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Author Topic: Peter Thiel on Bitcoin  (Read 7377 times)
NOTtheMessiah
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February 20, 2012, 05:01:48 AM
 #1

This weekend I was at the International Students for Liberty conference where Peter Thiel gave the opening keynote. I asked him about PayPal's crypto-anarchist roots and the future of Bitcoin and currencies that might follow (in retrospect, I should have specified Bitcoin, because he was a bit vague with his response), and he seemed somewhat fond of the idea, hinted that some sort of cyber-currency future is inevitable, but said that Bitcoin isn't likely to have the network effects necessary to take off, and said that gold-backed currencies already have a great deal of support, and would serve as a better fit for a competing currency. He said that he would have more to say on the topic. Someone I talked to who attended a private social with Thiel mentioned there was an impression that Thiel hadn't done his homework when further questioned on the topic.

I don't have his exact response, but I know the event was taped, and suspect that videos will be uploaded by Students for Liberty after editing.

Edit1: CoinSpeculator shares details of a more in-depth discussion with Thiel
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=64610.msg760848#msg760848

Edit2: The official video of his response is up:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fsUMoHZ1cY#t=857s
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February 20, 2012, 05:10:54 AM
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Isn't he the guy behind funding a city build on the ocean for startups?  What a cool guy.
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February 20, 2012, 07:20:20 AM
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Sounds like he has not done any of his homework...

But then again why would he?

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February 20, 2012, 07:48:09 AM
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Looks like the videos are just now starting to hit YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38ScwWPoR38

Did you know?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thiel

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Thiel is listed as a member of the Steering Committee of The Bilderberg Group, a controversial group of influential business and government leaders who meet annually behind closed doors under a media blackout to discuss world issues.
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February 20, 2012, 10:16:02 AM
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Did you know?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thiel

Quote
Thiel is listed as a member of the Steering Committee of The Bilderberg Group, a controversial group of influential business and government leaders who meet annually behind closed doors under a media blackout to discuss world issues.
He's an interesting cat for sure.  Log cabin Republican, strong Libertarian, and basically head of the Bilderbergs.  One of these things is not like the others (and these days, that would be Libertarian rather than Bilderberg).

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February 20, 2012, 10:46:32 AM
 #6

of course the rich, if acting out of self-interest, would advocate a top-down cyber-currency backed by gold or by big corps (google, facebook) rather than a digital grassroots bottom-up currency like bitcoin.

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February 20, 2012, 01:34:36 PM
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of course the rich, if acting out of self-interest, would advocate a top-down cyber-currency backed by gold or by big corps (google, facebook) rather than a digital grassroots bottom-up currency like bitcoin.

Yep, Thiel lost it for me after they caved and rolled-over on their original vision for PayPal.
http://reason.com/archives/2005/08/01/who-killed-paypal

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February 20, 2012, 03:58:04 PM
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This weekend I was at the International Students for Liberty conference where Peter Thiel gave the opening keynote. I asked him about PayPal's crypto-anarchist roots and the future of Bitcoin and currencies that might follow (in retrospect, I should have specified Bitcoin, because he was a bit vague with his response), and he seemed somewhat fond of the idea, hinted that some sort of cyber-currency future is inevitable, but said that Bitcoin isn't likely to have the network effects necessary to take off, and said that gold-backed currencies already have a great deal of support, and would serve as a better fit for a competing currency. He said that he would have more to say on the topic. Someone I talked to who attended a private social with Thiel mentioned there was an impression that Thiel hadn't done his homework when further questioned on the topic.

I don't have his exact response, but I know the event was taped, and suspect that videos will be uploaded by Students for Liberty after editing.

I'm SFL Alumni and really wanted to attend that conference and hear Peter talk . What college are you from?

 

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February 20, 2012, 04:29:23 PM
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Proving Peter Thiel wrong in 3, 2, 1.... http://www.thebitcointrader.com/2011/12/goldmoney-is-no-longer-money.html

Why is it so hard for people to understand that a "gold backed" currency has counter-party risk in the backer?? Sure, it's superior to fiat, but it's inferior to a decentralized commodity currency like Bitcoin.
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February 20, 2012, 04:53:09 PM
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Proving Peter Thiel wrong in 3, 2, 1.... http://www.thebitcointrader.com/2011/12/goldmoney-is-no-longer-money.html

Why is it so hard for people to understand that a "gold backed" currency has counter-party risk in the backer?? Sure, it's superior to fiat, but it's inferior to a decentralized commodity currency like Bitcoin.

+1
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February 20, 2012, 05:30:52 PM
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of course the rich, if acting out of self-interest, would advocate a top-down cyber-currency backed by gold or by big corps (google, facebook) rather than a digital grassroots bottom-up currency like bitcoin.

Yep, Thiel lost it for me after they caved and rolled-over on their original vision for PayPal.
http://reason.com/archives/2005/08/01/who-killed-paypal

I found this interesting in that quoted article:

Quote
Industry publications hinted that the IPO was PayPal's way of shopping for a savior, while one Silicon Valley lawyer wrote in the California legal publication The Recorder that PayPal was an ideal money laundering mechanism for "drug dealers and domestic terrorists," despite the successful anti-fraud devices concocted by Levchin's tech team.

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February 20, 2012, 05:34:15 PM
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He's an awesome all round transhumanist/technolibertarian who think big. However, like others said, he didn't to do his homework on bitcoin.

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February 20, 2012, 05:51:54 PM
 #13

He's an awesome all round transhumanist/technolibertarian who think big. However, like others said, he didn't to do his homework on bitcoin.

Or he did do his homework and cleverly sidetracked the issue.

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February 20, 2012, 06:02:56 PM
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transhumanist/technolibertarian...  head of the Bilderbergs...


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February 21, 2012, 12:59:45 PM
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I was the one who asked him questions at the IHS social.

Basically I said that in every objective measure of a currency's usefulness, bitcoin is superior to gold.  Then he informed me that currencies didn't have objective value, which was sort of funny standing next to to the head of YAL who was an avowed objectivist.

Anyway, I asked why gold was any better than eggs, or shells, or beads, or anything else with the classical notions of concrete tangible value that predated gold and he explained that gold was concentrated and easy to transport.  So I then asked him if being able to load the 1.5 billion value he sold paypal for onto one usb drive rather than the 400 tons of gold he would need to lug around otherwise had objective value.  He kinda dismissed the point and tried to explain how no one used bitcoin and that was its downfall.  I pushed back again pointing out the million or so dollars traded for bitcoins in the last day, the 60,000 GPU's mining bitcoin right now, and the 40,000 or so Silk Road users as all providing fairly stable bootstrapping mechanisms along with the interest in adoption by those in destabilized economies such as Africa.

I then tried to point out other advantages such as being impossible to counterfeit, far more divisible than gold/paper/etc., and soon to be added 2-party escrow/multisig transactions.  I don't think he really grasped the usefulness of each of those factors and I decided to stop pressing the issue so some other kid could ask about what school they should go to or something equally inane.

The whole conference was so encouraging because of raw numbers (over 1000 libertarians) but it was rather sad that it was more about shiny suits than debating ideas.  I would have loved to give a presentation on bitcoins, spectrum property rights, and inevitable deflation of the federal reserve system to spark at least something.  The Stossel taping that will be showing on Thursday was also rather sad, John Bolton was a complete tool and the crowd rightfully booed him, but I'm sure it won't play well on television.
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February 21, 2012, 02:05:58 PM
 #16

Meh. He lost me at "being founder of PayPal," and not that I learned he's a Log Cabin Republican, I just plain dislike him. there's a HUGE difference between Republicans and Libertarians, and Log Cabin guys are just some sort of weird hypocrisy. I don't know why he would even bother with the former if he calls himself the later. So, him not knowing about Bitcoin is "eh, whatever." If Bitcoin takes down PayPal before he realizes what happened, it'll be a good thing.

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February 21, 2012, 04:01:52 PM
 #17

I still believe there is little use in trying to convince people up high to buy into Bitcoins and just let them be with their ignorance and/or FUD and instead just come to an understanding that it's us who are in charge.

The less you debate about Bitcoin the more gets done > more applications > more users > more profit.


But I'm sure it raised some people's attention in the back rows.



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February 21, 2012, 04:08:24 PM
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Meh. He lost me at "being founder of PayPal," and not that I learned he's a Log Cabin Republican, I just plain dislike him. there's a HUGE difference between Republicans and Libertarians, and Log Cabin guys are just some sort of weird hypocrisy. I don't know why he would even bother with the former if he calls himself the later. So, him not knowing about Bitcoin is "eh, whatever." If Bitcoin takes down PayPal before he realizes what happened, it'll be a good thing.

Peter Thiel, last time I check, doesn't own paypal anymore.

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February 21, 2012, 04:37:50 PM
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I still believe there is little use in trying to convince people up high to buy into Bitcoins and just let them be with their ignorance and/or FUD and instead just come to an understanding that it's us who are in charge.

+1
Sometimes it feels like trying to convince the CEO of Kodak that digital cameras are the future, and should be adopted as a replacement of their film industry, 10 years ago.

NOTtheMessiah
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February 21, 2012, 04:59:22 PM
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The whole conference was so encouraging because of raw numbers (over 1000 libertarians) but it was rather sad that it was more about shiny suits than debating ideas.  I would have loved to give a presentation on bitcoins, spectrum property rights, and inevitable deflation of the federal reserve system to spark at least something.  The Stossel taping that will be showing on Thursday was also rather sad, John Bolton was a complete tool and the crowd rightfully booed him, but I'm sure it won't play well on television.
Unfortunately, Students for Liberty tends to stay on the Cato/Reason/IHS/FEE side of things, and in an effort to maintain the appearance of consensus and consistency doesn't bring up the controversial edge cases (such as regulating the spectrum as you mention) of applying libertarian philosophy to stage, so all we get is the simplistic/cherry-picking version of libertarianism from top-down that people like Stossel exemplify and inevitably condemns libertarianism to the margins of politics. However, I had great discussions with other attendees and it seemed to be a great opportunity for networking.
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