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November 10, 2011

Thiel to WSJ: Seasteads Can Help Spur Innovation

 The Wall Street Journal‘s executive online editor Alan Murray recently sat down with Paypal founder and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel and asked the question, "How Can Government Help Spur Innovation?"

In the interview, Thiel remarks on the difficulty of actuating change at the political level, and opts not to pontificate on the hypothetical question of what policies he would implement as a head-of-state. "Practically," says Thiel, "you would be spending all your time kissing babies and trying to get re-elected, and there is an incredible difference between the practical and theoretical answers." It doesn’t take long for the interviewer to steer the conversation towards the attention-grabbing subject of brand new governments on the high seas. Although seasteading may seem like a theoretical project to some, Thiel highlights it as a practical and viable way to produce more competition among governments, and in turn, increase innovation. "I do think the question of whether things can be done differently is a very important political question to ask, and if you were designing a society from scratch, it would not be like the state of California, it would not be like the U.S.," Thiel continues, "You would be designing it from something completely new."

Thiel became widely known for his early investing role in Facebook, which earned him his second fortune (after Paypal), as well as a portrayal in the 2010 movie The Social Network. Lately, however, he has become increasingly recognized for his iconoclastic philanthropic endeavors (including his generous support of the Institute) which aim to jump-start stagnating innovation.

Click the image to watch the interview: