Peter Thiel claims AI is "Leninist" and "literally communist" in a sprawling speech for a think tank

On November 13, noted vampire capitalist Peter Thiel gave a speech to donors at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research conservative think-tank on "The End of the Computer Age." Over the course of 40 minutes, he covered a lot of topics—some of which were at least provocative, some of them which sounded like they were ripped straight out of a Gavin Belson speech on Silicon Valley.

There was a, um, interesting reflection on the shortcomings of Margaret Thatcher's regime:

I sort of think of Margaret Thatcher's biggest mistake was she thought that in the late '70s that embracing the EU would be a way to crush the unions in the UK.

An interesting (accidental?) critique of the Electoral College system:

In a democracy if you have sort of majority vote, that's good. If you have a supermajority, that's even better. So if you got 51%, you're probably right. If you get 70%, you're even more right. On the other hand, if you get 99.99% of the voters, you're sort of in North Korea. [laughter]

The "greatest lie" Obama ever told (which is, he notes, not about Iraq or healthcare):

"Just because it's not some name-brand, famous, fancy school, doesn't mean that you're not going to get a great education there." So let's parse that two lies. First off, if it isn't a name-brand, famous, fancy school, you're not going to get a great education. You're just going to get a diploma that's a dunce hat in disguise. If it is a name-brand, famous, fancy school, you probably also won't get an education.

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"Ayn Rand is a Dick" - excerpt from a new book by Mike Monteiro

Mike Monteiro, co-founder and design director of Mule Design, has a new book called Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It. He posted a sample chapter from the book, about Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand's influence on Silicon Valley. He's a funny writer!

Welcome to Silicon Valley. A libertarian stronghold at the very end of America. (Literally.) Silicon Valley, and specifically the venture capital firms of Silicon Valley, are mostly run by old white men who read Ayn Rand in high school, thought it was great, and never changed their minds. (This is where I need to be fair and let you know that not all venture capitalists are monsters. In fact, I’m friends with a few who are lovely people. They are very much the exceptions. Also, every VC who reads this book will think this parenthetical is about them.) In the words of the late great Ann Richards, they were, “born on third base and think they hit a triple.”

For those of you not familiar with Ayn Rand, she wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called “objectivism”, which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, fuck you. The old white men of Silicon Valley all have giant Ayn Rand back tattoos. (Look, it’s a chapter about venture capitalism inside an ethics book. I gotta tell a joke once in a while, for all our benefit.)

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Palmer Luckey wins secretive Pentagon contract to develop AI for drones

Palmer Luckey (previously) the alt-right financier who was made a billionaire by Mark Zuckerberg's decision to acquire his VR startup Oculus, is now running a Peter-Thiel-backed surveillance startup called Anduril Industries, which has won a contract to contribute to Project Maven, the Pentagon's controversial AI-for-drones system (Google's involvement in Project Maven sparked an employee uprising that ended with the relevant executives leaving the company and the contract being allowed to lapse). Read the rest

Google, Facebook and Microsoft were the top sponsors of a conference that featured climate change denial kooks

Libertycon is the annual conference of Students for Liberty, a libertarian youth group, held in DC; at this year's conference, Google was the $25,000 platinum sponsor, while Facebook and Microsoft were each $10,000 sponsors. Read the rest

Incentives matter: the Mr Market LOOOOOVES death squads

In 1970, Chile elected Salvador Allende, a socialist, to office; he instituted sweeping reforms aimed at ending the corrupt rule of a small, monied, brutal elite; in 1973, the dictator Augusto Pinochet led a US-backed military coup that involved horrific torture and mass executions of political enemies. Read the rest

French Polynesia says it didn't renew its deal with the Seasteaders, a group of libertarian separatists

The Seasteading Institute is a group of libertarian separatists who dreamed of building an autonomous, contract-governed mini-state on a set of floating platforms in the south Tahiti lagoon of Atimaono; only one problem: they didn't renew their contract with French Polynesia to build their platforms. Read the rest

Peter Thiel, "libertarian," wants to buy Gawker's archive, which would give him the power to censor stories he didn't like

Libertarian wisdom holds that "the answer to bad speech is more speech," but if you're a Peter Thiel libertarian (that is, the kind of "freedom lover" who doesn't think women should vote, wants to spy on everyone in the world, and secretly wields power to censor the free press), then "the answer to bad speech is secretly backing lawsuits by washed-up pro-wrestlers in order to kill a media outlet whose reporting you don't like." Read the rest

Ayn Rand supercharged the anti-Communist witch-hunt in Hollywood, in which the FBI classified "It's a Wonderful Life" as secret Communist propaganda

Director Frank Capra said "It's a Wonderful Life" was designed to "strengthen the individual’s belief in himself" and "to combat a modern trend toward atheism." But the FBI's 13,533-page Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry classed the movie as a secret work of Communist propaganda, "written by Communist sympathizers...to instigate class warfare" and "demonize bankers." Read the rest

Libertarian plate "may poison food"

Reason Editor-in-Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward received a commemorative Johnson-Weld 2016 Libertarian Party Presidential Campaign plate in the mail.

Yoni Mazuz wonders:

The Libertarian moment of enlightenment is when you realize it's a giant ashtray. Read the rest