Peter Thiel is one of the most controversial characters in Silicon Valley. Co-founder of Paypal, he used the money from the sale to create a global hedge fund with which he controls investments in the world of venture capital. He was one of the first shareholders of Facebook and is part of its board of directors.
However, lately he is best known for supporting President Donal Trump in the electoral campaign, because most of Silicon Valley’s personalities supported Hillary Clinton. And that’s why everything he says and does is in the spotlight: he’s a winner who has unconventional opinions.
Peter Thiel, cryptocurrencies and individual freedom
Recently, in a public debate, he stated that “cryptocurrencies are libertarian.” One of the reasons why Peter Thiel supported Trump is because the Republican President is close to his libertarian ideals, where the individual and his individual freedom are above the State.
For Thiel, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin allow commercial transactions in an uncontrollable way by the State and the Treasury, and that is why they can be a very powerful tool for their libertarian ideals. What’s more, funds can not be confiscated without finding out the private keys that protect individual purses.
Artificial intelligence and communism
In contrast, another of Silicon Valley’s trends, artificial intelligence, is, according to Thiel, on the other side of the political spectrum. Artificial intelligence allows massive control by the State, something that was impossible to date. The dream of any Communist State is the centralized control of the economy, and this is not possible without the rapid and precise processing of huge amounts of information.
That is why, says Thiel, the Communist States, like China, are very happy with artificial intelligence and not so much with cryptocurrencies. Because machine learning serves its objective of total control of the citizens and instead the cryptocurrencies grant these escape routes.
A skewed view
Of course in the debate in which he expressed these ideas, Thiel had an adversary, the founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman. He replied that cryptocurrencies could be an instrument of anarchy and artificial intelligence, on the other hand, of the rule of law.
Indeed, and here I express my personal opinion, cryptocurrencies can be very disruptive and serve not only for criminal activities, but also to escape from the control of Public Treasuries. And we must not forget that modern states are the best form of collective organization we know, never until today have we achieved such a high level of prosperity.
On the other hand, artificial intelligence can be an instrument to make these states work better, making decisions based on better data and avoiding catastrophes. It may sound that at an individual level freedom is lost, it is true. Of course if the utopia of communism had something attractive, it crumbled precisely because of an extremely imperfect application, full of corruption (I always recall that if the Germans did not manage to efficiently operate a Communist State, no one can).
Perhaps a state organized around artificial intelligence would be a nightmare to a libertarian, but it could bring us even higher levels of prosperity and lead to a practical application of the maxim that “individual freedom ends when it begins to affect that of others.”
Sincerely, between a libertarian and anarchic world, with a State incapable of collecting taxes and controlling criminal acts, ruled by the individual greed of each and another controlled by an artificial intelligence seeking the good of Humanity, I am left with the second. I’m sorry, Peter. Asimov convinced me a long time ago.