Beware of people who want to save humanity, especially when they are powerful. Elon Musk has no shortage of futuristic ideas to transform our lives. And its power is colossal. At the head of a fortune estimated last year at 200 billion dollars, which earned him to be considered in 2021 as the richest man in the world, this techno-prophet has not only revolutionized the market automobile by developing, with Tesla, electric cars which have so far essentially enabled the wealthiest to buy driving in the face of global warming. He has also invested a lot, in particular thanks to NASA dollars, in the conquest of space with Space X – objective Moon, then Mars, since Musk likes to quote the Russian Constantin Tsiolkovsky: “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but humanity cannot remain in its cradle forever. » The plan, before the climate becomes too harsh on the blue planet, is to migrate a sizeable sample of humans to the red planet. Why make it simple? In the meantime, since in this scenario the Earth is doomed, another Musk company, Starlink, invades its low orbit with a constellation of satellites that feed the internet countless amounts of data.
From SpaceX to Twitter, what is Elon Musk’s real project?
Elon Musk’s cosmic dreams are no longer fun. Until now, this whimsical character was presented as a genius entrepreneur, who fascinated both fans of success stories and science fiction fans. Today, his superpowers worry. Not only does he set out to shape the global public conversation by buying the social network Twitter at the end of October, but he intends to weigh in on an already terribly chaotic geopolitics, as when he proposes peace plans for Ukraine or the creation of a “special administrative zone” around Taiwan. Here is a man who does not need to be elected to play the head of state. The interest that Emmanuel Macron took in him, during his recent trip to Louisiana, says a lot about his status.
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But who are these people who only authorize themselves and have, in the middle of the 21e century, a greater weight than some countries? Musk is all the more worrying that he is not alone in his kind. This is what our front page examines this week, dissecting from his case the solutionist, transhumanist and voracious ideology that guides the lords of tech. The boss of Starlink and Twitter could well be only the most picturesque representative of a “techno-feudalism” which, thanks to the massive collection of our data and the development of ever more intrusive algorithms, is spreading at high speed its grip on our lives, our economies and our political structures. “Instead of aiming for a profit on productsexplains here the economist Cédric Durand, they seek, like the lords of the past, to control social activity in order to collect income. »
“Musk is part of a techno-feudal logic”
How to regulate these appetites? Under cover of a sympathetic libertarian philosophy, the “techno-lords” do threaten our freedoms at different levels. The apology of “free speech”, claimed by the new boss of Twitter when he reactivated the accounts of Donald Trump or certain conspirators, always ends up being more favorable to far-right theses than anything else; and it is on the so-called social networks that the putsch attempt which has just taken place in Brasilia was organized. However, in the face of transnational digital powers, our democracies seem weak for the moment, with their borders and their cautious delays. In 2018, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren had proposed, in the United States, a partial dismantling of Gafam (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft). In vain. Even if, in Europe, the Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton has just passed a Digital Services Act, legislation supposed to make the largest platforms responsible for what they publish, the game is far from won. It is becoming urgent to regain control, if we want to preserve humanity from these formidable benefactors, and keep our feet on the ground.