Elon Musk is not a robot sent from the future to save humanity

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Over the course of nine months of reporting, Neil Strauss determined that Elon Musk is not a robot sent from the future to save humanity, but he may be the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world:

It’s an easy case to make: He’s probably the only person who has started four billion-dollar companies — PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City. But at his core, Musk is not a businessman or entrepreneur. He’s an engineer, inventor and, as he puts it, “technologist.”

Most of Strauss’s piece is about Musk’s broken relationships — with ex-wives, with his recent ex-girlfriend, and with his “ruthless” estranged father.

Musk tries to do useful things:

Think of the other names that one associates with innovation this century: They’re people who built operating systems, devices, websites or social-media platforms. Even when it didn’t start out that way, the ideology in most cases soon became: How can I make my company the center of my users’ world? Consequently, social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter use a number of tricks to activate the addictive reward centers of a user’s brain.

If Musk’s employees suggested doing something like this, he’d probably look at them like they were crazy. This type of thinking doesn’t compute. “It’s really inconsistent to not be the way you want the world to be,” he says flatly, “and then through some means of trickery, operate according to one moral code while the rest of the world operates according to a different one. This is obviously not something that works. If everyone’s trying to trick everyone all the time, it’s a lot of noise and confusion. It’s better just to be straightforward and try to do useful things.”

He discusses building a permanent moon base, and further funding SpaceX by creating passenger rockets capable of traveling to any city in the world in less than an hour, a form of transport he calls “Earth-to-Earth.” I ask if there’s anything that he believes works that surprises people.

“I think being precise about the truth works. Truthful and precise. I try to tell people, ‘You don’t have to read between the lines with me. I’m saying the lines!’”

He enjoys the usual pop-culture geek favorites: The Onion, Rick and Morty, South Park, The Simpsons, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


  1. Bob Sykes says:

    Musk is a rent-seeker and a parasite. None of his companies can exist without government subsidies and payoffs.

  2. X-Ray says:

    So far as I know PayPal wasn’t subsidized. As to the others, sure, but without Musk they likely wouldn’t exist at all. And, perhaps they shouldn’t, but then I doubt we’d be as far along otherwise in some rather interesting areas of science and manufacturing.

  3. Sam J. says:

    A LOT of people HATE Musk. I don’t get it. He will save us a fortune on launch cost. Boeing and the other launch companies got what…10 billion or more and have delivered exactly zero. He will get us a reusable heavy launcher for less that price. Way less and he delivers launches instead of just promises. Let’s look at electric cars. Sooner or later, and I think MUCH later, we will have oil supply problems. Moving to electric cars now is great. Smooth transition. His work on packaging solar for houses puts together the whole package with financing so that people have a choice. To hell with the power company I say.

    All of these things Congress provided subsidies for because they are important to our national defense. I believe they are also important for individual autonomy from the Oligarchs that control most everything. There’s some things that you’re going to have to pay for no matter what and if by subsidizing it we can get a more efficient and less monopolized service then I’m for it.

    For defense access to space is vital. There’s a lot of talk about how smart the Chinese are with their one belt road or whatever they call it and how this will give them control over the World Island. I say that whoever controls access to low Earth orbit rules the World. That rail line can be blasted to bits from Space if necessary. Same with their new Island/Base or should we call it…TARGET.(Hence my interest in Concrete Aircraft Carrier Submarines).
    Now if we can just get him interested in the new work that’s being done that makes food from air, electricity and a few minerals and is ten times the efficiency of photosynthesis then we could be self sufficient.


  4. Slovenian Guest says:

    Don’t blame the player Bob, blame the game. Do you really expect a CEO to swim against the zeitgeist?

    Better him than the minuscule delta smelt fish!

    I dislike the reality distortion field of such individuals as much as any stemtard, but that’s how the sausage is made. We need honest conmen like Musk and Steve Jobs, as they are more important than the Wozniaks of the world, or at least just as much.

Leave a Reply