elon musk

Is Elon Musk Trying to Populate Mars Himself?

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME

Elon Musk believes he’s a problem solver. “Doing my best to help the underpopulation crisis. A collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces by far,” he tweeted Thursday, a day after Insider reported that he had secret twins with one of his top executives. With the addition of the twins, Musk’s brood now totals nine children.

Large families pose no moral dilemma, no matter who’s involved. Musk’s nine children aren’t the problem. His beliefs and personal practices are what deserve scrutiny. As Insider observed in its report on the twins, Musk is something of a natalist, speaking frequently about an alleged population collapse. It is “the biggest issue in 20 years,” he said in 2019. He has tweeted “more than a dozen times about population issues” since the start of 2022, Insider reported. In one such tweet, sent in April, he argued that while humanity did not evolve to mourn the unborn, it should. “I’m talking about not having kids in the first place. That’s the problem,” he added.

Underpopulation is arguably not the “biggest danger civilization faces by far,” as Musk claimed, yet there seems to be little question the mogul believes what he says. “Part of Musk’s concern about declining birth rates appears to stem from the idea that there won’t be enough humans to populate Mars,” Insider reported. “Population of Mars is still zero people!” he tweeted Thursday, as if he were going to populate Mars on his own power. Musk is convinced that humans must become a multi-planetary species to survive and is further convinced that he can make this happen.

In addition to his Martian fantasies, Musk’s confidence in his personal intelligence may help explain his desire for such a large family. “Watch the opening scene of Idiocracy. When I ask my friends why they’re not yet having kids (very few are), it sounds exactly like the movie,” he tweeted in June. The movie depicts a future Earth where intelligent people have been outbred by those with lesser minds — a low-key eugenic premise that somehow appears to have captured Musk’s fancy. There are nearly 8 billion people on Earth; there’s no shortage, then, of possible Martian colonists. But perhaps he believes the privilege of living on Mars, if it ever comes to pass, ought to be reserved for a select few.

Musk’s latest decision, to have children with an employee, raises ethical questions that don’t seem to concern the mogul in the slightest. “I hope you have big families and congrats to those who already do!” he tweeted. My own fantasies have nothing to do with Mars and instead involve paid family leave, child allowances, universal health care, and other means of support for large families. It’s telling, perhaps, that Musk would rather focus on Mars — on a theoretical future rather than our unequal present.

Elon Musk Tries to Populate Mars Himself