Elon Musk is a hard to fathom - like all geniuses/entrepreneurs.
Tim Bechervaise has already written a fantastic post for Premier Christianity all about the man which is a good place to start your journey of discovery.
He's one of the richest men in the world. He's just sold some stocks and offered to buy Twitter for a cool $50bn or thereabouts. He's developed his own electric car (Tesla) and solar cell battery (Solarcity) industry, companies with state of the art manufacturing centres in Austin and Shanghai. He's built SpaceX to be one of the leading rocket technology firms in the world. The success of his companies is down to his own hard graft - living, breathing, working Tesla and SpaceX in three years which he has said were excruciating years.
But what's at the heart of Elon Musk?
In a number of recent interviews available on YouTube and other channels, he has rejected a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption. He's asked Twitter what he should spend. He made a $6bn gift shortly after being called out for not accepting the UN's suggestion that $6bn could solve the global food problem. He talks of Tesla cars not as a way to make electric cars but rather as a way to accelerate the need for sustainable power development, and the development of SpaceX as a way to spread humanity out across different planets to save us from a potential future extinction event if an asteroid hit the only planet we exist on. (Link to the full Babylon Bee interview).
While Musk doesn't seem to be just another rich man, just another consumerist giant, just another celebrity living the high life. Rejecting conspicuous consumption and preferring a less affluent life where his cash balances are pretty normal (what's that???). We can see some of the traits we see in other wealthy private individuals - a suspicion of the regulatory state, a valorisation of private industry, a preference for smaller government. In one interview, he talks of the ideal level of state involvement in the economy of 1%, although he acknowledges that few countries get there. He talks of pre-unification Germany's 40% as being a "pretty socialist model". Indeed, Musk talks freely with Babylon Bee's team as being 'rightist' - saying that the Bee team look at being about 6.5 on a 1-10 scale. He's less sure where he is...and seems to have a tough time with the Bee staff when he discusses government regulation.
But this is clearly where Musk sits with his arguments about freeing up Twitter. In his recent interview with the head of TED, Chris Anderson, Musk accepts that Twitter needs to be regulated by the laws of the country in which it is being used - so hate speech and threats of physical violence will always be banned in the UK and other European countries. What Musk wants to be open is the algorithm - the hidden way in which Twitter promotes or demotes users and posts. He wants all that in the open. But he still sees a marker of free speech as the ability of someone we don't like able to say something we don't like. So, it looks like there are going to be a fair few arguments up ahead! Although note that Musk has already said that he doesn't like lifetime bans or censorship and so perhaps a famous President is going to get a reprieve. What won't get a reprieve are the spam and scam bots which fill up so much of Twitter. Although the verification of each account needing to be linked to a person could well destroy Twitter as a place for justice, or a place for dissidents to speak out since they are much more likely to be exposed to authoritarian governments.
Musk has his mind set not so much on the minutiae but on his Master Plan Part 3 - humanity as an extra-terrestrial species, the world built on sustainable energy and the phasing out of hydrocarbons (but he's a rather soft hydrocarbon critic) and the world as a place of free speech and happiness. The book will be a bestseller.
At the end of the Babylon Bee interview, the team ask Elon if he wants to give his life to Jesus. He's a little non-plussed by the answer. He casts around for pleasing statements - agreeing with the principles and statements Jesus made; talking of life in South African sunday school, of Jesus' miracle at the Wedding at Cana. He affirms the great wisdom of Jesus in terms of turning the other cheek (preferable to an eye for an eye "where we will all end up blind"), forgiveness and loving our neighbours. And then after agreeing to Einstein's quote that he believes the God Spinoza (a 17th century Dutch rationalist theologian) he makes the following comment:
"But if Jesus is saving people, I wouldn't stand in his way."
Musk is an intriguing character. A great scientist, a impressive business leader, a pioneer of new technologies. He fears for a future where Artificial General Intelligence is not regulated and understands the metaverse as a marketing gimmick rather than a technological advance. And now the King of Twitter - the defender of (regulated) free speech. Will this man succeed in his dreams to lift humanity into a higher place, to save the planet, to see the end of hydrocarbons?
Perhaps, it's time for us to be praying for Elon Musk, the new man for all socials.