$TSLA: Who Is Nick Bostrom to Elon Musk?

Until tripping over this article, I had never heard of Nick Bostrom, the Swedish philosopher. This article explains Musk’s mind by going into Bostrom’s beliefs, stuff which has eugenics stirred into the mix. Strap in. This is some heady stuff, some of it disturbing:

How Elon Musk sees the future: His bizarre sci-fi vision should concern us all
Musk is sweet on “longtermism,” a vision of deep-future human happiness that’s even crazier than you think


But more to the point, Elon Musk’s futurological vision has also been crucially influenced, it seems, by an ideology called “longtermism,” as I argued last April in an article for Salon. Although “longtermism” can take many forms, the version that Elon Musk appears most enamored with comes from Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, who runs the grandiosely named “Future of Humanity Institute,” which describes itself on its website as having a “multidisciplinary research team [that] includes several of the world’s most brilliant and famous minds working in this area.”

For example, consider again Elon Musk’s recent tweets about under-population. Not only is he worried about there not being enough people to colonize Mars — “If there aren’t enough people for Earth,” he writes, “then there definitely won’t be enough for Mars” —he’s also apparently concerned that wealthy people aren’t procreating enough. As he wrote in a May 24 tweet: “Contrary to what many think, the richer someone is, the fewer kids they have.” Musk himself has eight children, and thus proudly declared, “I’m doing my part haha.”

Although the fear that “less desirable people” might outbreed “more desirable people” (phrases that Musk himself has not used) can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton published the first book on eugenics, the idea has more recently been foregrounded by people like Bostrom.