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Peter Thiel on Facebook, Technology and the Higher Education Bubble
Peter Thiel: It would be a lot more screwed up when people weren’t allowed to leave.
Tim Cavanaugh: Hi I’m Tim Cavanaugh from Reason TV we’re here with Peter Tiel American Entrepreneur and investor thank you for joining us.
Peter: Thanks for having me.
Tim: You were an early investor in Facebook and the Facebook movie has just come out. I’m just wondering if you could speak about the accuracy of the movie not just in the story it tells but in the sociological assumptions about how you know the movie are changing us?
Peter: Well a number of factual inaccuracies about the movies is certainly a portrays people in the must worse light than I know than having worked with a number of these people for the last 6 years I think its incredibly dedicated to awesome team of people that this created tremendous value for themselves their investors and the world at large.
Well I think the movie is the most wrong is sort of imposing a Hollywood view of reality. Hollywood is a little bit zero there probably so many celebrities and everybody sort of is always on trying to edge everybody else out. Perhaps I think valiant technologies fundamentlally about creating web where everybody can do better and I think that sort of. It tries to impose a Hollywood or governmental win/lose mentality on the world that s fundamentally about winning and winning.
That I think the one very positive thing about he movie is that it is going ot encourage in spite of the worse intentions of the producers and people involved in creating it. In spite of the worst intentions it will encourage a lot of people to go into tech industry. I think on that is a very positive thing?
Tim: Are we not passed this point of you know technology is going to turn us all into automatons and its digging away our privacy and all that kind of meaning sort of fever monger?
Peter: Its hard to judge exactly where we are in society thinking about technology. My hope is that technology is able to accelerate on and its free political constraints. I do worry that if we have an up or down boat on a number of technological areas people would actually just vote against it. I think the political concerns in society is not very friendly towards scientific or technological progress and its not what people think of as the indispensable ingredient for creating more a prosperous world in the decades.
Tim: Paypal is initially is viewed in sort of you know high utopian maybe not by you but maybe by the world as sort of you know a possibility of revolutionizing a whole money system all that kind of thing, does the actual paypal experience indicate that there is no escape from the government and from the dollar system?
Peter: Its not easy to escape certainly the regulatory issues surrounding the payment monitor system are formidable. I would say at the same time that I think we’re heading towards a world where people have somewhat more control over their money than they did 30 or 40 years ago and one macro economic way of describing this is that we’re seeing lower and lower rates of inflation is getting harder for governments to inflate away I believe even Zimbabwe in the last year is basically dollarized and so and its no U.S. Dollars are legal tenders of exchanges in Zimbabwe and even though we have all sorts of concerns about the dollar being sort of a paper form of money from a point of view people mean Zimbabwe probably is a big improvement.
Tim: Which is interesting because its you know everybody knows its not backed up by anything its just that and you know as far as you can see authority of the is fastened up but its really the consensus of people in Lebanon and Zimbabwe and all of these other places where the dollar basically is the official currency.
Peter: And money is a very strange thing and what creates monetary value is a very strange thing. Without getting into all the arcane questions about where money comes from and what really means I think as a first cut decentralizing that and getting people the choice of which currency to use is probably an important starting point.
Tim: Dude do those things come about accidentally like if California starts issuing IOUs is there can you say for another 6 weeks that that’s going on this is actually a competing currency to the dollar?
Peter: It doesn’t seem like as currently constitute California would be very competitive currency to the –.
Tim: Not a lot of confidence.
Peter: Not all currency is there especially the IOU version of it.
Tim: Yeah. Talk about the C Setting institute a little bit where are we and whats your rank are you an Admiral of the Ocean Sea or.
Peter: I don’t believe I have an official rank on that score the goal has been to try to create some kind of space outside of politics. I think this is very, very important because I think there’s so much about the political sphere that’s become just poisonous about people collectively hating other people. Let’s face it in the politics about its collective hatred and we need to basically figure out a way to escape from it. I’m personally very interested in trying to identify some technological means to escape and trying to move on to the internet question that’s real you can try to move it to outer space others involved in that being too far away technology not quite working and so the C setting experiment is a bit of an in between option.
And even if a lot of people do not actually want to live on platforms int eh ocean or floating ships or floating seas I think the option of doing this, the option of opting out of politics will make it a lot better. However screwed up California is it will be a lot more screwed up when people weren’t allowed to leave and so I think the freedom to leave is one of those fundamental freedoms.
Tim: Not just are we speaking about political systems or the you know I mean we’ve seen many some of the normal people who don’t really kind of think about these things don’t really see but your right of access has vastly expanded like to get out of a bad marriage your right you know move from state to state and move from country to country although United States is actually very punitive about people leaving United States these days.
Peter: United States is not the easiest place to leave and of course we don’t want to ever have to leave it but in general the countries that are impossible to leave tend to be the ones you most likely leave so probably one of the hardest countries in the world to leave will be North Korea and there’s probably one people or most desperate to leave.
Tim: East Germany it was actually perfectly legal to immigrate from East Germany ones it turned 65 years old is at that point were seen as basically a net recipient of state of funding until your 65 you’re basically seen as being owned by the state and the people who fled to east Germany they were seen as basically stealing the states property – themselves. And one of the things that people that you’re saying people should be able to leave is college?
Peter: I think if we wanted a single discussion where there’s a bubble in the US citizen education where more and more money is being spent on the same or maybe less and less and so its some sense of defined technologies doing more with less. The things that are anti technologic are the ones where you’re doing less with more or a lot less with the same. There’s been more place in education than any other sector of our economy over the last 30 years and so its probably the furthest from technology. In practice one of the problem is that people end up amounts to enormous amounts of debt in college or graduate school and this tremendously constrains their future on options. They cannot choose to do things but they really want to do the things that they really transform to society instead they are basically tied this incredible amount of debt and I don’t think a society we should encouraging or fostering it. I think it’s a incredibly mimical to entrepreneurship is probably more critical than ever in this country.
Tim: If the government went out of that game would by not providing grants and guaranteeing loans and so forth would we be better off would we’ve see less inflation?
Peter: We will see very less inflation but its in the game on many levels we’re so far removed from government being outside of it. It’s hard to ignore what that would like.
Tim: Right now we’re in a period of – with Obama Care and sort of and administration that’s really married to a big government idea of how to sell problems yet we’re also seeing a huge backlash against that in the streets and so where do you think large terms gong into an understanding of government and the function of the state?
Peter: I think political debates are we’re surprisingly libertarian moment that’s more so than I would have thought possible 2 years ago at the same time I personally remain rather pessimistic about how much hope we have to nearly political means in a long term. It is usually something very hard about libertarians being able to win elections and it is not the preferred choice. It is sort of the last option and maybe it is the last option we’ve left maybe you know everything else has failed but I think politics becomes libertarian as an absolute last resort.