What is the most valuable commodity owned by Elon Musk, the world’s richest man? Is it his armada of satellites hovering above the earth? Is it the automotive powerhouse company Tesla? Or maybe the newly acquired social media platform Twitter? The real answer may surprise you.

On a recent episode of Daily Wire’s morning news podcast Morning Wire, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and philosopher of technology Andrew McDiarmid reveals to Daily Wire’s Timothy Meads what truly makes Musk rich: human intelligence.

“Elon Musk does need to continue to recognize that the greatest asset he or any CEO has of any company is human intelligence. That is the asset that we have to work with, and it’s our most valuable thing on Planet Earth. So, not to put all his faith in techno-utopian visions, but to do what is going to unlock the potential of the people that are working for him and with him. That’s where the real progress is going to lie.”

McDiarmid also points out that unless we want that dystopian future where AI rules supreme over humans, we must keep our technology as a means to our chosen ends:

[S]ince the Industrial Revolution, we’ve learned to make room for machines that we can use as means to achieve our ends. With the advent of digital technology, our machines are faster and can accomplish more than ever before. But the reason they exist should stay the same – means to an end for humans. When they stop being tools designed to maximize human potential, that’s when we’ve lost our way.

Musk says he’s a big believer in humanity: “I love humanity, and I think that we should fight for a good future for humanity, and I think we should be optimistic about the future, and fight to make that optimistic future happen.”

If he truly loves humanity, though, he will fight for what separates us from machines – our unique and unparalleled intelligence. As famed economist George Gilder puts it: “[A] lot of people have an incredible longing to reduce human intelligence to some measurable crystallization that can be grasped, calculated, projected and mechanized…Silicon Valley should stop trying to obsolete human beings and figure out how to make them more productive again.”

If Musk has wisdom, he will respect human design enough not to augment humans in ways that would endanger our well-being and insult our designer.

Listen to the full episode here.

3 thoughts on “Elon Musk’s Greatest Asset? It’s Not What You May Think

  1. Dear Andrew,

    I have perused your well-reasoned post entitled “Elon Musk’s Greatest Asset? It’s Not What You May Think”. Thank you for your contribution regarding human intelligence as the greatest asset.

    I would like to add that the language and stance adopted by many billionaires (including Elon Musk) are very much that of a technoutopian, often flawed and plagued with oversights.

    I for one am not very optimistic about human intelligence. Despite years of fleshing out the (conceptual, philosophical, ethical, practical and/or social) framework in examining the possibility or plausibility of environmentalism meeting the needs and expectations of all humanity to help us to survive as a species, fundamental progress is still far too slow. There may be no hope for humanity on Earth as we continue our wasteful and non-sustainable existence plus over-population. As for the future of humanity and migrating to other extra-terrestrial world(s), I have the following to add. Let me quote just a paragraph from one of my fellow bloggers by the name of Robert Elessar as follows:

    Of course, as physicist and pioneer of quantum computation David Deutsch argues beautifully in his book The Beginning of Infinity, we humans—and our descendants, whether biological or technological or both—have the potential really to become significant on a cosmic scale. As he also points out, there is no guarantee that we will do so, but there appears to be nothing in the laws of nature that prevents it. It’s up to us** to decide.

    Furthermore, I would like to add that the culture of expansion and exploitation as well as the ever-burgeoning population seem to be both the crux of, and the bottleneck to, our becoming significant on a cosmic scale.

    Since the human species has not (always, adequately and/or consistently) been a good custodian of the environment and the Earth (not to mention countless wars, atrocities, resource depletions, species extinctions, environmental degradations and so on, plus an area of rainforest as big as 100,000 football fields is being cleared or destroyed everyday), there is no assurance that once the human species migrates to another planet, the same problems would not again surface and plague us, perhaps at an even quickening and/or devastating pace as a result of better and greater expansion, production and technology. We would indeed export our baggage and problems to other worlds!

    Another blogger, Matthew Wright, commented to SoundEagle on 16 July 2013 at 11:39 pm as follows:

    I think if we went to Mars, we’d deal to it the same way we’re currently dealing to Earth. Richard Attenborough summed it up when he referred to us as the ‘scourge’ of the planet. Caused an outcry, but it seems to be true. Jared Diamond has published a good analysis of it, if a little deterministic for my liking. The reason would seem to be a faulty survival mechanism – hard-wired techniques for maximising resources that worked when we were on the ragged edge of extinction in the ice age, but now serve to create problems.

    Perhaps we could also liken humans to cancer cells on the petri dish that is Earth.

    Extinction is a euphemism for extermination, considering how many and the manner in which members of many endangered species have met their fate and untimely end.

    More than 99% of all species that ever appeared on Earth since life began are already extinct.

    The average lifespan of a species is one million years. The human species (counting the early hominids) has lasted six million years. Extinction is the rule; survival is the exception.

    Even if humanity were to survive and later conquer other planets, there will be no guarantee that humanity will not repeat its mistakes and export its problems to other extra-terrestrial worlds.

    As you probably already know, we are already in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction. The main issue is twofold: speciesism and anthropocentricism. Until we critically deal with the main issue, even environmentalism in all its diversity may not suffice to turn things around. As for other reasons as to why I am not very optimistic about human intelligence, and more deeply, the human psyche, they are provided in great detail in my post entitled We have Paleolithic Emotions; Medieval Institutions; and God-like Technology“, published at

    http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/we-have-paleolithic-emotions-medieval-institutions-and-god-like-technology/

    This is a very substantial and topically important post, even dealing with the fundamental problems and the existential crisis of the human species, looming ever larger.

    Thank you for your contributions here. Keep up the good work!

    Wishing you a productive December doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, including but not limited to composing highly commendable blog posts!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

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    1. Hello, SoundEagle. Thank you for weighing in on human intelligence. I hold that human beings are the product of an intelligent designer. I also hold that Planet Earth is excellently suited to our existence. Far from being a place of scarce resources and over-population, I see it as an infinitely bountiful planet that can accommodate human flourishing for as long as it is meant to. I also hold that Planet Earth groans under the weight of human sin, which has an effect on its original design and longevity. However, I also believe that Earth will be renewed in the future to its original and complete potential after the savior of humankind returns to usher in a new age.

      This view is complimentary to the view of noted economist and information theorist George Gilder, mentioned in my post, who holds that human intelligence – and its capacity for creativity – is what drives innovation and by extension, human flourishing.

      You might be interested in a recent book from a few of my colleagues at the Discovery Institute. It’s called Superabundance. Here’s a little about the book’s thesis:

      Generations of people have been taught that population growth makes resources scarcer. In 2021, for example, one widely publicized report argued, “The world’s rapidly growing population is consuming the planet’s natural resources at an alarming rate . . . the world currently needs 1.6 Earths to satisfy the demand for natural resources . . . [a figure that] could rise to 2 planets by 2030.” But is that true?

      After analyzing the prices of hundreds of commodities, goods, and services spanning two centuries, Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley found that resources became more abundant as the population grew. That was especially true when they looked at “time prices,” which represent the length of time that people must work to buy something.

      To their surprise, the authors also found that resource abundance increased faster than the population―a relationship that they call “superabundance.” On average, every additional human being created more value than he or she consumed. This relationship between population growth and abundance is deeply counterintuitive, yet it is true.

      Why? More people produce more ideas, which lead to more inventions. People then test those inventions in the marketplace to separate the useful from the useless. At the end of that process of discovery, people are left with innovations that overcome shortages, spur economic growth, and raise standards of living.

      But large populations are not enough to sustain superabundance―just think of the poverty in China and India before their respective economic reforms. To innovate, people must be allowed to think, speak, publish, associate, and disagree. They must be allowed to save, invest, trade, and profit. In a word, they must be free.

      Thanks again for weighing in. It would seem we hold different views of the power and origin of human intelligence, but I appreciate being able to discuss such an important issue with you here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Andrew,

        I am grateful for your reply, and would be delighted if you could kindly submit a comment to my said post as a token of your visit, just as I have already submitted multiple comments to your posts. Thank you in anticipation.

        Yours sincerely,
        SoundEagle

        Like

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