At some point over the past 30 years the achievements of scientists and politicians became overshadowed by pop singers, actors and super wealthy personalities. We live in an era and culture that fetishises celebrity and wealth, where our ‘leaders’ and ‘visionaries’ are more likely to be seen on our televisions than in books and scientific papers.

Indeed, so strong is the cult of personality that our politicians and business leaders have started to cultivate a following. Certainly, the superficial appeals to us more than the esoteric, and that doesn’t bode well for our intellectual and technological evolution. However, that is perhaps an apocryphal conclusion to the ever-changing evidence of an ever-evolving world.

Leaders changing the world for the better

Our global priorities can seem a little muddled at times because of our instant culture and worship of wealth but we’re still an incredibly compassionate, innovative species. Many of our New Age ‘leaders’ are using their celebrity and money to influence and change the world for the better.

Elon Musk

If Tony Stark were real he’d be Elon Musk. This visionary billionaire is famed not only for his keen business insight and near-prophetic ability to get in on groundbreaking start-ups but also for his eccentricities.

Musk’s main focus at the moment is overseeing a revolution in the automobile industry, which will either see Tesla cars becoming a global standard or force the traditional car manufacturers to innovate and invest in green technology. The future of transportation will be an environmentally friendly one and that’s because of Musk and his dedication to his craft.

Though Musk has more to offer the world than a mid-market electric car; he also has ideas for implant technology to upload and download information directly to a host’s brain from a computer, a hyperloop travel system, space travel and an effective way to store renewable energy to finally end our reliance on fossil fuels. He’ll soon unveil a 100-megawatt battery in South Australia – the largest lithium-ion battery in world.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is well-known for what he has given the world in terms of technology. Sir Tim Berners-Lee may have invented the internet but Gates put an affordable computer in every home and office, completely revolutionising the way we work, study and play.

Microsoft made Gates the richest man in the world – a title he has shared with Warren Buffet, the investment savant – and, along with his wife Melinda and his friend Buffet he has decided to give away almost all of his wealth.

The ultra-wealthy are often caricatured as miserly, callous individuals who’d sell their grandmother’s false teeth midway through dinner if there was a profit to be made, but the Giving Pledge is challenging that.

The Giving Pledge is a commitment by wealthy individuals and families to give away more than half of their wealth to causes including poverty eradication, clean water, sanitation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girls’ empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform and environmental sustainability.

Mark Zuckerberg

If Bill Gates changed the world when he made it affordable for almost every home to have a Windows-operated PC then Mark Zuckerberg will certainly change the world with his plans for the internet.

According to the founder of Facebook, internet access should be a fundamental human right. The internet is how we communicate, collaborate and educate in the twenty-first century and Zuckerberg is aghast that many communities across the world are either too remote to access the internet, do not have the infrastructure for it or simply cannot afford it.

His Free Basics platform gives users the opportunity to access news, health information and, of course, Facebook for free. It is hoped that this improved connectivity will boost economic activity and gift opportunities to disadvantaged users.

These billionaires are using their money and influence to change the world one issue at a time. And they aren’t just spending money; they are actively involved in everything they do. These are the leaders who are taking humanity forward.