As a big science fiction enthusiast I love cool new technology proposals and I think Elon Musk’s Hyperloop proposal has several intriguing aspects. However, I find the incredible level of attention the Hyperloop proposal has garnered to be bizarre.
Musk is not planning to build the Hyperloop from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He is not starting a new Hyperloop company. He is not even planning to build a small test track as a proof of concept. At this point Musk has only outlined what he thinks would be a very expensive project hoping that someone else might one day adopt.
There is no shortage of people putting forward cool sounding ideas with no plan to bring them to fruition, but they don’t get a fraction of the media attention that Musk has received for Hyperloop.
Normally the reason new big cool projects put forward by billionaires get way more media coverage than similar ideas put forward by less wealthy scientists is because billionaires have the money to spend to make their ideas a reality. Cool ideas are fairly common, but real plans with the serious financial backing are rare. Being wealthy doesn’t inherently mean billionaires have better ideas, it just means they are uniquely able to execute big ideas.
If the billionaire makes it clear he is not planning to fund his big proposal then it really doesn’t deserve so much attention. In fact it should probably should get less attention than a similar idea put forward by a less wealthy, but skilled engineer. If the billionaire creator of the project is not seriously dedicated to it, that would probably make other big investors question its merit. While someone who is fully dedicated to their big idea, but simply lacks the personal wealth might eventually raise the capital if they got enough attention.
Photo by jdlasica released under Creative Commons License