Peter Thiel, quirky billionaire tech mogul, PayPal founder and original Facebook investor has done so many things right. So, when he recently predicted that the United States is in a post-recession Great Stagnation of science and technology — people listened. At this year’s FreedomFest Peter Thiel announced in his debate with George Gilder, entitled “Future Shock: Has Technology Stalled in America?”, that technological innovation has essentially flat-lined. “There’s been insane progress in computers, Internet, and all things related to it,” Thiel said during his debate at FreedomFest. “It’s been offset by incredible failure in energy. To a first order, the two things have cancelled each other out.”
Thiel qualified his predictions with four examples of how tech has already stagnated:
- Transportation innovation has slowed, citing that it now takes longer to fly coast to coast.
- Education is now too expensive.
- Energy prices are rising across all sectors despite our reliance on it.
- Medical breakthroughs and new drugs have become too costly to develop due to the FDA.
Thiel is a tech-visionary that helped fund LinkedIn and Facebook, after which he became one of the 400 richest people in the country (and all this was only after giving birth to the largest online-banking-style internet site, PayPal). Thiel largely blames the techno-slowdown on regulations and other forms of intervention from the government — and the green-leaning hippies. “The world’s last great science fair was in 1968. In 1969, the hippies took over the world, and the science progress was lost,” said Thiel at FreedomFest.
Thiel’s comments are aligned with Tyler Cowen an American economist and author who wrote, “The Great Stagnation”. The two are essentially arguing that despite the growth in personal computing devices and other forms of personal technology, the sector as a whole plateaued long ago. They also believe the stagnation in innovation has caused real wages to stagnate since the 70s.
During Gilder and Thiel’s debate Gilder, a supply-side economist and published author, played devil’s advocate and argued that Moore’s Law (computer power doubles every 18 months while dropping in price about 50%) is still in effect and technology is growing strong. Gilder says that venture capitalists, like Thiel, are still thriving despite the government dragging their heels in technological arenas.
Thiel offered some solid substantiations during the debate, and coming from one of the most successful tech-entrepreneurs they carrier weight. But then again this is the same guy who is investing in an island-libertarian-state in order to create a bettered society without the rule of law holding citizens back with things like gun laws, welfare and minimum wage.