Open Letter to Elon Musk

Dear Mr Musk,
Let me begin by telling you that October of 2011 left a void in my life, I lost a person whom I would look up to and be mesmerized with. It was the death of Steve Jobs that triggered a search for a new role model, and I discovered someone whom people would call ‘real’ Tony Stark. For an Iron Man fan-boy, real Tony Stark is something difficult to digest. Having said that, the more I read about you, I began to discover some truth in those claims.
PayPal was great, Tesla motors is amazing, Solar City even better, Hyper loop is a cool thing, SpacEx was fantastic until last Monday, and well OpenAI is something I wouldn’t like to talk about much. The most inspiring thing that you have done with each of your endeavours is committing personal assets to the cause, every single time. It is this dedication and belief that changes the world, which quite a few of your companies have been able to do.

Elon Musk: image credits OnInnovation
Elon Musk: image credits OnInnovation

Last Tuesday, you unveiled a plan (of sorts) to colonize Mars. It was a breath taking presentation, a moment that would be put on a timeline in the books of history marking significant events in the field of space exploration (a conservative term). The presentation ran numbers on screen all through, though space exploration require much more complicated mathematics and scientific calculations than there are words in the English dictionary. Numbers on screen appeared to be simplified for dummies like myself but, I could easily understand that simplification could be done only when compelling numbers have already been dealt with. There was a computer rendered video demonstrating various components of your ambitious project. You emphasized on the fact that those weren’t artist’s impression but close to reality rendered based on scientific design process. Trust me I would be better off had those been artistic impressions. I understand humanity is under threat, we always have been but, I never imagined that a day would come we would have to flee the planet. Mr Musk, I know problems on Earth exist and continue to swell, day in day out, can we not look for solutions without having to move out (move out is going to assume a new meaning altogether)? It is a question, a question for you to ponder upon and find a new muse maybe. Not so surprising yet again you committed your personal funds for the development of the project. I read a lot of coverage of the event by the American media houses; especially the tech media, most of them were sceptical about the numbers that you presented or the funding and to my utter surprise and disbelief ‘technical’ challenges facing your dream. For dummies like me, your presentations are closest cousin of what in our fan world is called the Reality Distortion Field. I am usually excited about things that you have behind the veil but, this time around I was terrified. Even scarier was the timeline of the project, where trials of the proposed technologies begin in a couple of years. If everything goes well you could be on Mars even before the world (or should I always specify planet Earth now on) phases out fossil fuel powered vehicles, or even before a ‘Hyper loop’ comes to India. It’s totally understandable that you might be fed up with the people on this planet but, taking your chosen ones on to a different planet just doesn’t sound right. I wish all this were a sci-fi book that you authored, with no numbers around and no history of success in ‘space exploration’. During the presentation, you mentioned that you didn’t have a dooms day prophecy yet, nevertheless you do believe in an eventual extinction of the human race from planet Earth. I do not know what to tell you, I guess you should get yourself a translated version of a popular Indian song called “Duniya mein hum aaye hain to jeena hi padega”, the opening line translates to “If we have come to the world (read Earth) we will have to live”.

We have always been made to believe that we have to choose ‘one path’ and excel, you are the icon when it comes to excelling across fields be it finance, automotive, transportation, sustainable energy generation and most important of all, entrepreneurship. Steve Jobs used to say, “All I want to do is create a ding in the universe”, I guess you have taken it far too literally and have made it your life’s motto. Let me tell you that our country is on a threat of war with our neighbours at the moment, we aren’t worried a tiny bit about it but, the thought of having to desert the planet is scary. I think you may have run out of muses to have taken upon such an unconventional dream. Mr Musk just to mention a few, you could work on electricity for all, or healthcare for all, or internet connectivity for the world (Earth). Be the cool kid on the block, and let the definition of block be limited to the beautiful blue planet of our solar system.

Regards,
A resident of planet Earth

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