Elon Musk: The Evening Rocket

By Pushkin Industries and BBC Radio 4

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Elon Musk's visions of the future all stem from the same place: the science-fiction he grew up on. To understand where Musk wants to take the rest of us - with his electric cars, his rockets to Mars, his meme stocks, and tunnels deep beneath the earth — Harvard professor and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore looks at those science fiction stories and helps us understand what Musk missed about them. The Evening Rocket explores Musk's strange new kind of extravagant, extreme capitalism — call it Muskism — where stock prices are driven by earnings, and also by fantasies. Follow along on Twitter @ElonMuskPodcast. From Pushkin Industries and BBC Radio 4. Pushkin Industries may use this feed in the future to debut new podcasts from our catalog. If you'd like to hear more from Jill Lepore, check out her podcast The Last Archive.

Episode Date
The Evening Rocket: Robin Hood
At the start of 2021, Elon Musk briefly became the richest man in the world. The global pandemic was a boom time for American billionaires, many of whom saw their wealth rise even as much of the world was locked down. As Musk, Bezos, Gates and others jockeyed for first place in the world’s richest-man contest, the rise of cryptocurrencies was generating headlines about the fictive quality of money. “All forms of currency are acts of imagination”, says Jill Lepore: they require communal belief in their value - what economists sometimes call the Tinkerbell Effect. Musk started tweeting about Dogecoin - a cryptocurrency started as a joke, based on a meme about a dog - even dubbing himself 'The Dogefather'. Although Musk’s tweets looked ironic, jokey, irreverent, they seemed to be having a very real and destabilizing effect on financial markets. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 29, 2021
The Evening Rocket: Baby X
The science fiction that Silicon Valley techno-billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel adore often concerns gleaming futures in which fantastically powerful and often immensely rich men colonize other planets. In this episode, Jill Lepore takes a look at the science fiction that’s usually left out of this vision. New Wave, feminist, post-colonial science fiction. Including the story of Baby X, a story from the 1970s about a child - like Musk’s youngest son - named X. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 22, 2021
The Evening Rocket: Iron Man
How Silicon Valley capitalism is as much about narrative as the bottom line. In 2008 when Tesla Motors launched their first car, the completely electric Roadster, Tesla was a great story. Something genuinely new. An engineering marvel. Elon Musk as CEO was an even better story. He had already disrupted banking and aerospace. Now the automobile industry. That same year, the superhero film Iron Man was released. Its creators turned to Musk to help shape this version of the character of Tony Stark, a billionaire arms dealer who believes everything is achievable through technology, and private enterprise. Musk was on the cover of countless magazines, under headlines like “Elon Musk AKA Tony Stark, Wants to Save the World.” He was becoming a celebrity, on a superhero scale. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 15, 2021
The Evening Rocket: Planet B
Why does Elon Musk believe he can save the world by colonizing Mars? When PayPal was bought for $1.5 billion, Elon Musk and other company founders made huge personal fortunes. Musk used his to start the rocket company, SpaceX. He also began talking about very big plans for the future of humanity. He wanted humans to become ‘a multi-planetary species’ and said he was accumulating resources to 'extend the light of consciousness to the stars’. Soon he was talking about humans moving permanently to Mars. Future-of-humanity questions used to belong to religion and philosophy. Under ‘Muskism’ they belong more to engineering and entrepreneurship. Jill Lepore traces the history of Silicon Valley's fascination with existential catastrophism. In the second of five programs, strap in to head to Mars. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 08, 2021
The Evening Rocket: Dimension X
Jill Lepore untangles the strange sci-fi roots of Silicon Valley's extreme capitalism - with its extravagant, existential and extra-terrestrial plans to save humanity. In this world, stock prices can be driven partly by fantasies found in blockbuster superhero movies, but that come from science fiction, some of it a century old. If anyone personifies this phenomenon, it's Elon Musk, the richest or second-richest person in the world on any given day. "The bare facts of Musk’s life, the way they’re usually told, make him sound like a fictional character, a comic-book superhero," says Lepore. He says he hopes to colonize Mars, create brain-hacking implants and avert an AI apocalypse. He even has a baby named X. In this first of five episodes Lepore looks at the early origins of ‘Muskism’, and explores how the science fiction stories that today’s techno-billionaires grew up on have shaped Silicon Valley’s vision of the future. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 01, 2021
Introducing Elon Musk: The Evening Rocket
Coming November 1 from Pushkin Industries and the BBC Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Oct 20, 2021