Does Silicon Valley Want To Create Its Own Separate Nation?

balloonPlease leave me behind. CNET News dissects a talk given at Y Combinator this past weekend that echos the recent sentiments of Google co-founder Larry Page, eBay co-founder Peter Thiel, and others who imagine a libertarian, tech-utopian paradise as the ultimate goal:

At Y Combinator, Balaji Srinivasan, a Stanford lecturer and co-founder of genetics startup Counsyl, lays out his proposal for creating opt-in societies “outside the US, run by technology,” Srinivasan said, often reading from the slides he presented onstage with an authoritarian tone.

The idea is techno-utopian spaces — new countries even — that could operate beyond the bureaucracy and inefficiency of government. It’s a decision that hinges on exiting the current system, as Srinivasan terms it from the realm of political science, instead of using one’s voice to reform from within.

Calling his radical-sounding proposal “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit,” Srinivasan thinks that these limitless spaces, popularly postulated by Page at this year’s Google I/O, are already being created, thanks to technology and a desire to exit.

“The best part is this, the people who think this is weird, who sneer, who hate technology, won’t 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.

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  • emperorreagan

    It’s always rich and powerful dudes who are pissed that they’re not rich and powerful enough to get their way all of the time…

  • The Well Dressed Man

    These guys are way beyond something as old school as secession. By fundamentally altering the economy to an information base, the world is recreated in their image. It’s as dystopian as it is utopian. The end of privacy is one of the glaring consequences. California has been radically changed… there’s nowhere within 100 miles of Silicon Valley that hasn’t been pulled into orbit. San Francisco is now a theme park that only tech money can afford, and the East Bay is going the same way. But this trend is affecting cities elsewhere, like Austin TX.

    • jnana

      yes, but isn’t it actually better for those who don’t want to live in a tech. world, if those who do, drop out and create their own Utopia. If you like what they do, live with them. If you don’t, they will have less of an impact on yer life and infringe on yer life LESS, if they secede. Its mostly a win-win for everyone except those in power at the moment.

  • erikgrad

    Peter Thiel will be crapping his pants on his tax-shield Utopian island when it is attacked and overtaken by one of the many military-wealthy, but money-poor nations of the world.

    “But the U.S. Military will come to their rescue” most people would probably say in response to that. Maybe, maybe not.

    • jnana

      this is why the idea of a federation is actually appealing to me, Self-determined communities w/ all sorts of political systems and mutual respect can do what they want, politically/economically/spiritually speaking, but band together for the sake of trade/help and defense.

  • Chaos_Dynamics

    May the ghost of Bill Hicks settle upon their very bones.

  • Cortacespedes

    “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit”.

    Sounds a bit “Jonestown” now, doesn’t it Mr. Srinivasan? Suspiciously cybersect.

    Anyway, if that is the case, let me know. All the Kool-Aid packets you can use, and a few thousand pounds of sugar, on the house.

  • Ted Heistman

    This is how the “aliens” got to where they are now.

  • Tchoutoye

    Sounds a bit like a cyber version of the Ayn Rand-inspired utopia that Glenn Beck wanted to build a few years ago.

  • specialtasks

    If you haven’t seen it, I suggest Adam Curtis’s ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE – it charts, among other things, the Silicon Valley ideas driven by rugged, Randian individualism that attempt to build a better world beyond politics and centralized power. Back to Thiel, Srinivasan and the tech-fetishists – when you have ideas driven from the cult of the self, who’s the administrator in the libertarian network of nodes?

  • jasonpaulhayes

    Well, if the tax money generated by business in California and namely Silicon Valley didn’t go to directly support the southern states included in a would be conservative secession “Nation State within a State” that votes against the nations interests repeatedly… it wouldn’t be a topic at all.

    I say let them secede, be invaded and taken by Mexico over night. Then California can invest, create a autonomous zone with Mexico from those newly vacated southern states, with our new found surplus, and eventually take the nation state by state.

    Decay is headed your way, Viva Californio!
    #occupytheruins

  • jnana

    I smell something good in the air.
    This is what we need. Self-determined communities to drop out. Shit, I can’t stand technophilia. But they got the right to opt out and create their experiment as long as it doesn’t infringe upon others and the earth. Well, it probably will, but at least it will be smalle scale infringements and easier to not be infringed upon, by simply not living amongst them.
    I hope we can see a world of self-determined communities/utopias, giving people the real opportunity to choose their political environment and give everyone the opportunity to see how different political systems might actually work.

  • Adam’s Shadow

    Rapture, anyone? I mean, the Pacific is right there.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Massive government investment and subsidy allowed tech to flourish, but hey! Fuck you public support! We got ours so fuck you!

  • AManCalledDa-da

    Da-da’s guessing these folks haven’t seen, “Logan’s Run” lately, if ever.