Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Editor’s note:

On November 10, 2021, Professor Zhu Jiaming, Chairman of the Academic and Technical Committee of the Hengqin Digital Finance Research Institute, co-hosted the “Fireside Dialogue No. 1: From History” with Wei Cao Zhiku at the Hengqin Digital Finance Research Institute. A keynote speech entitled “Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature” was delivered at the event ” See Musk and Musk Doctrine in the Depth ” and proposed:

“Science fiction art based on science fiction and science fiction movies as the main body derives a sci-fi cultural atmosphere, a sci-fi humanistic environment, and an environment more important than the geographical environment, which constitutes a profound influence and change in the development of the science and technology industry. And rich ideological resources have inspired generations of people’s imagination and inspiration to pursue continuous innovation, as well as the tenacious belief that technology and engineering can solve political, social and economic problems.”

The following is the full text of the speech:

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Gil Lepore article

Published in the New York Times on November 4


Today is November 10th, and the topic I am talking about is: Textual Analysis of Musk’s Phenomenon, based on an article by Jill Lepore in the New York Times on November 4th, which is not strictly speaking The academic paper is more like an essay: ” Elon Musk Is Building a Sci-Fi World, and the Rest of Us Are Trapped in It”. The literal translation in English is “Musk is building a science fiction world, and we will inevitably fall into this trap.” However, the title of the circulated Chinese text is “Muskism: Extraterrestrial Capitalism of Technological Billionaires.” We can see that there is still a big difference between English and Chinese topics. The English title emphasizes that so-called people are falling into the “science fiction world” constructed by Muskism; the Chinese title emphasizes two concepts, one is “Technology Billionaire”, and the other is “Alien Capital”. Ism”. This shows the focus and refining tendency of the Chinese translator who first introduced this article.

The title is important, and more important is the full text. As mentioned earlier, this essay by Gil Lepore cannot be called a profound essay. However, the author has opened a new perspective, allowing us to observe one of the most important phenomena in the world today. , That is, the Musk phenomenon.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Professor Gil Lepore (1966 -)

American historian


First, introduce Professor Gil Lepore. She was born in 1966, a female, a professor in the Department of American History at Harvard University, and a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. He is also the chairman of the History and Literature Project and the 41st David Woods Kemper Honorary Professor. Contributor to “The New Yorker” (The New Yorker). Professor Gil Lepore has made a series of academic achievements, including the title of “Harvard College Professor”, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in undergraduate teaching. Her book “The Name of War” won the Bancroft Prize; “New York Burning” was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in History.

In 2014, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (the oldest academician institution in the United States) and the American Philosophical Society (the oldest academic organization in the United States). Her research has been sponsored by nearly a dozen foundations, including the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Humanities Foundation. The reason why Jill Lepore is introduced is that Jill Lepore’s interpretation of Musk is restricted by her own uniqueness, including her educational background, long-term academic position, and a cognitive direction of capitalism.

Gil Lepore is a woman born in the 1960s, a philosopher and writer. In this article, he put forward an almost extreme but very clear conclusion, or a “formula”: Muskism = New Capitalism = Alien Capitalism = Luxury Capitalism. This is the core of her article. And this extraterrestrial capitalism is connected with four elements, which are Mars, the moon, the Milky Way, and the meta universe.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Muskism=New Capitalism=Alien Capitalism=Luxury Capitalism
Source: Produced by the author

Furthermore, what is the driving force of this planetary capitalism? Gil Lepore’s point of view is that it is not the earnings-driven stock price that people usually think, but science fiction, which promotes modern technology capitalism. The original words in the article are: “Extreme, extraterrestrial capitalism. Under this system, stock prices are not so much driven by earnings as they are driven by the fantasy of science fiction . ” In other words, it is science fiction and other artistic sci-fi works that constitute Musk’s ideological resources as Musk is today. The idea of ​​science fiction is the foundation of Muskism. This view of Gil Lepore may be extreme, but it is an important and even significant perspective: Musk represents extraterrestrial capitalism.

Therefore, my speech mainly revolves around such a theme: What are the characteristics of Musk and the representatives of science giants? Through the clues provided by Lepore, what are the representatives of contemporary scientific giants like? Why combined with science fiction? Who is the science fiction writer who influenced them the most? Is there another representative work? From this, we can also find Gil Lepore’s emphasis and preference for female science fiction writers.

If you use the generational classification of the representatives of the technology giants, there is a very clear intergenerational relationship, which can be classified into three generations: one is the post-war generation, from 1950 to 1960. Bill Gates and Jobs were born in 1955; Bezos, Peter Thiel, and Huang Renxun were all born after 1960; Musk was the representative after 1970, a link between the past and the next. Then came the Internet generation after 1980. The most important representatives are Zuckerberg in 1984, Vitalik in 1994, the inventor of Ether Interview. Therefore, from the perspective of generations, the representatives of the technology giants have spanned 40 years, forming the representatives of the three generations of technology giants.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Representatives of the rich in technology:

The first row (from left to right): Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Teal, Huang Renxun

Second row (from left to right): Musk, Zuckerberg, Butlin (” V God “)

Source: Produced by the author

The 40-year span of history constitutes the historical environment in which they grew up: the tragedies of the times include the anti-Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the hippie movement, the IT revolution, and the influence of technological supremacy.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

(From left to right) Civil Rights Movement, Anti-Vietnam War, Hippie Movement, Technocraticism, IT Revolution

Source: Produced by the author; Michael Ochs Archives, Associated Press, Evening Standard , András Gyõrfi and’Nine to Five’ (1980) stills

Looking at their educational background, apart from Vitalik’s University of Waterloo, they are almost all from the Ivy League universities in the United States, such as Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University and so on. And their family backgrounds are basically similar, almost all of them belong to the typical middle class.

The above characteristics: distinct generations, era backgrounds, educational backgrounds and family backgrounds undoubtedly affect their life and career trajectory. However, Lepore did not pay attention to these backgrounds, let alone explored these factors, but proposed that all the representatives of these technology giants are strongly influenced by science fiction. And not only that, science fiction has influenced the development of all technology giants, and it has become an intellectual resource that drives capital today. To this end, Gil Leporello listed the names and works of several science fiction decimals.

To this end, it is necessary to have a holistic understanding of science fiction and sci-fi literature through a simple review, and see if there are certain regularities.

In the opinion of experts in the history of science fiction, the originator of science fiction is Mrs. Shelley (1797-1851). The masterpiece is Mrs. Shelley’s creation of “Frankenstein” in 1818, which translates to “Frankenstein” in Chinese. In the next 200 years, this novel has turned into countless movies and countless dramas, which have continued to influence today.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Mrs. Shelley and “Frankenstein”
Source: Christie’s

Regarding the background of Mrs. Shelley’s growth, here are a few points:

First, Mrs. Shelley’s father was a fanatic who supported the French Revolution and an anarchist; her mother was a representative figure of feminism in that era; Shelley she married was a utopian socialist and a technological experimenter. And there is a strong technological supremacy. Therefore, Mrs. Shelley contains anarchism, feminism, utopian socialism and scientific supremacy. All elements are concentrated in this work of Mrs. Shelley, which constitutes the genes of science fiction and has influenced the evolution and development of science fiction, art, and science fiction in the past 200 years. Mrs. Shelley’s science fiction novel contains two levels: one is the humanistic spirit, and the other is the scientific and technological foundation. 2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Frankenstein”, and commemorations have been made all over the world. I wrote a very long article for this, commemorating major historical events I think, and trying to fully explore the significance of this novel. (Zhu Jiaming: What is the historical and practical significance of “Frankenstein”?)

In the 20th century, Mrs. Xuelai’s genes in science fiction novels represented the “three sci-fi giants”, namely Robert Heinlein (1907-1988), Arthur Clark (1917-2008), Isaac A Simov (1920-1992). Heinlein, Clark, and Asimov reached their peaks in the 1950s, 1960s, and even 1970s. Obviously, the works, ideas, and connotations of the science fiction novels of these three people have profoundly influenced and influenced the postwar generation of these technology giants, until the post-60s generation, and their thinking grew.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

The Big Three of Science Fiction (from left to right): Heinlein, Clark, Asimov
Source: Nitrozac

Among them, in Gil Lepore’s article, she mentioned the influence of Heinlein and Asimov on the thinking of all technology giants. Heinlein is the most influential American hard science fiction writer, known as “Mr. SF”, and his representative work is “Galaxy Fighting Team”. Asimov is one of the representatives of the golden age of American science fiction, and his three series, “Base Series”, “Galactic Empire Trilogy” and “Robot Series” are known as the “Science Fiction Bible”. Asimov put forward the “Three Laws of Robots” in “I, Robot” in 1950, and first raised the ethical issues of artificial intelligence. [1] At that time Asimov was only 30 years old. Later, Asimov added one, which became the Four Laws of Robotics, which is still the basic ideological framework for the moral relationship between humans and artificial intelligence robots.

In Jill Lepore’s article, she also mentioned Ian Banks (1954-2013) and Douglas Noyer Adams (1952-2001).

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Source: Produced by the author

Banks became famous in 1984 with the novel “Bee Catcher”. Banks published his first science fiction novel “Considering Phillips” in 1987, and then started a series of creations based on the “civilized” universe. In “Civilization”, Banks portrays an anarchist utopian society, where people no longer fear poverty, disease, and death. In an interview with a BBC reporter for the last time before his death, he said: “Immersed in science fiction, you can get great freedom. You can go anywhere and do anything.” The Guardian regarded its work as “a science fiction judgement “The benchmark of “Time” weekly magazine even called Banks “the most imaginative novelist among British writers of the same age”. Gil Lepore hopes that readers will pay more attention to Banksy himself as an “open socialist”, who is good at describing “utopian anarchists.”

Adams is a British radio playwright and musician, famous for the series “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. This work implies a satire and accusation of economic inequality, especially a criticism of planetary colonialism. In 1978, it was first disseminated through the BBC radio drama, and then the novel was published. The original series consists of five “trilogy”, which has become a series of works in the history of science fiction that is still very popular. It was later adapted into a TV series, and it was made into a movie after Adams died.

Lepore also mentioned H.G. Wells (HG Wells, 1866-1946), an important science fiction novelist who spanned the centuries. In 1879, Wells’ novel “The Invisible Man” was published, suggesting that scientific and technological inventions, if improperly applied, would cause harm to society. In 1898, Wells’ novel “Interstellar War” was published. It described the horrible scene of the Martian invasion of the earth, and compared it with the British war of extermination against the Tasmanians, and pointed out that we are not benevolent apostles, so we are not qualified to complain. Martians with the same view of war. Wells did not justify the name of the Martians, but sued the United Kingdom, pointing out that advanced science and technology are dangerous if they are in the hands of inhumane people.

In 1901, Wells’ novel “The First People on the Moon” was published. It used the plot of the moon residents to develop physical deformities due to different types of labor, alluding to the degeneration of mankind caused by the unreasonable division of labor in society. In 1914, Wells’ novel “A Free World” was published, describing the threats that world wars and atomic weapons would pose to mankind. The history that followed proved the real existence of such threats. Wells’ early science fiction masterpieces were a critique of imperialism.

The representative figures of science fiction literature mentioned by Gil Lepore are more than that. She also made a unique observation that these tech giants did not pay enough attention to at least the following four contemporary writers of certain science fiction. The first was Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood (Margaret Atwood, 1939-). In 1985, she published the fantasy novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” and made her famous. She was nominated for the Prometheus Award and the Nebula Award. , And the Booker Prize, the highest honor in the British literary world, became one of the most classic fantasy novels of the 20th century. The second place is American science fiction novelist Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), who was selected into the “Science Fiction Hall of Fame” in 2010. Asteroid 7052 is named after Octavia Estelle Butler, and his masterpiece is ” “Voice”, “Blood Child”, “Evening, Early Morning, Dark Night”, “Lilith’s Child Trilogy”, “Earth Seeds Two Steps”, “Wings to Be Abundant” and other works. The third is the Indian science fiction writer Vandana Singh who lives in the United States as the chair of the Department of Physics and Earth Sciences. His representative work is “Fuzzy Machines and Other Stories.” The fourth place is Ted Chiang (1967- ), whose masterpieces are “Babylon Tower” and “Anxiety is the Vertigo of Freedom”. The above-mentioned four sci-fi writers, except Atwood, are all ethnic minorities and three women. Reflects Gil Lepore’s specific social stance and what she believes is the lack of representatives of interstellar capitalism.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

(From left to right) Etewude, Butler, Singh and Ted Chiang
Source: Author Production

In this not-so-long text, Gil Lepore gave these representatives of science fiction literature from the 19th century to the 21st century. Through their humanistic thoughts, political tendencies and cognition of science and technology, science and technology are reflected The thought and spirit represented by the giants. Not only that, Jill Lepore also discussed the “misreading” of some science fiction representatives by the representatives of the technology giants, and the failure of some science fiction people to enter their field of vision, thus proving the lack of thought and spirit of the representatives of the technology giants. In any case, Jill Lepore created the depths of thought of studying the tech giants represented by Musk through science fiction literature.

What needs to be added is that in the past half a century, in the art form of science fiction, besides novels, science fiction movies have played an important role. If starting from the 1960s, the most famous science fiction movies are at least: “A Space Odyssey” in 1968, “Star Wars” in 1977, “Blade Runner” in 1982, “The Matrix” in 1999, and “The Matrix” in 2008. “Iron Man”, “Avatar” in 2009, and “Arrival” in 2016. These science fiction movies have influenced three generations, including Bill Gates, Bezos, Musk and Zuckerberg mentioned at the beginning of Jill Lepore’s article.

What needs to be pointed out is that there is a kind of agreement between the deep thoughts of science fiction and the representatives of technology giants. This agreement is the ultimate human thinking based on religious beliefs, including the end of mankind, the extinction of mankind, climate disasters, and the destruction of the earth. concern. It has to be said that exploring the ultimate meaning of mankind constitutes the eternal subject of science fiction and other art forms, which will inevitably affect the worldview and psychological structure of every generation of readers.

Science fiction art, from novels to TV movies, has created many future worlds, the symbols and symbols of the starry sky world, the moon, Mars, and the Milky Way in the universe, rockets, space ships, and aliens as tools, through the brain interface Transformed human beings, as well as various idols in the science fiction world.

In the past six months or so, the most influential concept is the “meta universe”. Not long ago, Facebook changed its name to “Meta” . The concept of “meta universe” also comes from a science fiction novel published in 1992, the title is “Avalanche”, the author is American cyberpunk stream science fiction writer Neil Stephenson born in 1959.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

 “Avalanche” [America] Neil Stephenson
Source: Internet

The story of “Avalanche” is: With the hypothetical 21st century America as the background, the federal government is completely disintegrated and the country is controlled by large companies. At the same time as the disintegrating American real world, there is also a virtual world. A virus called “avalanche” has a double destructive effect. In the real world, “avalanche” is a virus with biological properties that can destroy the blood circulation system of carbon-based humans. In the virtual world, this virus is a computer virus, which can destroy and paralyze all computing systems, leading to the simultaneous destruction of the real world and the virtual world. In the end, the protagonist in the novel stepped forward to destroy the “avalanche” virus and maintain the conditions for the existence of the two worlds.

In nature, an avalanche is a human disaster like a tsunami. The virus named by the author “Avalanche” does have potential and real threats. The new crown virus that has been rampant for the past two years and the computer viruses created by hackers are proof. “Avalanche” is a prophecy about the dangers of human survival in the post-information society. After the publication of the book, it had an atomic bomb impact on the IT industry in Silicon Valley. At that time, 21-year-old Musk was likely to be one of them. However, what Musk is pursuing is the physical form of interstellar space, and Zuckerberg finally chose the “meta universe” of virtual reality.

To make a summary: the golden age of science fiction, science fiction television, and movies that began after World War II has a direct historical overlap with the real IT revolution, Internet revolution, and space development, and there is a strong correlation and deep interaction. The science fiction art based on science fiction and science fiction movies as the main body, derives a kind of science fiction cultural atmosphere, a kind of science fiction humanistic environment, and a kind of environment more important than the geographical environment, which constitutes a profound and change the development of the science and technology industry. Abundant ideological resources have inspired generations of people’s imagination and inspiration to pursue continuous innovation, as well as the tenacious belief that “technology and engineering can solve political, social and economic problems”. For generations of contemporaries under China’s unique political culture, it is not easy to understand the sci-fi cultural and historical environment owned by the developed countries of the United States and Europe, just as it is not easy for agricultural civilization to understand marine civilization.

Musk Phenomenon and Science Fiction Literature

Los Angeles skyline


Gil Lepore put forward: Muskism originated in Silicon Valley in the 1990s. This is a fact. Silicon Valley is another university of Musk and his generation. In 1995, at the age of 24, Musk began to enter Silicon Valley and founded a company that developed online content publishing software for news organizations, followed by After that, Musk moved his headquarters to Los Angeles. Why is it Los Angeles? Because Los Angeles can break through the traditional Silicon Valley model, it has a more complete industrial ecology and a more diverse cultural environment. Musk represents another post-Silicon Valley era.

Based on the text of the new capitalism represented by Musk proposed by Gil Lepore, I try to give you a deeper and broader vision of Musk’s phenomenon.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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