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Silicon Valley

Like “naked apes, strutting around each other”

Musk and Zuckerberg: “adolescent boys” at heart. Getty

We shouldn’t be surprised that Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg want to have a cage fight, says Adrian Wooldridge in Bloomberg. The two tech titans have always been “adolescent boys” at heart. Zuckerberg used to have business cards proclaiming “I’m CEO… Bitch.” Musk celebrated his first big pay day by buying a fabulously expensive McLaren F1 sports car, then almost killed himself and his passenger, fellow tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, while demonstrating its performance. But their proposed bout also reflects Silicon Valley’s broader obsession with physical fitness and longevity. Ray Kurzweil, a famous computer scientist, reportedly necks 100 pills a day. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey begins each morning “with an infrared sauna and an ice bath, walks five miles to work, only eats one meal a day, and fasts at weekends”.

Clearly part of what’s driving all this is a desire by tech types to keep healthy the thing that made them rich: their brains. “The old Victorian adage mens sana in corpore sano (‘a fit mind in a fit body’) works as well for the Silicon Empire as it did for the British Empire.” But it’s also “something primal”. Leadership is, as ever, not just about “seeing further than your rivals” – it’s about “exerting physical dominance” over them too. And “what could say ‘macho’ louder than a cage match”? We are, underneath it all, still just “naked apes”, strutting around each other flexing our muscles. Just ask Mark and Elon.

🤼‍♀️🐘 The head of rival armies often used to engage in one-on-one combat. In 1520, during peace negotiations between England and France, Henry VIII and French King Francis I “let off steam” by having a wrestling match. (Henry lost.) In 1593, King Naresuan of Thailand and Crown Prince Mingyi Swa of Burma settled a battle “with a duel on their war elephants”.