Peter Thiel: Regulation Stifles Innovation

"The critical thing is to figure out a way to get the technology engine restarted," says the venture capitalist. "And we should have less government regulation to enable that."

Peter Thiel: Regulation Stifles Innovation

Governments cannot encourage the sort of technological innovation that is necessary to keep the U.S. economy growing, says PayPal founder and Clarium Capital President Peter Thiel. To illustrate this, he compares heavily regulated sectors like transportation, health care, and energy—which have been slow to progress—to the relatively unregulated and booming IT sector.

Technology and free markets reinforce one another, says Thiel, who is a minority investor in Big Think. Technological progress creates growth, and as economies grow, governments tend to deregulate. But if progress gets stalled, you end up with a zero-sum situation, where one person's gain is another's loss. That, in turn, creates a vicious cycle of even more regulation and less innovation, which necessitates even more politics to redistribute a pie that's no longer growing, he says.

At a recent conference, Microsoft founder Bill Gates doubted the free market's ability to encourage innovation in the long term. But Thiel doesn't believe that governments do any better. U.S. senators focus only on their six-year terms, whereas companies are looking at least 10 to 20 years down the line, the time horizon over which a stock price is typically valued.

"The critical thing is to figure out a way to get the technology engine restarted," Thiel says. "And we should have less government regulation to enable that."

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less

Modern society is as unequal as 14th century Europe

As bad as this sounds, a new essay suggests that we live in a surprisingly egalitarian age.

"Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius"

Getty Open Content
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new essay depicts 700 years of economic inequality in Europe.
  • The only stretch of time more egalitarian than today was the period between 1350 to approximately the year 1700.
  • Data suggest that, without intervention, inequality does not decrease on its own.
Keep reading Show less

You are suffering from “tab overload”

Our love-hate relationship with browser tabs drives all of us crazy. There is a solution.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Technology & Innovation
  • A new study suggests that tabs can cause people to be flustered as they try to keep track of every website.
  • The reason is that tabs are unable to properly organize information.
  • The researchers are plugging a browser extension that aims to fix the problem.
Keep reading Show less
Personal Growth

Epicurus and the atheist's guide to happiness

Seek pleasure and avoid pain. Why make it more complicated?