May 10, 2019

Richard Dawkins on awarding Elon Musk with Stephen Hawking Medal



Elon Musk is probably the world's most imaginative, innovative and visionary engineer. Unlike some other entrepreneurs, he personally works at the drawing board and on the factory floor. He is deeply involved in the nuts-and-bolts engineering details of his various creations: the SpaceX rockets that dock with the space station, and their unprecedented feats of landing back on Earth for re-use; the wonderful Tesla electric cars; Solar City; the awe-inspiring Gigafactory; the futuristically creative idea of the Hyperloop; the humorously named Boring Company for boring tunnels.


He is also, of course, a highly successful entrepreneur, but his enterprises are not selfish but consistently aimed at the betterment of mankind’s future. Indeed, the world’s future. His commitment to electric transport and solar power is motivated by concern for our fate if we don't wean ourselves off fossil fuels. This altruism is tellingly demonstrated by his remarkable decision to make Tesla patents freely available to other car manufacturers. His long-term dream of establishing a colony on Mars stems from his desire that mankind should not go extinct if some terminal catastrophe such as a large asteroid impact, or a man-made, unstoppable virus, should devastate the home planet. His investment in advanced artificial intelligence research is driven by a concern for the danger to humanity if AI should get out of control, and his desire to keep it human-friendly. Science fiction writers like Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov make up imagined futures and write stories about them. Elon Musk is a living, walking science fiction hero, except that he isn’t fiction he’s fact, right here with us. And he doesn’t just imagine the future, he creates it.

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