On the CSPI podcast this week, I talk to Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist and the founder of Netscape. He joins the podcast to talk about what's the matter with science, the prerequisites for progress, and how tech has changed our lives and has the potential to disrupt stagnant institutions. Topics also include how the internet has changed dating, what venture capitalists actually do, and whether there is too much–or too little–money in politics.
I enjoyed speaking with Marc, not only because he is brilliant, but because those of us who write for a living can get isolated from the rest of the world, wrapped up in politics and ideas, while the earth shakes under us due to technological and economic progress. Some examples of this happening from the more distant past include how firearms destroyed the world of medieval knights, and the birth control pill and household appliances facilitated women entering the workplace. More recently, any economist in the world could for generations point to the problems of taxi medallions, but it was a business that came along and helped make the industry behave more rationally. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as most of the debate centered around lockdowns and other restrictive measures, pharmaceutical companies were inventing the vaccines that would bring the risk of hospitalization and death down to near zero for those willing to take one, even if our choices in the political and social realms show us unable to accept victory.
As alluded to in our conversation, I see Marc and other venture capitalists as on the frontline of the revolution, or several concurrent revolutions, funding those who have the potential to remake our world. How new technologies interact with our politics, culture and intellectual life is a theme throughout our discussion.