“Playing the moron, Elon Musk, it has always served him a lot”

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Since the takeover of Twitter, on October 27, for 44 billion dollars, Elon Musk has been chaining media escapades. Is the richest man in the world “overheated”? Has he lost sight of his goals? Interview with Olivier Lascar, author of the book “Investigation into Elon Musk, the man who defies science” (ed. Alisio).

Every week – even every day – its new sparkle. Sometimes he issues an ultimatum to Twitter employees, sometimes he declares war against Apple: since he bought the social network from the blue bird at the end of October, Elon Musk has multiplied controversial announcements. The impetuous billionaire blows hot and cold. It appears to be the spearhead of freedom of expression but panics users, advertisers and authorities, who are worried about possible abuses without demanding content moderation.

The visionary at the head of Tesla and SpaceX, who carries out his industrial projects brilliantly, is he getting lost with Twitter? Olivier Lascar, author of the book “Investigation into Elon Musk, the man who defies science” (ed. Alisio) and digital editor at Sciences et Avenir, answers our questions.

France 24: Where does Elon Musk go with the takeover of Twitter, in your opinion? ?

Olivier Lascar : When we look at Elon Musk’s activities, especially with Twitter today, we get the impression of a general bazaar. Yet, when you look at each of his businesses, each piece of the puzzle ultimately comes together well enough to build an overall vision that resembles the future according to Elon Musk.

With Twitter, he enjoys extraordinary leverage to advance his other companies. For example, in space, he still does not have authorization from the American administration to launch the Starship and this, no doubt, to give NASA time to send its own mega-rocket to the Moon. If Elon Musk has the sympathy of politicians, he could obtain laws favorable to him and allowing him to accelerate the realization of his undertakings.

For Elon Musk, Twitter can be a formidable tool for lobbying, but Twitter can also become something else. Elon Musk has already said that he wanted to create a total application on the model of Chinese WeChat, that is to say an application that would allow you to do everything in all circumstances in life. It’s a bit like the sum of Doctolib, Amazon, Uber… We can use it for absolutely everything. It raises questions about monopoly of information, monopoly of data, so it’s not going to be easy to create an application like that. By being the owner of Twitter, Elon Musk could accelerate the creation of this application which he has already called X.

Since the takeover of Twitter, Elon Musk has been chaining media escapades. Should we take it seriously ?

It’s very tempting to make Elon Musk some kind of media clown. He plays a lot, yet he is someone who has revolutionized the space and automotive industries. Without it, there would be no rockets that take off and land vertically – and thus can be reused. So Elon Musk is much more than the Zebulon that he shows on social networks and that he delights in displaying in the media. Playing the moron, Elon Musk, it has always served him a lot. His industrial adversaries, for a long time, didn’t take him seriously and it’s like the story of the hare and the tortoise: Elon Musk was able to advance much faster, much more efficiently because his adversaries didn’t have not taken seriously. Today, the lesson of all this is that it is absolutely necessary to take it seriously because what it announces, generally, it does, and therefore it has a real influence on our lives and on society. .

How is Elon Musk a visionary ?

Elon Musk’s method is to question dogma. He asks himself all the time: what is the first principle of physics or science that would prevent me from doing such and such a thing? For example, when he wants to send humans to Mars and he is told that it is not possible, he asks the question: “Is it really physically impossible? However, we are already sending robots on Mars. – Ah yes, it’s true, robots, we do it.” Starting from there, if a thing is not impossible, it is that it becomes possible. This is Elon Musk’s position. He has an insatiable scientific curiosity that leads him to always question the technological and industrial presuppositions that currently govern the space and automotive industries, and all the fields in which he is active.

Despite everything, isn’t he putting himself in danger by exposing himself to this point ?

Elon Musk is surrounded by the best engineers and this has allowed him to achieve feats in recent years. But for a few weeks, since the takeover of Twitter, we still have the impression that it is overheating. Day after day, he puts himself in danger. By never really taking sides with a political camp, he was able to do business with everyone, for example becoming a NASA contractor and sending astronauts to the International Space Station. Now he’s sided with the Republicans and that puts him in danger, because a Democratic government won’t want to give him contracts anymore. So yes, Elon Musk is out of ambiguity and today it feels like he is putting himself in danger. And, as the saying goes from ancient Rome, the Tarpeian rock is close to the Capitol, so after the staggering successes he has known, he could break his face.