Elon Musk’s Technological “Hurricane”: The Essence of Current Innovation

  Whether it is the general attention caused by SpaceX or the shocking sound of the “Starship” in Texas, Musk continues to appear in the public eye, and even to a certain extent, he seems to be the vane of the future of technology. But we need to see the essence through the phenomenon: on the one hand, we should get a glimpse of the essence of current technological innovation from the “Musk phenomenon”;
  Musk has been “hurricane” in the field of technology for nearly 30 years. He has been involved in technology fields far beyond the well-known Tesla, “Starlink” and OpenAI. As early as 1995, when the Internet wave swept the world, Musk co-founded a network software company called Zip2 to develop network city maps and navigation; in 1999, he founded online financial services and email payment company X. com, which cooperated with Confinity, a well-known online bank at the time, which was renamed PayPal in 2001; The idea of ​​the sonic floating train system “Hyperloop”; in the same year, he also founded a neurotechnology and brain-computer interface company called “Neuralink”.
  The famous technical thinker Brian Arthur said in the book “The Essence of Technology”: “No matter how varied the invention process is, in the end we can classify it into two major modes: either it starts at one end of the chain, and it originates from one end of the chain. or start at the other end of the chain, starting from a phenomenon or effect that is usually a new development.” Musk’s experience shows that he is a fan of the first model, and he is always application-oriented. Technology development and commercial layout selection. Either seize the opportunities that have emerged in the market and invest in scenarios with good expectations, such as software development, online banking, inter-city high-speed transportation, etc.; or take the initiative to lead and create possible future needs, such as general AI, autonomous driving and even It’s Interstellar Expansion. Unique vision, good at investment, focus on application, and good at layout are the keys to Musk’s ability to soar all the way and lead the trend. This is why some experts say that Musk is not so much a successful technology leader as he is an outstanding technology investor.
  In fact, for an emerging technology or invention, its value realization logic chain is “technology-application-impact”. However, for a long time, there are often two tendencies in the cognition and judgment of cutting-edge technology or emerging technology: either only focus on the “technical” side, or focus on technology, thinking that it focuses on theory and experiment, and belongs to a relatively closed professional circle ; or be obsessed with the “influence” end, but any emerging technology must be said to have transformative or even subversive influence. These cognitions just ignore the most important “application” link, so it is impossible to form a logical closed loop of judgment. Lack of “application” thinking, the former will lead to a low conversion rate of technology landing, and it will be difficult to form a strong and long-term social support for further development; the latter will make the judgment of technological prospects biased, resulting in duplication and waste of resource investment. Not to mention, the development benefits and social impact brought about by the globalization of the Internet have been deeply revealed. Social application is the key to making advanced technology more innovative and transforming it into national strength and competitiveness.
  Of course, Musk’s technological “hurricane” is by no means on the road alone. In a sense, he is just the person who appears in front of the stage, behind which is the support of the overall technological competitiveness of the United States. As a big country in science and technology, the United States is well aware of the importance of maintaining first-mover advantages in the context of a new round of technological revolution. The direction of Washington’s science and technology strategy has always been clear, with two core elements: one is to strengthen the transformation of innovation, maintain the absolute advantages of the United States in the field of science and technology, and strive to create an innovation model that is supported by the government and closely cooperates with scientific research institutes, universities and enterprises. Cultivate and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, transformation of scientific research projects, and form an internal and external technology transformation service system and an ecological technology system integrating production, learning and research; the second is to emphasize competition awareness and ensure the comparative advantage of the United States through government procurement, tax policies and even the use of export controls and other means to suppress international competitors. This can be seen from the current US government’s technological suppression and containment of China.
  It can be said that it is under the overall strategic framework that the U.S. government provides continuous resource support for all parties, especially private enterprises, and enterprises also continue to “feed back” the U.S. government with technological innovation and commercial profits, thus forming a high-tech competitiveness. multiplier effect. Judging from the current law of scientific and technological development, the whole-society integration model is an inevitable choice, and China’s progress in the field of science and technology has also benefited from concentrating its efforts on major tasks. In fact, in the face of the U.S. government’s technological containment and suppression, China’s response to the “stuck neck” is the “new nationwide system.” The 27th meeting of the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reform Committee reviewed and approved the “Opinions on Improving the New National System for Key Core Technology Research under the Conditions of a Socialist Market Economy”, proposing to improve the new national system, scientifically coordinate, and strengthen strategic planning and system layout. It is necessary for the government to be active and strengthen the leadership of the party and the state in major scientific and technological innovations. It is also necessary for the market to be effective, give full play to the role of the market mechanism, and optimize the allocation of innovation resources around the national strategic needs, so as to organically combine the government, market, and society. It can be foreseen that in the future technological competition, whoever can better integrate the resources and strength of the whole society will gain greater development opportunities and competitive advantages.
  Also quoting Brian Arthur: “3000 years ago we could confidently say that technology would not change much in 100 years, and now we have a hard time predicting what technology will be in 50 years So.” Therefore, whether Musk’s “starship” will eventually reach Mars is not important, what is important is the technological breakthroughs, model innovations, and profound impact on national competitiveness and even the future international power structure brought about by the arrival process. .

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