By Michael Hendrix,
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Peter Thiel, the legendary co-founder of PayPal, says that the greatest threat to technological growth in America is a culture that embraces conformity. “I worry that the conformity problem is worse today than it was in the ‘50s,” said Thiel at an event hosted by the Mercatus Center. “Our culture basically dislikes technology in all its forms. It does not want change; it does not want progress.”
Thiel was being interviewed by Tyler Cowen, the chairman of Mercatus, on the future of innovation. He asserted that the uncertainty of progress breeds unease, and if allowed to linger eventually becomes a social norm. Innovation requires people willing to embrace unconventional ideas. It is for this reason that Thiel says breakthroughs in genetic science, for instance, are more likely to occur in China, India, and Israel, countries that he believes are more welcoming to change.
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