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Elon Musk

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Title: Elon Musk  
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Elon Musk

Elon Musk
Musk at the 2015 Tesla Motors Annual Shareholder Meeting
Born Elon Reeve Musk
(1971-06-28) June 28, 1971
Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa
Residence Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, United States[1][2]
Nationality South African, Canadian, American
Education Waterkloof House Preparatory School
Pretoria Boys High School
Alma mater Queen's University
University of Pennsylvania[3][4]
Occupation Entrepreneur, engineer, inventor, investor
Known for SpaceX, PayPal, Tesla Motors, Hyperloop, SolarCity
Salary Tesla Motors[5]
$78.2 million (2012)
$69,989 (2013)
$1 (2014)
Net worth US$11.2 billion (October 2015)[6]
Title CEO and CTO of SpaceX,
CEO and Product architect of Tesla Motors,
chairman of SolarCity
Children 6 sons (1 deceased)[7]
Parent(s) Maye Musk (mother)
Errol Musk (father)
Relatives Tosca Musk (sister)
Kimbal Musk (brother)
Website /elonmusk.comtwitter
Elon Musk

Elon Reeve Musk (; born June 28, 1971) is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate,[8][9] engineer,[10] inventor[11] and investor.[12][13][14] He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity.

He is the founder of SpaceX and a co-founder of Zip2, PayPal, and Tesla Motors.[15][16][17] He has also envisioned a conceptual high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop and has proposed a VTOL supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion.[18][19]


  • Early life 1
    • Early childhood 1.1
    • University 1.2
  • Career 2
    • Zip2 2.1
    • and PayPal 2.2
    • SpaceX 2.3
    • Tesla Motors 2.4
    • SolarCity 2.5
    • Hyperloop 2.6
  • Political positions 3
    • Nationalism 3.1
    • Lobbying 3.2
    • Subsidies 3.3
  • Opinions 4
    • Destiny and religion 4.1
    • Extraterrestrial life 4.2
    • Artificial intelligence 4.3
  • Personal life 5
    • Philanthropy 5.1
    • Marriages 5.2
  • Awards and recognition 6
    • Honorary doctorates 6.1
  • References 7
  • External links 8
    • Interviews 8.1

Early life

Early childhood

Musk was born June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa,[20] the son of Maye (née Haldeman), a model from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada;[21] and Errol Musk, a South African-born electromechanical engineer. He has a younger brother, Kimbal (born 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born 1974).[21][22][23][24] His paternal grandmother was British, and he also has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.[25][26] After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in locations in South Africa.[25]

At age 10, he discovered computing with the Commodore VIC-20.[27] He taught himself computer programming and at age 12 sold the code for a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to a magazine called PC and Office Technology for approximately US$500.[28][29] A web version of the game is available online.[28][30]

Musk was severely bullied throughout his childhood, and was once hospitalized when a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs, and then beat him until he blacked out.[31]

Musk was initially educated in private education, attending the English-speaking Waterkloof House Preparatory School. Musk later graduated from Pretoria Boys High School and moved to Canada in June 1989, just before his 18th birthday,[32] after obtaining Canadian citizenship through his Canadian-born mother.[33][34]


At the age of 19, Musk was accepted into Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, for undergraduate study, and in 1992, after spending two years at Queen's University, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where, at the age of 24, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics at Penn's College of Arts and Sciences, and a Bachelor of Science degree in economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Musk stayed on a year to finish his second bachelor's degree.[35] While at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk and fellow Penn student Adeo Ressi bought a 10-bedroom fraternity house, using it as an unofficial nightclub.[31] In 1995, age 24, Musk moved to California to begin a PhD in applied physics at Stanford University, but left the program after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the areas of the Internet, renewable energy and outer space.[29][36] In 2002, he became a U.S. citizen.[37][38]



In 1995, Musk and his brother, Kimbal, started Zip2, a web software company, with US$28,000 of their father's (Errol Musk) money.[31] The company developed and marketed an Internet "city guide" for the newspaper publishing industry.[39] Musk obtained contracts with The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune[40] and persuaded the board of directors to abandon plans for a merger with a company called CitySearch.[41] While at Zip2, Musk wanted to become CEO; however, none of the board members would allow it.[31] Compaq acquired Zip2 for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options in 1999.[42] Musk received 7% or US$22 million from the sale.[40] and PayPal

In March 1999, Musk co-founded, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, with US$10 million from the sale of Zip2.[32][39][41] One year later, the company merged with Confinity,[40][43] which had a money transfer service called PayPal. The merged company focused on the PayPal service and was renamed PayPal in 2001. PayPal's early growth was driven mainly by a viral marketing campaign where new customers were recruited when they received money through the service.[44] Musk was later ousted from his role as CEO over disagreements regarding the future architecture of PayPal as a proponent of Microsoft Windows.[45] In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which US$165 million was given to Musk.[46] Before its sale, Musk, who was the company's largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal's shares.[47]


In 2001, Musk conceptualised "Mars Oasis"; a project to land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith, in an attempt to regain public interest in space exploration.[48][49] In October 2001, Musk travelled to Moscow with Jim Cantrell (an aerospace supplies fixer), and Adeo Ressi (his best friend from college), to buy refurbished ICBMs (Dnepr-1) that could send the envisioned payloads into space. The group met with companies such as NPO Lavochkin and Kosmotras, however "Musk was seen as a novice", was consequently "spat on by one of the Russian chief designers", and the group returned to the US empty-handed. In February 2002, the group returned to Russia to look for three ICBMs, bringing along Mike Griffin, who had worked for the CIA's venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel; NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and was just leaving Orbital Sciences, a maker of satellites and spacecraft. The group met again with Kosmotras, and were offered one rocket for US$8 million, however this was seen by Musk as too expensive; Musk consequently stormed out of the meeting. On the flight back from Moscow, Musk realized that he could start a company that could build the affordable rockets he needed.[50] According to early Tesla and SpaceX investor Steve Jurvetson,[51] Musk calculated that the raw materials for building a rocket actually were only 3 percent of the sales price of a rocket at the time. By applying vertical integration and the modular approach from software engineering, SpaceX could cut launch price by a factor of ten and still enjoy a 70 percent gross margin.[52] Ultimately Musk ended up founding SpaceX with the long-term goal of creating a "true spacefaring civilization".[53]

Musk and President Barack Obama at the Falcon 9 launch site in 2010

With US$100 million of his early fortune,[54] Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, in June 2002.[55] Musk is chief executive officer (CEO) and chief technology officer (CTO) of the Hawthorne, California-based company. SpaceX develops and manufactures space launch vehicles with a focus on advancing the state of rocket technology. The company's first two launch vehicles are the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets (a nod to Star Wars' Millennium Falcon), and its first spacecraft is the Dragon (a nod to Puff the magic dragon).[56] In seven years, SpaceX designed the family of Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon multi-purpose spacecraft. In September 2009, SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket, became the first privately funded liquid-fuelled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit.[31] On May 25, 2012, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle berthed with the ISS, making history as the first commercial company to launch and berth a vehicle to the International Space Station.[57]

In 2006, SpaceX was awarded a contract from NASA to continue the development and test of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft in order to transport cargo to the International Space Station,[58] followed by a US$1.6 billion NASA launch contract on December 23, 2008 for 12 flights of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the Space Station, replacing the US Space Shuttle after it retired in 2011. SpaceX is one of two contractors in the Commercial Resupply Services program, which replaced the cargo transport function of the Space Shuttle. Astronaut transport to the ISS is currently handled solely by the Soyuz, but as of 2014 SpaceX is also one of two companies remaining in the Commercial Crew Development program, which is intended to develop a US astronaut transport capability. SpaceX is both the largest private producer of rocket motors in the world, and holder of the record for highest thrust-to-weight ratio for any known rocket motor.[59] In two years, SpaceX has produced more than 100 operational Merlin 1D engines, currently the world's most powerful motor for its weight. The relatively immense power to weight ratio allows each Merlin 1D motor to vertically lift the weight of 40 average family cars. In combination the 9 Merlin engines in the Falcon 9 first stage produces anywhere from 5.8 to 6.7 MN (1.3 to 1.5 million pounds) of thrust, depending on altitude.[60]

Musk was influenced by Isaac Asimov's Foundation series[61] and views space exploration as an important step in expanding—if not preserving—the consciousness of human life.[62] Musk said that multiplanetary life may serve as a hedge against threats to the survival of the human species.

"An asteroid or a super volcano could destroy us, and we face risks the dinosaurs never saw: an engineered virus, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, catastrophic global warming or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us. Humankind evolved over millions of years, but in the last sixty years atomic weaponry created the potential to extinguish ourselves. Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct."

His goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 10.[63] In a 2011 interview, he said he hopes to send humans to Mars' surface within 10–20 years.[64] In Ashlee Vance's biography on Musk, Musk reveals that he wishes to establish a Mars colony by 2040, with a population of 80,000.[27]

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by [66] Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla's board of directors as its chairman.[67] Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations.[68]

Following the financial crisis in 2008,[69] Musk assumed leadership of the company as CEO and product architect, positions he still holds today. Tesla Motors first built an electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, with sales of about 2,500 vehicles to 31 countries. Tesla began delivery of its four-door Model S sedan on June 22, 2012. It unveiled its third product, the Model X, aimed at the SUV/minivan market, on February 9, 2012; the Model X launch was however delayed until September 2015.[70][71][72] In addition to its own cars, Tesla sells electric powertrain systems to Daimler for the Smart EV, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive and Mercedes A Class and to Toyota for the RAV4 EV. Musk was able to bring in both companies as long-term investors in Tesla.[73]

Musk has favored building a sub-US$30,000 subcompact and building and selling electric vehicle powertrain components so that other automakers can produce electric vehicles at affordable prices without having to develop the products in-house.[74] Several mainstream publications have compared him with Henry Ford for his work on advanced vehicle powertrains.[75]

To overcome the range limitations of electric cars, Musk said in an interview with All Things Digital in May 2013 that Tesla is "dramatically accelerating" their network of supercharger stations, tripling the number on the East and West coasts of the U.S. that June, with plans for more expansion across North America, including Canada, throughout the year.[76] He is reported to have a 32% stake in Tesla, which was valued at US$18 billion in November 2013.[77][78] While previously taking large annual salaries at Tesla Motors, for example US$78.2 million in 2012; when Musk became the highest paid CEO in the world,[5] as of 2014, Musk's annual salary is one dollar, and similar to Steve Jobs and others, the remainder of his compensation is in the form of stock and performance-based bonuses.[79][80]

In 2014, Musk announced that Tesla Motors will allow its technology patents to be used by anyone in good faith in a bid to entice automobile manufacturers to speed up development of electric cars. "The unfortunate reality is electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn't burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales", Musk said.[81]


Musk provided the initial concept, and financial capitals for SolarCity, which was then co-founded in 2006 by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive.[82][83] Musk remains the largest shareholder. SolarCity is now the second largest provider of solar power systems in the United States.[84]

The underlying motivation for funding both SolarCity and Tesla is to help combat global warming.[85] In 2012, Musk announced that SolarCity and Tesla Motors are collaborating to use electric vehicle batteries to smooth the impact of rooftop solar on the power grid, with the program going live in 2013.[86]

On June 17, 2014, Musk committed to building a SolarCity advanced production facility in Buffalo, New York, that would triple the size of the largest solar plant in the United States. Musk stated the plant will be "one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world," and it will be followed by one or more even bigger facilities in subsequent years.[87]


On August 12, 2013, Musk unveiled a proposal for a new form of transportation between the Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area, after being disappointed with the approved California High-Speed Rail system.[88] After envisioning Hyperloop, Musk assigned a dozen engineers from Tesla Motors and SpaceX who worked for nine months, establishing the conceptual foundations and creating the designs for the transportation system.[89] An early design for the system was then published in a whitepaper posted to the Tesla and SpaceX blogs.[90][91]

Musk named it "hyperloop", a hypothetical subsonic air travel machine that stretches approximately 350 miles (560 km) from Sylmar (a northern district of Los Angeles) to Hayward (east of San Francisco) and would theoretically allow commuters to travel between the cities in 35 minutes or less, providing a shorter traveling time than even a commercial airplane can currently provide.[92] Musk's proposal, if technologically feasible at the costs he has cited, would make travel cheaper than any other mode of transport for such long distances. The system is proposed to use a partial vacuum to reduce aerodynamic drag, which it is theorized would allow for high speed travel with relatively low power. He has estimated the total cost of the system at US$6 billion, but this amount is speculative.[93] On January 15, 2015 Elon Musk announced via Twitter that he would be building a 5-mile long Hyperloop track most likely in Texas for students and companies to work with.[94]

The company 'Hyperloop Transportation Technologies' has agreed to a deal with proposed 75,000-resident solar power city Quay Valley, California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to build a 5-mile Hyperloop track around the community. Construction is set to begin in 2016.[95]

Political positions

Musk speaking alongside Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny

Politically, Musk has described himself as "half-Democrat, half-Republican". In his own words "I'm somewhere in the middle, socially liberal and fiscally conservative."[96]

Musk has stated his admiration for the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher; "I've always admired Margaret Thatcher – she was tough, but sensible and fair", further arguing, "she was far from perfect, but her actions, on balance, were good".[97]


Musk is a self-described American exceptionalist and nationalist, describing himself as "nauseatingly pro-American". According to Musk, the United States is "[inarguably] the greatest country that has ever existed on Earth", describing it as "the greatest force for good of any country that's ever been". Musk believes outright that there "would not be democracy in the world if not for the United States", arguing on "three separate occasions in the 20th century where democracy would have fallen with World War 1, World War 2 and the Cold War, if not for the United States".[98]


In an interview with the Washington Post, Musk stated he was a "significant (though not top-tier) donor to Democrats, but that he also gives heavily to Republicans". Musk further stated, "in order to have your voice be heard in Washington, you have to make some little contribution."[99][100]

A recent report from the

  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • "An interview with Elon Musk". HobbySpace. August 5, 2003. 
  • "Lift off with Elon Musk". Carte Blanche. September 4, 2005. 
  • Bergin, Chris (January 20, 2006). "SpaceX's Musk and Thompson Q and A". 
  • Video interview of Elon Musk by Zadi Diaz of EPIC FU, June 17, 2008. Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • Gray, Sadie (January 4, 2009). "Forget the bungalow, retire to Mars". Sunday Times (London, UK). Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  • Musk profile Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • An interview at the Founders Showcase, August 5, 2010
  • An interview on the Kevin Pollak Chat Show, September 17, 2009
  • Elon Musk: 'I'm planning to retire to Mars', video interview for The Guardian, August 1, 2010
  • interview60 Minutes; March 18, 2012.
  • A 20 minute interview about sending humans to Mars with BBC's Jonathan Amos, March 20, 2012
  • Elon Musk: The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • Musk, Elon (January 6, 2015). "I am Elon Musk, CEO/CTO of a rocket company, AMA!". Retrieved January 7, 2015. 


  • Musk Foundation website. Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • Viral Marketing, MBAs and pesky governments. Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • Statement of Elon Musk at House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Hearings on the Future Market for Commercial Space. Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • Bloomberg Risk Takers (Elon Musk's August 2011 documentary)
  • Gimien, Mark (August 17, 1999). "Fast Track". Salon. 
  • Chafkin, Max (December 2007). "Entrepreneur of the Year: Elon Musk". Inc. Magazine. 
  • Bailey, Brandon. "Elon Musk: Will his Silicon Valley story have a Hollywood ending?". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  • History of PayPal, Retrieved April 27, 2014
  • "Science Fiction Books That Inspired Elon Musk",, March 19, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2014.Archive

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Honorary doctorates

  • In 2006, Musk served as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board.[133]
  • R&D Magazine Innovator of the Year for 2007 for SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity.[134]
  • Inc Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2007 for his work on Tesla and SpaceX.[135]
  • 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.[136] Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev.[137]
  • Falcon 1, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to reach orbit.[138]
  • National Wildlife Federation 2008 National Conservation Achievement award for Tesla Motors and SolarCity. Other 2008 recipients include journalist Thomas Friedman, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Florida Governor Charlie Crist.[139]
  • The Aviation Week 2008 Laureate for the most significant achievement worldwide in the space industry.[140]
  • National Space Society's Von Braun Trophy in 2008/2009, given for leadership of the most significant achievement in space. Prior recipients include Burt Rutan and Steve Squyres.[141]
  • Automotive Executive of the Year (worldwide) in 2010 for demonstrating technology leadership and innovation via Tesla Motors. Prior awardees include Bill Ford Jr, Bob Lutz, Dieter Zetsche and Lee Iacocca. Musk is the youngest ever recipient of this award.[142]
  • Listed as one of Time's 100 people who most affected the world in 2010.[143]
  • The world governing body for aerospace records, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, presented Musk in 2010 with the highest award in air and space, the FAI Gold Space Medal, for designing the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit. Prior recipients include Neil Armstrong, Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and John Glenn.[144]
  • Named as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine.[62]
  • Recognized as a Living Legend of Aviation in 2010 by the Kitty Hawk Foundation for creating the successor to the Space Shuttle (Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft). Other recipients include Buzz Aldrin and Richard Branson.[145]
  • In 2010, Musk was elected to the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology,[146] however no longer holds the position.[147]
  • In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, he was ranked as the No. 10 (tied with rocketry pioneer and scientist Wernher von Braun) most popular space hero.[148]
  • In February 2011, Forbes listed Musk as one of "America's 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under".[149]
  • In June 2011, Musk was awarded the US$250,000 Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization[150]
  • In 2011, Musk was honored as a 'Legendary Leader' at the Churchill Club Awards.[151]
  • In 2012, Musk was awarded with the Royal Aeronautical Society's highest award – a Gold Medal.[152]
  • Musk was the 2012 recipient of Smithsonian magazine's American Ingenuity Award in the Technology category.
  • In 2013, Musk was named the Fortune Businessperson of the year for SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla Motors.[153]
  • In 2014, Musk was awarded the World Technology Award in the categories of Energy and Space, winning two of the twenty awards given by the World Technology Network.[154]
  • In 2015 he was awarded IEEE Honorary Membership.[155]
  • On January 25, 2015, Musk made a guest appearance on The Simpsons episode titled "The Musk Who Fell to Earth" playing himself. The episode poked fun at many of the inventor's ideas.[156]
  • As of 2015, Musk serves on the board of advisors of Social Concepts, Inc.[157]

Awards and recognition

In 2008, Musk began dating English actress Talulah Riley, and in 2010, the couple married. In January 2012, Musk announced that he had recently ended his four-year relationship with Riley,[24][131] tweeting to Riley, "It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day."[132] However, in July 2013, Musk and Riley remarried. In December 2014, Musk filed for a second divorce from Riley; however the action was withdrawn.

Musk met his first wife, Canadian author Justine Musk (née Wilson), while both were students at Ontario's Queen's University. They married in 2000 and separated in 2008, after having six sons. Their first son, Nevada Alexander Musk, died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the age of 10 weeks.[7] They later had five sons through in vitro fertilization; twins, Griffin and Xavier, in 2004; followed by triplets Damian, Saxon and Kai in 2006; of whom they share custody.[129] Following their divorce in 2008, Justine Musk gave an interview describing her marriage with Musk in Marie Claire magazine, describing herself as "a starter wife".[130]


As of 2015, Musk is a trustee of the X Prize Foundation[127] and signatory of The Giving Pledge.[128]

In January 2015, Musk donated US$10 million to the Future of Life Institute to run a global research program aimed at keeping artificial intelligence beneficial to humanity.[124][125][126]

In July 2014, Musk was asked by cartoonist Matthew Inman and the great-nephew of Nikola Tesla (William Terbo) to donate US$8 million towards the construction of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe.[122] Ultimately, Musk agreed to donate US$1 million towards the project and additionally pledged to build a Tesla Supercharger in the museum car park.[123]

Musk is chairman of the Musk Foundation, which focuses its philanthropic efforts on providing solar-power energy systems in disaster areas. In 2010, the Musk foundation collaborated with SolarCity to donate a 25 kW solar power system to the South Bay Community Alliance's (SBCA) hurricane response centre in Coden, Alabama.[120] In July 2011, the Musk Foundation donated US$250,000 towards a solar power project in Sōma, Japan, a city that had been recently devastated by tsunami.[121]


Tosca Musk, Elon's sister, is the founder of Musk Entertainment and has produced various movies.[119]

Musk attended the Burning Man festival in 2004 and has said he first thought up the idea for SolarCity at the festival.[86]

Musk owned a McLaren F1 supercar, which he crashed while it was uninsured.[115] He also previously owned a Czech-made jet trainer aircraft Aero L-39.[116] The 1994 model Dassault Falcon 900 aircraft used in the 2005 film Thank You for Smoking is registered to Musk (N900SX),[117] and Musk had a cameo as the pilot of his plane, opening the door for Robert Duvall and escorting Aaron Eckhart aboard. Musk owns Wet Nellie, the Lotus Esprit from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. He plans to convert it into the functional car-submarine from the film.[118]

Personal life

Despite this, Musk has previously invested in DeepMind (an AI firm) and Vicarious (another company working to improve machine intelligence). However, Musk explained that his investments were, "not from the standpoint of actually trying to make any investment return… I like to just keep an eye on what's going on with artificial intelligence." Musk continued, "There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator – there are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad."[114]

Musk has frequently spoken out about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, declaring it "the most serious threat to the survival of the human race". During an interview at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, Musk described AI as "[humanity's] biggest existential threat", further stating, "I'm increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish". Musk described the creation of artificial intelligence as "summoning the demon".[113]

Artificial intelligence

The absence of any noticeable life may be an argument in favour of us being in a simulation.... Like when you're playing an adventure game, and you can see the stars in the background, but you can't ever get there. If it's not a simulation, then maybe we're in a lab and there's some advanced alien civilization that's just watching how we develop, out of curiosity, like mould in a petri dish.... If you look at our current technology level, something strange has to happen to civilizations, and I mean strange in a bad way.... And it could be that there are a whole lot of dead, one-planet civilizations.[112]

Additionally, Musk has considered the simulation hypothesis as a potential solution to the Fermi paradox:

Musk argues that "there is a good chance that there is simple life on other planets", however "questions whether there is other intelligent life in the known universe".[110] Musk later clarified his "hope that there is other intelligent life in the known universe", and stated that it is "probably more likely than not, but that's a complete guess."[111]

Extraterrestrial life

Musk has stated that he does not pray, or worship any being, although previously admitted to praying before an important Falcon 1 launch, asking "any entities that [were] listening", to "bless [the] launch". When asked whether he believed "religion and science could co-exist", Musk replied "probably not".[110]

Well, I do. Do I think that there's some sort of master intelligence architecting all of this stuff? I think probably not because then you have to say: "Where does the master intelligence come from?" So it sort of begs the question. So I think really you can explain this with the fundamental laws of physics. You know its complex phenomenon from simple elements.[109]

When asked whether he believed "there was some kind of destiny involved" in humanity's transition to a multi-planetary species, rather than "just physics", Musk responded:

Destiny and religion


In 2015, Musk's statements came under further scrutiny after an LA Times article revealed that SpaceX, Tesla Motors and SolarCity, had together received an estimated US$4.9 billion in government subsidies; the article further noted Tesla Motors and SolarCity's dependence on government support, their continued annual financial net losses, and questioned the possibility of their self-sufficiency. Numerous analysts also pointed to large amounts of government support as a common point to all three of Musk's companies, with one analyst (Dan Dolev) arguing that Musk "definitely goes where there's government money".[108]

Musk's statements have been widely criticised, with Stanford University Professor Fred Turner noting that "if you're an entrepreneur like Elon Musk, you will take the money where you can get it, but at the same time believe as a matter of faith that it's entrepreneurship and technology that are the sources of social change, not the state. It is not quite self-delusion, but there is a habit of thinking of oneself as a free-standing, independent agent, and of not acknowledging the subsidies that one received. And this goes on all the time in Silicon Valley."[106] Author Michael Shellenberger argued that "in the case of Musk, it is hard not to read that as a kind of defensiveness. And I think there is a business reason for it. They are dealing with a lot of investors for whom subsidies are not the basis for a long-term viable business, and they often want to exaggerate the speed with which they are going to be able to become independent". Shellenberger continues, "we would all be better off if these entrepreneurs were a bit more grateful, a bit more humble". While journalist and author Jim Motavalli, who interviewed Musk for High Voltage, his 2011 book about the electric vehicle industry, speculated that "Elon is now looking at it from the point of view of a winner, and he doesn't want to see other people win because they get government money – I do think there is a tendency of people, once they have succeeded, to want to pull the ladder up after them."[107]

Musk has stated that he does not believe the U.S. government should provide subsidies to environmentally friendly companies, as was done with Tesla Motors and SolarCity, but the government should instead use a carbon tax to discourage "bad behaviour". Musk argues that the free market would achieve the "best solution", and that producing environmentally unfriendly vehicles should come with its own consequences.


Musk had been a supporter of the U.S. political action committee, which was started by fellow high-profile entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg and advocates for immigration reform. However, in May 2013, Musk publicly withdrew his support in protest of advertisements the PAC was running that supported causes like the Keystone Pipeline. Musk and other members, including David O. Sacks, pulled out, criticizing the strategy as "cynical".[104] Musk further stated, "we shouldn't give in to the politics. If we give in to that, we'll get the political system we deserve". However, this statement led to Musk being branded a "complete hypocrite" by media/political website Mic, for lobbying and contributing to "anti-science Republicans"; contributing in the "2014 election cycle to Longhorn PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee – both of which have funded the campaign of anti-science and anti-environment [far-right] candidates, such as Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn)". The article argues that these "political calculations betray Musk's persona of a socially-conscious entrepreneur, who loudly denounces supporters of the Keystone Pipeline and tries to get Americans to use less fossil fuels".[105] Additionally, Musk has directly contributed to politicians such as Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who hold similar positions regarding climate change.[102]

[103], SpaceX uses several other outside lobbying firms, who work alongside SpaceX's own lobbyists.Patton Boggs LLP. Alongside Patton Boggs LLP to represent the company, via the Washington-based lobbying group Trent Lott Senate Majority Leader Additionally, SpaceX hired former Republican [102][99], who represents Florida, a state critical to the space industry ... All told, Musk and SpaceX gave out roughly US$250,000 in the 2012 election cycle.Marco Rubio's reelection campaign and donated US$5,000 to Republican Sen. Obama to [101]

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