Why is Elon Musk on Twitter and Not Working on the Mission to Mars? I have been keeping tabs on Elon Musk for a while now, especially in the months following his seemingly impulsive purchase of the social media platform Twitter.
Depending on the value of his primary investment, shares of Tesla, he is among the wealthiest people in the world. Tesla, Space X, Starlink, and Neuralink are just a few of the well-known businesses he has overseen, but he has attracted attention around the world for other reasons as well.
And then there’s his own backstory: he’s a 51-year-old billionaire who stands six feet tall and has ten kids aged one to eighteen. His first child died when he was only 10 weeks old. Musk, a South African native, has said that his life’s ambition is to colonize Mars and that he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.
I’ve realized, as perhaps many of us have, that Elon Musk has many personalities.
His tweets portray him as someone who is bold, outspoken, and prone to controversy. He delights in trolling the media with increasingly outrageous statements and jokes, and he is particularly fond of offensive memes. He enjoys prodding us journalists to create ever more sensational headlines.
While promoting Tesla, he was filmed carrying a sink into Twitter’s headquarters with the caption “Let that sink in,” a play on a viral meme from the social media platform. This year for Halloween he spent $7,500 on a costume to play the role of “the devil’s champion,” which he wore to a party.
Despite this, his twice-married ex-wife Tallulah Riley characterized him as “sweet” and “shy” on the BBC documentary series The Elon Musk Show. Let’s dig deep into Why is Elon Musk on Twitter and Not Working on the Mission to Mars.
Mike Malone, a veteran Silicon Valley journalist and author who has known Mr. Musk for 20 years, describes him to me as “a very reserved, very smart, very introspective and intellectual guy” who spends long transatlantic flights with him reading complex trajectory tables, trying to figure out how to land a spacecraft on Mars.
Mr. Musk has pledged to send humans to Mars by the year 2030, and the two have been engaged in a long-running bet worth $5 (£4). “I don’t think you can do it, but I hope you do,” I told her. I’m sorry if I owe you $5 “That’s what Mr. Malone has to say. That wager is still up in the air at this point.
Mr. Musk has always wanted to colonize Mars. Some have attributed it to his version of long-term, a philosophy favored by some extremely wealthy individuals that prioritize the needs of a population in the distant future, in the form of billions of people, over those of a population in the here and now.
Humans, he says, will eventually have to leave Earth. His current business portfolio already shows signs of his interest in space exploration. But how does Twitter even qualify?
Mr. Musk responded to that query this week via a tweet.
In his words, “social media in general, especially Twitter,” were eroding civilization. “A self-sufficient Martian society is meaningless if civilization on Earth fails first. The last vestiges of human awareness have faded away.”
You say that Twitter is “eroding civilization,” but in what way?
Early on, Mr. Musk stated that his motivation for purchasing the site was to establish a digital, global town square in which people from all over the world could come together to discuss pressing social issues.
Many of his articles focus on the perceived bias of the previous administration, in which he claims that Twitter employees favored left-leaning viewpoints over right-leaning ones, distorting the discussion and leading to the rise of “echo chambers” in which no one ever saw content that contradicted their own. Together with a select group of journalists, he released the “Twitter files,” a curated collection of internal documents meant to bolster his argument.
Distraction from the real issues Mr. Musk wants to discuss could be seen as a result of the amount of abuse and misinformation on the platform.
Anyone who has tried will tell you how difficult it is to strike a balance between defending the right to express oneself freely and preventing the spread of hateful ideas.
Perhaps Mr. Musk sees some sort of parallel between Twitter and Neuralink, a company that aims to establish a direct connection between human brains and computers.
Is it possible that 300 million people who share their lives and opinions online in real time serve as a neural network for his research on Twitter?
Now we’re talking science fiction, so it’s cool. However, there is one way to remove human consciousness from Earth, and we all know how much Mr. Musk enjoys a suitable challenge: transporting it to another planet in some form.
A New and Different Kind of Difficulty
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The entrepreneur Dolly Singh, who worked for Musk at SpaceX for six years until 2013, says that Malone may never see his $5 and that betting against him is generally a bad idea.
She firmly believes in him, saying, “I would never bet against him.”
When it comes to mechanical contests, “he’s going to win hands down.”
Ms. Singh, however, believes that Twitter represents a unique challenge for her former employer.
She warns him that “this is going to be harder than he has anticipated – and it’s going to be a lot of work for him.”
Mr. Musk has been very vocal about his preference for technology and code over human interaction. According to a talk he gave at last year’s Technology, Entertainment, and Design (Ted) conference in Vancouver, he grew up not realizing that people’s words did not always convey their true intentions.
During a hypothetical legal battle with Twitter, he penned the following in a text message that was later made public as part of the case documents: “I’m not good with program managers or MBA types of people, and I really don’t like doing management stuff, but I get along great with engineers who can do serious programming. To some extent, I disagree with the idea that anyone should be in charge of another person. Nonetheless, I get a kick out of assisting in the resolution of technical and product design issues.”
His issue is that Twitter is a cacophonous, complicated, and nuanced network where millions of people are constantly talking over each other, yelling, laughing, teasing, trolling, and arguing.
Mr. Musk has already faced resistance in his attempts to rein it in, despite his assurances that his administration will be more lenient.
Ms. Singh is not the only outsider who wonders if he’ll have a harder time maintaining order than he bargained for.
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He’s a tough boss and leader, but not necessarily tougher than any other CEO.
He fired half the staff within a week of purchasing Twitter. Those who remained were given contracts demanding “intense” work ethics and long hours.
Before Twitter, he was an early proponent of getting all of his companies’ employees back to work after they were sent home during a pandemic.
Further, he expects nothing less than total dedication from his staff.
When told he can’t do something, Musk is “determined to prove everybody wrong,” as Ms. Singh puts it; he is also, as is often said about him, a phenomenally hard worker.
She explains that Elon envisions a future in which he works 80 hours per week.
Since he’s not clocking in from the shore, but rather dozing off in a sleeping bag on the factory floor, it’s acceptable for him to say, “I expect you to work as hard as me.”
She claims that most people eventually become emotionally and physically exhausted and give up. That’s not the case, according to him.
The beds he put in Twitter’s San Francisco office are ostensibly for his employees, but he is widely believed to be using them for himself. He even showed off a photo of his toddler son X, who was issued a company ID at the time of the photo’s release.
His extraordinary work ethic was a common theme among those who worked with him in the 1990s. Someone told him he would be very angry if he came into the office at 21:00 on a Friday night and found no one there.
Ms. Singh claims that Mr. Musk values his time above all else.
She says, “Consider how much it’s worth per second.”
You can just look at the numbers and tell it’s ridiculous.
And he is currently venting his frustrations on Twitter.
Mr. Malone probably shouldn’t spend his five dollars just yet.
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