But this weekend, at a Y Combinator start-up school, one tech entrepreneur outdid that investor by not just cheerleading dysfunction in Washington, but calling for Silicon Valley to literally secede from the United States.
CNET reports that Balaji Srinivasan, the co-founder of San Francisco–based genetics company Counsyl, used his opportunity to address a roomful of aspiring start-up founders at Y Combinator to give a talk called “Silicon Valleys Ultimate Exit,” a techno-utopian vision of a world free of the constraints of civil society:
“The best part is this, the people who think this is weird, the people who sneer at the frontier, who hate technology, wont follow you there,” he said. “We need to run the experiment, to show what a society run by Silicon Valley looks like without affecting anyone who wants to live under the Paper Belt,” he added, using the term “paper belt” to refer to the environments currently governed by pre-existing systems like the US government … “We need to build opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology,”
Srinivasan said, often reading from the slides he presented onstage with an authoritarian tone. [Emphasis mine]Srinivasan’s remarks, which CNET’s Nick Statt says were given with an “air of forced evangelism” but were “received warmly” by the start-up incubators incoming class, were predicated on his belief that Silicon Valley hasn’t been responsible for any of the ills that have befallen the United States lately, and that, with tools like Bitcoin and 3-D printing, the tech sector is no longer reliant on participation in the national economy:
“We didn’t securitize mortgages, order bailouts, start wars, or refuse to write movies or articles on this until too late,” read one of Srinivasans slides on where the blame lies and what the real problems are that are holding technology back.
At the end of his presentation, Srinivasan presented a slide “showing an artists rendition of what a techno-utopia might look like if it were blossoming in the ocean off the coast of what could only be Northern California.
“Srinivasan, who lectures at Stanford, is also teaching an online course on the subject of techno secession. His remarks weren’t that far off from ones made earlier by Silicon Valley bigwigs like Google CEO Larry Page, who wants to “set aside a part of the world” for regulation-free technological experimentation, or investor Peter Thiel, whose “seasteader” movement wants to take out its frustrations with government by building floating societies outside the U.S.’s borders.
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