Elon Musk is Dumb
Editor's note: This blog post is not an assertion of fact. This article represents my opinion. This article is a social / cultural critique of a public figure.
I'm going to make this quick because who cares, really?
The short of my thesis is this: Elon Musk isn't as smart as everybody thinks.
Normally this idea wouldn’t bother me at all, but since many of my friends have jumped on the Musk-Bandwagon with unquestioning fervor, it seems okay to start questioning it.
Plus, the dude is trying to create infrastructure that will effect everybody's life. In a way, he already has with PayPal... So, it's fair to question his overall motives & presentation.
Here's why I believe Elon Musk is not very smart, and actually, pretty dumb: As a business person, despite being brought up in a wealthy entrepreneurial family (which is a huge advantage!! and not very impressive tbh)...
“I drove them to school in a convertible Rolls-Royce Corniche, they had thoroughbred horses to ride and motorbikes at the age of 14,” Errol Musk (Elon’s father) said. “They were spoilt, I suppose. Maybe that’s why Elon is acting like a spoilt child now.”
As a business person, Elon Musk has a natural genius. He knows how to think & construct successful businesses. No doubt about it.
If I ever need business advice and Mr. Musk is hanging about, willing to give me a few minutes of time, I will most certainly listen with rapt attention. In this field Mr. Musk shines and has earned a certain authority bias.
However... As a social engineer, this is where he falters. Mr. Musk is a dumb social engineer. He believes he has the answer to societies problems, but he doesn't. In many ways, his big picture solutions are only going to make present problems worse.
Musk's car-tunnel system, his multi-planterary rocket space tourism to Mars, his electric car company, even his solar panel project, all have one thing in common: More than being profitable businesses, Musk has admitted that these corporations are not about being profitable but about social engineering.
Okay. Let's say that's true. Who the fuck is Elon Musk to engineer society?
This is where I believe Musk has no authority nor intelligence.
Who does he think he is to re-engineer society? What has Elon Musk done that proves he’s earned our trust to totally re-engineer society? Because he co-founded PayPal? If anything, that makes him less trustworthy since his partner was the terrifying Peter Thiel.
Plus, let’s not forget all his aggressive, paranoid Trump-like attacks on normal people since, coincidentally, Trump took office.
Until somebody can prove that Elon Musk has earned the right to re-engineer society (whether by holding public office and having changed society in a positive way with the consent of a citizenry; or made his spec-technology widely available to all people; or was involved in some way in a general welfare enhancement of society that is obvious), I will continue to believe the dude does not have the smarts for this arena & may be leading us toward more of the same, if not worse. He’s just some bourgeoisie dude selling tchotchkes to other bourgeoisie dudes.
I'm reminded of Henry Flagler when I think about Elon Musk (I'm from Miami).
Henry Flagler was an industrialist "visionary" who extended the railroad from Jacksonville into Miami (and then to Key West). It's the reason why Miami exists today as a metropolis.
However, I would argue that was a bad move. There's a million different ways to move into this area of the country. The way Flagler did it was not only exploitative (he was accused by the federal government of running slave-type labor camps), but the city that was established perpetuated a massive class divide that exists in the city to this very day. This practically translates into a suffering standard of living for the majority of people in the city.
The fact is: Modern Miami does not exist to serve the people who live there. Miami exists to serve the interests of the filthy, touristic rich... And everybody else is just going to have to figure it out on their own, survive by any means necessary (and be happy about it!).
It began like this with Flagler and his Royal Palm Hotel, and still exists today.
Miami didn't have to be this way. It could’ve been built to serve everybody’s interest equally. Instead, there are first-class citizens and second-class citizens.
Likewise, Elon Musk represents the same values of Henry Flagler.
Sure, he will likely build us a "railroad" to Mars... But then what? He'll be bringing the same oppression and divides that exist on Earth to Mars. What good is that?
For example — In the video above he says the cost of going to Mars will be "around a couple hundred thousand dollars" Based on my readings of Henry Flagler, here’s a probability: Getting workers to sign on to some kind of loan / bond system, so they can't even escape when they're on Mars because their debt is "owned" by SpaceX.
Musk even says, “You might land successfully, once you land successfully, you’ll be working non-stop to build the base. So not much time for leisure.” Forced to labor.
He makes a metaphor to mountain climbers, but it’s closer to Flagler’s laborers… I’m sure there’ll be deceptive recruitment practices for these laborers too. Just a prediction.
The future of Mars is going to mirror Miami’s past.
A true intelligence wouldn't just upgrade the technology of wealth inequality.
A true intelligence would figure out a way to radicalize the infrastructure today — for everybody. Not "trickle down" sci-fi tech. Now. Figuring it out, for all, now.
Those who say I don't get it because it wasn't done like that in the past, and this model has been demonstrated to work over time (Edison / Ford / Flagler / etc) ...
To those, I say: You aren't being a visionary. THINK BIGGER.