Elon Musk, a businessman who’s building some of the most advanced technology the world has ever seen, suggested the Unabomber may have been right about the rise of tech creating too many problems for humanity. Musk tweeted, “he might not have been wrong,” in response to a tweet about Ted Kaczynski, the 81-year-old terrorist who died in prison on Saturday.
Musk’s comment was made in response to conservative influencer Ashley St. Clair, who tweeted a quote from Kaczynski on Saturday: “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.”
Musk’s apparent sympathy with the ideas of Kaczynski will surely surprise many fans of the billionaire entrepreneur, who owns and runs major tech companies like the social media platform Twitter, the electric car company Tesla and the space exploration firm SpaceX.
Musk also runs Neuralink, which was recently approved to conduct human trials with its brain chips, as well as a newly founded artificial intelligence company called X.AI. Needless to say, none of these companies would’ve been possible without the Industrial Revolution.
Kaczynski created homemade bombs that caused 16 explosions, killing three people and injuring 23 others between the years 1978 and 1995. Kaczynski, who sent many of his bombs through the U.S. mail system, was eventually captured in 1996 after a tip to the FBI from his brother and pleaded guilty to all charges.
Kaczynski, who lived in a sparse cabin in Montana, explained his motivation for the killings as being rooted in hatred of the modern world and technology. This hatred has made Kaczynski a kind of folk hero for some people on both the far left and the far right, who see his worldview as fundamentally correct. But it’s certainly odd to see someone like Musk, who’s made his fortune selling the promise of futuristic technology, agree with the Unabomber on anything.
In fact, Musk has previously said he’d like to die on Mars, an idea that Kaczynski would’ve surely found abhorrent. Musk has also been a pioneer in technologies like electric vehicles and wants to build an advanced humanoid robot that can perform tasks around the house. None of these things would have been accepted by Kaczynski’s extreme anti-technology philosophy.
“I think there’s some nontrivial chance of dying, so I’d prefer to take that chance when I’m a bit older, and see my kids grow up,” Musk said about his desire to visit the red planet, according to Yahoo News.
St. Clair linked to an article about Kaczynski’s death in prison published at a website run by Tim Pool, a right-wing YouTuber known for having sometimes controversial guests like Kanye West and Nick Fuentes. The obituary, written by Cassandra MacDonald, quotes Kaczynski’s writings on technology and morality. MacDonald, who simply tweeted “NOOOOOO” in response to news of his death, paints the Unabomber’s views in a sympathetic light, framing tech as a danger to a free society.
As NBC News explains, Kaczynski was able to get the Washington Post and New York Times to publish his anti-technology manifesto, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” in September 0f 1995 while he was still being hunted by federal authorities. Kaczynski claimed he would stop his killings if the manifesto was published and the FBI encouraged the newspapers to publish the screed. The line, “the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race,” which was quoted by St. Clair, is the first line from Kaczynski’s terrorist manifesto. Kaczynski’s own brother read the manifesto and believed it sounded like him, tipping off the FBI, which eventually tracked him to a cabin in Montana in April 1996.
The cause of Kaczynski’s death, which reportedly happened in the early hours of Saturday at a federal faciity in North Carolina, was not announced but he had been in “declining health.” Kaczynski served most of his sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorado, where he reportedly became friendly with Timothy McVeigh the terrorist who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 that killed 168 people and wounded over 600 more. McVeigh was executed in 2001.
I emailed Twitter with questions about Musk’s stance on the Unabomber, but was met with a poop emoji, an automated response set up by Musk that goes out to all reporters. I’ll update this article if I hear back.
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