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November 15, 2011

Peter Thiel talks about technological progress, countries, predicting the future and reinvention

Peter Thiel spoke to a group of student entrepreneurs at Stanford and he was asked what he thought the U.S. government should be doing to spur innovation.

Predicting the future and influencing the future

Thiel responded "The U.S. government is socialism without the five-year plan. As a result, we have much worse outcomes than the Soviet Union in the 1950s."

It is considered folly to think that humans can predict and influence the future. Both the right and the left believe that, although may have different opinions about who's in control -- God, free markets, psychology, fashion, or the environment, for instance.

He thinks that's wrong -- people can and should try to predict the future.




Constant Reinvention
Forbes - The United States and the rest of the so-called developed world, Thiel argued, needs to get away from the idea that they’re mature societies, even ones in decline. Companies, and even countries need to get rid of the idea that they are done redefining themselves.

Defining technological progress as “doing more with less,” Thiel said the developing world needs continue creating wild new technologies for a resource constrained world. “Space, robotics, artificial intelligence, bio-informatics… there are an enormous range of possibilities people have not even scratched the surface on.”

One area in need of reinvention: education. Students are spending too much money to pursue credentials that are becoming less valuable. “I tend to think there is a bubble in education, I think it’s the only bubble that’s left,” Thiel said. “It has to involve something people pay too much for, and it has to be intensely believed in a way that’s almost psychosocial.”


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