The Definitive Case That Elon Musk is Jon Snow, for A.I.

"Wintermute is coming."

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Flickr / OnInnovation and HBO

Jon Snow has been trying for a very long time to convince everyone that the White Walkers are real and going to invade, yet his warnings tend to fall on deaf ears; no one wants to think that an army of nearly-invincible zombies is coming to slaughter them. Game of Thrones fans have often compared this to convincing skeptics that humans are causing climate change.

But people have actually been missing the perfect Game of Thrones metaphor. It’s not climate change: It’s artificial intelligence, and Elon Musk is playing Jon Snow. Except Musk knows a lot.

On August 11, he tweeted, “If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.”

In reply, one follower made this astute analogy:

Another added, “Wintermute Is Coming,” in reference to an A.I. character from the sci-fi novel Neuromancer. Musk seemed down for the parallels, replying, “For sure.”

Let’s think about this rationally. Is Elon Musk really that much like Jon Snow?

Yes, he is.

Both are warning of killer humanoids.

The doomsday that Musk envisions is about as fantastical as Snow’s. In fact, when Musk tries to explain artificial intelligence, he often references imaginary creatures from stories. He’s compared A.I. to aliens, demons, and the Terminator.

“You’re going to see robots that can learn to walk from nothing within hours, like way faster than any biological being,” Musk has said. Both White Walkers and killer robots are vaguely human-like, except that they’re emotionless and nearly indestructible.

"With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon."

YouTube user: Fares Alahdab

Both understand the danger because they alone have “seen it.”

“On the artificial intelligence front, I have exposure to the very, most cutting-edge A.I., and I think people should be really concerned about it,” Musk said in July. “I keep sounding the alarm bell, but until people see, like, robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal.”

Jon Snow and a few comrades are perhaps the only living people who have seen the terrifying destructive and reactivating powers of the White Walkers. They watched the Hardhome Massacre and saw the Night King bring back all of the victims as zombies.

Wildling corpses being revived by the Night King.


Both ramped up their warnings two or three years ago.

Elon Musk began ringing the A.I. alarm bell in full earnest in a June 2014 CNBC interview. Since then he’s been warning us every chance he gets, to the point where A.I. developers now resent him.

That pretty much aligns with Jon Snow’s timeline; perhaps the moment when he first viscerally felt the White Walker threat was when he battled a wight in 2014 in season 4. In 2015’s season 5, he began shelling out his endless warnings to northern folks that “winter is coming,” and that they’d have to set aside their differences and fight on the same side if they wanted to survive.

"Winter is coming." Olly has never seen a White Walker and finds it difficult to prioritize the threat they pose over hating Wildlings.


What about Elon Musk and Jon Snow as people?

Both have that “destiny” aura.

Both have already accomplished things that no one thought possible. They have extremely strong internal drives and ambitious goals. Miraculous things tend to happen around them, and everyone expects that to continue. Musk’s been called the modern Einstein; Melisandre says that she resurrected Snow because the Lord of Light “want[ed] me to bring you back.”

If this sequence of shots doesn't scream destiny, nothing does.


Both are widely liked, but shouldn’t be.

Game of Thrones fans love observing the machinations of terrible people; otherwise they wouldn’t be watching the show. But Jon Snow is pretty much the most unambiguous, wholesome, principled character still alive. He mopes too much and wears one facial expression. Why do we like this guy so much?

Elon Musk is a billionaire, i.e. one of the easiest people to instinctively hate. He overworks and underpays his employees, and was kind of a douchebag in his first marriage. Yet we hang onto his every word.

Musk with his first wife, Justine Musk.

YouTube user: The App Store Chronicle

Both were outsiders as kids.

Musk was famously bullied and beaten as a kid; he even got a jagged septum from it. Snow grew up a bastard and was raised by a mother who was cold to him and wouldn’t let him sit with the family at formal events. He joined the Night’s Watch hoping to find a place where he’d better fit in.

Snow exchanges a glance with the mother who does not like him.


As The New York Times said way back in 2015, “Jon Snow has been the Al Gore of the White Walker apocalypse.” Well, it’s become clear that Elon Musk is the Jon Snow of the A.I. apocalypse. You don’t have to believe him; but do you want to be on the side of one of the least corrupt people in Westeros, or on the side of all the fools?

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