First Click: Elon Musk, rockstar savior

May 1st, 2015

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The US has known its fair share of inventors who’ve helped reimagine the modern world. Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Edwin Land, Henry Ford, and Nikola Tesla are some of the biggies. Steve Jobs’ name appears on 460 Apple patents in the US Patent and Trademark database while Steve Wozniak lays claim to just 4, the same number attributed to Elon Musk of Tesla Motors.

With Jobs gone and Woz being Woz, it’s Musk who’s donned the crown of US technology laureate. He’s the one we now look to for a glimpse of the world our children will inhabit. Musk oozes PopSci futurism on stage, surrounded by fans more fanatical than any attending an Apple keynote. Like Jobs, Musk can put entire industries on notice with the mere mention of interest in some nascent technology. Unlike Jobs, Musk is accessible — engaging with his 2 million Twitter followers from behind a profile picture of him stroking a stuffed white cat with a raised pinky to his mouth.

Where Jobs was famous for making transformative products, Musk is hell-bent on the execution of transformative ideas. Through Tesla Energy, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and his new Gigafactory, he’s systematically addressing two-thirds of the fossil fuel consumption in the US. “Our goal here is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy,” Musk said today while unveiling turn-key battery solutions for utilities, commercial, and residential use. Yes, Tesla Energy could solve an environmental issue. But it also addresses a national security issue for the US and other countries whose soldiers stand ready to protect fuel interests in foreign lands. And the economics are very close to making sense, especially by the time Musk’s Gigafactory starts spitting out batteries in 2017.

Self-driving supercars? You had me at super.
Robotic “snake” charger? Quit it.
HyperLoop? Shut up!
Vertically landing rockets? Get over here!
Saving the world? Pucker up rocket boy!

It’s a wonderful age we live in when a technologist can simultaneously be a rock star and savior of mankind.

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