the paradoxes of the character Elon Musk

Is he a brutal entrepreneur?

It’s one of the paradoxes of the character. In his tweets and in all his statements, he declares that he works for the good of humanity, but he himself is not very human. In everyday life, it is extremely hard and brittle. Almost all of the people who worked with him reported him to me.

“A lot of qualifiers are used to describe it and it’s more or less relevant.”

How can this psychological profile be explained?

He recently announced that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He has an introverted temperament. He suffered from his parents’ divorce during his youth, made the decision to live with his father and is implied to have suffered some form of abuse. However, his social background is that of a wealthy family. He grew up in South Africa under the apartheid regime, which he did not oppose.

His taste for science fiction is fundamental to his construction, you write. Why ?

In the loneliness of his youth, he built a world around science fiction, through comics, cinema (with the Star Wars saga, of course), but also literary works, including books by ‘Isaac Asimov and Scottish author Iain Banks, insider Reference. The latter also inspired Musk for the names of the barges that salvage some of the SpaceX ships.

Is he a visionary in his plan to conquer Mars?

The idea of ​​arriving on Mars by 2050 makes him a visionary, even if the quality of this vision is debatable. In his view, this goal is justified in itself. And indeed, the exploration of Mars is a project on which everyone agrees. It existed before Musk but could seem distant and unattainable. With man’s return to the moon imminent, which Musk is working on, exploration of Mars will happen, although the timeframe is uncertain. But that’s not enough for him: he also brought up the idea of ​​colonizing the planet Mars.

What is scientifically to think of such a project?

It makes everyone laugh and scientists scream because Mars is uninhabitable. The idea of ​​speaking of colonization is the technique of the two-shot gun: Musk speaks of a distant and intriguing project that generates controversy. So it diverts attention from what it is already doing. In this case, it is the use of Starlink (a satellite internet connection system, from any point on earth, ed.) that is currently leading to the installation of thousands of single-use satellites in low-Earth orbit, which, by their accumulation, are environmentally harmful, dangerous and hinder science by the inconveniences they cause to the observatories.

What about his lesser-known business, Neuralink brain implants?

He is preparing an ultraminiaturized device, very easy to implant and with which he can swallow an embryonic, emerging market developed by others, in particular for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. That’s where he’ll have to hide too, because with an implant in his head, he’ll be able to record brain activity and develop other functions…

According to Elon Musk, what can this be used for?

The first use is medicinal. Brain implants could allow paralyzed people to use their minds to operate exoskeletons or wheelchairs. Musk said he would start with that, but added that he also wanted gamification applications, such as the ability to control a video game through thought. He did this with a monkey (the animal was playing the screen game “Pong”, Ed, according to a video released by Neuralink in 2021). But to do that with a human being is not possible today from an ethical point of view. Such implants cannot be performed on healthy people.

What is the philosophy, the meaning of Elon Musk’s actions?

The philosophical question is very important to him, he firmly believes that technology can provide the answer to all problems. He is not a transhumanist in the notion that humans have access to eternal life like other figures in his tech universe. On the other hand, he believes that adding a layer of technology to Homo sapiens is the solution. With this idea, too, one can describe him as a visionary. Elon Musk is not a fraud, not a media bubble, he is truly someone who changed our technological and societal environment.

“From a technological point of view, France and Europe have missed many trains”

Would you say he’s a scientist?

Many qualifiers are used to describe it and it is more or less relevant. The science is wrong. He loves science and has an engineering spirit, but is not a scientist in the traditional sense of the word. He likes technology. He has the profile of the geek, it’s his education, his culture, the foundation of his identity, he comes from the code, the digital, made his fortune off it (thanks largely to PayPal Ed).

Politically he supported Donald Trump. Does he want to go into politics himself?

I do not think so. In order to develop, it must respond to the law, public opinion and political actors. It is from this perspective that we need to see the takeover of Twitter, beyond the compulsive action of a billionaire. In doing so, he nevertheless broke with what he had previously succeeded in doing: ambiguity. If he had been close to Trump during his tenure, that could be taken as pragmatism. Now he’s out of the woods. This can become a problem as he becomes a political opponent of the Democrats. My bet is that he resigns.

In Europe we don’t have that kind of character or society. Is it a disability?

I fear so. From a technological point of view, France and Europe have missed many trains. In France, research has been in crisis for years. We are mainly talking about standards, frameworks. It is necessary, of course, but we are not concerned with the content there. We don’t have a great narrative to offer like the journey to Mars could.

To read: “Survey on Elon Musk, the man who defies science”, Alisio Sciences, 215 pages, 18 euros.

Leave a Comment