Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Modern Day Benjamin Franklin and Iron Man: Elon Musk

Elon Musk is what I like to call a modern day fusion of Benjamin Franklin and Iron Man. Franklin is know for being one of the world's most innovative minds, inventing things like bifocals, the lightning rod, and even pioneering the library system. Iron Man, on the other hand, is notorious for his extreme wealth, confident personality, and being able to help take down the robot-king, Ultron.

Although Musk is significantly more cautious about creating Artificial Intelligence than Iron Man, and has yet to encounter aliens, there is no doubt that Elon Musk is a creative innovator and pioneer. He actually had a cameo in the second Iron Man movie, which is featured to the above.

Why can Musk be compared to Benjamin Franklin? Well, a quick look at Musk's resume will undoubtedly drop your jaw and help you understand why. At age 44, Musk has a net worth of $12 Billion [1]. The five main "Big Creative" companies that helped accumulate this wealth are Zip2, PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and Solar City. Elon Musk has been either the co-founder or sole founder of all these companies.
Impressive, right? Musk has not only produced successful companies, but has revolutionized the respective industries too. Tesla Motors is a great example of this. Musk has stated that he wants Tesla to be a catalyst for the electric car industry [2], and has done so by breaking down stereotypes of electric cars being low in the power department or aesthetically ugly. To prove his integrity, Musk has also released patents to his cars and openly welcomes competition because it will help speed the transition to low-emission transportation. He released this news in a geeky post titled: All Our Patent Are Belong To You, a reference to the 1991 Zero Wing video game. Manufacturing electric sports cars are only a part of what creative innovations Tesla pursues. In the video above is Tesla's prototype charger that finds the car's charging socket on its own.

If you have not noticed the trend already, Musk's current three companies (Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City) all have a focus on sustainability. Elon Musk's intention behind starting all these companies is what I believe to be most telling of his character. In an interview with CNN, Musk stated, "the philosophy behind all three companies is to try to minimize existential threats" [3]. By promoting and revolutionizing the sustainable energy industry, and pathing the way towards making life multi-planetary, Musk seeks to increase the longevity of humanity.

Using Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, I believe Elon Musk excels in logical intelligence more than any other intelligence. Musk is an absolute master at knowing what is lacking within the economic market. PayPal is a great example of this because he was able to streamline monetary transfers during the technological revolution. Explaining this himself, Musk said, "I like to think of things like 'what is the most useful thing that you can think of to do and that enough smart people aren't working on'" [3]. This simple philosophy has helped propel his companies into success and are already changing humanity for the better.

1: http://www.forbes.com/profile/elon-musk/
2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0871VJfvD1c (BBC interview with Elon Musk)
3: https://youtu.be/hF45qsAwSvw?t=55s (CNN interview with Elon Musk)


  1. I love Elon Musk, he is one of the most creative and innovative currently in the business world. His transformation of Tesla and his creative/business insight behind SolarCity have driven both of those companies. And I can't help but agree with your comparison to Ben Franklin. Both individuals processed the innate ability to be creators and the insight to create change for the better in their respective societies. I'm looking forward to see if he becomes ever more active an owner in SolarCity,especially if he decides to buy more into the company and take an active leadership role. Furthermore, I am interested in seeing how he continues to further the integration of Tesla batteries into SolarCity's solar cells to help store energy through the night. Thanks for blogging about the guy.

  2. I really enjoyed your blog. He is such an interesting person. If you look at his inventions, they seem so diverse (although many fit under the broad goal of sustainability). I agree with your suggestion about Elon Musks' intelligence. His intelligence is multifaceted, however, as he walked about in class. His greatest point of intelligence seems to be in problem-finding. He can see problems where no one knew they existed, which I think is the source of his creativity. It also helps that he is intelligent enough to think of the solutions!

  3. I've never heard of this guy before, but I have to say that he sounds really interesting. And I'm kind of mad that I've never heard of him before because he deserves recognition. I especially love how he's really focused on energy efficiency as a part of his design plans. I think that field doesn't get as much recognition as it should. Also his quote, "...what is the most useful thing that you can think of to do and that enough smart people aren't working on." To me, that's the true sign of genius and creativity. Because if it's useful (and especially in his case with sustainability), then it's usually pretty creative.

  4. This was a very interesting and enlightening blog post. It is very unusual to see someone who has such a large range in inventions, even if all of them essentially addressed the same problem. With the energy problems that we are currently facing, this kind of innovation and push for change is exactly what we need. It is awesome that a brilliant mind like his is being used to fight for this world, instead of for a profit. I also happen to be a huge fan of Tesla and can't wait for the more affordable models to come out so I can jump on the bandwagon! In all seriousness, I struggle to find someone who is as creative and efficient in his creativity in the businees field.

  5. I have always found Elon Musk fascinating, and the description of him as a fusion of Benjamin Franklin and Iron Man (Tony Stark) was spot-on! The fact that all three of his companies focus on sustainability is, like you said, very telling about his character. He is a billionaire who could definitely justify a less-than-sustainable approach to creativity and ingenuity, but the fact that he is focused on bettering the earth environmentally as he betters it intellectually through his patents and creations is really something else. Can't wait to see his next creations and inventions! And hopefully see other inventors and brainiacs like him take notice of his sustainable model.

  6. I thought the description of Musk as a combination Tony Stark and Ben Franklin was perfect. I didn't know he had 3 companies, but I wasn't that surprised, he's so innovative. I liked that he is willing to make his patents public, rather than holding onto them for more cash. It's great to see someone not only talking about helping the planet, but doing everything he can to follow through on what he says.


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