Last week, Elon Musk said he needed a name for the first tunneling machine of his newly founded Boring Company. Today he got one, taking inspiration from one of the seminal texts of existential doubt and procrastination: Samuel Beckett’s 1953 play, Waiting for Godot. “First machine is Godot,” Musk said in a tweet. “Still waiting ... Don't know why, when or where.”
This “waiting” is a reference to the play itself, in which Vladimir and Estragon do next to nothing in a blasted heath, hanging around to meet the never-seen Godot. But Musk might also be saying that his first tunneling machine is also kicking its heels; waiting around and doing nothing. We know Musk has big dreams for creating underground highways, but currently, the only actual digging he’s allowed to do is in a SpaceX parking lot.
Another possible reason for the name is that Musk has come to a certain realization; that he can start as many new ventures as he likes — building self-driving cars; a colony on Mars; or trying to augment the human brain with artificial intelligence — but he’ll never be fully satisfied. His personal Godot just isn’t going to show.
In the meantime, the SpaceX CEO can at least have fun giving cute names to industrial machinery. Musk tweeted that all of his future tunnel boring machines will be named after poems and plays, and this is a certainly a theme with a lot of possibility. Elon, if you’re reading, might we suggest the Taming of the Screw, The Rime of the Ancient Miner, or maybe even A Midsummer Night's Drill?
Take it from a reporter: there’s nothing like a good pun to stave off existential angst.