Reid Hoffman, billionaire entrepreneur and venture capital investor, is worried about artificial intelligence — but not for the doomsday reasons making headlines. Instead, he worries the doomsday headlines are too negative.
So in recent months, Mr. Hoffman has engaged in an aggressive thought-leadership regimen to extol the virtues of A.I. He has done so in blog posts, television interviews and fireside chats. He has spoken to government officials around the world. He hosts three podcasts and a YouTube channel. And in March, he published a book, “Impromptu,” co-written with the A.I. tool GPT-4.
It’s all part of the land grab for public opinion around A.I. in preparation for when the initial burst of fear and hype over the technology settles into a coherent debate. Sides will be chosen, regulation will be proposed, and tech tools will become politicized. For now, industry leaders like Mr. Hoffman are trying to nudge the terms of the discussion in their favor, even as public concerns only seem to grow.
“I’m beating the positive drum very loudly, and I’m doing so deliberately,” he said.
Few are as intertwined in so many facets of the fast-moving industry as Mr. Hoffman. The 55-year-old sits on the boards of 11 tech companies including Microsoft, which has gone all in on A.I., and eight nonprofits. His venture capital firm, Greylock Partners, has backed at least 37 A.I. companies. He was among the first investors in OpenAI, the most prominent A.I. start-up, and recently left its board. He also helped found Inflection AI, an A.I. chatbot start-up that has raised at least $225 million.