Downtime

Sep 11 2019   4:00PM GMT

That don’t impress Ma much

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

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Over to Hangzhou now, where the richest man in China has thrown himself the mother of all retirement bashes by performing in front of an audience of 60,000 employees.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma donned a studded leather jacket and shades as he “sang” You raise me up with incoming company CEO Daniel Zhang, evoking treasured memories of those X Factor final performances where they roll out the rejects from the audition stages. But after 20 years at the helm, the former English teacher can be let off for his indulgences. You didn’t boo Bob Geldof at Live Aid, did you?

Whose head wouldn’t be in the clouds if they had Ma’s life? Everything must seem so boring unless you’re having a sing-song with your mates. In a recent talk with Elon Musk, he responded to the idea of humanity being a biological bootloader for digital superintelligence by requesting they “talk about something fun”.

What about the prospect of becoming a multi-planet species, then? Musk gave it a try: “This is the first time in the history of Earth that it’s been possible to extend life beyond. Let us secure the future of consciousness as quickly as possible.” Nah, not interested. Ma just changed the subject to the Himalayas: “When the elevator’s ready, I will go and have a look.”

Go and get the guitar.

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