Daily Balajisms - Collective exit
From The Sovereign Individual to sovereign collectives.
Exit plays a prominent role in the thinking of Balaji Srinivasan. If you take the options of exit, voice and loyalty as the responses to declining cities or countries, Balaji chooses exit – moving from the US to Singapore and India.
He distinguishes money-rich people and power-rich people. Stalin might have no money in his pockets, but as he walked around the Soviet Union, he could take anything he wanted. Like a Genghis Khan with an ideological overlay.
Balaji thinks that his contribution to our emerging fiat crisis, as well as a broader thinking about tech and freedom discussed in the Sovereign Individual book, is the concept of a collective exit and the sovereign collective. We need, what Balaji calls, a crowdchoice – tech progressives negotiating with governments around the world.
Whole communities moving together and doing deals with sovereigns – like cities, counties, states, and countries - and provably showing their collective annual income, skills, and wealth on-chain.
People are “bowling alone, but posting together” says Balaji, paraphrasing Putnam’s work for the social media age. Twitter provides a global leaderboard and is thus zero-sum. Today’s “posting together” is mostly entropic - people are reacting to dozens of random links creating heat instead of work.
But we can create new decentralized and physical social networks – where people will be also meeting together and moving together – and optimizing collective goods and team dashboards.
The Sovereign Individual got many things right. The authors gamed out crypto (in 1999!), but not AI and robotics, says Balaji. After reformation there is a counter-reformation. One edge case is when a sovereign individual turns into an individual sovereign, like Xi Jinping. Another counter-move is an autonomous robot – governments using drones to police their populations.
In Venezuela people could mine bitcoin when the government failed. But drones and robots can change the balance between people and the state – you don’t need to pay robots, they just need to be charged and you need less people who are loyal to the regime.
Another addition to the sovereign individual is the sovereign collective. Balaji mentions the recently discovered email by Steve Jobs to employees, where he explains that he doesn’t grow his own food and doesn’t brew his own beer. We live in a society and division of labor is crucial for economic progress.
AI and robots might reduce the scale of not just startups, two people doing work of twenty, but also the scale necessary to run viable communities and a decentralized civilization.
Collective exit or crowdchoice is an evolution from tech startups, like GoDaddy doing a deal with Tuvalu for the .tv domain, to tech communities – tech progressives engaging in parallel negotiations with sovereigns around the world to establish special innovation zones.
Creating content (from podcasts and movies to model legislation) is vital. So is gaining capital and creating computable communities. This is the paper-party-polity process from the age of printing press and nation states, but adjusted for the network age and network states: content – capital – community.