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These laws of political science have since come crashing down.

Since Brexit sliced through traditional political alliances, politics has become less of a simple matter of left versus right. If Brexit dominates the coming election, the median voter will be no more. When it comes to leaving the European Union, voters have polarised.

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There is little sign of compromise between the Remain and Leave camps. Fishing in the gap between these two pools of votes will land few votes, points out Chris Prosser of the University of Manchester. When elections are fought on economic issues, between left and right, political parties can pick a point in the middle and not go far wrong.

It is relatively easy to compromise on, say, the level of tax. It is harder to do so on notions such as sovereignty. As voters are polarising, so are MP s. More than 50 are preparing to stand down in December, including many Tory former Remainers. Most of their successors will be fully paid-up Leavers.

This division of politics into two opposing camps has been dubbed Ulsterisation.

In Northern Ireland, most people vote along sectarian lines. Irish nationalists will not carefully weigh up the economic policy of the Democratic Unionist Party before casting their vote. If Brexit divisions persist, British politics could start looking more Northern Irish, with Remain and Leave the new sectarian divide Remainers have already discovered a love of marches.

Smaller parties have seized on this strategy. The Liberal Democrats are standing on a policy of revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit altogether. At the other end of the political see-saw sits the Brexit Party, which has pledged to quit the EU without a deal. In a Brexit-dominated election, few swing voters will switch between these two opposing groups.

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It is not what our industry is best at doing, at least, not in the past decade. And there is no way to assure a positive return — but at least it has a chance of working. Simply doing what everyone else does is not enough. There are unknowables. Venture investments mature over long periods and there are many confounding variables, from variable economic conditions to a shifting legal landscape — everything is overdetermined.

Venture is a secretive industry and legal strictures cramp down on disclosures. But we have no direct evidence for the proposition that we ought to be investing in smart people solving difficult technical problems. In this sense, we are in the same position as our companies, which also operate with imperfect information.

SpaceX had three failed launches before making history with its fourth. Still, you have to run the experiment.

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So, we will continue to invest in very talented entrepreneurs who are pursuing ambitious, challenging tasks. We will treat them with respect and hope for the best. Founders Fund. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investments may lose value.

No offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy securities is made hereby. We have two primary and related interests: Finding ways to support technological development technology is the fundamental driver of growth in the industrialized world. Earning outstanding returns for our investors. H-P 35, the first pocket calculator. Apple II. If all we ever used x-rays for was in shoe shop fluoroscopes, we would be tempted to dismiss X-rays as infertile and irrelevant. The Internet cannot be judged on the follies of the late 90s alone.

And then there are the matters of conscience and reputation. Ford Nucleon. Alan Shepard, first American in space.

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The elasticity of demand for getting into space at very high price ranges looks basically flat — people who have to go, go the government, telecommunications providers , and almost no one else chooses to. Were prices to decline, the economic potential of space could be more fully realized. Falcon 9. Another major area of improvement is overcoming the tyranny of distance. Cheaper, faster transportation has been a major lubricator of trade and wealth creation.

For almost two centuries, technology has improved transportation relentlessly. Unfortunately, over the past thirty years, there have been no radical advances in transportation technology in-flight DVD units are nice, but not revolutionary ; take, for example, the travel time across the Atlantic which, for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, is getting longer rather than shorter.

M edicine has been the beneficiary of two radical developments over the past sixty years: the discovery of the structure of DNA in and the rise of information technologies in the s. Worse, the number of new drugs introduced each year — especially important new drugs which you can measure by FDA fast-tracking — is surprisingly low and well below the quarter-century average. Biotechnology has already created one revolution. It can certainly create another.

Nevertheless, as anyone who has used a Bloomberg or Lexis can attest, the amount of data we collect clearly outstrips our ability to make easy use of it. One way to look at this is to compare increases in computing power as measured by the density of transistors on a chip versus the change in productivity. Few technologies have ever improved as quickly and consistently as computer processors and yet the impact of computing in the admittedly wildly overdetermined productivity statistics is difficult to detect.

This suggests that however fast hardware improves, software might be running behind. Indeed, until fairly recently, it was difficult to find a stable operating system.


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At the least grandiose level, we need analytical software much more powerful and much easier to use than the current state of the art. Most analytical platforms are exceedingly arcane, requiring lengthy experience with that exact platform to acquire mastery, and yet the quality of analysis remains fairly poor. It does society no good to collect huge amounts of data that only a small minority can analyze, and even then only partially.

Moving up an order of difficulty, robotics represents another area of underachievement. Industrial robots can be very good at what they do welding car parts, e. At the highest end, the industry remains over-focused on producing vanity robots with hyper-specific capability — clunky simulacra that play the violin or smile pointlessly — rather than solving more general problems, like locomotion. And few manufacturers are devoted to making commodity-like robots at low price points, which is essential to a genuine robotic revolution.

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