Facebook sees a world connected by drones, Google envisions the Earth blanketed by Wi-Fi-giving balloons and Tesla founder Elon Musk foresees the planet's remotest areas brought online by hundreds of satellites.
Musk's latest project may be putting the pieces together to keep artificial intelligence online, despite recently warning an MIT symposium that building machines capable of learning is akin to "summoning the devil." This latest project, however, is noble enough, as it appears to have the goal of connecting the rest of the world to the Internet.
Musk, who also founded SpaceX, is partnering with Greg Wyler, a Google executive who's said to have left the search engine company over doubts about its ability to output satellite hardware. The Wall Street Journal reported Wyler and Musk's venture into the field of orbiting Internet delivery, citing sources with intimate knowledge of the situation.
The designs for the project, which is in its infancy, call for the launch of approximately 700 satellites that each weigh under 250 pounds and are expected to cost approximately $1 million each, the Journal's sources said.
With Musk just recently finding a home in Nevada for his gigantic Tesla production facility, the tactful business man is said to be talking with officials in Florida and Colorado about setting up a plant to churn out the hundreds of satellites required by his latest project.
The venture is said to amount to a $1 billion price tag to boot and the Journal's source said the Musk may not see the project through to the end.
The Internet satellite venture is expected to lift off under the infrastructure in place with Musk's private space exploration company, SpaceX. In addition to SpaceX's launchpad in California, the company also maintains a launch facility in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
While Wyler and Musk iron out the details for their plan to launch hundreds of satellites, Google plans to launch a ring of Internet-bearing balloons under Project Loon around the Southern Hemisphere at some point in 2015. Astro Teller, head of the big-thinking Google X research division, told the audience at an MIT conference that the ring of balloons will be "semi-permanent" and proof that the project is much more than a bold idea that's full of hot air.
"We haven't taken a dime of revenue, but if we can figure out a way to take the Internet to five billion people, that's very valuable," said Teller.