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February 12, 2016

Marc Andreessen on Surveillance, Online Education and Bitcoin

What does Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, see as the  “international problem for the Internet”?

“As a consequence of the Snowden revelations, which continue,” there’s been a “massive” loss of “faith and confidence in the United States,” he said at an event with Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet.

He talked about certain countries that don’t like what he called an open and uncontrolled Internet.

“They say, hey guess what, we can’t trust those evil Americans anymore,” he said. “We need our own Internet.”

The risk, he later said, is that more countries will adopt the Chinese model instead of the American model, he said.

“If they can balkanize the Internet they’ll have a lot more control,” he said.  “They can do the surveillance, they can do the protectionism, they can do the content filtering and ultimately they can have a kill switch.”

It’s an “open question” whether in five years the Internet will still work the way it does — will a U.S.-based Internet startup be able to have users in France, for instance, he asked.

On a different matter, Andreesen also predicted that online education would become the dominant mode of education in 20 years. And online education will almost always be better than what students have now with teachers in person, he said.

On the digital currency, he said: “Bitcoin represents for money what the Internet represented for data.”

But the currency aspect of bitcoin is just the “tip of the iceberg,” he said.  He sees it as a way to establish trust online for business and sees the technology being used for digital contracts, signatures, voting and other uses.

The venture capital firm he co-founded, Andreessen Horowitz, has invested in bitcoin-related companies. The Freakonomics Radio podcast has more from Andreessen on bitcoin.

  • Mr. Sequel

    As with liberty, the benefits of democratic processes are revealed over the long term.

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