Innovation

Thiel Fellow Creates Building Blocks of Civilization

Explores what it would take to create a community from scratch

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Kang is a Thiel Fellow, which means that the foundation of Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal (EBAY) and prominent Silicon Valley investor, will pay him $100,000 over the next two years to avoid college. Thiel loves to challenge the status quo and has funded 20 Fellows, betting that the group of brainy kids will go out into the world and do big things.

It turns out that Kang is now on a farm in rural Missouri. The compound—known as the Factor e Farm—is the subject of a feature story I wrote this week for Bloomberg Businessweek. Kang, along with a dozen or so like-minded people, has set to work building 50 tools that man would need to start a civilization from the ground up. So they're working on such things as bread ovens, brick presses, saws, tractors, and bulldozers and then posting videos and schematics online about how to build these objects. The end goal is sort of an open-source attack on the traditional companies that manufacture our fundamental machines.