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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thiel spiel

Many libertarians think that the answer to meetings like those Davos and Bilderberg Group get-togethers of the rich and powerful is to complain about them until they stop. This is ridiculous and pointless. Quite aside from the absurdity of libertarians objecting to people freely consorting with one another, how on earth are they going to stop the richest and most powerful people on the planet from meeting up and talking to each other from time to time?

My attitude has always been, not that such gatherings are automatically evil, but that we need our people to be right there in among them, and to make them less evil. People like Peter Thiel, who strikes me as being one of the smartest and most interesting people on the planet. The usual come-back about allegedly smart people goes: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” Peter Thiel has some very good answers to that line of attack. Around 2.2 billion answers, according to Forbes magazine. This short Forbes profile describes Thiel as being “ideological to the point of eccentricity”, his particular eccentricity being that he is a libertarian. I don’t know if Peter Thiel spends any of his time bending the ears of fellow plutocrats and billionaires at gatherings like those alluded to above, but if he does, good.

And, if he does, maybe this excellent video performance provides clues about the kinds of things he says. (You might want to skip the rather numerous thankyous to other people at the start from the Independent Institute’s David Theroux, and go straight to where Thiel himself starts talking, at 7 minutes 45 seconds.)

I have ordered a copy of Thiel’s latest book, and not just because I want to read it, although I definitely do. I think of a book order as being like voting for an idea that I like the sound of, or in this case an author that I like the sound of.

10 comments to Thiel spiel

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Oh wow, this guy is good. I’ve never seen him speak before and I’m captivated.

    “What is it about our society where the people who do not have Asperger’s get talked out of all of their creative, interesting and original ideas before they’re even fully formed? You pick up on all these subtle social cues; you see ‘oh, that’s a little bit too strange; that’s too weird; that idea doesn’t make sense; maybe I’ll just go back to opening that restaurant.'”

    Can you get him for one of your Fridays?

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    We have had “a period of globalisation with somewhat more limited technological progress: a lot in computers and the world of bits; not so much in the world of atoms. You could say that for the last 40 years we have lived in a world where bits were relatively unregulated; atoms were more or less regulated to death.”

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    “Having somewhat unconventional political views is at least a small entree towards [being able to think differently]. […] When you’re in an intellectual minority you naturally build up a certain resistance to the idea that truth is collective; that it’s simply what everybody says is true.”

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palantir_Technologies

    Founder Peter Thiel, Joe Lonsdale, Alex Karp, Stephen Cohen, Nathan Gettings

    Palantir Gotham is used by counter-terrorism analysts at offices in the United States Intelligence Community and United States Department of Defense, fraud investigators at the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and cyber analysts at Information Warfare Monitor (responsible for the GhostNet and the Shadow Network investigation). Palantir Metropolis is used by hedge funds, banks, and financial services firms.[5][6][25][26]

    U.S. military intelligence used the Palantir product to improve their ability to predict locations of improvised explosive devices in its war in Afghanistan. A small number of practitioners reported it to be more useful than the U.S. Army’s program of record, the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A). California Congressman Duncan D. Hunter complained of US DoD obstacles to its wider use in 2012.[27]


    He is also involved with Y-Combinator which funds start-ups. Also look up Paul Graham in that respect. He has lots of good start-up advice.

    Also look for Y-Combinator video startup classes hosted at Stanford.

  • Laird

    A fascinating talk. Lots to think about. Thanks for posting it.

  • Paul Marks

    Good Brian – good.

  • Greg

    I’m only 5 mins in to Theil’s speech (listening as I type this) and already another gem (approximate quote): “courage is far rarer these days than genius”

    Gotta go to work now…lot’s of competition to deal with! 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    The interesting thing in this speech was Mr. Thiel’s conviction that ours is an anti-tech age. I feel as though he’s pointed to the 800-lb. gorilla in the room.