Competitive Governance with Patri Friedman


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Patri Friedman joins Erik on this episode of Venture Stories. He founded The Seasteading Institute in 2008 with funding from Peter Thiel. His father is political theorist David Friedman and his grandfather is Nobel Laureate in economics, Milton Friedman.
Over the course of their nearly two-hour conversation they cover a lot of ground, including crypto, physical (and virtual) governance, the current state of politics, Silicon Valley, and much more.
Patri starts by explaining why he is both skeptical and optimistic about crypto — and why that position is not incompatible. He says that the tech boom around 2000 had “a lot of junk” but a lot of innovation came out of it at the same time.
He talks about starting The Seasteading Institute, the impetus behind the project and the successes and challenges they have had. He enumerates the issues with the structures of current countries, governments, and legal systems around the world and why by the logic of the market, one would expect countries and legal systems not to be very innovative. With experiments underway involving special economic zones incorporating novel legal systems, that might change.
Patri explains what he means by the phrase “markets eating the world” and points out that platforms and sharing economy companies form half of of all current unicorns. He talks about how in the same fashion as software has been “eating the world,” he expects the same to happen with markets. He points out that the determination of resource allocation involves economics and trade-offs, whether done by a central figure or markets. He explains some of the novel uses of markets in unexpected areas and the two discuss some of the drawbacks and challenges with markets in delicate areas such as healthcare or education.
He talks about some of the flaws present in democracy, including the idea that it provides citizens the illusion of control without providing any actual control and contrasts the potential distorted incentives of a central trusted authority figure versus a more decentralized market-driven approach of distributing resources. Patri says that he views the problem of figuring out the best kind of governance as an engineering problem requiring experimentation rather than a philosophical problem requiring deep thought and persuasion.
They also talk about why he says in areas as varied as food, education and computing, our “desires are being hijacked” by profit-driven entities and why in the future it would be wise to return to more historically-proven strategies in those areas. He also talks about why he expects the pace of changes in the world to continue to increase, why it will take even more skill for someone to eke out a basic living, the past and present culture of Silicon Valley, and what he expects the world will look like when his kids are grown up.
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Venture Stories is brought to you by Village Global, is hosted by co-founder and partner, Erik Torenberg and is produced by Brett Bolkowy.

344 episodes