First Elon Musk wanted to nuke Mars, and now he thinks he knows how democracy there should work. Even though we're not really that close to colonising the Red Planet, the SpaceX founder has some rather utopian ideas for how a government should work on Mars. Image: Getty
Speaking at the Code Conference, Musk said he's in favour of direct democracy on Mars to give the people what they really want and also prevent corruption. "I think that's probably better, because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy," Musk said. Direct democracy is when people vote for a leader and laws or policies themselves. In contrast, Australia is a representative democracy, where citizens vote for representatives who then vote on laws and for a presidential candidate, leaving the citizen one person removed.
Musk also added that creating laws on Mars should be harder than getting rid of them, a not-uncommon strand of thought among many libertarians in Silicon Valley. The billionaire, and by extension SpaceX, is known for his interest in Mars, mostly recently saying that he wants to nuke the planet to warm it up until it becomes habitable. But Musk is hardly the only person thinking about the intricacies of life at a place we haven't yet reached.
NASA is thinking about building a deep-sleep chamber for astronauts on Mars, and Andy Weir, who is not a scientist but is the author of The Martian (which to some is the same thing), has told US Congress that it should be focusing on developing artificial gravity technology.
When it comes to politics, the 1966 Outer Space Treaty states that nations cannot actually claim Mars, and some researchers have argued that Mars should be completely independent from earth from the very start. (Planetary independence has a long history in science fiction, probably most notably in Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.)
Back on earth, Musk says he's been trying to stay out of the election, though he hinted that he was glad the president — whoever that may be — only has limited power. "I'm glad the framers of the constitution saw fit to ensure that president was someone who was captain of a large ship with a small rudder," he said.
Musk's politics have been enigmatic and often the source of Reddit speculation. We know that SpaceX hasn't donated to any presidential campaign this cycle, but it has donated money to other political causes. As for Musk himself, he donated $US5000 ($6919) to Hillary's campaign and money to Marco Rubio's senate campaign. Since 2003, he has donated almost equally to both Republican and Democratic candidates, so you could say that despite his distaste, he's been doing his part for democracy on the blue planet.