Say what again?

Needle Scratch

The death of the "Unabomber," Ted Kaczynski, has brought up an outpouring of unhinged takes and virtual memorials from a broad ideological spectrum. One of the strangest so far? The reaction of SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink CEO Elon Musk.

In response to tweet about how Ted Kaczynski wrote that the "Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race," Musk weighed in: "He might not be wrong."

Where to begin? For starters, there might be nobody alive more publicly invested in the industrialization of space exploration and electric vehicles. And that's without getting into the fact that Kaczynski was a terrorist who killed several people and injured several more. As such, Musk's comment earned pungent derision from all corners.

"The guy who pays $8 a month for Twitter to get more people to notice his Unabomber eulogy tweet on Techno-Lord Elon Musk's social media platform is my new favorite dumbass," tweeted one observer.

Luddite Lite

Many were puzzled, since Musk is a high priest of tech. For heaven's sake, the guy is actively trying to put chips in people's brains at his neurotech outfit Neuralink.

But Musk has been making noise about the dangers of tech lately, most notably artificial intelligence. In an April interview, for instance, Musk told then-Fox personality Tucker Carlson that AI "has the potential of civilization destruction."

The previous month, Musk even signed an open letter, along with many AI experts, petitioning for a temporary pause on AI development. Other notable technologists, including OpenAI's Sam Altman, have similarly warned of AI taking a wrecking ball to society. Blake Masters, the venture capitalist turned political candidate once backed by Peter Thiel, even cited the Unabomber as an underrated thinker. Thiel himself said he thought AI could become a tool for centralized control, with the well-known libertarian once quipping that "AI is communist."

Is there a lesson to draw from all this? Charitably, maybe these tech luminaries sense that a core tension of AI is that it seems equally likely to bring prosperity or ruin. But perhaps a more likely explanation is that they're flawed humans like everybody else, they don't quite know what to think, and in the meantime they're throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

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