This week on Uncommon Knowledge, host Peter Robinson mediates a discussion between PayPal founder and Stanford Professor Peter Thiel and Velocity Capital Management founder and journalist Andy Kessler on the state of technology and innovation in the United States over the past four decades. Thiel argues that, outside of computers, there has been very little innovation in the past forty years, and the rate of technological change has significantly decreased when compared to the first half of the 20th century. In contrast, Kessler asserts that innovation comes in waves, and we are on the verge of another burst of technological breakthroughs. Industries covered include education, medicine and biotechnology, as well as robots and high tech.
Peter Thiel spoke about the basic principles that underlie innovative products and startup firms, using examples from his own experience starting up firms such as Paypal and Palantir. He emphasized the importance of creating a firm or product with characteristics of monopoly, and contrasted that idea with the distinction between monopoly and competition taught in economics.
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, insists that we humans must face the truth about ourselves—no matter how good it might be. An interview with Peter Robinson.