Are we advancing technologically? Economically?

PETER THIEL: But I think that when you look at this question of how much technological progress has been happening, we get into all these complicated measurement issues.  The one that I cite as the big data point is that if you look at the U.S. say in the last 40 years, 1973 to today, median wages have been stagnant.  Maybe the mean wages have gone up maybe a small amount, not very much.  The 40 years before that, 1932 to 1972, they went up by a factor of 6.

So, if you looked at how people did from ’32 to ’72, you had a six-fold improvement, and it was matched by incredible technological progress.  Cars got better.  You had the aeronautics industry got started.  You went from no planes to supersonic jets.  You had the computers were invented.  You had all sorts of incredibly important dimensions in which progress took place.

And so I agree we’ve had certain narrow areas where there’s been significant progress, but it’s very odd that it hasn’t translated into economic well being.  And this is not just a problem with capitalist countries, like the U.S.  You may say the U.S. is too capitalist for your liking, Eric, but it’s also true of socialist countries, like France ‑‑

Dinner and Debate with Eric Schmidt and Peter Thiel from Fortune Conferences and Fortune Conferences on FORA.tv

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