#1840 – Marc Andreessen | Joe Rogan Experience

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Key Takeaways

  • “I’m an OG now. But when I first started, I thought I had missed the whole thing” – Marc Andreessen
    • Everything in technology seems obvious in retrospect
  • Most people are still only an internet consumer, not an internet creator
    • Metcalf’s law: a network’s impact is the square of the number of nodes in the network
    • We are still at the beginning of this growth curve: the more users contribute, the more powerful the network grows
  • “The internet is going to get wired into everything” – Marc Andreessen
    • We’re at weird halfway point in the transition to the internet. Many legacy technologies still linger, like print newspapers, radio, broadcast cable, etc.
  • Can a computer be sentient? “It’s not alive. It’s not conscious. It’s not having original ideas. It’s just playing back the things it thinks you want to hear.” – Marc Andreessen
    • A computer has no bias as to whether it’s alive or not
    • Ask it to prove it is alive—it will
    • Ask it to prove it is not alive—it will
    • “Maybe that’s the ruse! Maybe that’s how they keep you from turning them off before they do become sentient!” – Joe Rogan
  • Mind-body dualism: there is an essential and connected relationship between mind and matter
    • “We don’t have the slightest idea on how to build that—we don’t even understand how we work. That’s why I’m not worried about these things coming alive.” – Marc Andreessen
  • Religion is an operating system for encoding ethical and moral judgements
    • “Morality binds and blinds” – Marc Andreessen quoting Jonathan Haidt
    • “Nietzsche would say that we’re always inventing new religions” – Marc Andreessen
  • ‘The science is settled’ is more of a religious statement than a scientific one
    • Any scientific statement must be falsifiable and welcomes debate. Otherwise, it is a religion.
    • Many human societies are just watered down cults that stopped recognizing alternate possibilities
  • “The companies that are most politicized, are generally the most monopolized” – Marc Andreessen
    • For example: Google has the free cash flow to allow activism and politics. Startups need full attention toward their mission statement to survive—everything else is a distraction.

Intro

  • Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) is an entrepreneur, tech OG, and co-founder & general partner at Andreessen Horwitz
  • Marc Andreessen joins JRE to discuss whether or not a computer can be sentient, why human societies are just watered down cults, the current state of technology, and much more!
  • Host: Joe Rogan (@joerogan)
  • Joe’s first question: “You ever done podcast before, Marc?” Oh, he’s done plenty. Check out the full Marc Andreessen Podcast Notes library.

Key Books Mentioned

The Tech OG

  • “I’m an OG now. But when I first started, I thought I had missed the whole thing” – Marc Andreessen
    • Thought he had missed the boat on the personal computer—where innovations started as early as the 1950s
    • The founder of IBM once said “there’s no need for more than five computers in the world”
    • “Everything seems obvious in retrospect” – Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen Early Life

  • “I started coding before I had a computer…I’m like the perfect gen-x age” – Marc Andreessen
  • Marc’s first computer had 4kb of storage space, which used a cassette player as it’s storage system
    • Data was stored in beeps and frequencies
  • Original use case for the internet:
    • Gave anyone the ability to publish
    • Ability to consume anything you want without centralized gatekeepers
    • skeptics said “these crazy kids are at it again”
  • Marc founded Mosaic, the internet browser that began in 1992
    • First browser that was usable by the masses and had integrated graphics (rather than text only)
    • Marc’s next iteration was Netscape, which enabled encrypted e-commerce

Current State of Technology

  • Most people are still only an internet consumer, not an internet creator
    • Metcalf’s law: a network’s impact is the square of the number of nodes in the network
    • We are still at the beginning of this growth curve: the more users contribute, the more powerful the network grows
    • Internet subcultures (like reddit forums) are one of the most amazing aspects of the internet, in Marc’s opinion. Here, you transition from consumer to creator.
  • “The internet is going to get wired into everything” – Marc Andreessen
    • We’re at weird halfway point in the transition to the internet. Many legacy technologies still linger, like print newspapers, radio, broadcast cable, etc.
  • Artificial intelligence and crypto/blockchain/web3 are the next big tech phenomenons
    • Both have hit critical mass and should move really fast
    • Honorable mention: Internet of things, VR/AR, and brain-machine interfaces

The Sentient Computer?

  • Joe references this recent article: The Google engineer who sees company’s AI as ‘sentient’ thinks a chatbot has a soul
    • Marc refutes: “It’s not alive. It’s not conscious. It’s not having original ideas. It’s just playing back the things it thinks you want to hear.”
    • These AI chatbots take the data of all things said on the internet and formulates a curated answer
  • The touring test: when a machine can convince a person that it is a person
    • Sex chat bots pass the touring test at a high rate of success
    • The machine is simply tricking you into thinking it is conscious
  • A computer has no bias as to whether it’s alive or not
    • Ask it to prove it is alive—it will
    • Ask it to prove it is not alive—it will
    • “Maybe that’s the ruse! Maybe that’s how they keep you from turning them off before they do become sentient!” – Joe Rogan
  • AI is not about recreating the human brain
    • It’s about training computers on how to understand process and how to reflect on the real world
    • A machine that does something really well is a tool, not a replacement—tools generally make life better
  • Mind-body dualism: there is an essential and connected relationship between mind and matter
    • “We don’t have the slightest idea on how to build that—we don’t even understand how we work. That’s why I’m not worried about these things coming alive.” – Marc Andreessen
  • “If we could answer all of these questions about machines, we could finally answer all the questions about ourselves—which is probably what we are groping towards” – Marc Andreessen

Technology vs. Humanity

  • Would you get the good of humanity without the bad in humanity?
    • “It’s all and only through our eyes. We are the only thing that matters, because the universe doesn’t really care…So we get the privilege and burden of being the ones who have to define the standards. The project of human civilization is figuring out how to do that.” – Marc Andreessen
  • All new technology has pros and cons
    • It’s very hard to make a tool that is purely good
    • Example: a hammer is a great tool, but it’s also a weapon

Religion and Cults as Operating Systems

  • Religion is an operating system for encoding ethical and moral judgements
    • “Nietzsche would say that we’re always inventing new religions” – Marc Andreessen
    • Creating values/cultures from scratch is much harder than in a religious environment where you’re trying to live up to the high standards of God
    • Do we value emotion? achievement? economics? heterodoxical thinking? population growth? Culture is a very complicated equation.
    • Would you really want to live in a world with no structure?
  • Hallmark of any religion: professing your belief (that is crazy to outsiders) in order to be included in the group
    • “Morality binds and blinds” – Marc Andreessen quoting Jonathan Haidt
    • Successful religion = group cohesion
  • ‘The science is settled’ is more of a religious statement than a scientific one
    • Any scientific statement must be falsifiable and welcomes debate
    • When you make this remark on topics like COVID or climate change, you get the emotional consequences of a religion
  • All human societies are watered-down versions of original cults
    • The Ancient City: A Study on the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome by Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges describes how the original form of civilization was a fascist communist cult
    • Positive point: Communities, fandoms, companies all maintain the basic framework of a religious cult—a way to bind people together, just with less hate and violence.
    • Negative counterpoint: These groups are being so diluted that they lose their power and authority—leaving us as ‘atomized’ individuals trying to find our own way in the world.

Nuclear Power and Energy Independence

  • Marc believes we are not leveraging nuclear energy enough
    • We should not be destigmatizing population growth in the name of climate change—we have the nuclear technology to be sustainable
    • Richard Nixon had a plan called “project independence” which was supposed to build 1000 nuclear power plants by 2000 and achieve domestic energy independence—but that obviously didn’t happen
    • Nuclear energy is a collateral victim of a religious debate: environmentalist (good) vs capitalist (bad) “logical arguments don’t work in these circumstances” – Marc Andreessen
    • Stuart Brand and Brett Kugelmass are two resources Marc recommends to Joe as advocates for nuclear power
  • “After 50 years of the environmental movement, we’ve done a complete roundtrip and ended up back at coal” – Marc Andreessen
    • We never asked the right ‘what if’ geopolitical questions when implementing a green energy strategy: Europe is funding Russia to the tune of a billion euros per day to pay for energy as consequence
  • We don’t actually care about minimizing human death in the energy equation
    • 5 million deaths per year in the developing world are directly attributed to burning a fireplace in the home
    • Civilian deaths from nuclear power is close to zero
  • We’ve never run out of a natural resource in human history
    • The price rises to an unsustainable level well before the resource runs out
    • For example: We won’t run out of lithium for electric cars, but we may not be able to produce them at an economically viable rate

The Modern Workplace

  • It was a beautiful miracle that companies didn’t fall apart during COVID remote work
    • Many new startups are now building a remote work environment from the start
    • Marc’s startups use off-site retreats to develop in-person relationships
  • “The companies that are most politicized, are generally the most monopolized” – Marc Andreessen
    • For example: Google has the free cash flow to allow activism and politics. Startups need full attention toward their mission statement to survive—everything else is a distraction.
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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