Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman says it’s “important for the U.S. to be competitive” when it comes to technology, but “we need to study” the impact on humankind. That’s why he donated $350M to fund MIT’s new College of Computing. He sat down with Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche in Cambridge, MA to talk about tech and also the impact of the “unsuccessful” talks between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Blackstone’s Schwarzman Its Important For The U.S. To Be Competitive
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See I know you as a prolific private equity investor not necessarily a tech guy so what was it about a guy that was attracting you.
Well I'm not really a tech guy. In fact what attracted me was was learning about how profound these technologies are going to be whether it's AI or quantum machine learning robotics and it's going to change the world. And what I've learned is that it's important. First of all for the U.S. to be competitive in this these technologies. And secondly when they get introduced they can do some bad things as well as some good things. They're going to be profound changes in workforce opportunities health care and we need to study not just. What the technologies can do but what the impact of the technology is going to be on regular human beings and how do you introduce them. How do you control them. How do you regulate them. Because it's a little like. Nuclear technology. Just don't let everyone have it because their reasons you wouldn't. And that's the same way with these technologies.
Right. Well you're also talking about the ethics of AI and applying ethics to artificial intelligence. But how do you ensure that you do have the right impact.
Well you never can insure but you basically have to start. You have to set some type of framework some type of restriction some type of cooperation. Globally. It's basically knitting together a new world. And at the same time you're having this amazing progress that comes from having these technologies whether they're going to be autonomous driving cars or. Other types of things in medicine world design unique medicines for each person or lower the cost of developing medicines so that. That. It's more. Cheap for consumers better values different ways of learning teaching people to raise people up so that they have a better shot at prosperity which they deserve. So it's a new world and it's a world that unless you spend the time on it you won't know. How profound these changes are going to be.
How do you think the U.S. is doing enough in terms of artificial intelligence and maintaining its competitiveness with the global economy because we are seeing China invest heavily in this space.
Well we've got basically three drivers. We've got great companies we've got great universities and we've got you know a central government. So as you look at these it's hard to imagine our companies doing a much better job. But but in effect they need an appropriate regulatory framework for them to operate. And they want that. Our universities. Don't have enough money. At the moment to train. All the students who come into them to take their place in that workforce. And they also can do a better job with more money with more people to progress artificial intelligence and these other technologies. And the U.S. government has been a laggard. You're probably not old enough to remember when President Kennedy decided to go to the moon and that that moon shot. Which started I guess he made that speech around 1962 and we got there in 1969. Created huge numbers of new technologies. Accidental. Technologies that got introduced to the regular world to make life better for people and our government needs to get in the game. And I think from dealing with people in Washington where there's a lot of dysfunction I hope there's not going to be dysfunction in this area because everyone I talk to. In the legislature. You know the Congress as well as you know at the White House understands. How profound these issues are and that we have to get in the game. If we can't all three. You know elements you know companies. Universities and our central government. Doing what they're supposed to be doing. Then things will work out very well for the United States. If we don't do that then we'll face challenges not from any one country but for a variety of countries that are pursuing these technologies.
I want to come back to AI in just a second but while we have you we have so many investors who are watching and they also look to you you run Blackstone one of the biggest asset managers in the world. I want to get your reaction to the news that's coming out of Vietnam today. Trump ending that summit with Kim Jong un early what is your reaction to that. How are you assessing that when you're thinking about investing and how are you thinking about that in relation to theU.S. China trade negotiations that are going on.
Well the Vietnam meetings were unsuccessful and you know that happens sometimes. The preconditions obviously that North Korea wanted were not able to be met. I don't think there's much. Criticism of not agreeing to just. Remove all restrictions on the country and hoping things work out well. So you know it was it was a set of assumptions that each side had where they wanted to come out which didn't I don't think from what I've heard that there was a lot of bad feeling about it it just didn't happen. And so that's a shame it's a long way. I think it's 20 hours to go all the way over there to not accomplish an enormous amount. On the other hand dialogue is always good. Always good particularly when it doesn't and interpersonally in a bad place. Now if heavy China. It's quite interesting. Most people in the United States at least don't understand that China and the United States are really aligned. Visit the North Korea. And the reason is that North Korea is right on the border of China. And if anything goes wrong. With North Korea from a military perspective. With nuclear weapons that nuclear fallout is going into China. If there is any kind of military action. The Chinese are concerned that people in North Korea will just flee. Into China and they don't want that to happen. So the U.S. and and China both have the same objective a denuclearized Korea peninsula. And that didn't happen today. That was not a good event for China. It was not a good event for the U.S. and long term actually. It's probably not a good thing for North Korea. But I think that China U.S. trade discussions are unaffected by this and in fact it provides more commonality for the China and the U.S. side to get something done because they're both going to have to deal with the North Korean issue.