Neil deGrasse Tyson has said Elon Musk is more important than Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.
While Jobs, Zuckerberg and Bezos’ creations undoubtedly play important roles in our everyday lives, the astrophysicist explained Musk is the only one who is considering the future of our society in his work.
In an interview with CNBC Make It, Tyson emphasised why what Musk is doing is so important.
As important as Steve Jobs was, no doubt about it — you have to add him to Bill Gates, because they birthed the personal computing revolution kind of together — here’s the difference: Elon Musk is trying to invent a future, not by providing the next app.
What Elon Musk is doing is not simply giving us the next app that will be awesome on our smartphone. No, he is thinking about society, culture, how we interact, what forces need to be in play to take civilisation into the next century.
While some people might think social media and online shopping are some of the most important and life-changing things which have happened to society, the astrophysicist pointed out much more is yet to come; changes which could offer us endless resources and (no pressure, Musk) end wars altogether.
It has to do with transportation. It has to do with space exploration. Why? Because there’s unlimited resources in space. Resources that on earth we fight wars over.
The whole category of war has the potential of evaporating entirely with the exploitation of space resources, which includes the unlimited access to energy as well. That’s where Elon Musk is.
The Tesla CEO does indeed have some ambitious plans for taking on space – even more so than just sending his car up there. At the International Astronautical Congress in Australia last year, Musk spoke about his ideas for making Mars a habitable planet, saying:
I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and be ready for a launch in about five years. Five years seems like a long time to me.
Then build up the base, starting with one ship, then multiple ships, then start building out the city, then making the city bigger, and even bigger. And yeah, over time terraforming Mars and making it really a nice place to be.
NASA pointed out that the necessary technologies needed for that kind of mission don’t currently exist, but at least Musk has a plan of action for when it is possible.
The agency tweeted:
Data from #MAVEN used to demonstrate that terraforming #Mars is not possible using present-day technology.
Data from #MAVEN used to demonstrate that terraforming #Mars is not possible using present-day technology: https://t.co/DfHw93a7ji. Related @NatureAstronomy article led by MAVEN Principal Investigator, Bruce Jakosky: https://t.co/GpmTSQpvce. pic.twitter.com/rKc1lLy291
— NASA's MAVEN Mission (@MAVEN2Mars) July 30, 2018
In trying to tackle universal issues such as this one, Tyson believes Musk has the potential to have the greatest long-term effect on society.
The 60-year-old added:
He will transform civilisation as we know it. Anyone who knows and cares about space exploration knows and cares about Elon Musk.
Keep doing you, Musk, it’s obviously working.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.