Thai Cave Rescuer: Elon Musk Can Stick His Submarine "Where It Hurts"
This past week, rescue crews in Thailand finally managed to save the youth soccer team that had been trapped in a rapidly flooding cave. British caver Vern Unsworth gave an extensive interview to CNN describing the logistics of the rescue and his work connecting Thai officials to British diving experts. He apparently also gave CNN his opinion on Elon Musk's proposed solution of a small submarine which was, well, unfavorable.
He can stick his submarine where it hurts. It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception about what the cave passage was like. The submarine was I believe about five-foot six long, rigid, so it wouldn't have gone round corners or gone round any obstacles. It wouldn't have made the first 50 meters into the cave from the dive start point.
Unsworth called the submarine a publicity stunt, a sentiment that's been echoed across the Internet since Musk proposed it. But even if his intentions were altruistic, Musk's skills that he developed at Tesla don't necessarily translate into other areas. As Zeynep Tufecki wrote in the New York Times, Musk comes from the Silicon Valley culture that values fast, flashy solutions over deep expertise, saying:
In the case of Mr. Musk and his submarine, the Thai authorities understood that they needed to let the expert cave divers plan and direct the rescue operation (and Mr. Musk, to his credit, said he would take the lead from the divers). But the kind of publicity Mr. Musk created can take on a life of its own and exert undue influence.
Musk, for his part, has been generally unappreciative of the critiques, saying even before Unsworth's comments that arguments that his submarine was impractical had "shaken [his] faith in some people."