An Interview with Keith Kaplan of the TESLA Foundation

The TESLA Technology Think Tank is dedicated to making rapidly emerging technology productive and safe for mankind.  It was our pleasure to interview Keith Kaplan earlier this spring, co-founder and CEO of the TESLA Think Tank, and a fiercely enthusiastic advocate of our ever-more technological future.  “We are progressing from the industrial revolution to the autonomous age… The circumstances require great action, and as a think tank, we assist in helping public and private entities to navigate this.“ You won’t want to  miss Keith’s interesting comments on our technological future.

TESLA’s mission as stated at the TESLA website:

"The Tesla Foundation is a not for profit science and technology think tank for The Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the Architect of Americas Technology Farm System. The Tesla Foundation accomplishes its non-profit goals utilizing the combined efforts of its technology farm system, research, education, applications and high level educational events and summits. It is the responsibility of those that can shape our future to integrate all technology in a safe and ethical manner for all of humankind."

What is the purpose and mission of the TESLA Foundation?
It is a very exciting time but it is a difficult time. We, as a society, are getting through a transition. Owing to incredible advancements in connectivity and data collection and communications, it has been a disruptive time. We are progressing from the industrial revolution to the autonomous age.  We are progressing from factory-based physical systems to virtual systems.  We are experiencing a mass migration of the workforce, very similar to what we experienced in the second stage of the industrial revolution, which went from farms to the factory.

Recruiting the Best and the Brightest for the Information Age
The circumstances require great action, and as a think tank, we assist in helping public and private entities to navigate this.  But also, we are creating the first technology personnel recruitment system. There is a very effective system that exists for professional sports in this country.  We are using that same kind of blueprint, including word of mouth, and the same techniques that are used to farm our society for the best young athletes who rise into professional sports.  We are promoting the use of that same methodology in the context of technology. 

The TESLA foundation incubated in this now expanding unmanned aerial vehicles systems association (UAVSA), for the sole purpose of providing services and promoting the ability for roboticists, professional robot operators, and, right now, specialists in aero-robotics technology to be assimilated into our professional lives in as seamless and safe a way as possible.

We are very much at the end stage of traditional aviation.  A lot of folks might not feel like this but consider that we have commercial planes that we travel on, and that are used to deliver our packages.  These aircraft already have cyber-physical systems that actually take-off, fly and land the planes.  Pilots and the safety systems are redundant and that’s very important, but the pilot interaction with those systems that are becoming more autonomous, is evolving and shrinking, and this is an indicator of how good these systems truly are.

And so, with completely autonomous aero-robotics, it is very important that the technical integration of these services with commerce is done in a very safe and productive manner.  We need to collect and then publicize a whole new generation of wonderful jobs in data collection that this proliferating technology now offers!

Would you have any comments about TESLA’s future direction and ambitions with respect to UAVs?
UAVs… It was an interesting moment when custom computing became mobile.  This really was a crescendo of the information age – Let’s call it industry 3.0.   But for the masses, it is industry 4.0.  “Drones” are that moment.  This occurs when the masses fully accept the new technology and say, “Ok, this is a good solution!” 

With respect to the TESLA Foundation, it is very important to understand, study, and then react as quickly as possible.  The incredible speed with which this new iteration is seizing our physical world is amazing. This is because of the ability for any of us to have a tremendous amount of data at our fingertips, not just tomorrow but in the next minute, or the next few seconds. Consider that we are able to have instant simulations of our cyber systems, and then see those iterations happen in the physical world.  Anyone can build an object in free open source CAD software, then have that object produced on a 3D printer in seconds!... The combinations of these iterations are increasing in our physical world.  I personally think that this is going to continue to increase, exponentially.

So, we have to find ways to identify people, who have solutions that are productive that we can integrate. This will stimulate ecommerce as well as educational opportunities.

Thank you. Do you have any comments with respect to the evolving position of the FAA on robotics?
The FAA is in a very difficult position because the FAA, in a traditional sense, always included the operator as a human.  This is a very different scenario, today, where sensors and connectivity in aviation of all kinds can actually in many cases mitigate human involvement as the systems perform better than a human. 

There needs to be more funding, more scientists, engineers and operators, and creators, at the table. And not as many legislators. By that, I mean that the legislatures have too often been behind the curve in understanding the extraordinary and economically substantial benefits open competition and deregulated unmanned systems offer our communities, states and national economies. They need to have the data about real world scenarios to be able to accelerate the decisions that they are making.  Legislators need to have more partnerships with industry in the UAV markets to be able to understand just how fast paced the iteration cycle is – and to adopt appropriate legislation and be malleable in the face of these emerging ecommerce opportunities.

Thank you for your comments! It has been a real pleasure learning about TESLA and its mission!
Thank you so much, and I really appreciate the opportunity to promote a safe and ethical transition into the Industrial revolution 4.0.  So, Tom, thank you!