Sunday, September 5, 2010

Let's create a New Defense sector

I'm fascinated by Peter Thiel's essay "The Optimistic Thought Experiment". It's about globalization's past and future and has many awesome things to ponder, but as a technologist and entrepreneur this paragraph grabbed me, emphasis mine:
Technology entrepreneurs and investors would do well to return to hard and important problems. As globalization proceeds apace, the decisive unsolved problem concerns the issue of security. There remains a tremendous need for real defense against the proliferation of destructive technologies — reaching well beyond the Orwellian “defense” industry, with its proclivity for constructing new contraptions that kill large numbers of people. Along with the New Economy and New Media, there should exist a valuable sector that could be described as New Defense — at least in any twenty-first century in which humanity does not blow itself up. The absence of such a sector serves as a subtle reminder of the complacent myopia of Silicon Valley venture capitalists investing in “technology.”
I don't know what this means for me personally yet but I'm pretty excited to think about it.  I can't find the links anymore, but it reminds me of criticism that emerged from last year's Techcrunch 50 event, about how most of the 50 companies were not working on anything that would fundamentally improve the human condition.


James said...

My very off the cuff perspective:
Some of this is a perception problem. When people talk about startups today, they are mainly talking about internet startups that are (sadly) often just websites with some social features.
There are however a lot of businesses starting up that tackle more 'real world' problems and do try to improve the human condition.
Tunnel vision keeps us focused on the people that do the new big website, regardless of whether or not it improves our existence because they happen to close the big VC rounds or otherwise make a crazy profit or exit.

Mike Subelsky said...

Hi James,

Oh I'd 100% agree with you. I didn't mean to say "no one is working on hard problems" only "many of the people and companies I encounter in the Internet sector don't seem to be".