Does a Cloud Country Need Land?

I wrote recently, It’s time to start a new country. A digital country.

I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Balaji Srinivasan discussed the topic on an epic episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast (episode 506) an in a recent post on, How to Start a New Country.

Balaji proposes that a “network state” would form online first, and then eventually acquire land. I think land is a bug, not a feature, for a cloud country. Land is an attack vector. It can be seized and invaded by other countries. Land is zero sum.

Of course, you could argue that the solution to that is to have an army. Build strong defenses. But pretty soon you’re back to being a regular country.

Instead, my vision for cloud countries is to create a complementary system of citizenship that exists alongside the current model (the same way that cryptocurrencies have emerged and coexist with traditional currencies). People could then “opt-in” to digital citizenship(s).

We could end up with one dominant cloud country, or many competing cloud countries serving their own niches.

These cloud countries could eventually provide their citizens with many of the services that local governments do now. Things like:

  • social security and health insurance (SafetyWing is working on this already)
  • currency (cryptos have already “unbundled” this from government),
  • online school systems
  • vital records, like birth and marriage certificates

A cloud country could even have it’s own court system. People and businesses could simply choose a specific cloud court jurisdiction when making a contract, like an arbitrator (also similar to the way corporations incorporate in Delaware, even if they have no real physical presence there).

Once you think about it, there are plenty of things that we rely on governments to do now, but there’s no reason that any of these services need to be tied to or administered by local governments.

In this model, land-based governments would still retain sovereignty over, continue to administer, and make laws regarding their own territories. Things like building and maintaining roads, zoning laws, and police would remain under the control of local governments.