About Elon Musk
The world’s richest person, Elon Musk (net worth: $317 billion), did not attend. He was most likely in Texas, where his company SpaceX was preparing for a rocket launch. Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: $119 billion) wasn’t there, either, but the day after Mr Gates’s party, he announced his plan for the metaverse, a virtual reality where, wearing a headset and gear that closes out the actual world, you can spend your day as an avatar doing things like going to parties on remote Aegean islands or boarding a yacht or flying in a rocket, as if you were obscenely rich.
Also, tech companies start talking about their mission, and their mission is always magnificently inflating. So transforming the future of work, connecting all of humanity, making the world a better place. But saving the entire planet. Also, Muskism is capitalism in which companies worry — very publicly, and quite feverishly. So about all manner of world-ending disasters, about the all-too-real catastrophe of climate change. But more often about mysterious “existential risks,” or x-risks, including the extinction of humanity. From which only techno-billionaires, apparently, can save us.
Also. Mr Musk’s grandfather Joshua N. Haldeman, an ardent anti-communist. So like Muskism, technocracy took its inspiration from science fiction and rested on the conviction that technology and engineering can solve all political, social and economic problems. Also, technocrats, as they called themselves, didn’t trust democracy or politicians, capitalism or currency. Also, they objected to personal names. So one technocrat was introduced at a rally as “1x1809x56.” Elon Musk’s youngest son is named X Æ A-12.
How HG Well’s writing inspired Musk
“Far back in the mists of ancient time, in the great and glorious days of the former galactic empire, life was wild, rich and, on the whole, tax-free,” the narrator intones at the beginning of an early episode. “Many men, of course, became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor, at least, no one worth speaking of.” “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” in other words, is an extended and very, very funny indictment of economic inequality, a science-fiction tradition that stretches all the way back to the dystopias of H.G. Wells, a socialist.
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This would appear to be exactly what Mr Bezos and Mr Musk are up to, with their plans for the moon and Mars, annexing the planets if they could. And Douglas Adams? He wrote “Hitchhiker’s Guide” on a Hermes manual typewriter. He’d decorated that typewriter with a sticker. It says, “END APARTHEID.”
Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, two more writers lavishly admired by Mr Musk and Mr BezoS. Had lost track of Mrs Brown. This version of science fiction, she worries, seems to be a “trap for good inside our great. Gleaming spaceships, hurtling out across the galaxy,” ships she described as. “Capable of containing heroic captains in black and silver uniforms” and “capable of blasting other, inimical ships into smithereens with their apocalyptic. Holocaustic rayguns, and of bringing loads of colonists from Earth to unknown worlds”. And finally “ships capable of anything, absolutely anything, except one thing: they cannot contain Mrs Brown.”