Balaji Srinivasan’s thesis of forming countries online underpins a thought-provoking bestseller and maybe a new asset class – earning him a spot on CoinDesk’s Most Influential 2022 list.
In July, the ex-Coinbase chief technology officer and former Andreessen Horowitz partner published “The Network State: How to Start a New Country,” a crystallization of ideas he’s been kicking around for almost a decade. The book audaciously claims that like-minded people scattered across the globe can form new societies first by building communities on the internet and eventually coalescing in real life – though not necessarily in a single place.
Read more: Presenting CoinDesk’s Most Influential 2022
“A key concept is to go cloud first, land last – but not land never – by starting with an online community and then materializing it into the physical world,” Srinivasan writes.
Cryptocurrencies, borderless by nature, would power the economies of these countries-to-be. Once prospective citizens know and trust each other – early on, those already in close proximity could hold in-person meetups – they could crowdfund the acquisition or construction of apartments, houses or towns in which to live together. These discontiguous outposts would be stitched together into a “network archipelago” using “mixed reality,” a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality (e.g., glasses that superimpose text or graphics over what’s in front of your nose) and face-to-face interactions. Digital IDs would confer citizenship and a census would be taken (how else?) on-chain. Ultimately, a network state would seek diplomatic recognition from the analog-world governments Srinivasan depicts as sclerotic.