the paradoxes of the character Elon Musk

Is he a brutal businessman?

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

“Many qualifiers are used to describe it and it is more or less relevant”

How to explain this psychological profile?

He recently revealed that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He has an introverted temperament. He suffered in his youth from his parents’ divorce, made the choice to live with his father and implies that he suffered a form of abuse. His social background, however, is from a wealthy family. He grew up in South Africa under the apartheid regime, of which he was not an opponent.

Your taste for science fiction is fundamental in your construction, you write. Why ?

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

Is he a visionary in his plan to conquer Mars?

The idea of ​​reaching Mars in 2050 makes him a visionary, even if the quality of that vision is debatable. This aim in his eyes is justified in itself. And indeed, exploring Mars is a project that everyone agrees on. It existed before Musk, but it could seem remote and unattainable. With the imminent return of man to the moon, which Musk is working on, the exploration of Mars will happen, even if the timing is uncertain. But this is not enough for him: he also floated the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bcolonizing the planet Mars.

What to think scientifically about such a project?

It makes everyone laugh and scientists scream because Mars is uninhabitable. The idea of ​​talking about colonization is the two-shot gun technique: Musk talks about a distant and fascinating project, which generates controversy. Thus, he diverts attention from what he is already doing. In this case, it is the implementation of Starlink (a satellite Internet connection system from any point on Earth, editor’s note) that currently results in the installation in low Earth orbit of thousands of disposable satellites, polluting, dangerous due to their accumulation and making it difficult science for the inconvenience they cause to observatories.

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

He is preparing an ultra-miniaturized device, very easy to implant, with which he will be able to swallow an embryonic emerging market, developed by others, mainly to treat Parkinson’s disease. He also needs to hide there because, with an implant in his head, he will be able to record brain activity and perform other functions…

What can it be used for according to Elon Musk?

The first use is medical. Brain implants could allow paralyzed people to operate exoskeletons or wheelchairs by thinking. Musk said he would start with that, but added that he also wanted playful uses, like being able to operate a video game by thought. He achieved this with a monkey (the animal played the “Pong” screen game, according to a video published by Neuralink in 2021, Ed). But doing that with a human being, from an ethical point of view, is not possible today. These implants cannot be performed on healthy people.

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

The philosophical question is very important for him, he really believes that technology can give the answer to all problems. He is not a transhumanist, in the idea that humans can access eternal life, like other personalities in his technological universe. On the other hand, he thinks that putting a layer of technology on Homo sapiens is the solution. He can also be seen as a visionary with this idea. Elon Musk is not an imposter nor a media bubble, he is truly someone who has changed our technological and social environment.

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

Would you say he is a scientist?

Many qualifiers are used to describe it and it is more or less relevant. The science is incorrect. He loves science and has an engineering mind, but he is not a scientist in the classic sense of the term. He likes technology. He has the profile of a geek, it’s his background, his culture, the basis of his identity, he comes from code, from digital, he made a fortune there (thanks mainly to PayPal Ed).

Politically, he supported Donald Trump. Does he even want to get into politics?

I don’t believe. In order to develop, it needs to work with the law, public opinion and political actors. It is from this angle that we must view the acquisition of Twitter, beyond the compulsive act of a billionaire. In doing so, he broke with what had worked for him so far, ambiguity. If he seemed close to Trump during his tenure, that could be seen as pragmatism. Now he is out of danger. This could become an issue as he becomes a political opponent of the Democrats. I bet he’ll back off.

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

I dread it. From a technological point of view, France and Europe lost many trains. In France, research has been in crisis for years. We are mainly talking about patterns, structures. It is necessary, of course, but in content we are not there. We don’t have a grand narrative to offer like the trip to Mars.

To read: “Research on Elon Musk, the man who challenges science”, Alisio sciences, 215 pages, 18 euros.

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