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Elon Musk pitches lofty goals in a magazine run by China’s internet censorship agency

Elon Musk pitches lofty goals in a magazine run by China’s internet censorship agency

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Musk touts Tesla, Neuralink, and SpaceX’s potential to ‘achieve a better future for humanity’

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A photo illustration of Elon Musk looking pensive.
Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

Elon Musk pitched sustainable energy, brain implants, and space exploration in an article published in a Chinese magazine run by the country’s internet watchdog and censorship agency, according to a translation from Yang Liu, a reporter for the Chinese state press agency, Xinhua. (via WSJ reporter Karen Hao).

Formed in 2013, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is in charge of creating and enforcing policies surrounding online content, user data, and digital security. The CAC later created a magazine that, according to China Media Project senior researcher, Stella Chen, typically includes regulatory announcements and research on internet policy. The magazine was initially called New Media before it was rebranded as China Cyberspace earlier this year.

“Whether it’s Tesla, Neuralink, or SpaceX, these companies were all founded with the ultimate goal of enhancing the future of human life”

The July issue of China Cyberspace features articles from Musk and Ant Group CEO Eric Jing Xiandong, the company that runs the Chinese payment service Alipay. Liu provides an English translation of Musk’s article in a post on his Substack newsletter, Beijing Channel. Musk says he was invited by the magazine to share his “thoughts on the vision of technology and humanity,” and then proceeds to describe and promote the technology used by the companies he owns — Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink — that he believes can “help achieve a better future for humanity:”

To that end, any area that contributes to a sustainable future is worthy of our investment. Whether it’s Tesla, Neuralink, or SpaceX, these companies were all founded with the ultimate goal of enhancing the future of human life and creating as much practical value for the world as possible — Tesla to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Neuralink for medical rehabilitation, SpaceX for making interstellar connections possible.

He also cites some of his loftier goals as examples of the kind of technology his companies could (eventually) create, such as a “self-sustaining city on Mars,” a way for humans to “integrate with artificial intelligence,” and “fixed battery banks.” Musk also mentions the yet-to-be-seen humanoid Tesla Bot, and suggests that people may potentially be able to buy a robot as a gift in “less than a decade.”

In a tweet, Liu calls the article a “smart move” on Musk’s behalf, as it allows him “to seize the opportunity to showcase the technological prowess of his companies to Chinese officials and the public.”

“I hope more people will join us in our fight to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” Musk states. “I also welcome more like-minded Chinese partners to join us in exploring clean energy, artificial intelligence, human-machine collaboration, and space exploration to create a future worth waiting for.”

Musk’s appearance in a publication run by the CAC conflicts with his outspoken advocacy for free speech, the very concept that inspired his decision to purchase Twitter (which he’s now trying to back out on over an argument about bots). Over the years, the CAC has implemented a number of policies designed to censor and restrict speech online. The CAC’s Cybersecurity Law, for example, requires social platforms to take down content that contains “prohibited information,” or else face punishment from the CAC.

Last year, the CAC pushed for the removal of the Chinese ride-hailing app Didi from app stores, and demanded that Apple remove a popular Quran app from its Chinese App Store. The CAC also launched a hotline for users to report “illegal” comments about the Chinese Communist Party, and recently proposed laws that would require social platforms to review every comment posted by users.

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