This is a tough one. You’re both quite right - he is no saint, working for him is almost certainly a hellish assignment, he shouldn’t have access to social media, all the rest of it.
The thing is though - he has transformed the game both with EVs and with rocket science. That, in my personal book, buys him a lot of credits.
Sure, he is a disconnected billionaire. But instead of doing what I’d probably do and just have fun with a lot of pretty cars, aeroplanes and women, he has decided to pursue loftier goals. It’s still an ego trip and has its undeniable downsides…but he forced the hand of the car industry to speed up EV development and that alone basically means he’s okay in my view.
I like the dude. He’s completely disconnected from the rest of us but in my view he is better to listen to than our politicians. Actually bringing tangible change to the world and isn’t a complete dick about it.
Hes a billionaire. He’s going to be a pain. But look at the rest of that group.
A lot of people who know him well, either because they worked direvtly with/for him or knew him from private life describe him as a… sometimes quite difficult person to deal with on a personal level.
I for one am against glorifying individual people anyway (if you ask me we should tear down statues of everyone, everywhere. There is no single person who deserves a statue, everyone has been an asshole at some point), so what I admire is SpaceX (and also Tesla to some extent), and the progress that has been made there, on several fronts, for all mankind.
And I do admire the work and money that thousands of people have put into that progress, and that’s where I respect Elon Musk, regardless of his reasons (might be honest interest in advancing mankind, or just narcism, I don’t really care).
I do respect him for not only putting money in it, but also work and dedication to a goal that might have gone wrong in so many places but didn’t.
When I see him talk about SpaceX and the things they build I see someone who obviously has an immense amount of technological knowledge about the topic, someone who contributes to designing stuff. That’s VERY different to most CEOs out there.
I also like his approach to problems. He often says stuff like “we tried X because I thought it was a good idea, but I was wrong. Everyone makes mistakes all the time” or “everyone has to have the full picture in view” (he is against strict hierarchies or compartmentalization because that creates conflicts where from a technological point of view there should be none). That resonates well with me as an engineer.
Also interesting in the videos by the Everyday Astronaut: look at the reaction of workers on the site when Musk walks in. Almost none at all. They see him, some give him a nod, and then everyone continues working. That’s because it is quite normal for him to be there. That guy isn’t disconnected from his employees and everyone trembles in fear when he arrives, or makes a ceremony out of it. That’s quite different in many other companies.
Do I like him as a person? Not really. But he might be the person we need now.
I find it hard to blame hm for that. In other words, to hear him say that he has a goal to get cargo lifted into space for a $1000 per ton to make it viable, means that he’s aware that to do these things at any cost would more likely be thought just another grand adventure and carry a greater chance of failing in the long run.
I am still making my way through the interview. He is a pretty intelligent person, but does have his disconnects with reality. He certainly seems to know more about rockets that I expect of a billionaire head of a space company - he is learning and willing to admit that he is wrong. Still a somewhat abrasive personality, though.
It used to be that society regarded people as philanthropists that built schools and universities. Nowadays we call someone a philanthropist for pouring billions into an escapist vision of the financial elite being able to outlive what becomes of earth through our overconsumption of natural ressources, on Mars. On the one hand, I admire the sheer entrepreneurial spirit, on the other hand I hear what goes on around the Tesla superfactory being built in Germany and how they waltz their way around environmental conservation laws. To me, he is a very ambiguous figure.
I cut him some slack there because many great things have started as some project for either rich people or the military.
Making space more accessible is something we will need.
Same for Tesla. I cannot afford one and a Tesla doesn’t fit my vision of a car, but without the nudge that Tesla gave the industry I think the world would be off worse. In fact I am pretty sure I would not have an electric car now.
This however, doesn’t earn him any points from me.
It’s ok to do science in space but we have one planet.
Also, we’re not killing the planet - the planet couldn’t care less about pollution and overheating.
It’s simply not going to sustain human life- once we’re gone it’ll just find a way and restart.
Also, if there’s any slight chance money can build a shelter to save some humanity - it’s not going to be poor-a$$ people ending up in it. It’s billionaries.
Yeah, I’m overly negative but just incase no one is watching the single largest fire going on in Siberia- the 48 Celsius in south of Italy and whatever else I forgot to mention… yeah nice job we’re all doing for our kids.
I am not making a strong statement of personal moral choices here.
It is a difficult task. On one hand, I want more money spent on basic income, housing, medical (dental, drug plans, etc) and protection for the environment.Taxes on wealth, more for everyone, lifting everyone up instead of a tiny, tragic percentage of the population. For everyone.
On the other hand, one if the biggest pluses for me is the inspiration that space exploration provides. It inspires people to follow their dream and pursue big ideas. It gives us a new frontier to push towards and reducing the cost to orbit (and beyond) allows us to do more, much more, for cheaper. I am not interested in personal trips to space but pushing the science cheaper and increasing opportunities to learn and improve life for everyone.
I like* billionaires that invest pretty much everything that they have** into doing more things, disrupting the big corporation*** status quo and pushing us along.
But it is a complicated, complex moral view that keeps changing
*: Like, for some definition of like;
** Money on hand is very different than valuation. Musk has ‘very little’ (more than me) on hand but his ‘valuation’ (stock holdings, etc) is quite high;
***: Big Corporations that fight to keep markets exactly as they are to maximize/force profits;
IMHO, he is successful because he is an “outside of the box” thinker whose ideas often turn into profitable business ventures. Most of the cool tech in our lives exists because someone understood or learned a way to create profitably. This phone I’m posting on is a good example. Virpil game controllers are another. IME, very little is sustainable without positive cash flow. Maybe MUDSPIKE is the exception But the burnout rates are high for great ideas that don’t stay in the black.
It’s hard to say how much Elon is altruistically motivated, but I like to think that there is a healthy amount of profit/good for mankind elements in his work. If not him, who else comes to mind?
That’s dangerous territory you are entering there in a discussion that has so far been very civil and courteous.
Pointing at the negative consequences of somebodies body of work is not the same as not wanting him to prosper (whatever one’s definition of prosperity may be, mine is probably vastly different from yours).
I pretty much agree with every intelligent sentiment in this thread. I hate the guy. I love they guy. I love his entrepreneurism. I hate much of his actions where they involve the environment and government affairs. I’m torn. But who cares? I am an ant on this planet and he is a T-Rex. My opinion matters nought. So instead I look at him like many gaze upon the world’s various remaining royal families—corrupt billionaires all; as human entertainment. Musk is an exotic caged zoo animal. He says crazy stuff and smokes a little weed—I laugh. He lands a joke on SNL—I laugh. He thinks he can save a bunch of Thai boy scouts with a submarine—I laugh. He builds boosters that land in formation—I cry in awe. It’s all a big show.
Well, it probably just isn’t better spent. But many things aren’t. They are not mutually exclusive though, and spreading out to solve problems on many fronts (including space) might actually be a wise move.
Elon Musk seems to think that the money is well spent. I cannot tell whether he is wrong. That sort of thing has to be looked at in retrospect because you never know what you will find in many fields.
But here are a few things that space exploration and space flight do for humanity:
Asteroid defense. Right now there is basically a zero chance that we can detect AND deflect an asteroid that will impact and kill billions of people Chicxulub style. We will need proper rockets for that.
Science. Doing science in space is expensive but we have been getting some nice results out of it, which help us battle our problems down here. Having cheap access to that will be a major game changer, right now it is ludicrously expensive.
providing services for people with shitty infrastructure. Communication satellites for example can connect people in rural areas to the Internet. Also might be a chance for bypassing local problems, like in case of natural disasters or censorship. Weather, climate monitoring, disaster warning, even agricultural optimization are all things that work from space for Earth.
for long term survival humanity has to spread. Amd no, I don’t think we will see rich people on Mars that quickly. In the foreseeable future Earth will stay a paradise for rich people. All the great stuff can only be done here. The pioneers on Mars will more likely not be rich. Another common thing in human history. Being a colonist on Mars will be hard work, high risk, very little luxury, and a one way ticket for everyone involved. That’s typically not something for rich people. There is a LOT of things that you cannot do on Mars.