Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, sold one of his internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius's life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Vance u...

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Title:Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Author:Ashlee Vance
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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Reviews

  • Will Byrnes

    Elon Musk is not exactly a name that rolls easily off the tongue, like say Tony Stark, the fictional person to whom he is most often compared, or even Steve Jobs, a real-world visionary, whose mantle Musk now wears. There is no question that Musk is a special individual, someone with BIG dreams and the drive, talent, and money to make them happen. But, like Jobs, and Stark for that matter, he might be an acquired taste on a personal level. In

    Elon Musk is not exactly a name that rolls easily off the tongue, like say Tony Stark, the fictional person to whom he is most often compared, or even Steve Jobs, a real-world visionary, whose mantle Musk now wears. There is no question that Musk is a special individual, someone with BIG dreams and the drive, talent, and money to make them happen. But, like Jobs, and Stark for that matter, he might be an acquired taste on a personal level. In

    biographer Ashlee Vance gives us a picture of both the dreams and the man, peering back to where Musk began, describing his journey from then to now, looking at how he is impacting the world today, and gazing ahead to where he wants to go. It is a pretty impressive vista. Here is what it says on the SpaceX website

    It might have seemed like visiting another planet when Musk split his home country of South Africa as a teen and headed to North America, anything to get away from an abusive upbringing. He seemed to been blessed not only with exceptional analytical capabilities, and probably an eidetic memory, but an impressively immense set of cojones. He was able to talk his way into whatever he needed and deftly talk his way out of trouble as well. Sometimes that entailed a bit of truth-bending, but whatever.

    - from HarperCollins

    Vance take us from his adolescence as a computer geek, bullied at school, through his arrival in Canada, cold-calling to get work, putting together his first dot.com startup, and using the money from that to invest in a banking-oriented company that would become PayPal. It was the mega-bucks from the sale of PayPal that would allow him to begin realizing his big dreams. In 2003, Musk bought into Tesla, then a struggling startup. The company took the early knowledge that lithium ion batteries had gotten pretty good, added some top level engineering, design and programming talent, and, after plenty of mis-steps and struggles, brought the remarkable all-electric Tesla Roadster to the market in 2008. Tesla followed this with the Model S in 2012. Not only did Consumer reports call this a great car, it named both the 2014 and 2015 versions the best overall cars of their years, and the best care they ever tested. The last time an auto startup succeeded in the USA was Chrysler, in the 1920s. But this is not about simply making a buck on a new car. The long term goal is to shift our petrochemical auto industry to renewable power, and the Tesla is a nifty start. Not only is the car amazing, the company has constructed a nationwide series of charging stations where Tesla owners can recharge their vehicles…for free. There are currently 499 such stations, with many more planned. Tesla is involved in building battery production factories, hoping to help support a growing electric-car auto-economy.

    - from Tesla Motors

    But this was not the only big notion that drove Musk. A parallel effort was to develop a solar power business. And with the help of a couple of enterprising cousins, he did just that. SolarCity provides the solar arrays that prove power to the Tesla charging stations, but it has also become one of the largest solar utilities in the nation, installing, maintaining a third of the nation’s solar panel systems. There is obvious benefit to both Tesla and Solar City in sharing gains in battery and other technology. But I expect the third jewel in Musk’s crown is his favorite, SpaceX.

    - from Wikimedia

    Musk doesn’t have much going on here, nothing major, only an ardent desire to colonize Mars. But it takes the establishment of an infrastructure in order to be get from point E to point M. Musk saw an opening in the market for satellite launch vehicles. Existing rockets blast things up into orbit and then burn up on their way back down. His idea was to design a rocket that could make its way back to earth in one piece, to be reused. And he has. SpaceX is nearing its goal of launching at least one rocket a month. The manifest available on SpaceX.com lists missions to date. The company also designed a capsule called the Dragon that can be used for cargo, but also for astronauts. The cost of launching a satellite using a Falcon is a fraction of what other options charge. The next step is a larger launch vehicle. Space X is expected to launch the first Falcon Heavy later this year, offering the biggest load capacity since the Saturn V was last used in 1973. And, while this is definitely good for business in the relatively short term, one must always keep in mind that this is a stage in a bigger plan for Musk. Once the launch infrastructure is established, plans can begin to move forward to put together Mars missions. Not go, look, and explore sorts of adventures, but establishing a colony, a permanent human presence on the red planet.

    - from Musk’s Twitter page

    Of course when one has one’s eyes fixed on the stars (yes, Mars is a planet, I know, Geez), there is a large inclination to lose touch with earth-bound reality. In the movie, then play, then movie

    Max Bialystock, in order to cope with the absurd success of a play that was designed to fail, suggests to his partner, Leo Bloom, that one solution would be to do away with the cast. "You can't kill the actors, Max! They're human beings," Leo says. "Human beings? Have you ever seen them eat?" Max replies. I suspect that there are more than a few folks who feel about Elon Musk the way Max felt about the actors. He is rather notorious for his insensitivity to anyone not living inside his head. For example, here is what potential recruits are told to expect when they meet with Musk.

    Musk has an amazing capacity for work, putting in monstrous hours as a matter of course. But then he expects the same from those who work for him.

    Musk even fired his loyal assistant, Mary Beth Brown, who had been with him for twelve years, after she asked for a raise. What a guy.

    Ego is certainly a big piece of the picture here. But I guess if you can do it, it ain’t bragging. Elon Musk is a larger than life figure, a computer geek, an engineer, an entrepreneur, and a dreamer, in addition to being a walking IED as someone to work for. He is one of the inspirations for Robert Downey‘s portrayal of Tony Stark in sundry Marvel Universe films. In fact, Downey came to visit Musk, specifically to get a taste of what a real billionaire techno-industrialist was like. Downey insisted on having a Tesla Roaster on the set of

    , saying, ”Elon was someone Tony probably hung out with and partied with or more likely they went on some weird jungle trek together to drink concoctions with the shamans.” Musk even had a cameo in

    . The resulting publicity from this connection did little to diminish Musk’s view of himself. Living the high-life in Tinseltown, hanging with, social, economic and media A-listers added more gas to the bag. Part of his ego issue is that he tends to take internal company timetables and announce them to the world as promises (I can see his entire staff jointly rolling their eyes, clutching palms to temples and issuing choruses of “Oh my god” and “WTF” as they spin in place), then holds his employees to those unreasonable schedules. Of course this results in many missed deadlines, much ingestion of antacid and probably the odd nervous breakdown or two.

    - fromWired

    Musk is the sort of guy who shows up with some regularity in science fiction novels, a genre trope, like the researcher who has exactly the sort of experience and insight the President/PM/Chairman/Secretary General needs in order to stave off global catastrophe. He’s the guy who has been secretly building the arc that the world needs to stave off extinction. In this case he is doing it publicly. Of course this raises some issues. Do we as a country, as a planet, really want to be reliant on private companies for our space exploration? Do we want a possible colony on Mars to be a privately held branch of Musk Industries? There are only a gazillion questions that are raised by the privatization of space. What’s good for the bottom line at SpaceX may or may not be good for humanity. We have certainly seen how a reliance on the inherent civic-mindedness and good will of corporations has worked on this planet. Musk is a dreamer, for sure, and I expect his dream of making a better world through the use of renewable energy and his hopes of establishing a human outpost on Mars are pure ideals. But the devil is always in the details, and what would happen should Musk be infected by another virulent strain of malaria and not escape with a near miss, as he did in 2001? Would the replacement CEO share his ideals? Would a replacement CEO be willing to take big risks to support those ideals? Would a replacement CEO look to sell Tesla off to GM to make a few quick billion? One person can move the world, but it takes more than a start to keep things rolling. We could certainly use plenty more people with the sort of drive and ambition that Elon Musk embodies. Innovation is a rare resource and must be cherished. But like any powerful force, it must be, if not tethered, at least monitored, to make certain that it does not run amok.

    Ashlee Vance has done an amazing job of telling not only Musk’s story, but of making the life history of the several companies with which Musk has been involved fascinating reading. I did get the sense that Vance was, from all the time he spent with Musk, smitten with his subject. While his portrait of Musk is hardly a zit-free one, I got the feeling that there might be a few more skeletons safely tucked away in closets, a few more bodies buried in basements. Nevertheless,

    is a powerful, entertaining and informative look at one of the most important people of our time. Your personal vision of the future should certainly include checking out this book.

    =============================

    Links to the author’s

    ,

    and

    pages

    Here are links to Musk’s three main companies,

    ,

    , and

    To Musk’s

    - Loooooooove the image he is using for this. He really needs a pinky ring to go with it though. There are a lot of nifty videos in here

    Here is the

    SpaceX provided with its latest Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station. There are many links in there that are worth checking out.

    A visit to the

    And be sure to check out the link Tabasco brought in - Comment #1

    Musk joins other large players in establishing a non-profit -

    April 1, 2016 - Musk announces a new generation, mass-market car for 2017,

    , but

    might give one pause.

    September 1, 2016 - New York Times -

    - by Kenneth Chang, Mike Isaac and Matt Richtel

    September 27, 2016 - New York Times -

    - by Kenneth Chang

    October 25, 2016 -National Geographic is producing a documentary series about our favorite red-tinted neighbor (no, not the lady across the way who got too much sun. Put those binoculars away NOW). Coverage in the latest issue includes a whole passel of things Martian. You-know-who figures prominently. Enjoy.

    October 28, 2016 - Huffington Post -

    - by Alexander C. Kaufman

    January 30, 2017 - NY Times -

    - by Diane Cardwelljan

    September 7, 2017 - Bloomberg.com - Vance's article about one shop's advances in AI is must-read stuff -

    September 29, 2017 - National Geographic - EM announces his updated plans for space exploration, which includes a monster vessel aptly named the BFR, or Big F___ing Rocket -

    - by Nadia Drake

    Mars City Opposite of Earth. Dawn and dusk sky are blue on Mars and day sky is red. - image from the NatGeo article

  • Mark Bao

    Excellent and inspiring. This book brought up one key question: do you have to be a bit reckless to be good? Musk was reckless in two areas: in the risks he took, and the way that he manages his companies.

    As for the first, the number of near-death experiences that Tesla, SpaceX and earlier companies went through is almost a running joke throughout this story. The Falcon 1 failed three times, exhausting the company's funds, before achieving a successful fourth flight. Tesla avoided bankruptcy by

    Excellent and inspiring. This book brought up one key question: do you have to be a bit reckless to be good? Musk was reckless in two areas: in the risks he took, and the way that he manages his companies.

    As for the first, the number of near-death experiences that Tesla, SpaceX and earlier companies went through is almost a running joke throughout this story. The Falcon 1 failed three times, exhausting the company's funds, before achieving a successful fourth flight. Tesla avoided bankruptcy by taking on a NASA-approved loan from SpaceX plus a last-minute acquisition of a company Musk invested in pulled through, and avoided being derailed by a predatory investor by a bluff on the order of $40 million. Combine these with the many situations where it didn't look like Tesla was going to build anything substantial, plus the negative media attention—the fact that Musk continued to persevere and pull through at times where most normal people would have given up is crazy.

    This risk undoubtedly took a toll on his life and relationships, through three divorces and the insane sleep deprivation he and the others on the team go through. It brings up the question—when you're doing things as big as this, how reckless do you have to be? Should you have a breaking point? Does the sustainable, get-eight-hours-of-sleep-and-exercise approach really work? Or is the right thing to do actually to push through, get four hours of sleep, and get shit done? Are those that prefer the 'sustainable' option the ones that don't succeed as much, and the reckless ones the ones that actually make progress?

    As for the second, the way that he manages his companies, he was reckless in what he demanded from people. The most notable story is of SpaceX, where employees worked on a crappy atoll in the Marshall Islands for months to deliver the Falcon 1 rocket launches. In a Jobs-like fashion, his outward personality is cold, demanding, and fearful: employees are on edge all the time and have to have answers. If someone is the bottleneck on a project, there's immense pressure on them to deliver. And you never want to be the deliverer of bad news—and if you are, you better have a solution to back it up:

    And while that is actually a good way to work—to have everything lined up—is Musk's approach the right way to manage a company? Is it the only way to be successful on incredibly difficult things? Or are Tesla and SpaceX successful in spite of this way of working—that it actually holds people back?

    Other than those questions, this is a very good overview of Musk's life and personality, and the trials and tribulations he went through to be successful—a path beset by an immense number of setbacks and late deliveries.

    What comes through clearly is how much of a genius this guy was. To get a sense of what this guy is like, consider that in his childhood, he ran out of books to read at the local library and the school library, and sometimes would read for ten hours a day. Dude also has a memory that's not only photographic, but he can wrangle images and numbers and relationships between them in his head. Insane. His ability to ingest and retain information, and his approach to knowledge, is nuts:

    What also comes across was how much Musk believes in the technological future and how much he as done to restore that promise to humanity. It's clear that he is one of the top people pushing technology and humanity forward, and that's incredibly inspiring.

    What I found a bit lacking in this book, which would have made this an excellent book, was more about Musk's inner life. Vance hypothesizes that Musk seems cold and non-emotional because he has a different sort of empathy than others: he emphasizes with the entire human species, and wants to do the most he can for them, but that makes him forget the individuals in front of him. But what does Musk think about this? How does Musk characterize his own values and experiences? Of course, this is something that few biographies do anyway, but for someone as dynamic as Musk, it would have been a welcome addition to the surface-level 'what he did' information.

    The guy's a genius, and this book, I think, represents that well. The inside look into Musk's life and work from the mid-2000s is thorough and really gives you a fantastic backstory into Musk's experience with Tesla and SpaceX. showing he did to make them successful, making this into an endlessly inspiring biography.

    FIVE STARS — Changed how I see things

  • Tom LA

    Let me offer this thought: SpaceX is the coolest and most exciting company in the world at this moment in time.

    Yes, Tesla is also extremely cool. And inspiring. But nothing can beat that feeling of power, wonder and deep inspiration that SpaceX will give you as soon as you start to understand what that company is actually doing.

    As Vance says, "SpaceX IS Elon Musk".

    So who is this man? How is it humanly possible to achieve what he has achieved? What else can he achieve in the future? Will he bec

    Let me offer this thought: SpaceX is the coolest and most exciting company in the world at this moment in time.

    Yes, Tesla is also extremely cool. And inspiring. But nothing can beat that feeling of power, wonder and deep inspiration that SpaceX will give you as soon as you start to understand what that company is actually doing.

    As Vance says, "SpaceX IS Elon Musk".

    So who is this man? How is it humanly possible to achieve what he has achieved? What else can he achieve in the future? Will he become the richest man on Earth? Or on Mars?

    Not only this book is written in a very passionate and engaging way. I also find that it is a very important book for anyone who is at least a little curious about our present and our future.

    In fact, I believe Ashlee Vance’s portrait of Elon Musk is a necessary read for anyone, because of the effect that his companies are having on the automotive, the clean energy, and the space industries. If these companies are not changing the future, at the very least they are accelerating our pace towards it.

    Vance starts out in a ballsy way, stating that he won't budge: he will write whatever he wants, however he wants it. As I got to the end of the book, I had a strong feeling that this is not exactly the case, and that a lot has been left out. However, the information that is in the book is absolutely fascinating. It is the first biography I've ever read that I would categorize as a real "page-turner".

    The "missing facts" that stand out the most in my opinion are:

    1) Childhood troubles. Musk keeps referring to a very painful and troubled childhood, but in the book all we get is some bullying and social awkwardness. Plus, a father who was "psychologically" abusive. There are many unanswered questions there, and I think Vance chose to be respectful and not dig too deeply.

    2) The miraculous last-minute save of both Tesla and SpaceX in 2008: not enough details. Something crucial seems to be missing. Whether it is a few private donors who poured in extra millions, or some other turn of fate. I don't know if Vance knows what is missing there, but something is missing.

    Overall, Elon Musk comes across as a normal human being with exceptional ambition, exceptional luck, exceptional physical energy, exceptional intelligence and exceptional confidence in his vision.

    He is an inspiration for many, and beyond Elon Musk, his companies and his vision are a huge inspiration.

    Did you notice how the most popular fictional depictions of the future (YA, etc.) in this day and age are pessimistic, dystopian, self-hating like teenagers? Well, Elon Musk is offering us a window into a future that is the exact opposite of that. Very similar to Arthur Clarke, my favorite author, another optimistic visionary. Musk's vision of the future is so bright that reminds me of the golden age of science fiction, when Clarke and Asimov were writing, when people had the courage to dream beautiful, positive dreams about the future.

    It sounds like an advertisement for a soap, but yes ----- with Musk, the future is bright again.

    Finally, I have a comment about "being a nerd": in the first part of the book, the kid Elon Musk is called a "nerd" about a million times. Why is it that in America (and in South Africa, as it seems) a very smart kid who is into reading a lot instead of playing sports, invariably, is called a "nerd"? The fact that this word DOES NOT EXIST and cannot be translated into many European languages tells us something about America. I think Isaac Asimov was onto somehting when he said: "The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    -----------------------

    Btw, great to find out that Robert Zubrin was a big influence on Musk. He is the head of the Mars Society, a man who has been thinking about going to Mars much longer than Elon Musk has. I read Zubrin's "The case for Mars" many years ago, and I was utterly fascinated by it.

  • TS Chan

    This is a man after my own heart. Out of all the super entrepreneurs and technological legends of the modern era, Musk ticks all the boxes on my dreams and passions, particularly space. Space has always been the frontier that intrigues me the most; for a single man to dream of colonising Mars and actually doing all he can to make that a reality is just simply astounding.

    And then of course, there is Tesla. Aside from the clean energy technology which I am a hug

    This is a man after my own heart. Out of all the super entrepreneurs and technological legends of the modern era, Musk ticks all the boxes on my dreams and passions, particularly space. Space has always been the frontier that intrigues me the most; for a single man to dream of colonising Mars and actually doing all he can to make that a reality is just simply astounding.

    And then of course, there is Tesla. Aside from the clean energy technology which I am a huge proponent of, how an electric car can become one of the most desirable and good-looking cars in the world is another example of the visionary genius that Musk is.

    As with all ideas that are so progressive in nature, the trials and tribulations faced by Musk were so daunting that most would've called it quits. His indomitable will and spirit, however, sets him apart from the ordinary. He is very demanding on himself, being extremely hands-on, and also of his employees. Then again, how else are you going to change the world by compromising on the high standards that one sets for oneself.

    Notwithstanding his crazy but awesome ideas (first, the Hyperloop and now, Neuralink) the one thing that differentiates him from most current entrepreneurs is that he really seeks to change the world. He is not in it just for short term gain, which is what a lot of businesses are doing right now. A simple case in point is Tesla's open source patent.

    I'll stop gushing about Musk now and talk a bit about the biography itself. The conversational tone employed by the author translated well into audio, and the narrator did a good enough job that it didn't sound monotonous. The biography was written from extensive interviews conducted with a plethora of his ex-employees, and the people closest to Musk. This enabled a more independent and less biased insight from one which was self-penned (not that I believe Musk will ever have the time to do so). The biography was also quite educational; while I still do not know how to build a rocket or an electric car now I've gained a better understanding of certain technical aspects of these items and how they work.

    Whether you're a fan of Musk, or just intrigued by his ideas and achievements, or even if you only just desired the Tesla badly, this is a recommended read.

  • Lyubov

    Предупреждавам, че това ревю ще бъде лично и доста дълго, за което не се извинявам. Просто информирам. За да разберете всепоглъщащата ми възхита към личността на Илън Мъск се налага да вкарам поне малко контекст преди да пристъпя към анализ на безспорните достойнства на книгата. Когато бях малка не мечтаех да бъда принцеса, балерина, певица или някаква друга подобна Дисни лигавщина. Исках да правя компютърни игри. И хич не ме интересуваше колко сложно реално е това. На по-късен етап пътищата ми

    Предупреждавам, че това ревю ще бъде лично и доста дълго, за което не се извинявам. Просто информирам. За да разберете всепоглъщащата ми възхита към личността на Илън Мъск се налага да вкарам поне малко контекст преди да пристъпя към анализ на безспорните достойнства на книгата. Когато бях малка не мечтаех да бъда принцеса, балерина, певица или някаква друга подобна Дисни лигавщина. Исках да правя компютърни игри. И хич не ме интересуваше колко сложно реално е това. На по-късен етап пътищата ми с тази мечта се разделиха, след като хвърлих поглед на учебниците по висша математика и основи на програмирането, но това не ми пречи и до днес да бъда запленена от света на информационните технологии и иновациите, които променят света буквално всеки ден.

    Ужасно обичам да чета биографии на луди учени, абсолютни иноватори и изобщо хора, които имат откачени идеи и не се страхуват да ги преследват до край, независимо от препятствията по пътя и присмеха на обикновените хора. Първата ми среща с подобна книга беше автобиографията на Ричард Брансън "

    ". Ще си призная, че до онзи момент не бях чувала абсолютно нищо за него, но след като затворих последната страница вече му бях безпаметен фен и мога да говоря по темата с часове. Точно като Мъск Брансън навлиза без колебание в мощни и закостенели индустрии като гражданска авиация, железопътен транспорт и космически полети, изправяйки се срещу монополистите в бранша и революционализирайки целия отрасъл без да му мигне окото.

    Истинската ми страст обаче си оставаха предприемачите от Силициевата долина (компютърните игри, нали помните?), но исках да науча повече за имена различни от изтърканите от употреба икони Стив Джобс и Бил Гейтс. Ето защо бях изключително развълнувана, че открих и преведох (съвсем буквално) по целия път до издаването му сборника статии на "Форбс" за третата вълна интернет милиардери "

    ". Синтезираните истории на успеха на създателите на Napster, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, PayPal, Tesla Motors и много други само изостриха апетита ми към подобен род вдъхновяващи четива. Мъск беше сред тези супергерои на новото време, но 20-тина страници няма как да обхванат дори една микроскопична част от неговия ненормално як живот, дело и личност. Апетайзърът беше превъзходен и крачката до основното блюдо се оказа неизбежна.

    Изключително съм щастлива, че биографията на Илън Мъск е на българския пазар, защото хора като него се раждат много рядко и е абсолютно задължително да бъдат познати на възможно най-широк кръг читатели. Няма да преразказвам книгата, тя просто трябва да се прочете, но ще ви дам малко мотивация да посегнете към нея, в случай че не сте абсолютен Мъск ултрас, какъвто съм аз. Той е човекът, който още на 10-тина годишна възраст е прочел пълното издание на енциклопедия "Британика" и може да цитира всякакви факти от него наизуст. Той е един от основателите на "интернет банката" PayPal, благодарение на която в момента милиони хора извършват онлайн плащания за секунди при максимално ниво на сигурност. Той е визионерът, който си е поставил за цел да освободи хората от тежката петролна зависимост и ще вкара електромобила в масово производство като го направи същевременно сигурна и невероятно секси кола. Не вярвате? Ето ви снимка на Tesla Roadster, който вече е в продажба и се е превърнал в символ на стил, висок обществен статус и грижа за опазване на природата.

    Мъск не спира до тук. Неговата мисия в живота е да осигури на човечеството възможност да колонизира други планети, защото е убеден, че ресурсите на Земята се изчерпват с бясно темпо и един ден оцеляването на нашата раса ще зависи от способността ни да живеем на Марс. Звучи ви като научна фантастика? Ще ви споделя само, че неговата компания SpaceX е първата частна корпорация, която е официален доставчик на НАСА и е осъществила скачване с международната космическа станция. SpaceX работи усилено над създаването на ракети за многократна употреба. Представете си каква революция за космическия бизнес би било подобно постижение! То ще доведе до драстично намаляване на цените на космическите полети, пестене на ресурси и време, както и частично решение на немалкия проблем с космическия боклук.

    И това не е всичко. Мъск е един от основните инвеститори в компанията за соларни панели SolarCity, както и в още няколко начинания, за които дори няма да започна да ви разказвам. Самата му личност е екстремна, брутално твърда и безкомпромисна, но такъв трябва да бъдеш, за да заведеш една цяла раса на друга планета. Един от най-близките сътрудници на Мъск споделя в книгата, че той имал навика да ти отправя един интенизвен, леко налудничав поглед, след който абсолютно вярваш, че ей сега ще стъпим на Марс. Аз вярвам, а вие?

  • Наталия Янева

    Илон Мъск е хомункулус. Извънземните му (буквално) идеи те карат да си мислиш, че си попаднал в някоя футуристична алтернативна вселена и просто бъдещето е СЕГА. Като гигантски скок във времето. Сякаш летиш на нещо със space warp двигател.

    Винаги съм се питала какво отличава успешните идеи от по-малко успешните. Във всяка област – изкуство, кино, литература… ракети, електрически коли. Добре, признавам, че за последните не съм се замисляла особено, но чуденето ми е било принципно. Как става така,

    Илон Мъск е хомункулус. Извънземните му (буквално) идеи те карат да си мислиш, че си попаднал в някоя футуристична алтернативна вселена и просто бъдещето е СЕГА. Като гигантски скок във времето. Сякаш летиш на нещо със space warp двигател.

    Винаги съм се питала какво отличава успешните идеи от по-малко успешните. Във всяка област – изкуство, кино, литература… ракети, електрически коли. Добре, признавам, че за последните не съм се замисляла особено, но чуденето ми е било принципно. Как става така, че има идеи, които доста бързо се сриват и потъват в забвение (и скептиците ехидничат), а има други, които се настаняват във въображението и карат мозъка да щрака до възпаление. Знаете, онова усещане, когато мислиш толкова много, че имаш чувството, че главата ти гори отвътре. Понякога съм смятала, че става така просто защото е заложено на хората инстинктивно да разпознават истински добрите идеи и да им отдават заслуженото. Да познават, че по някакъв начин придвижват човечеството напред. Историята на Мъск и неговите едно, две, три… Х начинания са пример за обратното. За това как като вярваш в нещо и имаш цел, трябва да я следваш, дори да знаеш, че шансовете за успех са минимални (звучи безумно клиширано, но може би защото е истина. Какво по-голямо клише от истината). А, и да си малко смахнат.

    Илон Мъск вярва в разни неща. Вярва, че ресурсите на Земята са на привършване и един ден човечеството трябва да си търси друго място за живеене. Първо си мисли, че едни мишки на Марс не са лоши за начало, после достига до идеята, че ще се наложи хората да се превърнат в междупланетарен вид, за да ги (ни) има изобщо. Тъй че Илон се залавя да строи ракети. Никой не му вярва и всички смятат, че е луд. Илон изстрелва първите си три ракети и те гръмват. Всички се подхилкват, че някакъв си милионер от Силициевата долина не може да се заема с начинания, дето правителствата ги умеят на твърде високи цени и твърде неефективно от години. Четвъртата ракета на Илон не избухва. Вече никой не му се смее. SpaceX понатрила носове и излетяла.

    На някакъв купон като млад Илон се запознал с момиче и първото, което ѝ казал, било „Аз често мисля за електрически коли. Ти мислиш ли за електрически коли?“ И понеже Илон тъй и не спрял да мисли за електрически коли, решил да започне сам да си ги произвежда. Пак защото вярвал – че са по-ефективни, че с тях не се харчи гориво, което и без това един ден ще го няма и мамка му, тогава вече ще е малко късно да се чудим какво да правим. Tesla Motors вдигнала почти 100 км/ч (за 2,5 секунди впрочем) и оставила да ѝ дишат праха.

    Илон смята и че е хубаво да се ползва енергията на слънцето, която е огромна и залива Земята, очевидно нахалост. Поради тази причина работи и със SolarCity (която между другото е създадена от братовчедите му – the Force is strong with this family). Илон също така вярва и в други неща – като например пътуване на големи разстояния с огромна скорост във вакуумна тръба, „космически интернет“ и приятелски настроен изкуствен интелект, който не е способен да навреди на хората.

    Зад всички тези неща – някои изключително успешни, някои в зародиш, има малко повече от медиен шум и чист късмет. Може би просто генетичният код на Илон Мъск е написан така, че да притежава не само нужните умения и интелект, но и желязна ръка, висок праг на емоционална болка, мулешко упорство и способност да се дистанцира от отделните индивиди, когато на карта е съдбата на цялото човечество. След прочита на книгата изгледах няколко интервюта с него. В едно го питат какво толкова има в него, че е успял на така много фронтове. Той леко притеснено и почти извинително смотолеви ‘Well, I work a lot’. В друго интервю обяснява как се е налагало да работи по 80-100 часа на седмица, всеки ден. Знаете ли колко е това? По 11-14 часа работа на ден. В едно от интервютата хлапето, което задаваше въпросите, го гледаше леко зяпнало и все забравяше да си затвори устата. Май и аз бях така.

    Честно казано, преди да започна да чета книгата на Ашли Ванс, не бях чувала за никакъв Илон Мъск. По време на целия прочит обаче обяснявах на който имаше желание да ме слуша къде е тестовата площадка за изстрелване на SpaceX, че се работи върху ракети, които ще се връщат обратно на Земята и ще кацат, вместо да се изгубват из космоса или къде е разположен литиево-йонният акумулатор на Tesla роудстъра. Разбирам защо за много хора Мъск е нещо като бог. Не знам дали скоро ще колонизираме Марс и дали въобще трябва или е хубаво да се опитаме да си спасим Земята, но определено Илон Мъск ме вдъхнови да мисля по-мащабно. Един малък Falcon за Мъск, един голям пример за човечеството.

  • Bradley

    There are few people outside of the fiction world that I truly admire, but barring some unseen or future tragedy, I think Musk might well be on the way to becoming my hero.

    If I didn't know any better, I might be looking at all his stated claims and seeing all the echoes of Asimov and Heinlein being dragged out of the page and brought to life.

    Skip the whole Iron Man image for a second.

    Let's talk about Ayn Rand.

    Musk is John Galt. As in Atlas Shrugged.

    Sure, he's also Dagney, too, or perhaps more l

    There are few people outside of the fiction world that I truly admire, but barring some unseen or future tragedy, I think Musk might well be on the way to becoming my hero.

    If I didn't know any better, I might be looking at all his stated claims and seeing all the echoes of Asimov and Heinlein being dragged out of the page and brought to life.

    Skip the whole Iron Man image for a second.

    Let's talk about Ayn Rand.

    Musk is John Galt. As in Atlas Shrugged.

    Sure, he's also Dagney, too, or perhaps more like Dagney in that he's unwilling to let humanity roll around in the mud despite all the backstabbing and idiocracy, in that he hasn't said, "enough is enough". But the day is young. Wait until we get to Mars. Wait until we really take the man of genius and effort for granted. And THEN we'll see what we'll miss once it is taken away.

    Ahhh, I don't want to see this man out of classic SF heroes become anything other than his stated goals.

    I'll be honest here. He's giving me real hope for humanity. Maybe optimism *isn't* unfounded after all.

    This biography tells me one hell of a great narrative. Is it life imitating art? The best ideals from the grandmasters? Who knows. But right now, I have real hope. I'm holding on to it for my very soul. :)

    Let's MAKE the future we wanted. Let's NOT let anything stand in our way!

    HELL YAH!

  • Ana

    Yes I am still crushing on Elon Musk. I'm counting on him to deliver on his promise of building a city on Mars. The time has come for us to destroy yet another planet.

  • Louise

    3.5 Stars

    I like the can-do attitude Vance took with hounding Musk and wearing him down till he agreed to cooperate with this biography. I also appreciated all the "Holy crap, Musk is CRAZY. CRAZY like a fox," moments I had while reading this. The only thing that keeps this from being a 4-star book is that the reporting and writing leans too heavily on idolatry. There were passages where I literally cringed at how much of a fanboy Vance sounded like.

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