Today, we have a double episode for you — two conversations from the Cerebral Valley AI Summit.
Reid Hoffman was fresh off a meeting with President Joe Biden when Hoffman and I sat down on stage at the Cerebral Valley AI Summit Nov. 15. On stage, he told us that working to get Biden elected next year is one of his top priorities.
Then, I sat down with the ever-feisty Vinod Khosla. The investor called for a TikTok ban and more welcoming immigration policies while warning against open-source artificial intelligence projects.
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Hoffman Plans to Go Big for Biden
Hoffman, fresh off a meeting with President Biden, kicked off the afternoon with a strong endorsement of the President’s record. Hoffman praised Biden for his recent executive order on artificial intelligence.
Reid called himself “a 95%-98% supporter” of the executive order, endorsing provisions on reporting and monitoring, “red team” testing, and voluntary commitments by companies that might eventually be enforced via the Defense Production Act. But he pushed back on the idea that the FTC should be monitoring the AI industry for anti-competitive conduct.
“Startups are not being impeded right now,” he asserted, despite the apparent dominance of OpenAI and the mega-cap tech companies. Reid sits on the board of Microsoft, and offered that he was in fact “first money in” on OpenAI, through his personal foundation, but he’s not concerned about, er, his own companies having too much power. “I don’t think it constrains competition on any level.”
Hoffman is always happy to engage on policy, and I asked him what he thought about Marc Andreessen’s recent “techno-optimist” manifesto, which denigrates the very idea of government oversight. Reid said he was a techno-optimist too, and half-joked that Andreessen “quoted kind of liberally from things I’ve written and said” without any attribution. But Hoffman said that he’s not on board with Andreessen’s approach. “It’s kind of dumb to think that when you have major technologies there can’t be negative side effects,” he said, noting that all his AI projects have safety teams. “Tech can be amazing. Let’s be intentional about building.”
Khosla Wins Cheers from the Cerebral Valley Audience
Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla confirmed that his firm, boosted by an early stake in OpenAI, was about to close on $3 billion in commitments for a new fund. Valuations are high, he said, “but just because valuations are high doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time to invest.”
He’s not buying existential risk, calling it “nonsensical” talk from academics who had nothing better to do. But he’s long on China risk, saying the U.S. is in a “techno-economic war” with China and needs to fight hard. “I would ban TikTok in a nano-second,” he said, unlike his predecessor on stage, Hoffman, who Khosla said he very much admired. Khosla is firmly against open-source AI models as well due to the China risk.
Bio-risk and cyber risk are real concerns too, he noted.
But if China or rogue viruses don’t kill us, Khosla thinks the near-future is very bright: “I do think in 10 years we’ll have free doctors, free tutors, free lawyers” all powered by AI.
Khosla also gave a grudging endorsement of the Biden Executive Order, saying it was “okay.”
But like most Silicon Valley moguls, he has no time for antitrust issues. “We have to get people like Khan out of there,” he said, referring to the chair of the FTC (though misstating her name), calling her “crazy, left-wing.”
Khosla said he’s long believed that AI would force us to “redefine what it is to me human.”
Meantime he himself plans another 25 years of VC investing, and if all goes well, maybe more.