Gates says Musk's COVID-19 comments are 'outrageous'
Gates spoke at length on the topic of online misinformation with CNBC on Tuesday. And when the high-profile exchange moved to Musk's online commentary, Gates said the Tesla and SpaceX CEO was tweeting out of his lane.
"Elon's positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments," said Gates, to CNBC. Since the early days of the global pandemic, Musk has commented about the coronavirus death toll, casting doubt about the dangers of the COVID-19 crisis.
"He's not much involved in vaccines," said Gates of Musk. "He makes a great electric car. And his rockets work well. So he's allowed to say these things. I hope that he doesn't confuse areas he's not involved in too much."
In other words, Gates wants Musk to mind topics more specific to his industries. However, Gates failed to mention Musk's role in providing sorely-needed ventilators — especially in New York — to fight the spread of the coronavirus crisis.
Musk tells COVID-19 reporter to 'move on'
During a telecon, I asked Jim Bridenstine about Elon Musk's recent opinions on COVID-19. A voice on the line said, "wrong press conference. Move on." I'm told it was Elon.— Marina Koren (@marinakoren) April 30, 2020
NASA just picked Starship to contribute important technology to the agency's moon return. This is relevant.
"During a telecon, I asked Jim Bridenstine (NASA Administrator) about Elon Musk's recent opinions on COVID-19. A voice said on the line, 'wrong press conference. Move on.' I'm told it was Elon," tweeted the reporter Marina Koren. She continued: "NASA just picked Starship to contribute important technology to the agency's moon return. This is relevant."
Gates warns incorrect information abounds social media
This is not the first time Gates has criticized other public figures on their medical knowledge. When U.S. President Donald Trump asked Gates (twice) if there is a difference between HPV and HIV, Gates replied with modest snark, saying: "those are rarely confused with each other," Inc.com reports.
However, the issue of speaking outside of designated areas of expertise goes beyond tech billionaires, reports Futurism. Social media makes it incredibly easy for industry leaders to mislead sectors of the public who consider them to be the last word on topics that may or may not have anything to do with being a billionaire, or the CEO of a major tech firm.
Of course, Gates had more to say on this topic: "When you let people communicate, you have to deal with the fact that certain incorrect things that are very titillating can spread very rapidly compared to the truth," said Gates to CNBC. "And we've always seen that with vaccines," added Gates.
As the public looks to billionaire tech CEOs for ideas on what to think about the coronavirus crisis, we shouldn't be surprised to find that some will disagree with others, especially when they support the fight against the spread of the virus in different ways.