Marc Andreessen on the Future of Technology and Automation, Robotics, and AI can Impact Government Service

June 2, 2014
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By Bob Gourley

Marc AndreessenThis is the third installment in our series flowing from recent dialog with Marc Andreessen. Previous posts discussed future tech scenarios around the year 2030 and context on government services in the future. In this post we provide Marc’s thoughts around the future of technology including automation, robotics and AI and implications for government, business and citizens.

Gourley: Marc can you give us thoughts that can help government technologists today think through the future of automation? In general, how can we shape an increasingly robotic/AI workforce in government to better serve citizens?

Andreessen: All indications are that 2030 will be primetime for this type of government service.

Let’s start with concepts of self driving cars. By 2030 we can expect self driving cars to be widely proliferated in governments, being used for functions like post office delivery at the federal level and many other uses at the state and local levels. Self driving aircraft are with us now, but consider the fully developed use of government and commercial drones in the near future. You will not be able to go outside without seeing drones overhead. Government use cases for them include weather reporting, law enforcement, health, environmental monitoring, traffic control, safety, emergency response and communications. The same environment will host many commercial drones that may also have those use cases but will also no doubt be there to collect information on consumers for marketing and other business reasons.

Which leads to the topic of surveillance. Drones are not the only platform, surveillance will be conducted from ground-based and building based sensors as well as on most all people you encounter. Just know it will be pervasive, with HD imagery and video potentially collected from anywhere, as well as collection of signals being emanated from smart devices we all carry.

Society will need to decide how to resolve issues/tensions associated with an environment like this. We can generally break these down into issues in three domains:

1) Government

2) Business

3) Individuals

At the government level, we will have to deal with issues regarding protection of civil liberties and ways to respect reasonable expectations of privacy while people are in public spaces.

Businesses today collect information on people and extrapolating out to 2030 shows even more issues to resolve there. The same concerns we have now will be apparent on much larger scale. Imagine data from your self driving car letting the shopping center know you are approaching, then HD video of you letting the shopping center have more tactical information on what you are wearing and correlating that with signals from your smart phone plus knowledge of your financial and purchasing history. There might be great benefits to consumers of this sort of advanced preparation of your arrival, but society will have to consider these many issues.

Individuals today are empowered with great abilities to sense what is going on around them, including information on other people around us. There are issues of safety and security that make this a very virtuous thing to do. But also issues of privacy for others.

At all three of these levels, government, business and individuals, there is a growing need for society to think through questions and implications of this coming world of integrated smart sensors, robotics and AI.


The next posts in this series will dive into the social fabric of interactions between citizens and government and then the coming paradigm crushing collision of physical and cyber worlds.  Ensure you are on our newsletter distributions to be alerted when we publish.