Death, taxes, Peter Thiel & blowing hard

From a New Yorker Peter Thiel puff-piece to make any PR agent proud:

Peter Thiel pulled an iPhone out of his jeans pocket and held it up. “I don’t consider this to be a technological breakthrough,” he said. “Compare this with the Apollo space program.”

Easy enough to say for someone who came up with neither and enjoys the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight.

Even if we forgive the self-serving naivete, it is impossible to grasp why Mr. Thiel is pushing a flawed thesis. He should be rooting for technological breakthroughs that improve the human condition. He should not be rooting for endeavours that consume the best minds of a generation in meaningless technological pursuits which do nothing to improve the human condition.

What has been the great hallmark of betterment which we can thank the Apollo space program for? Most aspects of the Apollo space program are rooted in the brinkmanship of the US-Russia cold war. How getting a man into space or onto the lunar surface has improved the condition of earthlings is a non-consequence to Mr. Thiel; what matters most to him is that it is a “technological breakthrough”. Compare that with the iPhone and its negligible impact on the real world and those of us that live here.

We all use and thank the Apollo space program every day for making our lives better. Has the iPhone done more to create wealth, jobs and improvement of the human condition? No contest there.

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