Futurisms: Critiquing the project to reengineer humanity

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Investing in the Singularity?

[Continuing coverage of the 2009 Singularity Summit in New York City.]
The last talk before the final break of the conference is on venture capitalism, moderated by CNBC's Robert Pisani, and including Peter Thiel, David Rose, and Mark Gorenberg.
Thiel mentions that many companies take a very long time to become profitable. He says that the first five or six investors in FedEx lost money, but it was the seventh who made a lot. So, he says, he likes to invest in companies that expect to lose money for a long time. They tend to be undervalued.

[From left: Peter Thiel, Mark Gorenberg, David S. Rose, and moderator Bob Pisani]
The mod asks how venture capitalists deal with the Singularity in making their decisions. One of the panelists responds that they're all bullish about technology, echoing Thiel: if technology does not advance, they're all screwed. But it sounds like he's effectively saying that they keep it in mind but it doesn't really impact investing. He doesn't really look farther out than ten years. Thiel says he does think that there are some impacts — among other things, it's a good time to invest in biotech. ("Yes!" says the woman next to me, in a duh voice.)

A questioner asks about why none of the panelists have mentioned investing in A.I. The guy has a very annoyed tone, as he did when he asked a question in Thiel's talk. Thiel doesn't seem enthused:

Peter Thiel

But another panelist says yes, good, let's invest more in high-tech companies! Rapturous applause.


  1. As the primary sponsor of singinst.org, his reaction may be the result of believing that a rogue AI could destroy humanity. If investment of AI isn't occurring through singinst for friendly AI, it's suspect.

  2. Hmm, perhaps. It seemed to be a larger-scale economic argument, though.


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