If you’re the richest man on the planet, you’re building a private planetary Internet, you’ve just got your hands on a digital communications network already reaching 300 million people, and you know how create a new economy sheltered from governments… what are you doing?
Elon Musk is a serial builder. He is the archetype of the techno entrepreneur modeled in Silicon Valley, where the money flows sufficiently to allow all dreams to be fulfilled. It is not for nothing that the very large suburbs of San Francisco have seen the birth of other libertarians like him. Take Peter Thiel, otherwise one of the most prominent transhumanists.
Transhumanism is this current of thought according to which technologies which will prolong human life indefinitely are about to see the light of day. A combination of genetics, artificial intelligence and biology. The first to benefit from it will obviously be the wealthiest humans. If that happens, we’ll call it a “singularity.” A technological event so significant that it would exceed the human capacity to control its effects.
What Thiel would like to do for biological life, Elon Musk has all the tools in hand to do it on the communications side. He runs SpaceX, a company that has already caused a small revolution in the space industry by bringing down the price of launching satellites of all kinds into orbit.
In the lot are a few thousand satellites that SpaceX deploys in low Earth orbit and which gradually give life to its Starlink Internet network. A network which, promises Elon Musk, will only serve regions of the globe neglected by existing regional providers. A promise very easy to drop the day when the whole planet will be covered and when Musk will impose its global Internet service by cutting prices. Wishing to go it alone, he could not be framed by any government.
Starlink is already available in Quebec, and not just in the most remote regions.
Musk officially got his hands on Twitter at the end of October. He has already, in the past, expressed his desire to create an application that would compete with the Chinese platform WeChat. WeChat is in turn a public and private messenger, a mobile payment method and an e-commerce platform. Facebook, WhatsApp and Amazon all in one.
The US$44 billion advanced by Musk to privatize Twitter actually comes from institutions that will probably help the billionaire make the application more attractive to increase its value. The WeChat approach seems appropriate.
Twitter, at present, is the smallest of the big social networks. At most 15% of the population consults it at least once in a while. It has just over 300 million users worldwide, and among them, only half visit it regularly. Facebook has 3 billion subscribers. TikTok hit the billion mark a year ago.
More “light” than its two rivals, Twitter can be seen as a project with still interesting potential and whose growth is yet to come. Some already have a very good idea of what Musk should do to revive the app.
An intriguing idea: make Twitter the spearhead of Web3. That’s what Changpeng Zhao, the founder of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, offers. Binance took a $500 million stake in Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
Musk, an avid dogecoin cryptocurrency fan, could add a digital wallet feature to Twitter and use cryptocurrency to facilitate all kinds of transactions right on his platform, without going to a bank. This would be a great example of “decentralized finance”, or “DeFi”, as this cross between finance and techno is called.
Elon Musk has already hinted that he could also use blockchain to certify the authenticity of users and their messages, the best way he believes to eliminate fake accounts and incessant spam.
This digital wallet could then serve as a vault for its users’ data produced in third-party apps or websites. Twitter would be in a way the digital identification key of a decentralized Internet which already has a name: the Web3. This new kind of Web is designed to escape government control and the hegemony of platforms like Google, Apple and Facebook.
Like cryptocurrencies, the Web3 is developing these days in the blind spot of the authorities, and is obviously very popular with a segment of the population who have lost all confidence in the current “system”.
Musk, we know, likes to rub shoulders with these people. He also hates being accountable to authorities, financial, political or otherwise. Unsurprisingly, he is in the process of freeing himself from all that. And by combining Starlink, Twitter and Web3, it could not only achieve this, but take hundreds of millions of people with it all over the world.