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The Dubrovnik Interviews: Marc Andreessen - Interviewed by a Retard
The Internet King on why the Internet is a force for good, on media conformity, the inevitable triumph of the WEIRD, Crypto, Retards, etc.
Marc Andreessen uses the word ‘retard’ roughly 200 times per day. I decided to confront him about this and his reply was: “I consider myself an intelligent man and I choose my words very, very carefully. Proper diction is the measure of a man/woman, so I deploy that word because, uh, because so few other words, uh, um…..fit.”
If you’re on the internet, it’s because of him. The driving force behind Netscape Navigator (the world’s first widely adopted web browser), he also saw the early potential in LinkedIn and Twitter and invested in both. His most recent investments have been in Substack and Clubhouse. The man is everywhere when it comes to the Internet and social media.
After three weeks of hard negotiations with his team of insanely-priced lawyers, I got them to finally approve his answers to my very sensible questions. The following is the product of the meeting of our two over-sized heads.
I would like to begin with a quote from yourself:
"This guy [Niccolo Soldo] is a fucking retard. It's important that we let absolute retards like him publish at Substack because they will attract other retards who also think too highly of themselves and their own intelligence and overestimate their value to society. Retards are good for the top line and the bottom line. Don't ever, ever forget this important lesson in building a successful business. I shit successful businesses out every fucking morning, unlike you retards. You can quote me on this."
This quote might not be real, but the thought of it being real sends Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times into spasms of orgasmic delight (her first ever orgasm was when she thought she caught you using the word 'retard' during a Clubhouse discussion). The question here is: how hilarious is it that she fucked up her reporting this badly?
Don't underestimate yourself! The great writers of the past tended to be disassociative cranks. Diogenes Laertius says Heraclitus lived "by himself in the mountains, feeding on grasses and herbs" and died by burying himself in literal dung. Rousseau condemned his own children to the hell of an 18th century orphanage while sanctimoniously passing judgment on the rest of society. Nietzsche went insane protecting a horse from a whipping, and in his last messages to the world demanded the pope be jailed and all anti-Semites shot. You see, you fit right in.
As to Substack, if we've learned one thing from the last 2,500 years of human history, it's that all progress out of humanity's default state of misery and despair comes from being able to freely think, write, and argue. The fine folks at Substack run a big tent in which writers of many flavors and stripes are welcome, including the talented Ms. Lorenz.
You are a Titan of the Internet. In fact, you were inducted into the World Wide Web Hall of Fame way back in 1994. Without you there's no LinkedIn. No Tumblr. No Reddit. No Instagram. No DeviantArt. How responsible do you feel for the horrible state of the world as it is today? Feel free to apologize to everyone.
As with everything in life, it's a question of the counterfactual. I'm old enough to remember life pre-Internet. There were only three largely identical television networks (plus PBS if you lived near enough communists, which I didn't), a few radio stations, a newspaper or two, three printed news magazines, a handful of book publishing houses, and a few mimeographed newsletters. That was it. We misremember the past as a Golden Age of Shared Understanding. In reality it was nothing like that; it was a time of information starvation. I think things were actually getting a lot worse in the run-up to the Internet; television was increasingly dominant, and it's been scientifically proven that TV makes you stupid.
What does the Internet do? I think it's clear the Internet is both an engine and a camera. To some extent it does drive behavior, but it also shows us ourselves in vivid detail. That is bound to make us uncomfortable, but is also very useful. The Internet can reinforce existing beliefs and misconceptions, but it also reveals underlying truths that otherwise would remain hidden. For example, the Internet makes it far easier to discover when an authority figure is lying to us, which is an overwhelming good.
As with any technological change, it's important to consider who is the most threatened by it…..who freaks out the most. The Internet can be thought of as a cream that you rub on undeserving gatekeepers to drive them insane. I think it has all the right enemies.
Gold is an intrinsic store of wealth, but so is your head. I am certain that you have colluded with the Winklevoss Brothers in driving the price of Bitcoin up so high. I have you situated at the centre of many conspiracies, most of them insane. Your incredible track record in business and angel investing speaks for itself. You are the world's most successful individual who has not done LSD with both Grimes and Azealia Banks. I am told that you have fathered some 500 sons globally, and that you have invested in a new processing application that will assign metrics to their performance in life. Those that finish top three will receive an inheritance from you. The others will have to make it for themselves. You are currently investing in an app that disrupts blood flow in young children from the 3rd World and 'leverages' it into the bodies of Platinum Member app subscribers as a way of extending their telomeres (this means life extension technology for you retards reading this). How much of your success comes down to being 6'5" tall?
It is well known that the key to success for a tall person is to recruit a lot of short people to exorcise their personal demons by working around the clock for you, and I like to think I've maximized that strategy. This, of course, includes children; you've seen Roblox?
You, and other billionaires, are building a futuristic mega-city in Neom, Saudi Arabia, on the coast of the Aqaba Gulf that spills into the Red Sea. Alex Jones has personally informed me that there are giant silos there with 30 foot tall chickens, 50 metre high cows, and all sorts of chimeras located within. Every animal, if we can call them animals, is microchipped and simultaneously serves as a mobile 5G tower with edge cloud computing capabilities. I am also told that the Bogdanoff Brothers of France are involved in this project. Why couldn't you be a patriotic American and do this at home? Why not Florida? Don't you realize that offshoring hurts the USA? You can bioengineer all sorts of gigantic livestock in Broward County (have you seen the women there?)
First, all rumours about Neom are true. But also, it is an unappreciated fact that every city that exists today was a crazy-eyed entrepreneurial startup at its inception, not that unlike tech startups today. My favorite book on this topic is Robert Gottlieb's "Thinking Big", which tells the actual story of the creation of Los Angeles. It turns out LA was a fake and a fraud to start; it was arid desert marketed via the Los Angeles Fake News Media Times to gullible Easterners as a lush coastal paradise. Later, of course, the city fathers, um, sourced water and delivered on the dream…..but it was the Theranos of cities for a long time. LA as we know and love it today would not exist otherwise.
We accept today that the days of startup cities, at least in the West, are over, but I don't think we should. And the societal changes that a post-COVID world makes possible could restart this cycle. For thousands of years, ambitious young people have had to move to big cities run by the kind of people who run big cities to maximize opportunity in life. In our newly much more virtual, remote, online world, that trade-off may become less necessary or unnecessary altogether; the new pattern may be to live where you want, but have access to the same potential for economic advancement and career success through a screen. And so, I hope a new generation of city founders will try to create new and much better places for people to live. I for one would love to fund them.
Knocking On Marc’s Head to See What’s Actually Inside Of It
Two of your latest investments are in highly successful ventures: Substack and Clubhouse. Both have already caused some controversy, but everything is 'controversial' these days. Rather than focusing on pointless agendas, I'd rather turn towards the actual success from both of these ventures. Substack has taken off wildly and seems to have filled a void left behind by legacy media. There is an audience hungry for journalism that is not filtered through an ever-narrowing band of acceptable opinion, and this audience is now settling in at Substack. What are the defining features of its success, and what does this tell us not only about the state of media today, but where it is headed in light of this challenge?
The most startling aspect, to me, about the modern institutional media is its hyperconformity. (Note here, I am not criticizing the *content* of the hyperconformity; simply that it is hyperconformist. I don't even think the hyperconformists would deny this.) This hyperconformity seems to have developed in two phases: Phase One was a collapse of previously distinct media types (network TV, cable TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, et al) into just "web sites" and now "mobile apps". This was not their fault. Phase Two was the virtually universal industry-wide adoption of a strident ideological monoculture. This is their fault. I'm a First Amendment absolutist, so I don't begrudge anyone the freedom to say and write what they think, but we are told that we live in a marketplace of ideas. But if you mainly consume the standard media product, what you are experiencing is closer to a marketplace of idea.
This monoculture challenges two of my most fundamental beliefs. First, in business -- and these are businesses -- you seek to differentiate, to offer a unique product that your customers can't get anywhere else. In economic terms, differentiation is the key to pricing power, which is the key to profits, which is the key to staying in business. This is precisely what the existing media industry is not doing; the product is now virtually indistinguishable by publisher, and most media companies are suffering financially in exactly the way you'd expect. Second, civilizational progress happens not by top down unanimity and ideological instruction, but by debate and dispute. That this should happen, but is not happening, in the institutional media today is obvious.
And so I think it's obvious that the incumbents are handing us, by their own considered and determinedly executed choices, a sparkling opportunity to both build better businesses and an actual marketplace of ideas. I'm intensely proud of both Substack and Clubhouse and have very high hopes that they can deliver.
Even though I have appeared on several podcasts, I am a Text Supremacist in that I feel that serious thought is best transmitted through the written word as it is shorn of distractions such as physical setting, the look of one's face, or the sound of one's voice along with their verbal tics. Clubhouse is based on audio (I am Samsung Galaxy Master Race so I have yet to partake in the app, and to be honest I have never been invited) and is gaining widespread appeal. Is this due to the intimacy that the app provides? Or are there other reasons?
This is a very old and very important debate that traces back to classical Greece. Socrates himself was famously on the other side of your position, an Oral Supremacist versus your Text Supremacist. Socrates argued that text is markedly inferior to oral information conveyance, precisely because text can't interact, it can't talk back. He predicted that a future of text would stultify cultural development and the transmission of virtue, to which [waves hands and points in all directions].
Later, media theorist Walter Ong articulated the profound differences between Textual (Literate) and Oral cultures. Textual cultures are abstract, analytical, mathematical, clinical, universalist. Oral cultures are grounded, intuitive, emotional, interpersonal, group oriented. I think this maps to what Vilfredo Pareto and James Burnham described as "combinations" and "group-persistences", which also maps to what we know today as libs and cons. Yes, I just called you a lib. Sorry. And then anthropolgist Joseph Henrich in his ultra-important new book "The WEIRDest People In The World" shows how growing up in a Textual culture literally changes your brain's physical structure; your brain reallocates processing power normally devoted to analyzing faces to processing text. Which explains a LOT.
Today we live in a hybrid world, part Textual, part Oral. As Ong and Henrich describes, this certainly applies between different cultures -- some much more Textual, some much more Oral. But I think this also applies within each culture, including our own. The Internet extensively enables both Textuality and Orality -- a fountain of writing alongside a fountain of audio and video. But also, you have a medium like Twitter, which Antonio Garcia-Martinez argues is actually Oral masquerading as Textual -- on Twitter, you think you're reading and writing text, but you're actually absorbing and spitting Oral fire.
So what role does Clubhouse play? I think Clubhouse is quite literally Socrates' Athenian Agora; it's Oral Culture implemented online in its full glory, for the first time. We should expect it to exhibit all of the virtues and pathologies of Oral Culture for sure -- but since we have lived mainly in a Textual culture for the last 300 years, Clubhouse is a timely and important nudge back to the middle.
But interestingly, Clubhouse, at least so far, is *nicer* than Twitter -- conversations on politically loaded topics that would instantly collapse into all out warfare on Twitter can sustain for many hours on Clubhouse, tense but not explosive. Why is that? Draw a two by two grid, with "Active and Passive" on one axis and "Approve and Disapprove" on the other. Twitter has three of the four boxes filled: Retweets are Active Approval, Likes are Passive Approval, Quote-Retweets are Active Disapproval (dunking). But Twitter is missing Passive Disapproval -- in person you can Passively Disapprove with a glance, a sound, a motion, but there's no equivalent mechanism on Twitter. But on Clubhouse you have several ways to Passively Disapprove -- you can vocalize a sound or go silent, you can leave the stage, and you can leave the room. The reputationally-homicidal battle arena of Twitter has its place, but there should also be a setting to talk about important topics without getting an RPG up your virtual tailpipe, and hopefully Clubhouse is it.
Are we TOO connected these days? COVID has created more shut-ins than ever before, yet the ability to communicate with others has never been cheaper nor easier. For many, the ability to lose one's self has been completely lost as we are now all expected to be online and within immediate reach during all non-sleep hours. This places great expectations on people, and it is my opinion that this is a negative for our psychological well-being as we are not programmed for constant, instantaneous contact.
Your question is a great example of what I call Reality Privilege. This is a paraphrase of a concept articulated by Beau Cronin: "Consider the possibility that a visceral defense of the physical, and an accompanying dismissal of the virtual as inferior or escapist, is a result of superuser privileges." A small percent of people live in a real-world environment that is rich, even overflowing, with glorious substance, beautiful settings, plentiful stimulation, and many fascinating people to talk to, and to work with, and to date. These are also *all* of the people who get to ask probing questions like yours. Everyone else, the vast majority of humanity, lacks Reality Privilege -- their online world is, or will be, immeasurably richer and more fulfilling than most of the physical and social environment around them in the quote-unquote real world.
The Reality Privileged, of course, call this conclusion dystopian, and demand that we prioritize improvements in reality over improvements in virtuality. To which I say: reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don't think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build -- and we are building -- online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.
Here's a thought experiment for the counterfactual. Suppose we had all just spent the last 15 months of COVID lockdowns *without* the Internet, without the virtual world. As bad as the lockdowns have been for people's well-being -- and they've been bad -- how much worse would they have been without the Internet? I think the answer is clear: profoundly, terribly worse. (Of course, pandemic lockdowns are not the norm -- for that, we'll have to wait for the climate lockdowns.)
Having said that, I also think it's true that the Internet has given all of humanity full read/write access to one another's minds for the first time, and this is a massive shift in individual and collective psychology that we are just starting to grapple with. For example, we are now exposed to the crushing emotional load of suffering anywhere in the world, with no gatekeeping intermediary to insulate us, and not just occasionally but all the time. Figuring out the effects of this civilizational shift -- certainly on par with the Gutenberg revolution, if not way beyond -- will take a long time.
Not only is contact instantaneous, but so is how information travels from one side of the world to another. The rapid rise of the internet and mobile technology (and others) means that trends can plant themselves across the globe rather quickly, where once barriers to entry were rather high. This results in a sort of homogenization of global culture, especially in places that use the same few dominant languages like English, Spanish, or French, and has the net effect of neutering organic popular cultures in faraway places. Are we at risk of shedding our cherished cultural differences for the sake of expediency?
First, it's cute that you put Spanish and French in the same grouping as English. But yes, I 100% agree with this claim. This is another key observation made by Joseph Henrich, with his collaborator Paul Rozin. Henrich describes in his book how some people (us) are culturally WEIRD -- Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic -- but most people in the world aren't. Yet. Rozin wrote a reply to Henrich that I think about all the time, and that exactly makes your point:
"Insofar as the social world has transmuted to email, Facebook, and ordering online, it is [WEIRD youth] who best illustrate how humans will function. Globalization, the growing availability of access to computers and the Internet, Internet dating services, the decline of face-to-face markets, automated telephone answering services, WalMart, and the like, are rapidly homogenizing the world, making more and more people like [WEIRD youth]... Because of globalization, it is especially important that we understand now the different worlds that humans have created – the physical worlds (e.g., cities, markets, architecture), the institutional worlds, the social alliances, and the mental maps of the world – before they become much more homogenized. We don’t have much time, and the distinctive and elaborated different cultural worlds of interpersonal interactions, institutions, value systems, and the like, are a threatened species.”
I find this thesis enormously compelling and largely optimistic. I predict that we -- the West -- are going to WEIRDify the entire world, within the next 50 years, the next two generations. We will do this not by converting non-WEIRD people to WEIRD, but by getting their kids. Their kids, and their kids' kids, are going to grow up on the Internet at least as much as they grow up in the real world, and the pull of WEIRD culture will overwhelm all existing non-WEIRD cultures. I realize this is a very strong claim, but this process is already underway; at this point I think it's inevitable. The cost of this will be a collapse of global cultural diversity exactly as you and Rozin predict.
Now, my take on WEIRD culture -- and specifically American culture, which is the beating heart of WEIRD -- is that it contains both strong support for and strong opposition to cultural creativity within it. The strong support shows up in many thousands of thriving Internet subcultures; spend a day on Reddit surfing the top 1,000 Subreddits and no matter how jaded you think you are, you'll be stunned how many new and different kinds of things WEIRD people get into. This is the legacy of the conceptual explosion at the heart of secularization and the Enlightenment. But the strong opposition also shows up, in the form of the hectoring, suppressive demands for hyperconformity that we see all around us now. This is the legacy of Hegel, Marx, and Kojeve: the core progressive idea of WEIRD, that history is advancing toward a single, unified, optimized global way of thinking and being. I think these two legacies are at war within WEIRD, and the outcome will determine whether the Internet-powered WEIRDification of the world ultimately leads to an explosion of cultural creativity, or its absolute death.
I know which outcome I'd prefer.
This ties in well to my next question: The internet promised us a brave new world of freedom (and sports scores at our fingertips!) and has delivered it, but only to a certain point. The trend for the past several years has been that of the state clamping down on this freedom in order to combat challenges to its system such as the scare tactic known as 'fake news'. China has already cut off Twitter and other western social media, and Russia seems to be headed that way as well. We have seen how certain states weaponize social media (I'm looking at the USA in particular) to effect their foreign policy objectives. National Internets seem to be the future, as many states, large and small, fear the nuclear-strength soft power of the USA's internet culture. Is it already too late to turn the clock back to the halcyon days of Netscape and AltaVista?
So the amazing thing about the old Internet is that it still exists! Web sites built in 1993 that are still online, or web sites built today with technology from 1993, still work just fine. So people can have the old Internet back whenever they want. Naturally most people don't actually want that, but I think it's nifty and helpful that this trap door to the past still works.
But yes, I think what you are describing is a cold, virtual, extended, cultural World War III. And I mean that seriously. I don't think a "real" World War III ever happens, because of the mutually assured destruction of nukes, and quite frankly our postmodern lack of energy to go kill other people in the tens or hundreds of millions. But, I think we are already in *virtual* World War III, the Great Information War, both within and between countries, and it's primarily caused by the WEIRDification process I described above.
I described the process of the Internet WEIRDifying the world as inevitable, but that doesn't mean that many, many powerful elites aren't going to fight it like crazy, which is what's happening all around us. For example, the pointy end of the spear of WEIRD in our time is woke; woke is currently America's #1 cultural export -- as demonstrated with Black Lives Matter protests in dozens of countries with no local history of mistreatment of Black people -- and much of the rest of the world and its leadership elite very much do not want their populations going woke.
China is an obvious example; their stated and implemented strategy is to harvest Western technology while preventing that same technology from smuggling Western/WEIRD/woke culture into their society. France is an more potent recent example; Macron at this point is actively fighting woke from the French left, which is double plus ironic, since that's where it started. And in just the last few weeks it's become clear how this round of the apparently timeless Israeli/Palestinian conflict is being snapped into the same WEIRD/woke progressive political framework as BLM, with potentially profound consequences for Israel and its assumption of ongoing American military and economic support. My overall mental model is that undeserving gatekeepers in the US hate the Internet, but undeserving gatekeepers outisde the US hate it even more.
On the other hand, nothing gets people into the streets in any country in the world these days more than cutting off the Internet...
You wrote an article entitled "It's Time to Build" in response to the COVID pandemic, focusing especially on the USA's unpreparedness for such a crisis and how its supply chains are compromised. This strikes at the very heart of globalism, of which the USA is at the forefront. It also suggests the need for a new national industrial policy to prevent a recurrence in the name of security. Yet this would serve to harm the economies of key US allies that export to your country, and could possibly see them petitioning China for investment to fill the gap. As Globalism is part of the USA's global security architecture, can this dilemma be resolved?
First, I think it's important to contextualize the role of global trade in domestic economics. Total foreign imports are only about 11% of American consumption, and Chinese imports are 3%. Most of any national economy, including ours, is domestic; you can't import a haircut, a house, or a hospital visit. So global trade is probably overblown as an issue generally. Which isn't good news; it's just to say that, as usual, most of our problems are our own.
Further, for things that are made and traded internationally, few are produced in just one place. An iPhone, for example, contains parts from more than 40 countries. So hampering global trade in order to insulate one country's producers from foreign competition, or to build a strategic domestic industry, has enormous knock-on effects not just for consumption but also for *production*; it isn't just a question of moving, or not moving, a factory. For this reason, tariffs and other trade barriers tend to hurt domestic producers nearly as much as they hurt consumers; many local workers take the blow from both sides.
Finally, industrial policy works better in theory than practice. The practice is generally disastrous, because of course it is: industrial policy = industrial politics; you're inviting the government to make economic decisions through a political lens, and you end up in the same morass as you do with any other political topic and the decisions end up looking really stupid.
Just one example; as a young kid, I was sent to DC in the early 90's to participate in a Very Important government strategy group developing a US industrial policy for flat-screen televisions. Virtually all of the experts at the time said that if Japan took the then-new flat-screen television industry the way they took old cathode ray tube televisions, the strategic consequences to the US would be disastrous, not just in lost jobs but also literally for national security -- US aircraft carriers and fighter jets might not be able to source display panels in the future, and our military would be hobbled. Of course, as it turned out, we didn't implement an industrial policy for flat-screen TV's; Japan "won" and then immediately lost the industry to much lower cost competitors like Korea and China. Meanwhile, America won CPUs and software and the Internet. And last time I checked, our military gear contains plenty of flat-screen displays.
More recently, our experts in DC have been trying to simultaneously fight climate change and protect American jobs by both subsidizing domestic solar panel *adoption* while slapping tariffs on foreign solar panel *imports* -- an act of truly impressive, and counterproductive, economic masturbation.
So, industrial policy is highly unlikely to deliver on what it promises. BUT, that being said, it's time to build. We should absolutely be producing more in the US, but not by backsliding into corrosive, corrupt, counterproductive business/government entanglement in the form of industrial policy, but by playing to *our* strengths. We should build Elon Musk's vision of high scale, highly automated, highly flexible "alien dreadnought" factories by the thousands, and never be left in the breach again when we need to produce anything at all in conditions of duress. And, around the edges, we *should* tweak policy here and there to unlock our native energies of production.
How seriously do you take the threat of China in terms of the development of future technologies? Does this pose an existential threat to the USA?
This is a classic on the one hand, on the other hand puzzle, linked to our propensity to want to punish ourselves to make ourselves feel good. Here's what I mean: On the one hand, China developing into a powerhouse of technological innovation would be good for the world, because new technologies don't tend to stay hoarded; they are ideas at heart, and ideas tend to proliferate and become adopted widely. Economist William Nordhaus long ago showed that 98% of the economic surplus created by a new technology is captured not by its inventor but by the broader world; I think this obviously holds true not just at the level of an inventor or a company but also of a country. Ideas created in America have made the whole world immeasurably richer, and I think the same will happen due to ideas created in China.
On the other hand, China has a strategic agenda to achieve economic, military, and political hegemony by dominating dozens of critical technology sectors -- this isn't a secret, or a conspiracy theory; they say it out loud. Recently the tip of their spear has been networking, in the form of their national champion Huawei, but they clearly plan to apply the same playbook into artificial intelligence, drones, self-driving cars, biotech, quantum computing, digital money, and etc. Many countries need to consider very carefully whether they want to run on China Inc.'s technology stack with all of the downstream control implications. Do you really want China to be able to turn off your money?
In the meantime, the West's technology champion, the United States, has decided to self-flagellate -- both political parties and their elected representatives are busily savaging the US technology industry every way they possibly can. Our public sector hates our private sector and wants to destroy it, while China's public sector works hand in glove with its private sector, because of course it does, it *owns* its private sector. At some point, we may wish to consider whether we should stop machine-gunning ourselves in the foot at the start of this quite important marathon.
"He who has the gold makes the rules" and the state has the monopoly on force. Bitcoin and other cyptocurrencies are systemic threats to this tried and tested model. Can the state ever tolerate such a threat, or will it have to tame such a 'wild beast'? Is compromise possible without compromising the core values of crypto?
Crypto is a complex topic with a lot of puts and takes; this could be an interview all its own, and so I will only provide a highly abbreviated answer.
First, we already live in a world of many currencies. Nobody considers the Swiss Franc a threat to US economic sovereignty, or the Japanese Yen, or whatever fake currency they're using in Europe these days. What ensures US economic sovereignty? For starters, tax collection in US dollars, which makes it easiest by far to use US dollars generally in the US. Cryptocurrency is not a threat to that, in my view.
We also already live in a world with anonymous, untraceable criminal and terrorist money flows, in the form of, incredibly, paper US currency. There are 12 billion (!) US $100 bills in circulation globally, more than any other denomination, despite the fact you never see $100 bills in daily life; that's because they're the global standard for bad behavior. Whereas cryptocurrency works in the form of a public ledger that can be data mined just like any database; a lot of national security people are actually quite fired up about more transactions moving from paper currency to the blockchain.
Then, if you still want to fight cryptocurrency, there's the nature of the thing that you'd be fighting. Cryptocurrency is math, and code. Numbers, just numbers, stored in computers all over the world. The level of draconian control required to ban cryptocurrency -- bad numbers, numbers that you don't want to exist or move around -- would be totalitarianism on a cosmic scale, far worse than whatever is motivating you to try to ban it.
Finally, the benefits of cryptocurrency are real, from new competition to "too big to fail" financial incumbents, to new jobs created by the explosive innovation in the space, to enormous consumer gain that extends all the way down the economic ladder to the lowest income and most unbanked in our society. So, I expect an uncomfortable but largely stable long term dynamic.
By way of our interactions with the internet, we all have avatars that represent us online. Most are false, with a heavy stress on idealized (at least partially) versions of ourselves. Many now market their whole selves online, to the detriment of the Meatspace. Are we losing our humanity, or is this simply a shift into a new era? I may sound like a Luddite or the type of person to claim that one loses his or her soul through photography, as was common in the 19th century as the new technology was rolled out.
Back to Socrates! We've lived in a cultural and intellectual space just as much as we've lived in a physical space for thousands of years. Watching television is better than staring at a fencepost; reading a book is better than listening to a street corner preacher; worshipping a Big God is better than worshipping a local tree. Losing one's soul through photography is real, there's a you beyond you that is no longer entirely in your control, but it's still better than living in a mud hut and staring at the wall for your entire life.
I'll take the other side of the argument. Most people will be able to express far fuller versions of themselves and have richer and more fulfilling lives online than they would have in the old purely offline world. I think this is the story of much of the development of our civilization -- we participate in bigger and more complex cultural and intellectual spheres over time. Net positive, but not without its issues.
Marc in the Hot Seat
Many important people are calling me the Dick Cavett of the Internet Age due to my wildly popular interviews with such people as Glenn Greenwald, Weev, and a lot of other unimportant figures. Yet I am also well-known on Twitter for popularizing the concept known as the "Lindy Effect", to the point that I have been given the nickname "Lindyman". This interview has entirely been a vehicle for me to pitch to you my idea for the LindyApp: an app that tells you if things are Lindy or not. I am looking for a Series A Round investment of $10 million USD. Are you interested?
I'll beat and raise you. Here's my startup pitch: "The Final App". Harness current breathtaking advances in big data, machine learning, and GPT-3 text generation -- slurp in all the world's information and all of your personal information, track and monitor everything you do and say, and then tell you at *each* point in your life *exactly* the optimal decision to make, the optimal thing to say, to do. Think "Cyrano de Bergerac"; you're on a date, the very attractive person across the table says X, this app instantly tells you via a heads-up display or tiny earpiece the best response. Same for job interviews. Same for which person or job to match with. Same for where to live, what to eat, how to make love, how to raise your kids.
Suppose it *works*, it gives you the optimal answer every time. Heaven or hell?
All day long you are bothered with people pitching you ideas, asking for funding, begging for donations, and so on. I think that the best use of your wealth would be to fund a compound for young men engaged in paramilitary training somewhere in the tropics (secret location), headed by Bronze Age Pervert. Many would serve as studs who impregnate multiple beautiful women from around the world to 'improve the stock' as per BAP. You could have a world-best active strike force made up of the most handsome and blondest men in existence. Fueled by Mishima, Junger, and Twitter shitposts, they could serve as a fanatically loyal Praetorian Guard for you in your futuristic city of Neom.
Always you and the young men. But also, this is what the drones are for.
Glenn Greenwald shows up at your front door with 300 dogs that he just rescued from sexual assault by white women in the past 20 minutes and he begins asking you coy questions about 'certain' investments covered by an NDA that have recently made. What do you do?
Tell him there are a lot more dogs and white women still on the loose?
Marc, the following is the most important question that I have ever asked in any of my interviews: are my bros and I gonna make it?
Did you hear that guys? We’re all gonna make it!
Marc Andreessen can be found on his 20 mile long nuclear-powered, crypto-mining submarine passing around the Cape of Good Hope in the next few days as he continues to plot global domination. He can also be found on Twitter @pmarca.