Into The Night With Garry Kasparov And Peter Thiel

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One word: WOW!

You have to spend an hour with this. It’s an amazing (and really deep) conversation with Gary Kasparov (world chess champion) and Peter Thiel (billionaire entrepreneur thanks to PayPal, some hedge fund management and an early investment in Facebook). These two talk about everything, but what will most stand out are their perspectives on success, technology and business.

Watch this:


  1. Great video, thanks for sharing. Did anyone notice how awkwardly it ended though? Almost as if something was said, that wasn’t shown, that might have offended Gary? He was kind of done by the end there…maybe just a long day of intellectual conversations.

  2. I appreciate the juxtaposition of ideas in this video:
    – In the hotel where Thiel talks about how “our whole civilization is implicitly based upon technology”; that the future will be better; and how we’ve borrowed against that future and now are living in a crisis that doesn’t appear to be going away;
    – The Columbia robotics lab where Kasparov tries unsuccessfully to convey the sense that progress has been “horizontal”, evolving from the space program and commenting afterwards that “they’re young, they’re not responsible”;
    – Showcasing Kasparov in his domain of genius, chess. His defeat by the computer has come symbolize computers’ triumph over humans. The robotics lab scene dispells that notion for the time being. Although, intellectual and somewhat dispassionate in personality, he seemed to me to demonstrate something that computers cannot do; he was able to connect with Thiel and the chess club members as a human being, instructing and guiding them in ways that I can’t imagine a computer doing;
    – an interesting comment by Kasparov in the limo talking about playing over 20 high level chess players simultaneously and not having lost since 2001: “If you have the stamina to keep the pressure on, eventually, they collapse.” Isn’t this his M.O. when it comes to leading change as well?;
    – Thiel’s remark sitting in the Human Rights Foundation office about how the critical path for humanity (my term, evoking the words of Buckminster Fuller) is for technology to break the resource monopolies currently held by natural resource rich countries and shift power to economically and politically free countries;
    – Thiel, sitting in the restaurant at dinner, quoting Osama bin Laden as saying “We will win because we value death more than we value life.” This was especially ironic because earlier, the two of them had talked about the World Trade Center and how it had not been rebuilt in the 9 years (at that time) since 9-11.
    – The next to the last scene where Thiel attempts to be at least somewhat optimistic by remarking that at least some people are asking difficult questions. Kasparov pauses – fatigued perhaps by the day and satiated, having just consumed a rich meal at an elite Manhattan restaurant – and then says with resignation that “a lot of people will keep asking questions and there will be very few that will be providing answers.”
    To me, Thiel has the energy and the vision for the “critical path”; Kasparov’s approach seems to be to “have the stamina to keep the pressure on” with, despite his pessimism, the hope that “eventually they will collapse”.

  3. The hesitation by Kasparov at the end when Thiel asks if people (maybe more than before) talking about changing society/world is a good first step, leaves me wishing he would have told us what he really thinking.
    Good stuff Mitch.

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