Celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson considers Elon Musk the most influential tech innovator of our time.
This puts the SpaceX and Tesla CEO ahead of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in Tyson’s eyes.
In an interview with CNBC’s entrepreneurship and finances centred subsite Make It, Tyson was asked which of this generation’s tech innovators would influence society the most. For the science communicator, the answer was quite obvious.
“Elon Musk. As important as Steve Jobs was, no doubt about it — you have to add him to Bill Gates, because they birthed the personal computing revolution kind of together — here’s the difference: Elon Musk is trying to invent a future, not by providing the next app,” he said.
“No, he is thinking about society, culture, how we interact, what forces need to be in play to take civilisation into the next century.”
Tyson praised Musk for focusing his money and smarts in industries like transportation and space exploration that deeply influence society and rethink the way we interact.
“That’s where Elon Musk is. Those are the kind of people who transform not only society and the apps that are on your computer, he will transform civilisation as we know it.
“Just think about it. Because there’s unlimited resources in space; resources that, on Earth, we fight wars over.
“In space, you don’t need to fight a war, just go to another asteroid and get your resources. A whole category of war has the potential of evaporating entirely with the exploitation of space resources, which includes the unlimited access to energy as well.”
After a series of strange scandals involving Musk including a public fray with British diver Vernon Unsworth, a surreal clash between himself, Grimes and Azealia Banks, and the bizarre footage of him smoking marijuana on a podcast, NASA was prompted to conduct a “safety review” of SpaceX to ensure the company is meeting the agency’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a work environment free of psychoactive substances.
But this aspect of Musk’s life doesn’t seem to affect Tyson’s assessment.
“Go Elon Musk. And I don’t care if he gets high.”