It’s Elon Musk’s World – We’re Just Living in It | PRO Insight

Elon Musk is the world’s richest man. He’s also perhaps its most polarizing. Love him or hate him, we’re all beholden to Musk. And I’m not just talking about the service formerly known as Twitter’s strategic importance to the worlds of media and entertainment, not to mention global leaders.

I’m talking about the most sensitive aspects of life on the planet, period. Musk, in many ways, rules our lives, yet few of us — apparently including our own government — fully appreciate that. Nor do we grasp the risks that come with so much control in the hands of one person, especially as those hands seem shakier and more erratic each day.

We all know the risks that flow from our long-time obsession with what’s now called X. As I’ve  noted before, Musk champions himself as the Great Libertarian and defender of the First Amendment. Yet, at the same time, he arbitrarily throttles access to websites he dislikes and suspends the accounts of journalists who challenge him. Musk is all for free speech, so long as that speech does not compete with his empire or bite his thin skin.

An activist wears an Elon Musk mask at a protest in Berlin in April 2023.
An activist wears an Elon Musk mask at a protest in Berlin in April 2023 (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

But Musk’s control over speech with which he disagrees can go much deeper than that, with profound implications for everyone on the planet. Many forget that Musk also controls the skies above us. Over the past several years, Musk quietly has launched and deployed nearly 5,000 communications satellites that envelop the upper atmosphere to facilitate seamless broadband in every nook and cranny on the planet, many of which previously had none available. And that Starlink system has played a crucial role in Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s brutal attacks. Without it, top Ukrainian military planners say they could not have achieved the type of success the underdog has had against a ruthless power with resources that dwarf their own. They’ve also complained that he’s cut off Ukraine’s access to Starlink within Russian-occupied Crimea, hobbling drone strikes.

What if Musk changes his mind tomorrow about providing service to Ukraine? Musk holds strong, if questionably formed, views about many things, including politics. He’s proposed a “peace” plan for Ukraine welcomed by Russia and denounced by its victim. And he has massive business interests all around the world, including in Russia and especially in China. So if Musk finds it strategically beneficial to point his satellites one way rather than another, his singular decision could have profound implications on our collective global security, including the potential deployment of nuclear weapons.

Musk’s Starlink satellite system is just part of his overall dominance of spaceflight. Starlink is made possible by Musk’s SpaceX rockets, which proved out the concept of reusable spacecraft that even NASA couldn’t deliver on, transforming the economics of spaceflight. Now NASA depends on him.

I haven’t even mentioned Tesla. Tesla, of course, single handedly brought electric cars into the mainstream, transforming the entire global auto industry in the process. But it goes deeper than that. Central to Musk’s genius is his ability to get us all hooked (and dependent) on his technology, and that happens here too. Musk’s Tesla charging stations have become the industry standard for other manufacturers as well (including Ford and General Motors), meaning that Musk’s decisions about how and where to charge our cars could one day drive the entire national transportation system. And another Musk operation, the Boring Company, has plans to tunnel new underground pathways as part of that.

If you’re not stressed yet, there’s Musk’s renewed obsession with artificial intelligence. He helped launch OpenAI, then soured on it and has a new AI startup called xAI. Another company, Neuralink, wants to connect our brains to the Internet. Literally, via electrodes. The FDA recently caved to Musk and granted long-sought approvals to begin human trials, which could come in months.

Back to X for a moment: Musk wants to turn it into a super app which melds communications and commerce. Remember, he earned his initial fortune by co-creating PayPal and disrupting global payments in the process. Musk now seeks to integrate largely unregulated blockchain-enabled crypto into X. If his plan succeeds, his access to our personal data will only grow.

Musk’s fingerprints are all over many of the most essential aspects of our lives and our futures, and his reach will likely expand. No other captain of industry has ever come close, not even the great Steve Jobs. With that immense power comes great responsibility and tremendous judgment and humility, of course.

Sadly – and frighteningly – those are not Musk’s strong suits.

For those of you interested in learning more, visit Peter’s firm Creative Media at and follow him on Twitter/X @pcsathy

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