There’s perhaps no better evidence that, over the past few years, Elon Musk has branched out from the insular worlds of Tesla and AI and into the greater public eye than the fact that this week he made mainstream media headlines for allegedly stealing an image of a flatulent unicorn from a pottery-making Coloradan. Having moved on from his two breakups with Amber Heard to date the musician Grimes has recently brought the billionaire investor, engineer, and Tesla co-founder even more attention—making it all the more intriguing that for the past four years, Musk aapparently has also been keeping company with his secret group of his called Ad Astra, the members of which are aged, on average,10 years old.

Thanks to Ars Technica, which dove deep into the mystery and published a recap of their findings on Monday, we know that these aren’t just any old seven- to 14-year olds; they’re in fact Musk’s personal picks for his ultra-selective, nonprofit, grading-less laboratory school, which apparently is much more like a “venture capital incubator.” Its student body is made up of less than 40 students, which is in fact quite an increase from the past, when his five sons made up nearly two thirds of the student body. (That meant that when they, for example, jetted off to Sydney with Heard, they left only three or so students behind in the school's secret headquarters inside Musk’s SpaceX complex in Hawthorne, California.)

View this post on Instagram

Kidding around

A post shared by Amber Heard (@amberheard) on

View on Instagram

Despite keeping it under wraps, four years in, Musk’s effort to revolutionize education in the way that Tesla disrupted transportation is apparently starting to explode with popularity; last year, hundreds of families attempted—and failed—to land their kids into one of its dozen available slots. Still, the school’s online presence is, as the Post put it, spartan. Its website sports only a logo and an email address—a gmail account called “todaremightythings”—though its LinkedIn page does include a bit more information, like how Ad Astra is “dedicated to pushing each student to the frontier of his or her human potential.” (Never mind that those whose age is still in the single digits are still a ways away in developing to reach any types of limits.)

Oddly enough, some of this was already out in the open; Musk spoke to a Chinese TV station about it in 2015, and while it’s unlisted and still has fewer than 7,000 views, a video posted to YouTube last year features the school’s head and cofounder Joshua Dahn recalling how they “started with eight kids in a really small conference room with transparent walls,” and have since expanded to teaching a larger student coding, math, and chemistry—along with how to battle robots using tools like flamethrowers, which, in addition to dodgeball games during lunch, does somewhat make up for the fact that there’s no gym class.

Still, it’s taken a few days for all Ars Technica’s recap to make its way out of the science-tech sphere and into less industry-specific outlets, which so far haven’t bothered to mask any of their shock; the Washington Post, for example, cut right to the chase with the headline, “Elon Musk created a secretive ‘laboratory school’ for brilliant kids who love flamethrowers.” (To be fair, there’s a lot more to the school than that; beyond coding and the other subjects mentioned above, students also partake in activities like creating weather balloons and, as Dahn put it, “blowing s— up.”)

Ryerson University students testing one of the deployable wheels that they built for SpaceX’s pod competition for Hyperloops, a concept of high-speed, long-distance transportation that Elon Musk popularized, February 2017.

Musk foots the bill for a good portion of Ad Astra, including the students’ tuition, Mac laptops, and apparently even a fleet of after-school food trucks. He has not, however, made any moves to invest in gym, music, or language classes, purposefully abstaining from the latter because, according to Dahn, he believes that we’ll all soon have real-time, computer-aided translation.

There is the possibility, though, that we’ll all have a lot more to do with Ad Astra soon enough; in addition to space exploration, one of the students’ current projects has been to turn their attention towards North Korea. Given that Donald Trump's focus when addressing the issue has extended over to looking "thin and perfect" while doing so, that news is rather reassuring—at least, assuming that Musk’s child army is on the anti-catastrophe side. Here’s hoping that it was a seven-year-old’s mistake instead of an older student’s intention that, in a simulation, one of them led the world to what Dahn described as a “nuclear holocaust.”

Related: Grimes and Elon Musk Debut as a Couple at the Met Gala

Source: Read Full Article