Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the MatRead more

Photos by Bloomberg; AP. Art by Mike Sullivan

The Invasion of Ukraine Dramatizes the Folly of ‘The Sovereign Individual’

By and  |  Feb. 24, 2022 3:30 PM PST
Photo: Photos by Bloomberg; AP. Art by Mike Sullivan

Europe at war, American democracy on the edge, cryptocurrencies and metaverses aspiring to replace much of reality as we know it—we live in heady times. Moments like these (not so different from the ’20s of the last century) conjure ambitious visions for remaking the world. Technology is often at the center of them, for better or worse.

Perhaps the leading example of such a vision today is “The Sovereign Individual” by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, which we will henceforth refer to as SI. More than 20 years after its original publication and two years after its rerelease, this wonky prophecy about the future of technology and society now sits near the top of Amazon’s best-seller charts.

With a new preface by Peter Thiel and Web3 stars like Balaji Srinivasan calling it “one of my top five,” the book has become a cult classic in crypto- and metaverse-obsessed communities. Its prophecies portending the collapse of much of our world’s political and social structures and their inevitable replacement by an anarcho-capitalist dystopia even have their own Twitter account, which was particularly gleeful today as it tried to claim the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a thing foretold. Yet these pronouncements deserve far more depth of scrutiny than a tweet stream can offer.

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Former Apple design chief Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Photos by Getty.
Designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Discuss AI Hardware Project
Jony Ive, the renowned designer of the iPhone, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have been discussing building a new AI hardware device, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
From left to right: Blair Effron, Robert Pruzan and David Handler. Photos by Getty; Tidal Partners.
Exclusive Finance
Disputes, Employee Misconduct Rattle Centerview’s Silicon Valley Dreams
The San Francisco Bay Area–based bankers at Centerview Partners, the investment bank that advised Silicon Valley Bank’s owner and Credit Suisse through recent turmoil, got two doses of bad news last week.
Art by Clark Miller
Exclusive startups entertainment
MasterClass Takes a Crash Course in Frugality
MasterClass had a problem with the shoot featuring its latest star instructor, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photos via Getty
Exclusive microsoft ai
How Microsoft is Trying to Lessen Its Addiction to OpenAI as AI Costs Soar
Microsoft’s push to put artificial intelligence into its software has hinged almost entirely on OpenAI , the startup Microsoft funded in exchange for the right to use its cutting-edge technology.
From left: Paul Graham, Garry Tan and Michael Seibel. Photos by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive startups ai
Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the Mat
Garry Tan was in his happy place. Surrounded by food trucks and techies basking in San Francisco’s September sun, the CEO of Y Combinator snapped selfies with entrepreneurs as he meandered through a crowd of 2,700 attendees at the startup accelerator’s annual alumni event.
Dave Rogenmoser, cofounder of Jasper. Photo via Getty.
Exclusive startups ai
Jasper, an Early Generative AI Winner, Cuts Internal Valuation as Growth Slows
Jasper AI, an early darling of the generative artificial intelligence boom, has cut the internal value of its common shares 20%, according to former employees who were notified by the company.