Date
11 December 2017
For a man with stratospheric ambitions, giving up Tesla's patents to the open source movement is a small step for founder Elon Musk. But it could be a game-changer. Photo: Bloomberg
For a man with stratospheric ambitions, giving up Tesla's patents to the open source movement is a small step for founder Elon Musk. But it could be a game-changer. Photo: Bloomberg

How Elon Musk might have just handed the keys to the future

Has Elon Musk just changed the world?

With apologies to Steve Jobs and Earl Woods, we see the Tesla founder transforming the auto industry in a way no one has since Henry Ford rolled the Model T off his assembly line in October 1908.

Ford made the automobile affordable to American families and launched a revolution that would ripple across the Atlantic and the Pacific. It was the beginning of the car industry as we know it today.

Musk, the South African-born American billionaire with galactic ambitions (he wants the next generation of travelers to journey into space), announced on the weekend that he is giving up all of Tesla’s patents to its electric car program in support of the open source movement.

That may not sound a lot. After all, Tesla is just one player in a growing zero-emission electric vehicle market that accounts for less than 1 percent of global sales.

But that is precisely the point. By changing the dynamic in an important arena, Musk is trying to push electric vehicle production beyond the constraints and legal hurdles of patent issues. If his idea can inspire cooperation across the auto industry, what will stop it from spreading into other sectors and markets.

It’s a small ember that could potentially spread like wildfire.

Think of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Samsung sharing their platforms to benefit consumers. Think of the United States, China and Europe sharing a common technology to eradicate diseases or improve food production.

Then think of a world that is healthier for our children because carbon emission is something they will only read about or hear spoken in the past tense.

This might be too much ado over nothing. But didn’t we agree Jobs changed our lives and the world we live in? And did we cringe when Earl Woods enthused that a certain teenaged golfer with an appropriate name would go on to change the world?

The jury is still out on that one and it’s too early to tell how Elon Musk might acquit himself.

We shall see.

– Contact us at [email protected]

SK/RA

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