Elon Musk's recent boring talk wasn't what it sounds like. Sitting down for a discussion at TED2017, the PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX founder talked about literally boring, as in digging tunnels underneath cities to alleviate surface traffic.
Musk is known for his dazzlingly ambitious technological quarries, from creating a future of autonomous vehicles to sending permanent colonies to Mars to this tunneling concept. And indeed, the high level (or perhaps low level) idea is persuasive: whereas the surface only has a single layer on which cars can travel, tunnels could promise arbitrary depth and layers, meaning that they could help cities to handle traffic growth virtually indefinitely.
That said, tunnels aren't without their issues as well. Musk isn't the first person to think of underground transportation. Many metropolises already have that in the form of subways. But current subway tunnels are absurdly expensive. Los Angeles' recent two mile subway extension cost about $1 billion per mile — Musk readily acknowledges that the price would need to drop at least tenfold for it to become viable on a broader scale.
Thus he introduces his newest endeavor, 'The Boring Company.' Though its name might be a groan-inducing pun, the company is far from a joke. Musk has been creating machines that will greatly reduce the cost of digging, and they've already begun boring tunnels under Los Angeles.