Questionable content, possibly linked

After nation-states

One of the directions I’m going with my convoluted ramblings around sovereign AIs and so-called threats to democracy is, of course, AI governance. Is our plan as a society really to sit back and believe it uncritically when companies behind these technologies publicly insist that they are only in it for the “good of humanity”? Because that has worked out so well for us so often in the past? Or are we going to assume that, as history has taught us, that “don’t be evil” will get thrown out the second it becomes hyper-profitable to actively be evil?

Found a couple semi-interesting articles exploring what happens after nation-states, one from the Atlantic Council:

One structural possibility is hyper-regionalism, defined by what technological, commercial, and protective flow of humans, animals, and plants arises. This could be embodied by mega-cities becoming dominate geopolitical actors, dramatically redesigned in the future to provide essential services in a more resilient fashion to future pandemics and other natural disasters, defined less by national identity and more by what they provide those individuals who live within the municipal areas. Mega-cities of the future, empowered by technology to provide for those within the immediate vicinity and capable of responding at faster speeds than nations, would forge their own trade agreements, public health arrangements, and climate change accords with other cities globally, via direct diplomatic relations—or a devolution away from large nation-states to smaller regional powers defined by identity, as seen historically to a degree in the Balkans during the 1990s.

An article from Aeon basically says the same thing, that it will be city-states who pick up the slack from nation-states, which are historically speaking, a blip on the radar and an aberration compared to the long and storied history of city-states.

They also offhandedly talk about seasteads, with a notable passage:

In a world of seasteads, if you don’t like your system of government, it’s simply a matter of sailing off to another one you do like. Just as easy as switching series on Netflix, ordering an Uber, or meeting someone new on Tinder.

Patri thinks every seastead will be different and this will create a market in different types of systems of living that will force everyone to improve performance. Especially if the nation-state starts to crumble.

This idea that you could merely switch governments is baked into (to some degree) the story around The Four Providers, one of my AI lore books. Except the process of switching isn’t so simple as that, but the idea being there are four main providers of, well, everything. Everyone is assigned to one (unless you’re a “Without Provider” – it’s own special class), and they take care of you from cradle to grave.

I’m not a fan of Balaji in general, but his concept of the network state seems to accord with the seasteading thing above. FYI this concept but under the monker “distributed autonomous polity” is one of the core futurist ideas I explored in Conspiratopia.

Anyway, have also been thinking about Trump’s weird “future cities” and it makes me wonder there if one of the objectives might be seeding later independent city-states. Not that I put much stock in the belief anything he does is all that planned out or intentional. Just seems to strike a cord with this whole theory of after nation-states…

Interestingly, regarding utopian governance experiments and charter cities:

In the United States, a charter city is a city in which the governing system is defined by the city’s own charter document rather than solely by general law. In states where city charters are allowed by law, a city can adopt or modify its organizing charter by decision of its administration by the way established in the charter. These cities may be administered predominantly by residents or through a third-party management structure, because a charter gives a city the flexibility to choose novel types of government structure.

Anyway, I’ll eventually manage to tie all these disparate threads together, I swear. If only in a fictional context


Threats to democracy


Consent of the governed


  1. Tim B.

    > “Unlike charter cities, which start by acquiring land and then building an independently governed community on top of it, network states start as online communities that later materialize into the physical realm, forming a decentralized “archipelago” of territories across the world and establishing diplomatic relations with preexisting states.”

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