Meeting the Only Sane (Transhumanist) VC left in Silicon Valley: An Exclusive interview with Legendary Silicon Valley Billionaire Vinod Khosla.
If you know anything about legendary Billionaire investor of Khosla Ventures and the Sun Microsystems Co-founder Vinod Khosla, you know he’s not a fan of the status quo and doing things the same way they’ve been done for years. I think Khosla is amazing because he thinks outside the box. Thus I call him “sane” however I therefore also consider the people not investing in disruptive technologies insane. We don’t need caffeine sprays as Peter Thiel has invested in, we need more people like Dmitry Itskov and Project 2045 where he’s investing significant sums of money into surrogate avatars! This implies investing in startups. Khosla, who’s spoken on stage at Singularity University and spoke last week at TechCrunch Disrupt has backed many high risk startups. He can be safely considered a backer of all things exponential and even is arguably helping push us faster towards the technological singularity.
Over the course of the last week, I had the extraordinary privilege of speaking with Vinod Khosla and hearing him speak on stage about why he believes the person who will create disruptive AI, who will build the humanoid avatars and create robots that replace humans in the blue collar work force won’t be from any big company you know about. Rather, according to Khosla, the next big thing will come from a startup. Most ideas that will change the worlds of medicine, big data, robotics and AI will be from (as yet) unheard of startups that scale exponentially using existing cheap technologies. He maintains, “In The Next 10 Years, Data Science Will Do More For Medicine Than All Biological Sciences Combined!” He further suggested to TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington that 80% of doctors work will be replaced by advanced machines and that doctor errors are the number one cause of death in America today.
Khosla believes however that the task of disrupting major industries won’t be easy . He said on stage that “It takes a few Ph.D.’s with degrees in robotics, machine vision, machine learning and similar topics to make this a reality.”
After his talk I had a good 10 minute chat and interview with Khosla where we talked about the poor and how this technology would bring great equality to the world. He brought out a few devices which he carries with him. Technologies like the EyeNetra will bring a $5000 ophthalmic piece of hardware to a sub $15 attachment that can diagnose many eye disorders. Khosla is also a backer of CellScope, which is a digital otoscope that anyone in the world can easily use and the HealthTap medical question answering service. He even had an EKG iPhone case he used on stage to take his own EKG and said that it again costs only fifteen bucks to make. And he wants to give it away for free to the poor!
The kind of changes Khosla likes to invest are the ones that bring about a Moore’s law type of change to an existing expensive technology and then transforms them into something cheap and ubiquitous. I asked him what really turns him on about technology and he replied, “The area I’m most excited about is the kind of technology together with sensors and wearable’s changing the practice of health care.”
It seems Khosla means something like deep AI from IBM Watson in healthcare combined with the Google Glass and/or the smartphone working together to give extremely accurate real time data , better diagnoses and better medical advice and care. Importantly, because all these technologies will be subject to the law of accelerating returns, not only will they get over a thousand times more powerful in ten years, they will also get nearly ten fold cheaper.
With deep insights like that it’s no wonder Khosla said “70-80% of VC’s add negative value to startups.”