Elon musk

What would life on Mars actually look like?

Just as extreme altitudes have notable effects on the human body and mind, so too does extreme wealth seem to have a particular effect on psychology. Or at least that’s how it appears when you look at the shared ambition of two of the world’s most prominent billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Both men are fixated on the idea that humanity’s future lies beyond Earth and are funnelling fortunes into the vision that we will soon have significant human settlements off-planet, whether on the moon, Mars or elsewhere. It’s an argument grounded not just in exploration and discovery, but in survival. If humanity’s future on Earth looks to be

Was Rishi Sunak’s AI summit a success?

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This week the prime minister hosted his landmark AI summit at Bletchley Park which wrapped up with an interview with Elon Musk, who warned that AI will one day render all jobs obsolete. The who’s who of AI were in attendance over the two days as well the likes of Kamala Harris and Ursula von der Leyen, but what was actually achieved? Oscar Edmondson speaks to James Heale and Madhumita Murgia, AI editor at the Financial Times. 

The FBI has a problem with Catholics

On board Aello She was built in 1921, a beautiful wooden ketch that is as graceful to look at as she’s uncomfortable for fat cats accustomed to gin palaces. I’ve sailed her over many years, the last time giving her to my children as I was in plaster having fallen from a balcony in Gstaad. This time it was worse. In fact it was the greatest no-show since Edward VIII skipped his coronation and showed up on the French Riviera instead. Michael Mailer had hinted that some Hollywood floozies were eager to sail around the Greek isles, but arrived empty-handed. The absent floozies were missed, but were immediately replaced by

Starting a Threads account feels like adultery

As I hit the pillow, up popped a notification: ‘Threads’, Meta’s new offering, is available to download. My heart thumped – I’ve been excited about this launch since I first heard of it. As a frustrated influencer, and somebody who couldn’t care less what Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk are doing to each other, I don’t care about the politics. I just thought Threads could be just right for me. And social media is all about me, me, me, obviously.  It’s easy to take a photograph of myself. I do it a lot. But Twitter is a different kind of vanity – for people who aren’t necessarily obsessed with images. That’s

Why tech bros love fighting

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the maaaiiin event of the eeevening. In the red corner, fighting out of Boca Chica, Texas, Eeeeelon ‘the Execuuutioner’ MUUUSK! And his opponent, in the blue corner, fighting out of Palo Alto, California, Maaaark ‘The Madman’ ZUCKERBEEERG!  Sadly, we might never get the fight between Elon Musk of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Musk has said that he would be ‘up for a cage fight’ with Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg then responded simply: ‘Send me location.’ The internet erupted. UFC legend Georges St-Pierre offered to train Musk while UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones announced that he would be ‘Team Zuck’. Bookmakers started taking bets.  It might seem a bit embarrassing for a

The end of the Silicon Valley dream

It is difficult, given what Silicon Valley has become, to convey exactly what it was like in the 1970s and ‘80s. It was a remarkable centre of technology, but also the embodiment of the spirit of capitalism at its very best, as epitomised by garage start-ups like Apple. Greed, of course, is always a human motivation, but the early Valley culture was created by entrepreneurial outsiders who genuinely wanted to make the world better. In the early days of the tech revolution, some watchers imagined an almost utopian, communitarian society on the horizon. In 1972, the California writer and zeitgeist diagnostician Stewart Brand predicted in Rolling Stone that when computers became widely

Elon Musk is right about BBC funding

The BBC has today been using its various news platforms to protest against being described as ‘government funded’ by Twitter. It has instructed Twitter to remove this insult ‘as soon as possible’ and its journalistic contacts have found a direct link to Elon Musk himself who, we are told, is a ‘fan’ of the BBC. So perhaps a quiet word with the right person in power can overcome this little hiccup. Radio Four even had a ‘debate’ which just featured one interviewee: Mary Hockaday, a former BBC executive. ‘As a BBC journalist, I care about accuracy,’ she said, ‘the simple fact is that to describe on Twitter the BBC as

What are the best alternatives to Twitter?

From the moment Elon Musk suggested buying Twitter, users began threatening to leave – and the Tesla kingpin’s erratic behaviour since he took over hasn’t exactly helped his case, with thousands of workers laid off and hundreds more resigning. The MIT Technology Review estimates that more than a million Twitter users have jumped ship since Musk took the reins. Today the social network is launching a revamped version of Twitter Blue, its paid-for verification system, after a previous attempt last month was marred by a flood of imposters and fake accounts. So for those who decide not to stick around to see how this one turns out, what alternatives are

Will Elon Musk’s Starlink cause a mutiny on Pitcairn?

What difference does the internet make? Critics blame it for a range of ills, from social collapse and child abuse to obesity. So shouldn’t we greet with some caution and even sadness the recent announcement that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite broadband is to reach tiny Pitcairn Island in the Pacific Ocean, home to the handful of descendants from the 1789 mutiny on the Bounty? Will the advent of Zoom calls and the ability to stream The Crown turn this idyllic tribe into socially fractured, screen-obsessed time-wasters? Is high-speed connectivity the beginning of the end for this Pacific paradise? I think not. Because this 38-strong community collapsed long before Musk was

Why I couldn’t wait to buy a Twitter blue tick

I’ve just given Elon Musk $8 a month to get a blue tick by my name on Twitter. The fact I haven’t been able to secure one of these ticks on merit like so many other nonentities has been a source of near-constant irritation for the past half decade, particularly given how much time I spend on the site. My assumption had been that a Spectator-reading Twitter employee would eventually accept my brilliance – perhaps after reading something rude I’d written about Meghan Markle – and press the required button to make it happen. But when I finally accepted this wasn’t likely, about two years ago, I decided to take

What Elon Musk doesn’t get about peace

The power one person can hold should never be underestimated. They can take people’s lives, as Vladimir Putin does, or save them as Elon Musk did in Ukraine. Two days after Putin’s invasion, Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, tagged Musk on Twitter and asked him to help Kyiv with Starlink. The communication centres were one of the first targets for Russian missiles. ‘While you try to colonise Mars, Russia tries to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space, Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!’ tweeted Fedorov. The answer was immediate. Musk tweeted: ‘Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.’ It was stunning

How humans may populate the universe in the billions of years ahead

I’m old enough to have viewed the grainy TV images of the first Moon landings by Apollo 11 in 1969. I can never look at the Moon without recalling Neil Armstrong’s ‘One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind’. It seems even more heroic in retrospect, considering how they depended on primitive computing and untested equipment. Once the race to the Moon was won, there was no motivation for continuing with the space race and the gargantuan costs involved. No human since 1972 has travelled more than a few hundred miles from the Earth. Hundreds have ventured into space, but they have done no more than circle

Why are progressives scared of Elon Musk?

Billionaire edgelord Elon Musk has just given progressives another reason to dread his ongoing attempt to buy Twitter. The founder of Tesla and SpaceX has confirmed that, should he succeed in acquiring the social media site, he would rescind the ban on Donald Trump’s account. Musk told the FT’s Future of the Car conference he would ‘reverse the permaban’ because it was ‘a morally bad decision and foolish in the extreme’. Twitter had managed to ‘amplify (Trump’s voice) among the right’, which was ‘morally wrong and flat-out stupid’. The culprit, Musk said, was the company’s ‘strong left bias’, adding: ‘Twitter needs to be much more even-handed.’ It’s important to remember

The fight is on to censor Elon Musk’s Twitter

If Elon Musk truly intends to make Twitter a free-speech platform, he’s clearly got a fight on his hands. That was made abundantly clear by the collective meltdown among media and political elites that greeted the billionaire’s shock takeover of the platform last month. The vested interests in keeping Twitter a sanitised, censorious place are apparently considerable. And not only will Musk have the great and good, his own employees, our own Nadine Dorries and Joe Biden’s new ‘disinformation tsar’ to contend with, but potentially Twitter’s advertisers, too. CNN reports that giant American brands, including Coca-Cola and Disney, are coming under pressure to boycott Twitter if Elon Musk makes good

Disney vs DeSantis

Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, was paid $32.5 million last year. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone on that sort of money. Poor Bob, though. He’s caught in the middle of a vicious fight between Florida’s conservative governor Ron DeSantis and Disney’s LGBTQ+ activists and he’s being pummelled from both sides. It’s nasty. Children probably shouldn’t watch. The story begins with DeSantis’s Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which passed in March and banned Floridian schoolteachers from discussing sexuality and mutable gender-identities with very young children. America’s progressives despise DeSantis and, it seems, the notion that parents should have more control over what their sprogs are told about sex. They

Fraser Nelson

Can Elon Musk take on the tech censors?

After three centuries of failing to assert power over the printed press, the House of Commons is finding the digital world easier to conquer. The Online Safety Bill now going through parliament will give ministers the power to decide what can and can’t be said online by banning what they regard as ‘harmful’. The word is not very well defined – which, of course, gives sweeping powers to the government regulators who will define it. It will be one of the most ambitious censorship laws that the world has ever seen. Enter Elon Musk. His $44 billion takeover of Twitter is intended, he says, not to make money but to

Why Brussels fears Elon Musk

Thierry Breton, the European Commission for the internal market, lost no time in rattling his sabre at Twitter as soon as it was announced that the company had accepted Elon Musk’s offer to buy it. Even though Musk had made no announcement on how he intends to run the company, beyond stating his belief in free speech, Breton felt it necessary to warn Twitter that if it ‘does not comply with our law, there are sanctions – 6 per cent of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe.’ There is a reason, of course, for the failure of Europe to produce a tech giant Is Breton’s

The perverse joys of Elon Musk buying Twitter

The predictable yet somehow still hilarious news that Elon Musk is to acquire Twitter for $44 billion has been greeted with the usual chorus of anguished hand-wringing. The left seems appalled that such an unconventional and apparently ungovernable figure now has control of the most volatile social media platform in the world. (It’s hard to imagine that Musk purchasing, say, Instagram would have led to anything like this level of excitement and upset.) Yet even as one acknowledges that Twitter in its current state is hardly run by a commune of basket-weaving, soya-milking Brooklyn hippies, the flamboyant Mr Musk remains one of the oddest men to have emerged in public

Why Elon Musk should forget Twitter and stick to Tesla

I spent Easter agonising over whether to throw the considerable weight of this column behind Elon Musk’s maverick $43 billion bid for Twitter. One thing I didn’t do, however, was consult the multitude of opinions on the matter available via Twitter itself, because I’m afraid I regard it as a satanic cacophony of misinformation and vanity. If that puts me in the position of the late-15th-century scholar who said ‘Printing presses? Pah! The only news I trust is handwritten by monks’, so be it. But when I read Musk’s claim that ‘civilisational risk’ would be decreased by his sole ownership of the ubiquitous microblogging site, I laughed out loud. Not

Free speech shouldn’t depend on billionaires

If you take any interest in social media, Silicon Valley, or the culture wars — which all seem to be the same thing these days — you will be aware that the world is currently ending. At least, that is the impression given by those reacting to an attempt by Elon Musk to buy Twitter. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former labour secretary, inveighs against Musk’s ‘libertarian vision’ for the internet as ‘dangerous rubbish’ and intones that it would be ‘the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth’. (He also seems pretty peeved that Musk blocked him.) Professor Jeff Jarvis, TV Guide reviewer turned Supreme Arbiter