Here’s the article from yesterday’s San Jose Mercury News:
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel worries that people aren’t thinking big enough about the future.
So he’s convening an unusual philanthropic summit Tuesday night , where he’ll introduce other wealthy tech figures to nonprofit groups exploring such futuristic — some might say “far out” — ideas as artificial intelligence, the use of “rejuvenation biotechnologies” to extend human life and the creation of free-floating communities on the high seas.
“We’re living in a world where people are incredibly biased toward the incremental,” said Thiel, explaining that he wants to challenge his peers to pursue more “radical breakthroughs” in their philanthropy, by supporting nonprofit exploration of technological innovations that carry at least the promise of major advances for the human condition.
“Obviously there are a lot of questions about the impact of these things,” he added. “If you have radical life extension, that could obviously lead to repercussions for society. But I think that’s a problem we want to have.”
The 43-year-old financier and philanthropist, who made a fortune as co-founder of PayPal and an early backer of Facebook, will make his pitch to more than 200 well-heeled entrepreneurs and techies during an invitation-only dinner at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
I’m missing this event because I’m attending the Society for Risk Analysis annual conference in SLC, where I just gave a talk. I wish the best to all my colleagues attending the event, however. Here’s another Thiel quote I liked:
“One of the things that’s gone strangely wrong in the United States is that the future is not really being thought about as a major idea anymore,” he added.
Simple but true. I wasn’t alive in the 50s or 60s so I don’t know exactly what it was like, but from what I’ve read, people cared a lot more about the future. From the 70s onward, the emphasis seems to be more on the past.