Marc Andreessen says AI policy talks in DC change if China emerges

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Marc Andreessen spends a lot of time in Washington, D.C., these days talking to policymakers about artificial intelligence. One thing the Silicon Valley venture capitalist has noticed: When it comes to AI, he can have two conversations with “the exact same person” that “go completely differently” depending on whether or not China is mentioned.

The first conversation, he also participated in the episode The Joe Rogan Experience Released this week, it “generally features that the US government really hates tech companies right now and wants to damage them in various ways, and tech companies that want to know how to fix that.”

Then there is the second conversation, which involves what China plans to do with AI

“It’s a completely different conversation,” said Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz. “Suddenly it’s like, ‘Well, we need American AI to succeed, we need American tech companies to succeed, we need to beat the Chinese. ”

China, of course, has a vision of artificial intelligence that many observers find troubling.

“They see AI as a way to achieve population control,” Andreessen said. “They are authoritarian. So the first priority of the Chinese leadership is always for the Chinese people to stay in control and not revolt or expect to be able to vote or anything else.”

Andreessen went on to say that while China wants to use AI for authoritarian control within its borders, it also wants to export these capabilities to leaders in other countries. He pointed out that in the field of AI security cameras, for example, China has world-leading companies. “They’re really good at sniffing out people walking down the street,” he said.

Andreessen noted that many countries are deploying 5G networks using Chinese technology. On top of that infrastructure, he said, they could roll out China’s AI authoritarian surveillance technology.

“What they offer to a president or prime minister of country ‘X’ is that if you install our devices you will be able to better control your population,” he said. “And of course a lot of people who run a lot of countries will find the China model quite convincing.”

And back in America, he continued, “Once you start to think in those terms. You realize, in fact, that all of these debates that are happening in the United States are interesting and perhaps important, but there is another much larger, I would argue more important, thing that is going on — which is, what kind of world do we think we live in 50 years from now?”

In Washington, D.C., he said, “The minute you open the door and talk about China, what China is going to do with AI, what that’s going to mean in this new Cold War that we’re with China, it’s a completely different conversation… One of my hopes is that people start thinking outside of just our borders and start thinking about the broader global implications of what’s happening.”

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