Balaji Srinivasan, Stanford lecturer and newest addition to the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital all-star team, does not want to live near you. He believes he and his Silicon Valley vanguard deserve their own place—literally, a separate society. Now, the crazy is crazier: meet the "Inverse Amish."
Srinivasan—who is not some kook on Reddit, but a man with money, a Wired byline, and the means to be taken seriously—is explaining his techie utopia on Twitter. But he wants to calm everyone down: this isn't a plan to secede from the United States, it's just a way to create a completely autonomous zone within the United States, where people like Srinivasan can do whatever they want without the meddling "rules" of the federal government. What's the difference between this and secession? I don't know, ask Quora.
You mention Elysium and the Matrix. I would offer a different analogy: the Inverse Amish.
Just like the Amish live nearby, peacefully, in the past - imagine a society of Inverse Amish that lives nearby, peacefully, in the future. A place where Google Glass wearers are normal, where self-driving cars and delivery drones aren't restricted by law, and where we can experiment with new technologies *without* causing undue disruption to others. Think of this like a Special Innovation Zone similar to the Special Economic Zones that Deng Xiaoping used to allow China to experiment with capitalism in a controlled way.
9) In sum: I believe that regulations exist for a reason. And I believe that new technologies will keep coming up against existing rulesets. I don't believe the solution is either to change the rulesets (which, again, exist for a reason) OR to give up on new technology. I think instead we need a third solution: a way to exit (whether to the cloud for purely digital technologies, or to a Special Innovation Zone or ultimately a startup nation), prove/disprove these new technologies among a self-selected, opt-in group of risk-tolerant early adopters, and report back to the mothership on what works and what doesn't.
10) This concept - a Special Innovation Zone - is a new idea. It is really about humility, not hostility. USG is a big thing, it has a lot of responsibilities, it runs a nation of 300M people, and it can't just change federal laws to permit some crazy tech guys to try (say) self-driving cars without affecting millions of people. A new region - like a Special Innovation Zone - can experiment with this kind of thing without bothering anyone who wishes to live under the previous rulesets.
Again: this is complementary to USG's own efforts. I don't see them as competitive, anymore than a startup competes with IBM's research labs.
Take your head out of your hands and let's try to digest.
The United States, Srinivasan says, is something that can merely be "exited," like a Palo Alto coffee shop, or a GroupMe chat. In his mind, this has zero ramifications.
United States citizenship, and its laws, regulations, and constitution, Srinivasan says, are just a "ruleset" that one might opt out of like a Facebook account.
The United States, Srinivasan says, should let a large group of rich, eccentric people take over part of its sovereign territory to be used as a playground for Google Glass and raw, unregulated free market corporate fellatio.
There is no mention of where this "Special Innovation Zone" of "Inverse Amish" will "exist," or who will "build its roads" or "put out its fires" or "prevent its Amish from killing one another" or "teach its children" or "pump its water" or any of the other necessary conditions for modern human existence. The answer is probably some mixture of BitCoin and apps.
Peacefully start an international (1) company, (2) community, (3) currency, (4) country. We are now at step 3.
— Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) January 3, 2014
And for those of us still living in the boring ol' USA, what are we supposed to feel when one of the most lauded venture capital firms of our time is paying a person like him to espouse things like this? It really does make you want to "exit," doesn't it?