Elon Musk Updates the World on his Tunnel-Boring Machine

Elon Musk is known for his smart, personable approach to social media. Whether he’s responding to complaints from Tesla customers, making jokes, or attacking his critics, Musk comes across as a real person on Twitter and Instagram, which is a rarity among Fortune 500 executives.

On Friday, Musk posted a photo of himself on Instagram with one of the boring machines used by his tunneling business, the Boring Company. Musk referenced Dan Hill’s 1978 song “Sometimes When We Touch,” in the post’s caption: “Deep in the hole with my boring machine. Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much …,” Musk wrote.

Musk founded the Boring Company out of frustration with Los Angeles’ notoriously congested traffic. He hopes to use the company to create underground tunnel networks that could house new transportation systems like Hyperloop, which would carry passengers in pods at speeds of over 500 mph.

So far, the company has received approval to build test tunnels in Los Angeles and Baltimore, as well as a permit to begin initial digging and preparatory work in Washington, D.C. But the company will have to get approval from a large number of city and state governments if it hopes to make its tunnel network a reality.

Speaking more generally, he suggested that governments need to “find the balance” between regulation and innovation, because “the regulations tend to benefit the current incumbents.”

What about the argument that users should get some monetary benefit when companies like Google build enormous businesses that rely on users’ personal data?

“I’m perfectly happy to redistribute the money — that’s what taxes are for, that’s what regulation is for,” Schmidt said. But he argued that consumers are already benefiting from these business models because they’re getting access to free services.

“The real value is not the data but in the industrial construction of the firm which uses the data to solve a problem to make money,” he said. “That’s capitalism.”