We had an AMA with Patri Friedman, the founder of the Seasteading Institute and the son of the famed economist Milton Friedman. We talked about a whole host of topics such as seasteading, government, and governance in cryptocurrencies. Here are some of the highlights.
The country “shopping experience”
What motivated Patri to pursue seasteading wasn’t a love of oceans but his dissatisfaction with the country “shopping experience.” Just like you can go on Amazon and browse a variety of similar products before selecting the one you like based on your preferences and needs, why doesn’t optionality exist in choosing the country you live in? He believes this “shopping experience” is what is lacking in governments today and uses the example of the Industrial Revolution to show what a positive “shopping experience” would look like. The Industrial Revolution in the 1700s saw many small, competing jurisdictions in Europe where people could switch between countries. Patri argues this led to innovations such as insurance and stock market that improved the welfare of those citizens.
Innovation in Government is a people problem, not a tech problem (surprise, surprise)
Seasteading struggles to take off not because of technological feasibility but because of two factors: they:
- Rely on the active cooperation of potential host countries, which is painfully hard to get.
- The “Avatar Effect”: People don’t like losing opportunities to new members of a tribe, such as immigrants. What’s interesting is that Satoshi anticipated this.
Not everything should be decentralized
Talking about governance models in cryptocurrencies, Patri says he’s intrigued by delegated proof of stake [which EOS uses and has been heavily criticized for] because it mimics another form of real-world governance called liquid democracy. In both, voters can delegate their vote to someone else who is [in theory] more knowledgeable about the issue they’re voting on.
He also talks about the expensiveness of decentralization and that not everything should be decentralized. He argues that the things that should be decentralized are the things where gatekeepers are causing problems such as Twitter censoring certain points of view [or Governments that inflate or seize money]. We talk more about where decentralization is needed here.
What was the most interesting part of the conversation for you?