A 23-year-old Indian techie, who is in touch with the Twitter-savvy Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, says he aspires to work with his "role model" and learn from him. Pune-based software professional Pranay Pathole had his first interaction with Mr Musk, who is now the world's richest man, four years ago while defending him from social media users who were upset with his criticism of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Elon Musk is known to respond to tweets from his followers from time to time. However, Mr Pathole says he regularly corresponds with the billionaire tech mogul through direct messages on the microblogging website on a range of issues - from technical stuff, the need for multi-planetary life and sending men to Mars.
Mr Pathole, who now works with the Tata Consultancy Services, has since been in awe of Mr Musk's "hardworking and multi-tasking ability" and dreams of physically meeting him someday.
.@elonmusk basically revolutionized the way we transfer money now. So all those crypto "experts" before passing down toxic and hateful comments think about what he has done & he knows how the money works better than any of us— Pranay Pathole (@PPathole) May 18, 2021
"One day, he is working on building the most powerful rocket (Starship), the next day he is working on a fully self-driving car, next he is trying to solve traffic issues, and trying to find solutions for diseases like Alzheimer's through Neuralink. Getting an opportunity to work with him for a young guy like me would be really amazing," he told news agency PTI.
He said that he was fascinated by the tech tycoon and used to tweet to him about technical stuff. "In 2018, I tweeted him regarding some auto wiper sensor which will start working once it detects water droplets. Within a few minutes, Musk responded that it (the feature) was being implemented in the next update (of a vehicle manufactured by his company)," he told the news agency.
The elation continued for Pathole when Musk in December 2020 sent a direct message (DM) on Twitter while replying to his query on a raptor engine used in the building of a big rocket - Starship - by Musk-owned SpaceX.
"Thereon, our DM conversation started. I used to tweet him some interesting technical things and then he would respond to it. I think he found my tweets intriguing and interesting. They (tweets) caught his attention and he started responding," he said.
He also defended the Tesla CEO when he was being ridiculed on social media for challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin to a “single combat” fight, with the fate of Ukraine at stake.
"Why are people spreading hate against @elonmusk? He's actually making a difference by providing Starlink Internet service to Ukraine, while at the same time trolling the Russian military. I really love it. It's hilarious how he is publicly ridiculing Putin," he said.
Why are people spreading hate against @elonmusk? He's actually making a difference by providing Starlink Internet service to Ukraine, while at the same time trolling the Russian military. I really love it. It's hilarious how he is publicly ridiculing Putin. pic.twitter.com/c3qvJiz49U— Pranay Pathole (@PPathole) March 16, 2022
Mr Pathole's follower count on Twitter has surged and he now has over one lakh followers but he says he is not doing it to create clout on social media. "I genuinely feel his heart is in the right place and he is trying to achieve big and ambitious things for the right reasons," he said.
The Pune-based techie, who describes himself as a "sentient machine" in his Twitter bio, says he plans to do a master's course in machine learning and data science from the US where he also hopes for a physical meeting with his role model.
He claims that Elon Musk responds to him frequently and he asks him questions about SpaceX and the technical specifications of the Starship rocket and its powerful engine.
"I also ask him about Tesla's 'full self-driving' car, and the toughest challenge that his firm's engineers have to overcome to develop such a vehicle. So, I raise these kinds of questions and he replies through DMs to me," the software engineer said.