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So far, Musk, 46, has accomplished none of these goals.But what he has done is something that very few living people can claim: Painstakingly bulldozed, with no experience whatsoever, into two fields with ridiculously high barriers to entry – car manufacturing (Tesla) and rocketry (Space X) – and created the best products in those industries, as measured by just about any meaningful metric you can think of.Nor is he a Silicon Valley savant whose emotional affect has been replaced with supercomputer-like intelligence.Over the course of nine months of reporting, watching Musk do everything from strategize Mars landings with his rocket-engineering team to plan the next breakthroughs with his artificial-intelligence experts, I learned he is someone far, far different from what his myth and reputation suggest.He's an engineer, inventor and, as he puts it, "technologist." And as a naturally gifted engineer, he's able to find the design inefficiencies, flaws and complete oversights in the tools that power our civilization."He's able to see things more clearly in a way that no one else I know of can understand," says his brother, Kimbal.
However, despite opinions to the contrary, Elon Musk is not a robot sent from the future to save humanity.In the process, he's managed to sell the world on his capability to achieve objectives so lofty that from the mouth of anyone else, they'd be called fantasies. "I'm looking at the short losses," Musk says, transfixed by CNBC on his i Phone. "Guys, check this out: Tesla has the highest short position in the entire stock market.A billion short position."His children lean over the phone, looking at a table full of numbers that I don't understand."It actually makes us less efficient to be a public company."What follows is ... Musk sits at his desk, looking at his phone, but not typing or reading anything.He then lowers himself to the floor, and stretches his back on a foam roller.