Elon Musk, both scientific genius and media con man – rts.ch

Elon Musk bought Twitter, he flies rockets, deploys thousands of satellites or promises an autonomous car with Tesla. A little “fraudster”, the billionaire is above all a “brilliant technology accelerator”, says Olivier Lascar in Médialogues.

“Elon Musk has become a kind of people, that is, a person that everyone has heard of today,” said Olivier Lascar, the magazine’s digital editor. Science and the Future – Research.

This popularity began in 2013, when Elon Musk announced “a compendium of technology dedicated to the Hyperloop, this train project that will move through vacuum tunnels at the speed of an airplane”, indicates with author of the book “Elon Musk, the man who fights science”, guest on the program Médialogues.

“Great technology accelerator”

Olivier Lascar’s book is subtitled “Elon Musk, genius or crook?”. However, “now, I would say that he is 66% brilliant and 30% a fraud. But he is still brilliant, because he is a technology accelerator (…) and he is a man who, despite controversy, makes you dream,” said the journalist.

During the presentation of the Hyperloop, an international media frenzy claimed that Elon Musk was the inventor. But “this is completely false. It takes ideas coming specifically from Swissmetro and the Americans have also filed patents on this subject”.

>> Read about it: In Canada, the hyperloop concept is growing thanks to new funding and A Hyperloop vacuum transport test track is under construction at EPFL

Nor is he the originator of Tesla. The brand is “closely associated with Elon Musk, when the company was founded by two American engineers, Tarpenning and Eberhardt”, in the early 2000s. “On the other hand, what has become of Tesla and this fascination with the autonomous car (… ) Elon Musk still put this idea“.

>> Read about it: Tesla opened a mega-factory in Germany for its European production

“We associate him with many modern achievements, even if he is not at the origin of them. But we have to give back to Caesar what Caesar deserves, he knows how to raise the mayonnaise and make things concrete”, continued Olivier Lascar.

When Mars hid a swarm of satellites

Elon Musk is also chasing dreams of conquering space, with SpaceX, which has contracts with NASA, meaning the American administration. But he aims for more than the Moon and talks about colonizing the planet Mars. In this case, he applies the two-shot gun method, according to an expression by Olivier Lascar in his book. He focused on his still-far-flung space project, as he “almost quietly” built his network of Starlink satellites.

>> Read about it: Constellations of satellites to access the internet anywhere and Smartphones look at satellites

Elon Musk is really pursuing the plan to go to Mars. But while this topic is changing the debates, especially because of the resources required while “we try to put the conditions that can save the Earth”, “one fine morning, the astrophysicists pulled us by the sleeve saying: ‘ but what these things you see in the sky. You can no longer watch the night sky in silence’ because of the number of Starlink satellites installed in low Earth orbit to provide Internet service around the Globe.

>> Read about it: Soon the lights of the satellites will overshadow the stars

And by the way, Elon Musk is setting up “a completely vertical business, because he designs the rockets to launch his satellites, which itself delivers his Internet service. He’s setting up a monopoly for global web access and it is clear that it is concerned.”

Currently, 2000 Starlink devices are in orbit, out of 9000 existing satellites around Earth. However, Elon Musk plans to launch 42,000 in total. A large figure which is explained by the fact that the satellites are installed in low orbit. They will gradually lose some altitude, gradually enter the Earth’s atmosphere, and be destroyed there by friction. “Musk knows that for his global network to be functional, there will be a relatively high renewal rate. And this number of 42,000 includes replacement satellites”, explains Olivier Lascar.

brain implants

Elon Musk is also investing in a project that is not well known to the general public. With Neuralink, he wants to “equip the brain with electronic chips that will allow the playful use of connectivity with computers, i.e. playing video games through thought”. There’s a lot to talk about, but it’s a “far-fetched scenario (…), it’s science fiction, it’s Philip K. Dick”.

This company also makes miniaturized implants that can be placed in the brains of people suffering from neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. The product is still in the development phase, but if it succeeds, Neuralink could “swallow a market” that could potentially involve a lot of people, Olivier Lascar said.

Interview by Antoine Droux

Web adaptation: cab

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