Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Futurist Could Have Predicted?

It would appear that reactionary robot cultist Peter Thiel is slated to speak at Trump's convention, in case you still wondered whether "the singularity" was anything but a toilet drain.


jimf said...
Peter Thiel Isn’t a Supervillain
By Maria Bustillos
May 27, 2016

. . .

Thiel, a self-avowed Ayn Rand fan who thinks that women’s suffrage
has undermined the greatness of capitalist democracy and that
freedom and democracy are incompatible, is a. . . familiar figure:
a man with a distaste for the messy realities of the political present,
over-enamored with his own intellect, and unaware of his own blind spots.
If you’ve spent enough time on Twitter, or in the great comments
sections of the internet, you know this type depressingly well.
In truth the only thing really scary about Peter Thiel is that he
has enough money to buy his own serious reception.

And money he has! While he considers his campaign against Gawker
“one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done,” it’s
hardly the only “philanthropy” he participates in. . .

Thiel was born in Germany but raised in California, a chess prodigy
(ranking seventh among under-13s, at age 12; okay, that’s pretty good)
and brilliant student (valedictorian of San Mateo High School,
California, okay). At Stanford he co-founded a libertarian journal,
The Stanford Review (thanks to funds from the Collegiate Network,
an Olin Foundation–funded group that nurtured and funded conservative/libertarian
student publications from whence arose a startling number of
right-wing pundits), went on to law school, failed to secure a
Supreme Court clerkship (to be fair: a failure most of us share!),
and spent much of the 1990s trading derivatives and running a hedge fund.

His career as one of tech’s most revered investors began in 1998,
when he founded PayPal with Max Levchin. Thiel seemed to initally see
PayPal as the beginning stages of what was destined to become a
bitcoin-like networked finance system — part tax shelter, part hedge
against currency fluctuations, part mad high-libertarian scheme to
free humanity. It failed to do any of those things, but it made Thiel
enormously rich when it sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, in 2002.
His post-PayPal hedge fund, Clarium Capital, was somewhat less
successful — by 2011, the value of investments had fallen 65 percent
from their peak in 2008 — but a $500,000 loan he made to Mark Zuckerberg
has since turned into a 10 percent stake in Facebook, worth more than
a billion dollars, and a seat on the company’s board.

Those billions — and the consequent reputation as a tech-investor god —
have translated into pure respect and reverence from certain quarters,
even as Thiel’s politics have become increasingly distant from the
mainstream. Routinely described as a libertarian, Thiel’s stated preferences,
which he says have evolved since his college days, seem closer to the
quasi-monarchical longings of the “Dark Enlightenment” set — a fear
of the influence of “the masses,” and a firm belief in the supremacy
of the strong-willed individual. . . Small wonder that he will serve
as a delegate for Donald Trump at this summer’s Republican convention. . .

Heads up, everybody. Peter Thiel (and Donald Trump) are
Better Than You Are. Get over it!

And in re The Singularity (capitalize and genuflect when you
mention That, pardner!), cf. "Competent Elites"
Eliezer Yudkowsky's sparkly celebration of plutocracy
(via )

Dale Carrico said...

Not a bad time to remind readers of my Classic Hollywood Villain Peter Thiel Scolds Hollywood for Decelerating the Future from a few years back...