Quote note (#179)

Peter Thiel on Silicon Valley’s “cultural disconnect”:

There is a big disconnect, because you have this sense of stagnation and slow growth in many other places, and you have this incredible boom in Silicon Valley. […] Also, I do not think we live in a scientific and technological age, as a society. I think most people do not like science and technology. They’re scared of it. All you have to do is watch science-fiction movies — they all show technology that doesn’t work, or they’re dystopian. I watched “Gravity” last year, and it’s like you’re so glad to be back on a muddy island. You never want to go into outer space. […] There’s something about our society that’s incredibly conservative, in the sense of not wanting things to change. So I think there’s a cultural disconnect with Silicon Valley that’s pretty big.

August 24, 2015admin 37 Comments »
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37 Responses to this entry

  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    “Not in a technological age”, indeed.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 9:21 am Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    “Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. Expelled from individual consciousness by the rush of change, history finds its revenge by stamping the collective unconsciousness with habits, values, expectations, dreams. The dialectic between past and future will continue to form our lives.”
    – Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

    Be careful with your science, as response can be quite violent. Watched yesterday Transcendence (2014) another AI movie.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 10:21 am Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    These comments are closer to the truth. “[We’ve seen] innovation in the world of bits, but not in the world of atoms.”

    …But, even with those more appropriate comments, I am forced to disagree. There have been astounding technological advances on virtually all fronts since roughly 2008. From genetic engineering, to materials science, to basic physics. The scientific presses — i.e. Elsevier and Nature, et al. — are publishing more research than ever before, and this research is generally of a very high quality. What’s lagging is the public adoption and the commercialization of new technologies… and what particularly lags is commercial progress in heavily-regulated industries, like energy and pharma, where innovation is badly constrained by excessive and onerous government control. (Needless to say, the two greatest inhibitors of technological progress are the government and the insurance industry.)

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    Butler Reply:

    “The scientific presses — i.e. Elsevier and Nature, et al. — are publishing more research than ever before, and this research is generally of a very high quality”

    I’m not really sure which scientific papers you’ve been reading, but in my limited experience being an academic scientist, the flavour of the decade seems less “very high-quality progress” and more “crisis of reproducibility”, wherein the realization is slowly dawning that the vast majority of scientists are hacks and the vast majority of papers are content-less fodder for the publish-or-perish mill, with researchers who arrive at their ‘results’ only through extremely disingenuous treatment of the data.

    But when a man’s livelihood depends on him not understanding statistical inefficiency, it is very difficult to get him to understand statistical inefficiency.

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    SVErshov Reply:

    most articles I stop reading after first two sentences. still it does not means some very valuable research have not been done in last decade. some such research appeared exactly as result of government prohibitive policies. In Germany for example after prohibition of work with embryonic stem cells a lot of money and focus moved into adult stem cell research. it resulted in few interesting discoveries. sperm and oocytes been produced from mouse bone marrow, fertelisez and implanted into same mouse. healthy offsprings were born. I hate to say that, but for the sake of science, – woman NO NEED man to make babies any more. SIRNA, 6 letter DNA is another biggest ones imo.

    A lot research privately funded and results remains behid closed doors. in stem cells for last 15 years Novartis been busy buying any private stem cell company in the world which is ready for trials. Israeli Gamida cells was last one.

    About BS in journals, it is not only in journals. I tested my self many protocols from main text book on cell culture “Animall cell culture.” 90% – BS. for example what, I still remember. Protein extruction from cells. they recomend freezing thawing cell in LN 6 times. Done that, after put it into culture cells start deviding like normal.

    Would be not mistake to conclude that what is valuable in science is keept behind closed doors, and for public all other kind.

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    Erebus Reply:

    @Butler

    See my response to Bob Sykes below.

    You’re focusing on the noise and ignoring the signal. Sure, there’s a lot of crap out there. (There always has been, but I’ll grant that it’s worse now than ever.) There’s also a lot of really good research, and there have been startling advances made over the past few years.

    Besides, if we ignore the pay-to-publish mills, many of which are known frauds, how many papers would you suggest are content-less garbage? In my own fields of chemistry and materials engineering I would have to estimate that the number is below 15%. This does not constitute a “vast majority.” Even in biology, a claim that 40% of all papers published are utterly worthless can, I think, be dismissed out of hand.

    …Maybe if you’re in sociology or climate science…

    @SVErshov
    Where the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, you’re absolutely right. It’s interesting that the latest pharmaceutical breakthrough, the Hep-C cure sofosbuvir, was made available in early 2014 — but was invented and characterized in 2003. Last year may have seen great discoveries — but we won’t hear about them for a while. (It’ll be a couple of years before they show up in the heavily-obfuscated patent literature…)

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    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 10:26 am Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    CRISPR alone is a breakthrough great enough to make even the great technological pessimist, Tyler Cowen talk about big changes. When commentators quizzed him on why he was continuing his ironic “There is no great stagnation” series(showing incremental and often silly innovations) he didn’t reply, however.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 11:01 am Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#179) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 11:17 am Reply | Quote
  • bob sykes Says:

    The science fiction of 50 years ago was generally optimistic. Heinlein is a good example, and “When Worlds Collide” is another. In the science fiction of that time, disasters are overcome, and the world is a better place. It should be noted that Americans were optimistic and hopeful back then. Today they despair. The science fiction (and all art) reflects the changed mood.

    PS. The idea that modern science is high quality and making rapid progress is absurd. The highly cited, refereed journals are littered with fallse reports, many fraudulent and most the product of incompetentce. It is a notorious fact that most experiments cannot be duplicated, and that the statistical methods used are usually wrong. All the biological sciences, most especially medicine and environmental science, are by and large mostly garbage. A majority of climate scientists are clearly committing fraud. The monetary and prestige rewards for publishing are so large, and the chance of getting caught so small that many people take the risk. Academic scientists are the worst. They are unsupervised and unmonitored. At least the FDA watches the industrial researchers.

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    I try and avoid climate science. I also know that the field of biology is rife with fraud and irreproducible results — though at least some of that can be due to the fact that conditions in biological experiments can be difficult to replicate.

    …But having said that, I stand by my original statement. There’s a lot of good research published on a regular basis, and interesting, often very significant, discoveries are made with regularity. And this holds true even for biology: The past 3 years have seen CRISPR, huge advances in understanding the role of gut microbiota on human health, researchers who have managed to turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells, and even broad genome-modification technologies such as the CRISPR-based “gene drive.” You’ve got to give the field a bit of credit, and acknowledge that there has been strong work in biology over the past few years.

    Rapid advances are also being made in many other sectors. Anecdotal: I spent the morning researching quantum dots at the Moore library in Cambridge, which is fortunate enough to have a regularly updated collection. I reviewed ten books on the subject. There was nothing useful on the subject written prior to 2005, and the two books published in 2005 were very nearly useless. The more interesting books dated from 2011 onwards. (I find that most non-math scientific books tend to have a shelf-life of ~10-15 years. This is especially true for biology.)

    Another anecdote: The most mature quantum dot technologies are cadmium based. (CdSe.) It’s not science that’s preventing you from having nicer cellphone screens and better photodetectors — it’s outdated regulations that prohibit cadmium in devices. (Even though they would be confined, and would not pose a threat to human health.)

    [Reply]

    Lucian of Samosata Reply:

    “It’s not science that’s preventing you from having nicer cellphone screens and better photodetectors — it’s outdated regulations that prohibit cadmium in devices. (Even though they would be confined, and would not pose a threat to human health.)”

    That’s what you get for thinking your science and engineering degree is more important than my victim studies degree.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 11:54 am Reply | Quote
  • TroperA Says:

    It’s quite simple. All of the world outside of Silicon Valley is concerned with Social Justice. When Social Justice infests a company or an institution, it acts like a virus, turning that company or institution into a Social Justice Factory (with whatever the hell the thing happened to be doing relegated to a close second. BTW, You know a company is on the outs when it starts squwalking about all of the women its appointing to board positions.) Don’t blame fear of technology for people’s lack of interest in going to the moon. Blame the people who decided to give all of the moon money away to “the underprivileged.”

    Most people I know are just fine and dandy with technology–as long as it can show Youtube videos and give them their daily Facebook Narcisissm Boost.

    [Reply]

    vxxc2014 Reply:

    All the world is concerned with social justice.<

    No it isn't.

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    4candles Reply:

    Yes it is.

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    Lucian of Samosata Reply:

    It should be though :^)

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    TroperA Reply:

    Yes, because there are STILL some uncontaminated institutions out there who feel that performing a task is far more necessary than crossing off boxes on a hiring/participation diversity checklist. Those people must go. (Of course, when those people go, the rest of civilization goes along with them, but at least the bluehairs on Tumblr will be well versed in how to complain about our crumbling, increasingly non-functional society. Until the electricity goes off, that is…)

    Lucian of Samosata Reply:

    Might be for the best. Just think of all those toxically masculine white people that use electricity.

    4candles Reply:

    Electricity is emasculating. HRx (much like dinobots) says ‘We must kill electricity!’ for precisely this reason. What sort of pansy doesn’t use a cut-throat razor? A bloody electricity-raised, progressive one, that’s who. PLUS, electricity created TETRIS. Bastard CRISPRy CRISPRy Benjamin Franklin!

    Axes and hatchets, sledges and wedges
    These are just some of my favorite things…

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 12:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    Socionomics says this is mood related and socionomic theorists predicted this shift following the 2000 stock market peak, more so after the 2008 crash. People are pro-science during periods of rising mood, which marked most of the 20th Century, certainly post-WWII to 2000. Mood peaked in 2000 and the public turns more to superstition and myths. The History Channel has shows about “Ancient Aliens” on every day, giving the opinions of “ancient astronaut theorists.” GMOs attacked, vaccine fears, technology seen as used by governments for spying and abridging your rights.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 1:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    The Good: Tech commidization and yes tech being widely “democratized” has the common man already on the path of being the skilled artisan and contractor for specialized parts of own design and manufacture. Putting a Gutenberg, encyclopedia Britannica and mini-factor [3D printing, CAD] in every house or garage that wants to do something other than download Faps to their electronic miracle has done it’s good. If we all didn’t have FIRE/Finances Debt leverage of Damocles [an 100% elite run and staffed operation] it would have already exploded and will once the West and America get a government that isn’t insane.

    The Bad: Cultural Disconnect=America like everywhere else is just a rental to these people.
    America is a Data Center and they’re just renting space.

    The Ugly: “Don’t blame fear of technology for people’s lack of interest in going to the moon. Blame the people who decided to give all of the moon money away to “the underprivileged.”

    The people who decided to do that are a 100% elite operation as well. The Voters had no choice on that in the 1970s when it was done or since. Nixon made that decision and the alternative was McGovern. No politician has really mentioned Space since Reagan and he did it – successfully – in the context of the Cold War.

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    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 2:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    i dont know Id say there’s as much optimistic star wars/ star trek sci fi as pessimistic which I think reflects a healthy balance of thinking about tech/sci most of the scare stuff is tinged with an anti capitalist meme jurasic park etc. I think its a legitimate question who is thinking through the irrevocable impacts, this worry started with the nuclear age because some scenarios are existential that becomes more true as we proceed. But harder for people too understand. Im optimistic it will be ok and doubt anything could be stopped if it were understood to actually be quite risky,
    I also think there has been a lot of good scientific progress past decade a lot MM was wrong about that, there are some bottlenecks and diversity eats up astronomical resources so

    [Reply]

    Lucian of Samosata Reply:

    “I also think there has been a lot of good scientific progress past decade a lot MM was wrong about that”

    That’s not what he was talking about.

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    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 4:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • scientism Says:

    He made that comment in 2014. Silicon Valley has now been assimilated. Diversity is now more important than innovation.

    [Reply]

    SanguineEmpiricist Reply:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard about any one person here talk about diversity. Diversity as a movement is overrated.

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    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 4:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • A.B Prosper Says:

    People are smarter than you think.

    Science isn’t making life vastly better for most of us and hasn’t in many decades. Real life expectancy isn’t terribly higher and while medicine democratizes longevity it doesn’t add to the upper limits and its highly unevenly distributed anyway.

    Life certainly isn’t more enjoyable than in 1950 either, I-Phones are not better than say a transistor radio and you won’t get vastly more pleasure from 10,000 pirated MP3’s than you would from a favorite DJ and the top 40

    The advantages are there but they are incremental

    What tech is doing for sure is alienating people and very possibly putting the human future at risk.

    So average people are quite wisely suspicious of groups of overly smart, overly educated detached people who are often autistic and often sociopaths

    [Reply]

    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    I honestly don’t see how tech is alienating. ‘Authentic’ human experience (eg. of love) has always been nothing more than the programmatic response of Darwin-approved brain stimulants. D&G’s philosophy of saturation proved in the 70’s that artificial animation of ‘natural’ coded designs can short-circuit fitness and route around limiting exogenous factors. For example, who needs to bother with an organic community when you’ve signed up to the FutureX Corp team-benefits program that expertly replaces your biological need for a family unit (inc. a sense of belonging) with state-of-the-art corporate tech overlay. FamSim. White-Picket-Fence-Sim. Mostly everything that we take to be essential to identity is nothing but a hyper-stubborn illusion embedded in holographic Darwinian hardware. Artificiality is alien only in the sense that it allows for unprecedented access toward an experimentally accelerated (posthuman) cognitive metamorphosis. Even now social (private) media is basically a full-spectrum connectionist system in the process of revolutionizing neuro-hallucinogenic propriety. In the end, as the oft-supposed distinction between natural and artificial advancement collapses early adopters will be increasingly fast adapters.

    [Reply]

    Lucian of Samosata Reply:

    *You* don’t see how tech is alienating.

    To revise A.B Prosper’s comment, then: tech is alienating non-autistic people.

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    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    Do you even autist master race?

    Lucian of Samosata Reply:

    I don’t, I could never get enough dank rare Pepes to be autist master race.

    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 7:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ossipago Says:

    We need to cultivate new desires. The drives to sex and power that we inherited from our evolutionary environment do not get us out of the crab bucket.

    [Reply]

    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    Tell you what, I’ll give you a crableg-up so you can reach the top of the bucket, but you have to promise to send help when you reach the other side…. deal?

    [Reply]

    Ossipago Reply:

    Deal! Er…wait. Why are you helping me again? ; )

    [Reply]

    Ossipago Reply:

    Konkvistador has a lot of interesting things to say about why, historically, men went on high-risk/low-profit missions of exploration (think Shackleton). Summarizing as I understand it, they were statu-entrepreneurs looking to realize gains upon their return to the imperial core. (Yes, colonists are often religious nuts; first wave explorers not so much.) But the incentives change when the mission is one-way. I have to really want to go Proxima for some reason not hardwired into social apes. If we are going to build such coordination out of ape desires and trust-networks, we need intergenerational contracts between genetic lines (intermarriage of a very robust and paternalistic fashion).

    SVErshov Reply:

    dont forget crabs can be easily tuned with things like 5MEODIPT then adjust darkness to comfortable level and stay forever. sex is mental act after all.

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    Posted on August 24th, 2015 at 11:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Barnabas Says:

    Publish or perish inconsequential work is generally being published in lower tier journals. Important science is still being published in the higher tier journals. The lack of life changing discoveries is probably in part due to low-hanging fruit having been picked. For example, its much easier to notice and exploit the antibiotic properties of a fungus than to synthesize an antibiotic compound de novo.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 25th, 2015 at 12:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dots Says:

    @Erebus

    strong new drugs vs hep c, melanoma, HIV contraction. ebola, malaria vaccines
    mass-distro hybrid motors, electric motors, cng motors
    pilotless cars and planes
    cheaper solar cells; new rounds of nuclear fission investment in India and China, molten salt reactor in China
    reusable rockets
    300 mph trains in Japan
    huge gains in food and timber production, largely eaten by cows and biofuel manufacture
    secure, near-free payments system
    introduction of the internet and industrial civilization to hundreds of billions of previously stranded IQ points
    Israel and Arabs improving desalination
    smartphones seem incredibly powerful and still have yet to cover the globe, entirely

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 30th, 2015 at 5:51 am Reply | Quote

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