Three women, ten children; how Elon Musk tries to save the world
Bart van den Dikkenberg, RD
Out of the blue, a new term showed up: technophilic pronatalism. It is a movement of extraordinarily rich, intelligent people who prefer large families. That is what our world should look like, in their opinion.
One of the most well-known proponents of this pronatalist movement is Elon Musk. He is known for Tesla and Twitter, among other things. He conceived at least ten children with at least three women, a wife, a friend, and a surrogate mother. Last year, Shivon Zilis, the top woman of Neuralink, delivered a twin, fathered by Musk.
According to Musk, someone's personal success is closely linked to his or her IQ. Pronatalists see it as the responsibility of smart people to put as many bright children on this earth as possible. Musk encourages "all rich men he knows" to get as many children as possible, insiders say.
"Contrary to what many think, the richer someone is, the fewer kids they have. I am a rare exception. Most people I know have zero or one kid", he wrote on Twitter.
He fears the poorer, less intelligent people with large families will soon overrule the rich. During private meetings, the most influential people from the United States discuss their ideas.
Why is pronatalism so popular in these circles? Especially in Western countries, the birth rate of "intellectually trained individuals" threatens to become so low that the Western culture threatens to become extinct, and the "advanced civil society" will collapse, philosopher Nick Bostrom wrote. He is one of the founding fathers of longtermism, long-term thinking, a philosophy which gained much popularity among technophilic pronatalists.
Many Western governments are worried about the low birth rate in their country. A population needs a birth rate of 2.1 births per woman to stay the same size. The South Korean birth rate was the lowest in the world, with only 0.81 children per woman. In more than half of the European countries, the population will decline by a negative birth surplus. In the Netherlands, for example, the birth rate is 1.6 per year. In the United States, only the Amish have a high birth rate. A demographer joked that in 200 years, all Americans will be Amish.
The eight billionth world citizen, who was recently born, does not give the pronatalists any hope. Most likely, this baby was African. In Niger, every woman delivers 6.8 children on average. That is the highest birth rate in the world. African countries can thus expect significant population growth.
In contrast, Western countries will see the collapse of their population in the long term. Therefore, some countries, such as Germany and Hungary, introduced pronatalist family policies. Putin awards a medal to women with ten or more children. He "reduces women to babymaking machines, " the British daily The Guardian criticised.
Musk's technophilic pronatalism did not show up somewhere out of the blue. But in this vision, especially smart, white, rich people in Western countries seem to matter. Especially intelligent people have to get many bright children. And Musk is not the only one who thinks that way.
On Twitter, the American Malcolm (37) and Simone Collins (36) present themselves explicitly as pronatalists. They are the founders of the non-profit organisation pronatalist.org. Simone does not want to imagine that freedom of expression, climate awareness, racial equality and LGBT rights will disappear because of a low birthrate.
The highly educated couple wants to have at least seven and, at the most, 13 children. Because Simone is getting older, the spouses made as many embryos as possible in 2018. These embryos are now stored in a freezer. Three of the thirteen children have been born already.
According to their calculations, the bloodline of the Collins will dominate the current human population after eleven generations. At least, as long as all of their children also get eight children. And if they succeed, Malcolm says on the news website Business Insider, we "can determine the future of our species." And they are not scared of what they call "experimental family structures."
If there is one place in the world where many people with a high IQ meet, it is Silicon Valley in the United States. No wonder that technophilic pronatalism grows there quietly. "the world's richest and most powerful people see it as their duty to replicate themselves as many times as possible", daily The Guardian wrote recently.
All sorts of technology to make themselves immortal have not been helpful to wealthy tech leaders. Now, they want to gain immortality by having many children. "Our subculture sees a path to immortality in getting many children", Simone Collins argues on the news website Mercatornet.com.
Passing on their genial DNA is the best way to improve the world's population and keep the Western lifestyle alive, according to pronatalists. According to an article in The Guardian, the rich of Silicon Valley, such as Mark Zuckerberg (Meta), Musk and Jeff Bezos (Amazon), do not aim to gain as many dollars as possible. They dedicated at least 10 per cent of their income to charity projects. It is remarkable how often they invest their money in projects that have to improve humanity.
Rich Americans, such as Peter Thiel (PayPal) and Steve Jurvetson, invest much money in fertility centres. Until 2025, this amounts to about 78.2 billion dollars. Jurvetson puts via his investment company Future Ventures millions of dollars into the company Gameto, a business that battles the ageing of ovaries together with Harvard University. That helps women remain fertile for a long time so they can still deliver children at a higher age using IVF.
In any case, the IVF industry benefits from growing infertility numbers. Via IVF, about 500,000 babies are born annually. That leads to a profit of 14 million euros. In the next decade, both numbers are expected to double.
Sam Altman, Musk's right hand in the Artificial Intelligence company OpenAI, invests in the business Conception. Altman is homosexual and wants to enable two biological men to get children together via Conception. "I think that having many children is great", he says to Business Insider.
Malcolm and Simon Collins not only promote their vision via their website but also with their book "The Pragmatist's Guide to Crafting Religion", which has yet to be published. They vote Republican but are absolutely no conservative Evangelicals. They call themselves "secular Calvinists." Their religion is called evolution, and their book is a "meditation about how we can carefully construct a religion that will be an evolutionary success."
Technophilic pronatalism goes further than artificially increasing the female fertility range. The Collin family also promotes transhumanism in their plans. They want to craft their embryos themselves so their children will be born with "good genes." "We plead for reasonable, mild, but aggressive transhumanism: improving and transforming the human condition with technology." In other words: crafting the genes of embryos to deliver "perfect" super children to this world.
The Collins deny strongly that this is eugenics. "Don't call this eugenics." Understandably, they want to distance themselves from that because this term has been infected since the race-improving programs of the Nazis in World War II.
Eugenics, or racial improvement, attempted to change humanity's genetic makeup by producing smart and white offspring. Transhumanism does not differ from this significantly, but gradually. The goal is still to improve the human race. Still, it uses techniques such as nanotechnology, genetic manipulation and applying computer science to the human body. Their offspring will have to be super rich, hyper-intelligent super people.
The company Genomic Prediction has to guarantee the genetic superiority of the children. The DNA of each embryo that will be placed in the womb of Simone Collins has been tested on thousands of criteria. If there are more embryos, future parents have the possibility to choose the best one and throw out the rest.
In this case, the selected embryo, a girl, scored 1.9; their lowest-scoring embryo had a –0.96. Simone finds this number important, she says to news agency Bloomberg. "We use the newest scientific insights to give our future children all possible benefits."
However, according to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, such numbers cannot be taken entirely seriously. It is yet unknown how certain genetic traits relate to each other. Jennifer Eccles, founder of Genomic Prediction, calls the test "Pandora's box": It can lead to all kinds of unexpected misery.
The investments in fertility technology of the wealthy tech leaders in Silicon Valley are not investments without interest. Also, here, the philosophy of longtermism plays an important role. "It is utilitarianism with a god complex", The Guardian noticed recently. With their money, they claim to have the right to dictate what the future society will look like.
Some of the super-rich, among whom Thiele, also think about the political future. In their vision, the book "The Sovereign Individual. How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State" (1997) by James Dale Davidson plays an important role.
What does the book write about? Democracies thrive on taxes they get from the working population. Cryptocurrencies will undermine this money flow of the government. The state will become obsolete as a political entity. In the worldwide chaos that will result, a "cognitive elite" will come to power.
The book describes these people as "sovereign individuals" who will form a new world reign. The old order will then collapse. Democracies become extinct and will be replaced by a few treaties of city-states under a world government. The current time would then be a transfer period to the new scenario.
Thus, technophilic pronatalism brings together several lines. The philosophy of longtermism, IVF, new fertility techniques, human improvement, designer babies, evolution and, in the long term, possibly a world ruled by a super wealthy, super intelligent, white elite.
This movement develops slowly but surely in silence. Simone Collins does not plan to delay it. "This is about the people who will ensure that their children will get all the benefits they can", she says to Bloomberg. "I do not believe that the law or social norms will withhold parents from giving their children these benefits."
Theo Boer, an expert in ethics at the Protestant Theological University of Groningen, responds critically to the pronatalism movement. "In Christianity and Judaism, receiving children is always a great good. But I do not see a Biblical commandment to keep the number of Western people high. There is a much higher commandment: make all people Christ's disciples."
Also, the end does not justify all means, the professor continues. "Having many children may never lead to disregarding the commandment of marriage fidelity. In addition, of course, I do not visit Elon Musk daily, but I can hardly imagine that he can give all his children the fatherly presence needed for their healthy emotional development."
"Overpopulation is a fairytale"
Needed: More families with many children