At RETURN, we’re trying to find interesting fellow travelers who think deeply about navigating an increasingly digital world. Unfortunately, no easy cheat codes exist to hold onto your humanity and not be enslaved by your gadgets. Finding the tech and the people who also care about these issues is crucial.
One of the people thinking deeply about the direction of our technology is Balaji Srinivasan. He’s a Stanford PhD entrepreneur and has served as a general partner with Andreessen Horowitz and as the first CTO of Coinbase. His first book, The Network State: How To Start a New Country, explores how to set up decentralized digital communities and received excellent reviews.
Balaji is a unique thinker with a compelling story who’s trying to explore alternative options to the current paradigm of what governance and countries look like. These ideas offer a way forward from the increasing centralization and authoritarianism worldwide.
In the first episode of his podcast, Balaji speaks with Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder and inventor of Ethereum. After a stint writing for Bitcoin Weekly, Buterin wrote a white paper in 2013 advocating for a new platform with a general scripting language. Ethereum would go on to become one of the essential tools for crafting everything from NFTs to smart contracts and is the backbone of Web3.
The conversation touches on the history of Ethereum and the thought process behind it. Buterin discusses some of the early hacks that the network had to survive and the eventual Merge. The second part of the podcast examines what good governance means and how decentralized networks can offer enticing alternatives to our current governments. This moment requires radical new solutions to our problems, and these two men are prepared to advocate solutions for these challenges.
You can find The Network State Podcast on Spotify and Apple podcasts.
In this episode:
- A brief history of Ethereum
- The DAO hack
- The Devcon 2 attack
- The Merge
- Ethereum Roadmap
- The de-OFACization of Ethereum?
- Starting new countries
- Network effects
- Regulation as a bounding box
- What new country would Vitalik start?
- Network states and social networks
- Advice on leveling up
- How Vitalik learned Chinese
- Learning by doing