Peter Thiel On Why Europe Has Few Tech Giants

An interview with billionaire venture capitalist and co-founder Valar Ventures, Peter Thiel. In this interview, Peter discusses if he relies on Mathematics or instinct when investing and current politics. Peter also talks about why Europe has not created big tech companies and the progression of society.

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Peter Thiel On Investing, Politics And Creating Large Companies


Well Steve when one talks about the future and the future of technology it's it's always hard to know where this is going to go where where it's going to happen. I think I think rather than start with a future maybe it's worth just reflecting a little bit on the past and how people thought technology computers were going to develop in the past. And I think if we look over the last 60 70 years of the computer age that we're very different visions people have of how it would develop. And if you go back to say the late 1960s people had a view of computers as being the sort of powerfully centralizing force that you'd have sort of large computers large databases that would run the planet. It was the science fiction movies 2001 A Space Odyssey of sort of a computer that's running it's a little bit too powerful it's how are IBM one letter different from from the computer in Space Odyssey. There is there's this early Star Trek original Star Trek episode where they come to this planet beta where there's a computer that's been running the planet for a thousand years and it sort of runs the whole planet. The people are kind of peaceful but boring nothing ever happens and. And as usual they the Star Trek people that they don't follow the Prime Directive and they sort of convince the computer to to to destroy itself and then his history begins again.

But but that was sort of the future circa 1968 it was the computer age would be massively centralizing and then if we fast forward to the late 1990s people thought of computer technology as as powerfully decentralizing that the information age would break down very large structures were certainly linked to the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissemination of information that wouldn't be a single centralized source of truth it would be much more diffuse and that you'd have sort of this very decentralized crypto anarchist future and that was that was sort of the future of the world circa 1998. And then fast forward to 2018. Somehow we're back to 1968 we're back to thinking that the computer age means ever more centralization in the form of large companies large governments large databases. But what I think that history tells us is that we should at least really since the pendulum has swung so wildly from one end to the other we should at least be open and we should ask this question Is it really going to be ever more centralization or could it. Could it go. Could it also go the other way. And certainly if I was if I was betting on it might my sort of contrarian bias at this point would be to bet on decentralization because the pendulum is so far in one direction. I think it can only go go the other way. And you can you can sort of frame this in terms of specific technologies. So I think that in some ways AI artificial intelligence which is a very ambiguous word it means all these different things but it certainly stands for more centralization it stands for the computers the databases knowing more about you than you know about yourself. It's like the it's like the god of saying Augustan it's completely inside you it's completely outside you.

It knows more about you than you know about yourself. And and that's sort of this powerful centralizing vision of the future. But then I think the alternate technology would be something like a crypto and and all these technologies that's just there'll be more room for privacy for individual sovereignty for for things going very much the other way and from an ideological formula. You know if crypto is libertarian.