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Monday, May 11, 2015

More Musk Rat Love

boing boing is reporting that celebrity tech CEO Elon Musk had some choice words for an employee who skipped work to witness the birth of a child:
That is no excuse. I am extremely disappointed. You need to figure out where your priorities are. We're changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don’t.
I don't doubt that PR teams are busy massaging (with release) the message, and we will soon be treated to apologies and corrections, spiritually akin to that dude who ended up apologizing to Dick Cheney for Cheney shooting him in the face. (The denial has arrived and would appear to be fact-checkable.) Be that as it may, the rich are not like you and me. For one thing, they are Gods. Or at any rate they are ascending superlatively godward on piles of ill-gotten cash. You may recall that I have described Elon Musk and Peter Thiel as The Koch Brothers of Reactionary Futurology, what with their techno-transcendental pretensions and anti-government harangues conjoined to hoovering up endless government cashola. Musk's con-job peddling low earth orbit amusement park rides for the superrich as the same thing as a real space program as well as his robo-evangelical summoning of the demon of superintelligent AI are especially egregious, though it looks like the battery business may bear fruit, I guess. President Obama certainly has been going on and on about investment in new battery technology since the Recovery Act, but I don't doubt it will turn out Musk is the real Randroidal fountainhead of all good things when it comes to it. Master Builder Musk is so right! That pathetic mehum (that's "merely human," noob!) worker drone who is blessed to be a part of Musk's revolutionary world-changing history-shattering techno-transcendental movement of making new landfill-destined crap gizmos for consumer dupes seriously needs to get his priorities straight!


jimf said...

> That pathetic mehum (that's "merely human," noob!)

That's like "wog", for all you Scientologists out there.

Speaking of which, I'd love to see Lawrence Wright take on the
transhumanists, now that he's already done the Mormons and
the Scientologists. He claims to be interested in the broad
theme of the "prison of belief" -- why otherwise intelligent
people decide to lock themselves into insular belief systems
and what happens to them afterward.
( Scientology Documentary: Lawrence Wright talks about "Going Clear" ).

It seems Harper's did the transhumanists a few months ago
Among the apocalyptic libertarians of Silicon Valley
By Sam Frank ). Can The New Yorker
be far behind? (Well, actually, they've already dabbled
there, with an article about Peter Thiel:
Profiles November 28, 2011 Issue
No Death, No Taxes
The libertarian futurism of a Silicon Valley billionaire
By George Packer ).

I think "Fluffers of Genius" would make a terrific
(magazine article, book, or documentary film) title. ;->

jimf said...

A book review in today's New York Times:
‘Elon Musk,’ a Biography by Ashlee Vance, Paints a Driven Portrait
MAY 12, 2015
Books of The Times

. . .

If Silicon Valley was holding out for a hero after Steve Jobs’s death,
a disrupter in chief, it has found a brawny one in Mr. Musk. . .

Mr. Musk is about as close as we have, circa 2015, to early industrial
titans like Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. . .

“He’s the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever
concocted. He’s less a C.E.O. chasing riches than a general
marshaling troops to secure victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg
wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to ... well ...
save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation.”
As the Beast from “X-Men” likes to remark, Oh my stars and garters. . .

Bits from this biography have already made Internet gossip ripples.
According to Mr. Vance, Mr. Musk berated a male employee who
missed a Tesla event to be present for the birth of his child.
(Mr. Musk has denied this.) Either way, he does not come off
like Alan Alda. He has been married three times — twice to the
same woman — and, while thinking about fitting a new relationship
into his schedule, he asks: “How much time does a woman want a week?
Maybe 10 hours?” . . .

Other eye-popping details, not all of them previously reported,
are flecked atop this book like sea salt. His five children don’t
merely have nannies but have had a nanny manager. He worries
that Google is building a fleet of robots that may accidentally
destroy mankind. He rents castles and sumo wrestlers for his
parties. At one of them, a knife thrower aimed at a balloon between
the blindfolded Mr. Musk’s legs. . .

Mr. Musk’s work ethic has always been intense. One observer says
about him early on, “We all worked 20 hour days, and he worked
23 hours.

”Mr. Musk was born in 1971 and grew up in Pretoria. His father
was an engineer; his mother, whose family had roots in the
United States and Canada, was a model and dietitian. There
are indications his father was brutal, and that Mr. Musk is
a tortured soul trying to make up for a wrecked childhood.
But no one will speak specifically about any such events. . .

Though the author interviewed him for several dozen hours,
[Musk] remains a remote and somewhat chilly figure, a perfectionist
not unlike Mr. Jobs, often given to confrontation and fits of rage.

What does come through is a sense of legitimate wonder at what humans
can accomplish when they aim high, and aim weird. The animosity and
jealousy some feel toward Mr. Musk’s achievements put me in mind
of a great line from the HBO show “Silicon Valley,” in which the
tech chief executive Gavin Belson comments, “I don’t know about
you people, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world where someone
else makes the world a better place than we do.”

Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
By Ashlee Vance
392 pages. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $28.99.

Hey, I've got nothing against batteries. The world desperately
needs better batteries. If the man comes up with a better
battery, give him a Cookie.

jimf said...

> . . . robo-evangelical summoning of the demon of superintelligent AI. . .

What he said:
Mormon Stories #531: John Larsen's Mormon Expression
Published on Apr 11, 2015
John Larsen is the influential founder of Mormon Expression podcast,
and of the White Fields Educational Foundation. This is his story.


I've gone beyond Mormonism. Because what I realize now is that
if Mormonism falls, something else will just come along.
And this problem of secular replacement for religion is
an enormous one. And it's way bigger than Mormonism.
And it is a tough problem. And that one is more interesting
to me now.

Also in today's Times:

Dale Carrico said...

I've got nothing against batteries. The world desperately
needs better batteries. If the man comes up with a better
battery, give him a Cookie.

Pretty much how I feel. If the battery thing pans out, I won't pretend he invented batteries, but, hell, I agree, give the asshole a cookie.