All Hail Elon Musk, Techno King and Philosopher King.
A leaked video shows Musk is committed to free speech, open source algorithms, meritocracy and improving civilisation.
In another astonishing leaked video from Project Veritas, Elon Musk has revealed that he is committed to free speech, advocates making Twitter algorithms open source and believes in meritocracy.
Twitter’s internal company-wide #TwitterAllHands meeting was moderated by Twitter Chief Marketing Officer and Head of People, Leslie Berland. Musk addressed thousands of Twitter employees and answered questions that revealed staff’s legitimate fears about losing their jobs, cultural change and political divergence. These fears may have led to an ungenerous interpretation of his answers…
Musk’s responses have been reported critically by commentators and media who have perhaps come to depend upon Twitter’s blatant left wing bias and subtle censorship. In one example, The Daily Beast described the call as meandering, bizarre and “pure chaos”. It took aim at Musk’s “crappy cell phone camera feed”. Is the supercilious coverage of this video call fuelled by people feeling threatened by his pro-free speech stance and firm belief in meritocracy?
Personally, I liked his participation via cell phone, rather than glitzy boardroom, lights, camera, action. Firstly, it felt authentic. Secondly, I mused that it might hint at a slight irritation with the nature of the call. Frankly, they are lucky he turned up to be quizzed on his political beliefs and to explain why Twitter employees should trust him.
The meeting itself is presumably an indication that Twitter thinks the deal is going ahead. I think it’s worth watching the entire video and making up your own mind about Musk’s values, Twitter employee concerns, and what Musk’s answers portend about his leadership once he is in place. Here are some take-aways from the meeting:
“In order for people to have trust in Twitter, it’s extremely important that there is transparency, that’s why I’m an advocate of having the algorithm be open source, so people can critique it, approve it, identify bugs or biases. Transparency obviously increases trust.”
Although they are invisible to the public, algorithms decide what we see, hear and experience on social media. They are the secret editors the online world doesn’t want you to understand. Making them transparent would be one of the most important steps to making social media more transparent and accountable. I’d go so far as to say I think it is important for the future of public discourse and democracy. I wrote about why Social media platforms should make algorithms public. Musk’s commitment to this is extremely encouraging.
Musk also called for Twitter to make it clear when tweets are boosted or de-boosted to ensure such moves are not ascribed to malice.
He stressed the importance of ridding Twitter of troll farms, bots and spammers. This is vital. Troll farms can be used to drive sales or influence politics, they are shady, sneaky and undermine organic debate and democracy. Twitter has not kept its house in order and needs a stiff broom.
He said it is important for Twitter to show two sides of each story and not drive a narrative.
Musk thinks traditional media has failed and believe Twitter is good at “getting a message out”.
When asked about inclusivity and diversity (these buzzwords were mentioned at least three times each in one question) Musk responded that,
“There are 8 billion people in the world. I’m told there are 200m daily users of Twitter. That’s a 7.8 billion person gap. So I think we really to have at least like a billion people on Twitter. Maybe more. As many people as you can possibly get on Twitter. That is the most inclusive definition of inclusiveness. All humans.”
I don’t think Musk and Berland share an understanding of inclusivity.
Berland bizarrely felt it was appropriate to question Musk about his politics. He described himself as moderate but seemed to feel he needed to defend voting for a Republican, albeit a Mexican American. This line of questioning might betray the paranoid left wing bias we know is endemic at Twitter thanks to another Project Veritas video, which explained steps that company employees takes to censor political content they don’t approve of.
Fears of layoffs were probably not reassured by Musk affirming that he believes in a “strict meritocracy”.
In March, Twitter announced it will allow employees to work “wherever you feel most productive and creative”. If the deal goes ahead, then Musk sees this being the preserve of “exceptional” staff. Twitter turned 16 this year. It looks like it’s time for this teen to grow up.
At one point, Musk was asked if he would be taking over CEO duties of the company. Musk’s answer was that he “wants to make sure the product evolves rapidly.” He also laughed about previously declaring himself “Techno King of Tesla”. Some people will find this confident outlier unpalatable. However, I’m a fan of the ironic, flamboyant, humorous and non-conformist. I love the outliers. Every great invention, innovative work of art, and the pioneering spirit which pushes the human race forwards comes from the outliers. Given that Twitter needs a reverse revolution, I will gladly place the crown upon his head.
Musk spoke out in favour of transparency and against inscrutability. Ironically this leak appears to deliver genuine transparency. Most invitingly of all, he proferred his “unifying philosophy”, including:
“The fundamental good of Tesla is measured by how many years did we accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. The fundamental good of Space X is are we able to make life multi planetary and thus improve the probable life span of consciousness.”
He asked broadly whether Twitter is fundamentally good for civilisation. It was refreshing to hear him talk about fundamental good, and to be concerned with the ‘Big Questions’. As well as the clear commercial concerns set out in the meeting, it’s exciting to hear this future CEO or Techno King - however he styles himself - ask how “actions improve things at a civilisational level”.
Futurist Tracey Follows has posited that the Big Tech companies of the world are catching up in importance with the role of nation states. This means Musk is more than a Techno King - he heralds a potential new era of philosopher kings. We can only hope they combine philosophical dispositions with their commercial skills. All hail Elon Musk!
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Watch the leaked video: