“Playing the idiot Elon Musk has always served him well”

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Since the acquisition of Twitter, on October 27, for 44 billion dollars, Elon Musk has chained media escapades. Is the richest man in the world “overheated”? Has he lost sight of his goals? Interview with Olivier Lascar, author of the book “Investigation of Elon Musk, the man who defies science” (ed. Alisio).

Every week – even every day – its new sparkles. Sometimes he issues an ultimatum to Twitter employees, sometimes he declares war on Apple: since he bought the social network from the blue bird at the end of October, Elon Musk has multiplied controversial announcements. The dashing billionaire blows hot and cold. It appears to be the spearhead of free speech, but users, advertisers and authorities are panicking, worried about possible abuse without requiring content moderation.

The visionary at the head of Tesla and SpaceX, who executes his industrial projects brilliantly, is he losing his way on Twitter? Olivier Lascar, author of the book “Investigation into Elon Musk, the man who defies science” (ed. Alisio) and digital editor at Sciences et Avenir, answers our questions.


France 24: Where is Elon Musk going with the takeover of Twitter, in your opinion? ?

Olivier Lascar : Looking at Elon Musk’s activities, especially with Twitter today, we get the impression of a general bazaar. Yet when you look at each of his companies, each piece of the puzzle ultimately comes together well enough to build an overall vision that resembles the future according to Elon Musk.

With Twitter, he enjoys extraordinary leverage to promote his other businesses. For example, in space, he still does not have permission from the US administration to launch the starship, and this, no doubt, to give NASA time to send its own mega rocket to the Moon. If Elon Musk has the sympathy of politicians, he can get laws that are favorable to him and allow him to speed up the implementation of his obligations.

For Elon Musk, Twitter can be a formidable tool for lobbying, but Twitter can also become something else. Elon Musk has already said that he wanted to create a total application on the model of Chinese WeChat, that is, an application that would allow you to do everything in all circumstances in life. It’s kind of like the sum of Doctolib, Amazon, Uber… We can use it for absolutely everything. It raises questions about monopoly of information, monopoly of data, so it will not be easy to make such an application. Being the owner of Twitter, Elon Musk could accelerate the creation of this application, which he has already called X.

Since taking over Twitter, Elon Musk has chained media escapades. Should we take it seriously? ?

It is very tempting to make Elon Musk into some kind of media clown. He plays a lot, yet he is someone who has revolutionized the aerospace and automotive industries. Without it, there would be no rockets that take off and land vertically – and thus can be reused. So Elon Musk is much more than the Zebulon that he shows on social networks and that he is happy to show in the media. Playing the idiot Elon Musk has always served him well. His industrial opponents didn’t take him seriously for a long time, and it’s like the story of the hare and the tortoise: Elon Musk was able to move forward much faster, much more efficiently, because his opponents didn’t take it seriously. Today, the lesson from all this is that it is absolutely necessary to take it seriously, because what it advertises generally does, and therefore it has a real impact on our lives and society. .

How is Elon Musk a visionary ?

Elon Musk’s method is to question dogma. He asks himself all the time: what is the first principle of physics or science that would prevent me from doing such and such? For example, when he wants to send humans to Mars and he is told that it is not possible, he asks the question: “Is it really physically impossible? However, we are already sending robots to Mars. – Oh yes, it is true, but we’re already sending robots to Mars. robots, we’re doing it.” Starting from there, if one thing is not impossible, it is that it becomes possible. This is Elon Musk’s position. He has an insatiable scientific curiosity that leads him to always question the technological and industrial assumptions that currently govern the space and automotive industries and all the areas in which he is active.

After all, he doesn’t put himself in danger by exposing himself to this point ?

Elon Musk is surrounded by the best engineers and this has allowed him to achieve feats in recent years. But for a few weeks, since the takeover of Twitter, we still have the impression that it is overheated. Day after day he puts himself in danger. Never really siding with a political camp, he was able to do business with anyone, for example by becoming a NASA contractor and sending astronauts to the International Space Station. Now he’s on the Republican side, and that puts him in danger because a Democratic government doesn’t want to give him contracts anymore. So yes, Elon Musk is beyond ambiguity, and today it feels like he’s putting himself at risk. And, as they say from ancient Rome, the Tarpeian rock is close to the Capitol, so after the dizzying successes he has known, he could break his face.

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