Elon Musk says he's 'optimistic' Mars ship will make first trips in 2019

Elon Musk says he's making "great progress" toward his goal of getting to Mars by 2022. 
 
Speaking during a last-minute appearance at SXSW, Musk said he thinks SpaceX's Mars ship will be ready for its first trips in less than a year.
 
SEE ALSO: Elon Musk drops epic Falcon Heavy launch trailers made by 'Westworld' co-creator
 
"In the short term, Mars is really about getting the space ship built, and we're making great progress," he said.
 
He predicted that the ship would be ready to take to the skies next year — albeit for short flights only.
 
"We are building the first ship, the first interplanetary ship right now, and I think we will be able to do short flights, short sort of up and down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year," he said.
 
Though still a long way from getting all the way to Mars, it would be an important milestone for Musk, who has said he wants to get to the red planet by 2022. 
 
Still, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO noted that he has a history of being overly ambitious when it comes to providing timelines. "People have told me that my timelines have historically been optimistic," he told the crowd.
 
In true Elon Musk fashion, he also spoke at length about his well-known fear of artificial intelligence. 
 
"We're quite close o the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me," he said. "We have to figure out some way to ensure that the advent of digital super intelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity. I think that's the single biggest existential crisis that we face."
 
Though many experts have discounted his doomsday fears, Musk dismissed AI critics and doubled down on his position.
 
"Mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes."
 
This fear of AI, by the way, is part of the reason why Musk is so keen on Mars. He explained that colonizing Mars, would be an important step necessary to ensuring humanity's survival in the event of a future dark age. 
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