It is a Luddite world, claims PayPal co-founder

LudditePeter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, said that we live in a world where science is hated and real technological progress has stalled.

Thiel told the Gartner Symposium/IT this week that there is little innovation out there and he blames the fact that we are living in a financial, capitalistic age.

He said that this is a period in history when  people generally dislike science and technology. Movies “all show technology that doesn’t work, that … kills people, that it is bad for the world.”

Terminator, The Matrix, Avatar, Elysium and Gravity. The message of Gravity is that “you never want to go into outer space”. The movie industry is reflecting and feeding a public bias against science, he said.

Thiel added that technology has a much different meaning today than it did in the 1950s or 1960s. During that period, it meant computers and rockets, underwater cities, new forms of energy and all sorts of supersonic airplanes. Since then, there “has been this narrowing” view that technology is mostly information technology, he said.

While advances today may be enough to dramatically improve business efficiencies and create great new companies, “it’s not clear it’s always enough to take our civilization to the next level,” said Thiel.

Thiel thinks that there is a lack of any conviction. If you have conviction around getting certain things done, a very short list of things, that’s how you really push for progress,” whether in a corporation or government.

He said that the Manhattan project, which built a nuclear bomb in 3.5 years, and led to the moon landing in the 1960s was a complex coordination around a well-defined plan, which is very out of fashion.