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."

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."

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

Videos
  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less