Olaf Carlson-Wee, a well-known figure in the cryptocurrency industry, is set to speak at Consensus 2023 in Austin, Texas. Carlson-Wee is known for being one of Coinbase’s earliest hires and expert voices during the initial coin offering (ICO) craze in 2017. He has since stepped back from the spotlight but remains heavily invested and active in the industry. In a recent interview with CoinDesk, Carlson-Wee discussed a range of topics, including artificial intelligence, techno-optimism, and his belief in “super happiness.”
When asked about his stance on artificial intelligence, Carlson-Wee expressed his belief that it is inevitable and that the idea of slowing down AI research is unrealistic. He also expressed concerns about handing over control of AI development to a global body that would make decisions for humanity. Carlson-Wee believes that automation will lead to the automation of a large portion of the current “white-collar labor market” and that consumer AI systems are simply more efficient versions of mental labor. However, he is fascinated by the longer-term trends and the potential for AI to destroy humanity.
From an investment perspective, Carlson-Wee believes that algorithms trained on specific data could end up being a commodity, with the interface and application layer being the most valuable components. He also believes that AI and cryptocurrency share similarities in that they are both open-source and permissionless, making them impossible to stop once they are launched into the world.
Carlson-Wee’s interest in cryptocurrency began over 10 years ago when he became the 30th user of Coinbase. He was drawn to the friendly interface and the fact that it was based in America, making it easier to buy and sell bitcoin. Carlson-Wee saw Coinbase as the model to take bitcoin mainstream, and he was impressed by its ability to handle custody and send bitcoin to other users.
In addition to his work in cryptocurrency, Carlson-Wee is also a part-time philosopher who believes in both meritocracy and wealth redistribution. He has a challenging view of what “progress” means and is interested in the concept of “super happiness,” which he describes as a state of mind that is beyond happiness and is achieved through self-improvement and the improvement of the world around us.
Carlson-Wee’s unique perspective on cryptocurrency and his interest in philosophy make him a fascinating figure in the industry. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how Carlson-Wee’s ideas and beliefs influence its development.