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New Technology

Elon Musk: entrepreneur, innovator, and influencer


In recent years, Elon Musk has become a household name. One of the wealthiest people in the world, he is best known as the CEO of Tesla, a clean energy company and electric vehicle manufacturer. In addition, Musk is famously the founder, CEO, and chief designer of SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer at the forefront of private sector investment in the space industry.

Tesla: an ambitious attempt at a green transportation revolution

The South African-born engineer, industrial designer, and entrepreneur is known for his dedication to technological innovation through his various ventures over the past couple of decades. With Tesla, Elon Musk has long been at the forefront of innovation in the electric vehicle sector, persevering with projects that others may have abandoned, all towards a goal to achieve a green transportation revolution.

To this effect, one of his primary ambitions with Tesla is to develop increasingly affordable electric vehicles, without drastically compromising on performance. His innovation in the field of battery packs has already helped drive down costs, which he holds to be key to the success of electric vehicles. Another of his innovative projects is the attempted development of hyperloop transit, which has involved the construction of a 1-mile-long subscale test track at SpaceX’s headquarters in California.

Nonetheless, his interest in market solutions to environmental issues is not limited to the field of transportation. Musk is pushing to make fossil fuels redundant not through advocating regulation, but by making green alternatives more attractive. Having invested significantly in the development of solar power, he also believes that an important aspect of human sustainability involves spreading out across other planets.

SpaceX and private sector investment in space exploration

More recently, Elon Musk is increasingly seen as the face of private sector investment in the space industry. Since he founded SpaceX in 2002, the company has passed a number of important milestones in a bid to eventually facilitate the human colonization of Mars.

Of course this itself begs the question, ‘what will private property look like on Mars?’ To take a deeper dive into one view that is influenced by the thinking of John Locke and and Robert Nozick, you can watch our Learn Liberty video here:

After numerous test flights, in May 2020, NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken travelled to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-2. This occasion was widely regarded as marking the beginning of a new era for space exploration, led by private companies instead of governments. It was also the first time in almost a decade that two astronauts began a manned mission launched on U.S. soil.

Furthermore, in what was a momentous year for the private aerospace sector, Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet began a public beta service in parts of the United States. The main goal of this project is to eventually offer broadband services to hitherto underserved regions of the world, greatly increasing opportunities for millions of people.

Elon Musk’s influence as a crypto evangelist

The economic turmoil brought about by COVID-19 lockdowns and growing uncertainty around the future of fiat currency has seen Elon Musk assert his position as a firm believer in the future potential of cryptocurrencies.

When Musk revealed that Tesla had bought around $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin in January 2021, he cited the negative real interest of fiat currency as a reason to view cryptocurrency as a preferable form of liquidity. His purchase of bitcoin resulted in the cryptocurrency being increasingly viewed as a mainstream financial asset by investors.

As such, in large part fuelled by Elon Musk’s investment, the price of bitcoin rose to a record high of $58,367 on February 21, before falling back as many investors sought to secure their profits. Even though he incurred significant losses at this point, Musk has remained a resolute advocate for cryptocurrencies, pushing back against critics such as Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank.

Nonetheless, what is certain is that Elon Musk’s endorsement of cryptocurrencies has caused more investors, as well as critics, to take notice. The transformative technology serves as a stateless currency and offers opportunities for individuals to protect themselves from state interference, so it should come as no surprise that cryptocurrencies make central banks uncomfortable.

Assessing Elon Musk’s contributions

Elon Musk continues to contribute to the development of a freer world with greater opportunities. While acknowledging the criticism levelled at Musk by some libertarians over the government subsidies some of his business ventures have received, it is important to bear in mind the disadvantage at which he would otherwise be placed.

Indeed, he has been at the forefront of private sector innovation in many fields usually dominated by governments and their close affiliates, and his initiatives have contributed immensely towards finding solutions to environmental problems and even the long-term sustainability of our species.

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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.

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