if to remind supporters of what might be possible if his unifying AI vision is indeed enacted, Musk tweeted a new video that showed a Tesla robot demonstrating its ability to saunter. “Going for a walk with Optimus,” Musk teased. 

马斯克(Elon Musk)的多巴胺分泌真像是在坐过山车。周一,他庆祝自己的脑机接口初创公司Neuralink取得的一项突破;第二天,他又眼睁睁地看着自己在特斯拉(Tesla)创纪录的558亿美元薪酬计划被一名法官撤销,该法官称这项长达六年之久的薪酬计划不公平。

特拉华衡平法院大法官Kathaleen McCormick在意见书中指出,对于马斯克,2018年获得股东批准的这一薪酬方案本应像过去的“多巴胺分泌”一样。她引用了一位前特斯拉董事会成员关于给马斯克如此高薪的动机的话,说他们是为了换取他实现一些非常高的目标,比如让公司市值增加多达6,000亿美元。

特斯拉前董事会成员Antonio Gracias在2022年底的一次审判中告诉法官:“我们需要他专注于特斯拉的目标。”这场审讯是由股东就这笔交易提起的诉讼引发的。




在董事会考虑上述薪酬方案时,马斯克背地里已经在想其他投资项目了。根据法庭证词,2017年9月马斯克向特斯拉董事会中值得信赖的顾问提出了一个问题: 他是否应该把更多时间花在AI、脑机等个人宠爱的项目上呢?

From Brain Chips to His Tesla Pay, Elon Musk’s Highs and Lows Converge 从脑机芯片到特斯拉巨额薪酬:马斯克犹如坐过山车


马斯克在2017年给Gracias和自己的弟弟、同为董事会成员的Kimbal发了一条文字信息:“直觉告诉我,我投入到它们身上的时间从比例上而言应该高得多。”马斯克当时是特斯拉的首席执行官,正深度参与扩大Model 3轿车的生产。







马斯克从2016年开始谈论“神经织网”,这个概念主要来自他最喜欢的科幻小说作家之一Iain Banks,后者的书围绕超强智能AI展开。

From Brain Chips to His Tesla Pay, Elon Musk’s Highs and Lows Converge 从脑机芯片到特斯拉巨额薪酬:马斯克犹如坐过山车






然而,在该法官做出裁决之前,马斯克最近几周的态度发生了变化, 他警告说,他对在没有该公司25%投票控制权的情况下让特斯拉成为AI和机器人领域的领先者感到“不舒服”。他说,在董事会等待法院裁决之际,新的薪酬方案被搁置,这种公开要求薪酬方案的情况很少见。





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