Coinbase’s former chief technology officer wants to use social networks to create states. What doesn’t fit into his vision are things like poverty, illness and ageing
In The Network State, a buzzy new book by Balaji Srinivasan, the former chief technology officer of Coinbase, poses a devious question: how do you Larp a country into existence?
Released provocatively this 4 July, the book presents Srinivasan’s case for a new model of digital statehood run and managed in the cloud. A network state, as he describes it, is basically a group of people who get together on the internet and decide that they’re going to start a country. With a social network to connect them, a leader to unite them, and a cryptocurrency to protect their assets, Srinivasan says a country can be born with laws, social services and all. A network state is a country that “anyone can start from your computer, beginning by building a following” – not unlike companies, cryptocurrencies, or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). In a world where billionaires can run companies larger than countries, Srinivasan asks, could such a state achieve recognition from the United Nations?
Sam Venis is a writer based in New York