Elon Musk addressed sustainable energy, brain implants and space exploration in an article published in a Chinese magazine run by the country’s internet censorship and surveillance agency, according to a translation by Yang Liu, a reporter with the news agency. Chinese state, Xinhua. (via WSJ reporter karen hao).
Formed in 2013, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is in charge of creating and enforcing policies related to online content, user data, and digital security. The CAC subsequently created a magazine that, according to China Media Project Senior Researcher Stella Chen, typically includes regulatory announcements and Internet policy research. The magazine was initially called new media before it was renamed as chinese cyberspace at the beginning of this year.
The July issue of chinese cyberspace features articles from the CEO of Musk and Ant Group, Eric Jing Xiandong, the company that runs the Chinese payment service Alipay. Liu provides an English translation of Musk’s article in a post on his Substack newsletter, Beijing Channel. Musk says the magazine invited him to share his “thoughts on the vision of technology and humanity,” and then proceeds to describe and promote the technology used by the companies he owns, Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink, which he believes can ” help achieve a better future for humanity:”
To that end, any area that contributes to a sustainable future is worthy of our investment. Be it Tesla, Neuralink or SpaceX, all of these companies were founded with the ultimate goal of improving the future of human life and creating the greatest possible practical value for the world: Tesla to accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy, Neuralink for medical rehabilitation industry, SpaceX for making interstellar connections possible.
He also cites some of his lofty goals as examples of the kind of technology his companies could (eventually) create, such as a “self-sufficient city on Mars,” a way for humans to “integrate with artificial intelligence” and “fix” . battery banks”. Musk also mentions the yet-to-be-seen humanoid Tesla robot, suggesting that people could buy a robot as a gift in “less than a decade.”
In a tweetLiu calls the article a “smart move” on Musk’s behalf, as it allows him to “seize the opportunity to showcase his companies’ technological prowess to Chinese officials and the public.”
“I hope that more people will join us in our fight to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” says Musk. “I also welcome more like-minded Chinese partners to join us in exploring clean energy, artificial intelligence, human-machine collaboration and space exploration to create a future worth looking forward to.”
Musk’s appearance in a CAC-run post conflicts with his outspoken defense of free speech, the very concept that inspired his decision to buy Twitter (which he is now trying to back down over a discussion of bots). Over the years, the CAC has implemented a series of policies designed to censor and restrict expression online. The CAC Cybersecurity Law, for example, requires social platforms to remove content that contains “prohibited information” or else they will be sanctioned by the CAC.
Last year, the CAC pushed for the removal of the Chinese ride-sharing app Didi from app stores and demanded that Apple remove a popular Quran app from its Chinese app store. The CAC has also launched a hotline for users to report “illegal” comments about the Chinese Communist Party, and recently proposed laws that would require social platforms to review all comments posted by users.
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