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A City in the Cloud with Balaji Srinivasan
Episode 1519th October 2020 • Charter Cities Podcast • Kurtis Lockhart
00:00:00 01:11:00

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Digital technology has evolved to the point that by hitting keys and tapping mice buttons, you can literally build a city in the cloud. This viral idea was started by angel investor Balaji Srinivasan, who believes in creating cities with crowd-funded territories and governed by smart contracts. In our conversation with Balaji, we touch on many intricate topics that link to two concepts — using tech to design ideal cities and how innovation is driven by exit strategies. Early in the episode, we dive into the future of America, and the rest of the world, as we explore the country’s politics, geography, military, and intellectual power. After discussing why it’s so difficult to get anything done in the US, Balaji talks about why people might soon begin emigrating from America. From cryptocurrency to Indians recognizing the success of Indian immigrants, Balaji shares his insights on how exits and alternative strategies can be the leading force behind change. Following this, we begin unpacking the ideas behind Balaji’s cloud city, the reasons that cities have historically been founded, and the many benefits of designing a city according to your group identity. Reflecting Balaji’s ‘digital first’ mindset, we chat about how innovations in the physical world can be driven through digital simulation before discussing why risk-aversion is the enemy of progress. An episode filled with carefully considered arguments and counter-arguments, tune in to hear more about Balaji Srinivasan’s incredible vision of the future.

Key Points From This Episode:

•   Hear why podcast host Mark sees a brighter future for the US than anywhere else.

•   How robotics will have a greater impact on national outcomes than demographics.

•   Mark and Balaji debate the question— “Is this the Chinese decade or the Chinese century?”

•   Arguments for why US power might be vastly overestimated.

•   How the internet is being segmented by different nation’s regulations.

•   Why America can be considered an empire in decline.

•   Comparing India in the 80s with present-day America.

•   The benefits of seeing people of your heritage be successful within other models and areas.

•   How creating successful alternative models can lead to reform.

•   Balaji explains why there might be a mass exodus of people leaving America.

•   Exploring the types of people who will emigrate from America.

•   Using current technology to build a city in the cloud.

•   How a ‘digital first’ approach can bring down costs when building a city.

•   The three reasons why cities are often founded.

•   Benefits to physically grouping yourself in a city with other like-minded people.

•   Aligning groups of people and the challenge that comes from having huge online communities.

•   How people prioritize their many identity expressions to determine what’s intrinsic to who they are.

•   Pushing innovation in the physical world through digital simulation.

•   Why risk or degrees of “Anarchy” will always come before innovation.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Mark Lutter

Charter Cities Institute on Twitter

Charter Cities Institute on Facebook

Balaji Srinivasan

Balaji Srinivasan on LinkedIn

Balaji Srinivasan on Twitter


Edward Snowden

Emmanuel Macron

‘The Chinese Decade’

The Accidental Superpower


Boston Dynamics

Balaji TR35 Talk




Satoshi Nakamoto

Wall Street Journal


The End of Power

The Revolt of the Public

Bill Gates

Google Chrome


Javits Center

Satya Nadella

Lee Kuan Yew

Deng Xiaoping

New York Times

Nomad List



Fight Club


Google News

Wild Wild Country


Communistic Societies of the United States

Anna Gát


Kanye West

Tyler Cowen

Peter Thiel

Jeff Bezos

Free State Project