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Time to Revive This Blog

September 9, 2014

I’m going to start writing again here as an exercise. My blogging hiatus has demonstrated to me the intellectually obvious truth that writing helps to clarify your thinking. So for selfish reasons, here we go.

Competitive governance will remain the main theme, but I now see a flawed assumption in the title of this blog. It would be nice of course if more nations bloomed, but recent struggles in various markets between state-protected interests and new entrants have led me to see that perhaps the opt out/opt in model of competitive governance will not occur at the level of the city or region first, but instead cascade industry by industry. To take one example, Uber, Lyft and other similar services let customers opt out of the taxi cab medallion system of governance and opt into a reputation and credit based system of transport. City residents who want to use the old system are welcome to keep hailing cabs with a whistle (or in San Francisco, keep waiting indefinitely), while others may opt out and into the mobile summon at command model.

Likewise, Bitcoin lets people opt out of the fiat money system; AirBnB lets travelers opt out of the regulated hotel industry; charter schools free students from public schools; the Thiel Fellowship, technologists from college, and so on. Or as I recently mused:

I expect I’ll be writing frequently on technologies that enhance the power of exit.

 

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3 Comments
  1. Matt permalink
    September 9, 2014 8:56 pm

    I was musing recently about the possibilities for a private security industry proving disruptive. Imagine a service like OnStar for when you’re not in a car. A smart bracelet tracking heart rate, skin conductance, etc. could detect when you might be in a dangerous situation (either health related or physical threat related) and if you failed to respond to a check-in could dispatch assistance.

    Since in many places police response times are unlikely to be great, such a service could initially dispatch drones with cameras to check up on you and potentially have private security staff who could be first responders while waiting for the emergency services. Given that the police in many areas are also not always very ‘customer service’ focused, there may be value in providing third party observation of any police interactions.

    It seems quite feasible to provide many people with a better customer experience with such a service than they get from the police. Since security is one of the main services that governments use to justify their existence, adoption of such services on a significant scale could prove quite disruptive in the long term.

    • Mike Gibson permalink*
      September 9, 2014 9:28 pm

      Not bad. You could start simpler. No need for all those sensors when a panic button either on a phone or on a smart watch should be as fast. What might be interesting is to apply predictive algorithms + GPS to send you warnings about how dangerous on average the neighborhood you are in is. It might be able to comb other data sources to make predictions about how violent any particular evening in any location is. Kinda like traffic warnings or weather warnings. I read a story on Wired about gang members tweeting and Facebooking notes about their violent activities. Perhaps those would be good sources of data. Your watch or phone might then glow a certain color to correspond to danger level.

  2. September 9, 2014 9:38 pm

    With the exception of BitCoin, the competition you see would be in the form of corporate rather than individual power.

    As I see it, people are generally only powerful in groups. That power can be organized along many different sorts of lines; they can be organized by ownership of resources (corporations) geography (nations and governments), or common interests (clubs, associations–churches fall here too) or cartels (labor unions and industry associations), but they must be organized in order to have power.

    I think in order for libertarian ideals to be advanced, we must look for other centers of power than corporations. Capital already has enough power, rapidly eclipsing and suborning governments, and to go further down that road does not bode well for individual liberty.

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