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Elon Musk wouldn't be seen dead in a Steve Jobs turtleneck

Commentary: A Rolling Stone profile of the Tesla CEO reveals a man with strong emotions.

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


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Elon Musk, in not a black turtleneck.

Mark Brake / Getty Images

If I asked you to describe Elon Musk's dress sense, what would you say? 

Slightly cool, shabby LA film star sort of thing? Certainly, the Tesla CEO doesn't have a uniform, as some tech CEOs surely have. 

Who can ignore Mark Zuckerberg's t-shirts? Then there was Steve Jobs's black turtlenecks, about which Musk has very strong feelings.

In a revealing and sometimes emotional interview with Rolling Stone published Wednesday, Musk explained how much he disliked being portrayed as the new Steve Jobs.

"If I was dying and I had a turtleneck on, with my last dying breath I would take the turtleneck off and try to throw it as far away from my body as possible," he said.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

It is, though, a very bad habit for people to desperately want a new version of something that came before. It's as if the human imagination needs to be soothed, rather the excited. Reassured, rather than revolutionized.

Musk is surely not a second anyone. He has his own way of going about things and, indeed, his own fears and dreams. In this interview, he reiterated his extreme fears for the dangers of artificial intelligence.

"Climate change is the biggest threat that humanity faces this century, except for AI," he said. "I keep telling people this." 

He insisted his views were those of everyone in the scientific community. Save for those he deems crazy, that is.

He worries that Google, Facebook and Amazon (and "arguably Apple, but they seem to care about privacy") represent an enormous, unsupervised risk when it comes to the depth of information they hold over everyone and what they might do with it. 

Musk is one of the backers (along with, oh, Facebook board member Peter Thiel) of OpenAI, an organization that seeks to ensure that AI doesn't become a force for evil.

Musk, though, is not your average loner. He admitted that he can't bear to be alone and can't be happy unless he's in a serious relationship. "Going to sleep alone drives me crazy," he said. 

The interview was conducted just after he'd broken up with someone -- reportedly actress Amber Heard. "Well, she broke up with me more than I broke up with her, I think," he revealed.

Musk comes across in the interview as a very emotional man. 

In the past, he's admitted to perhaps being bipolar and has said he experiences great highs and terrible lows.

Though he may not share Jobs's sartorial instincts, there are similarities between the two. He told Rolling Stone that an end goal for his products is that they should enjoy aesthetic beauty. 

Does this mean turtlenecks aren't beautiful? 

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