Elon Musk brilliantly sums up sad state of 2017

Commentary: The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX worries about the bizarre ways the modern world has begun to think. Does his critique apply to the tech world too?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Elon Musk Presents SpaceX Plans To Colonise Mars

What has the world come to?

Mark Brake / Getty Images

It's been a strange and troubling year.

The tech world, supposedly the home of rational thought and inspiration, has suddenly become a target of criticism, rather than an object of drooling.

Every week, there seems another scandal, another hack, another incident of sexual harassment that a tech company forgot to tell us about. Or didn't want us to know about.

It's also been a year when the very foundations of scientific thought have been assaulted by, well, beliefs of the political kind.

From government leaders who seem entirely skeptical of the scientific evidence for global warming to a nominee for head of NASA who has no scientific experience, facts has been labeled fake and partisanship has been declared the lone truth.

Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla and space transport company SpaceX, has had enough. 

Earlier this year, he walked away from advising President Trump after latter withdrew the US from the Paris climate accord.

On Saturday, Musk offered a disturbingly succinct summary of the state of the world's mind.

After his company's spectacular SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, he sarcastically tweeted that the patterns it created in the sky suggested a "nuclear alien UFO from North Korea."

That was the first thing that crossed my mind, to be honest.

But then he worried that "most people actually do think it was aliens."

Which brought him to a troubled thought:

That surely sums up 2017 and expresses the big challenge for 2018 -- for the tech world, as much as for the rest of America.

Just as many Americans have surrendered themselves to partisanship, so the tech world has ignored its own facts.

For far too long, it's looked in the mirror, ignored its true features, and decided it's the fairest of them all.

Tech companies have believed they were doing no evil and making the world a better place. Their sanctimony competed only with their sense of superiority.

What 2017 finally revealed was a painful truth: Too many tech companies are havens for some of the worst human behavior. 

It also proved that when some of the facts were aired -- as they were by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler -- tech companies reacted with supposed horror, when one can only suspect they knew exactly what had been happening all along.

Soon, the resignations flowed industrywide, as did the unconvincing explanations. Musk's own Tesla hasn't been immune from accusations of harassment.

Let's hope, then, that Musk's accurate words are heard by the tech world, as well as by those who believe the only real news is whatever they want others to believe.

Will we choose to embrace the evidence of our eyes, ears and experts? Or will we continue to see the world as Us Vs. Them?

And on that cheery note, may I extend the hope that your Christmas celebrations will be truly joyous and will allow you to put aside differences for even just one day.

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