Person of the Year is a marker of influence, and few individuals have had more influence than Elon Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too. In 2021, Musk emerged not just as the world’s richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society.
Elon Musk is the man who aspires to save our planet and get us a new one to inhabit: clown, genius, edgelord, visionary, industrialist, showman, cad; a madcap hybrid of Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum, Andrew Carnegie and Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, the brooding, blue-skinned man-god who invents electric cars and moves to Mars.
His startup rocket company, SpaceX, has leapfrogged Boeing and others to own America’s spacefaring future. His car company, Tesla, controls two-thirds of the multibillion-dollar electric-vehicle market it pioneered and is valued at a cool $1 trillion. That has made Musk, with a net worth of more than $250 billion, the richest private citizen in history, at least on paper.
He’s a player in robots and solar, cryptocurrency and climate, brain-computer implants to stave off the menace of artificial intelligence and underground tunnels to move people and freight at super speeds.
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