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Peter Thiel on technology and globalization

Those of you who have heard Peter Thiel speak (at the Singularity Summits and a while back at Foresight’s Senior Associates Gathering) already know that he is quite a visionary. In Hoover’s Feb/Mar 2008 Policy Review, Peter presents The Optimistic Thought Experiment, his thoughts on globalization and technology. Some excerpts:

For every account of globalization that culminates in the capitalist paradise, there are others in which globalization results in world-wide anarchy or tyranny. At a first approximation, the best possible future follows the straight and narrow path between these unappealing alternatives. The narrowness of the path is determined by the combination of the spread of destructive technology and the difficulty of improving human nature…

This time around, globalization either will succeed and humanity will achieve a degree of freedom and prosperity that can scarcely be imagined, or globalization will fail and capitalism or even humanity itself may come to an end. The real alternative to good globalization is world war. And because of the nature of today ’s technology, such a war would be apocalyptic in the twenty-first century. Because there is not much time left, the Great Boom, taken as a whole, either is not a bubble at all, or it is the final and greatest bubble in history

The solutions to hard engineering problems are not necessarily valuable, but it is unusual for the solutions to easy engineering problems to have much value in the long term…

Technology entrepreneurs and investors would do well to return to hard and important problems…

Despite all this, the world may yet resume the globalist path. The narrative of the past four centuries has not been one of continuous progress, but strewn beneath the stories of cupidity and strife there lies the story of the powerful impulse toward globalization and of the transformational effects of technology. In this context, a near-term backlash against globalization should not be confused with the end of the world, though a wholesale rollback could represent the ultimate catastrophe.

We especially like “Technology entrepreneurs and investors would do well to return to hard and important problems.” For example, productive nanosystems! —Christine

2 Responses to “Peter Thiel on technology and globalization”

  1. James G. Says:

    ‘We especially like “Technology entrepreneurs and investors would do well to return to hard and important problems.” For example, productive nanosystems! —Christine’

    Exactly. Productive nanosystems could solve all the worlds major problems, starvation, disease, global warming, war, etc. It is a tragedy that people don’t make Productive nanosystems priority #1. I saw it estimated once that productive nanosystems may cost a billion to make, but once you make them, money becomes obsolete so it makes no sense not to invest much more money into making productive nanosystems and quickly. The only science with predictable returns is computer science, vis-a-vis Moore’s law. Next year the first super computers as powerful as the human brain will be built and every year after that they will get twice as fast, such systems should greatly speed up the race to productive nanosystems as it becomes possible to design and simulate in real time whole nanobots on such computers. This is necessary to ensure their functionality and safety before they are built. Once they are simulated I feel there will be a rush to build them. But it feels as if people are dragging their feet unnecessarily. Bill Gates donates billions to help the sick and poor, but if he put an equal amount towards productive nanosystems, we would probably have such devices by now. Hopefully not long, though.

  2. Kamla Bhatt Blog » Business Entrepreneur Interviews Events Ideas Infrastructure Internet and Telecom Planes and Automobiles San Francisco Social Media Technology » Peter Thiel and Elon Musk on Entrepreneurship and Innovation Says:

    [...] Thiel’s speech  scored points with the audience for his content and approach on how to do startups. He said he has no secret formula for success, but instead what he offered was a how-to map on doing startups and business.  Using what appeared like a triadic process (he did major in Philosophy and his triadic approach reminded me of Hegel)  on how-to-business. He was a co-founder of TiE and now heads  Imagine two circles and  it is at the intersection of the two circles where  you will find success. One circle represents fundamentals like market, technology etc and the second circle represents why people don’t like companies. Another way of looking at the second circle  that represents a contrarian approach is to ask the question why people think it is not a good idea to start a business. [...]

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