The Future is closer than you expect it to be – and space and technology manganate Elon Musk is here to make sure that mankind gets the best out of it. Only 14 years after making his first millions, billionaire Elon Musk is involved with more industries than your average person has hobbies. And instead of using his deep pockets on leading a well deserved life of leisure, Elon Musk is spending all those billions on projects, which he passionately believes will change the world.
So far, Elon Musk has founded, co-founded, and invested in over 50 different companies, working in sectors ranging from the electric car and renewable energy industry, to the artificial intelligence and space industry. The question which leaps to the eye is :What drives Elon Musk to work so hard and relentlessly? What exactly is his vision for our future? What is he doing to achieve that vision?
Open any one of Musk’s company’s websites – be it Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, or Neuralink – and the one word you’ll see sprinkled all over will be “future”. Elon Musk often speaks of his two different visions for the future. He believes it is up to humans to decide the future they want to live in. His first vision is that of a sustainable future. Picture this scenario : While you sleep soundly in your futuristic, temperature-controlled room, your house will be running off solar power, quietly generated in the photovoltaic panel on your roof and stored in a high-tech battery.
Your driverless electric car, meanwhile, is busy competing with Uber’s autonomous fleet, gliding around town providing rides for late night revellers and earning you money in the process. Road safety is up, fossil fuel usage is down and mankind is on its way to a sustainable future. Your family is on a summer vacation on Mars, which is just a short spaceflight away. A pretty picture, right? Well, Musk’s other vision of the future is not all that rosy.
Elon Musk is an ardent believer in the technological singularity. He sees the advent of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning as threatening the very relevance and existence of humankind. Climate change and pollution are major catastrophes in his vision. And he says he’s working hard to make sure that never happens. If you understand the way his mind envisions the future, it is not hard to comprehend what drives him and his companies.
Tesla, Musk’s electric car company, is already making huge ripples in the automotive industry. It has already crossed Ford in market valuation, and is targeting to topple over General Motors soon. The stated aim of Tesla is to make electic vehicles affordable, thus reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and simultaneously curbing and controlling climate change and air pollution.
SpaceX, the first private enterprise to demonstrate reusable orbital launch capacity has just successfully used a used Falcon 9 rocket to place a satellite into orbit. Already having reduced the cost of spaceflight by 50%, SpaceX aims to bring that down by a factor of 100 in the near future. Musk believes that by dramatically reducing the cost of space-launches (which is entirely possible), colonisation of other planets like Mars will become feasible. The ultimate aim of SpaceX is to make humankind a multiplanetary species.
To better harness the power of the Sun to entirely resolve the problem of power shortages, Elon Musk acquired America’s largest solar energy company, SolarCity, for $2.8 billion. Musk described the deal with words such as “obvious,” “no-brainer” and “incredibly compelling”. He plans to integrate SolarCity into Tesla, thus creating a massive clean-tech behemoth. Imagine using this solar-electric system to power the high-speed charger in your garage that keeps your Tesla topped up with juice.
This is when things start getting more interesting. Musk recently founded NeuraLink, a neurotechnology company, working to develop implantable brain-computer interfaces. The ultimate aim? To merge the human brain with computers. Creepy! Isn’t it?
Now, it is impossible to say if Musk’s vision for the future is true or plausible. It is impossible to say if his companies will succeed in their objectives. But one thing can be said of Elon Musk’s character : That he is undeterred in the face of all odds, undaunted by the fear of failure, and his character is forged in the battlefields of some of the most terrifyingly technical, and capital-intensive challenges that any human being could choose to take on. And somehow, despite uncountable setbacks, he comes out alive and succeed every time.
“For my part, I will never give up and I mean never” – Elon Musk.