But for all the funding announcements, product launches, media attention and wealth creation, most of Silicon Valley doesn’t concern itself with aiming “almost ridiculously high.” It concerns itself primarily with getting people to click on ads or buy slightly better gadgets than the ones they got last year.
Time to drop the pretense
That’s fine, that’s capitalism – and these incremental improvements lead to slow productivity gains that at least quicken the pulse of economists. But maybe let’s drop the pretense that we’re curing cancer unless, you know, we’re curing cancer.
Levchin specifically took the stage that day to discuss his forthcoming book on the subject, “The Blueprint: Reviving Innovation, Rediscovering Risk and Rescuing the Free Market.” One of his co-authors was venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who joined him in the appearance.
The description for the (now very delayed) title notes: “We have become a risk-averse society, hobbled by tort laws and government regulations, short-term financial thinking, and mind-numbing complacency.”
That all sounds about right, but based on other public comments – particularly from Thiel, an outspoken libertarian – the weight of their blame seems to land on government while the grand hopes lie in “Rescuing the Free Market.” That conforms to a growing view in Silicon Valley that government is the archenemy of innovation.
But when we stick to the definition of solving the really hard problems of science and technology, the scale just as easily tips the other way.