The Episode of Everything: Balaji on Bitcoin and Ethereum, Media Self-Defense, Drone Warfare, Crypto Oracles, India as Dark Horse, The Pseudonymous Economy, Beautiful Trouble, Ramanujan, Life Extension, and More (#506)

Illustration via 99designs

“If code scripts machines, media scripts human beings.”

— Balaji Srinivasan

Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) is an angel investor and entrepreneur. Formerly the CTO of Coinbase and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, he was also the co-founder of Earn.com (acquired by Coinbase), Counsyl (acquired by Myriad), Teleport (acquired by Topia), and Coin Center.

He was named to the MIT Technology Review’s “Innovators Under 35,” won a Wall Street Journal Innovation Award, and holds a BS/MS/PhD in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Chemical Engineering, all from Stanford University. Balaji also teaches the occasional class at Stanford, including an online MOOC in 2013, which reached 250,000+ students worldwide.

To learn more about Balaji’s most recent project, sign up at 1729.com, a newsletter that pays you. They’re giving out $1,000 in BTC each day for completing tasks and tutorials. Subscribers also receive chapters from Balaji’s new (free) book, The Network State.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

If this nearly four-hour episode isn’t enough for you, perhaps you’d like to hear my three-and-a-half-hour conversation with Basecamp’s David Heinemeier Hansson (aka DHH)? In it, we discussed the power of being outspoken, running a profitable business without venture capital, Stoic philosophy, parallels across disciplines, and much more.


SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Balaji Srinivasan:

Website | Twitter

SHOW NOTES

  • What is the significance of 1729, and what is Balaji’s mission in launching a website named after this “not boring” number? [06:02]
  • What was the subject matter and the intent behind the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Balaji taught prior to joining Andreessen Horowitz? [10:21]
  • Balaji’s thoughts on the state of media (particularly podcasts), how product is merit and distribution is connections, and why I trust my dog to tell me if a journalist is trying to set me up for a “gotcha.” [16:57]
  • Just as the Founding Fathers advised against the establishment of a standing army in the United States, Balaji wonders if we should be cautious of relying on a standing media to deliver us the news of the day — or if there are better, decentralized options. [29:57]
  • What can we do to protect ourselves as we wait for the future to be evenly distributed? We dive deep into everything from achieving financial independence to auditing our social ties to securing our privacy with a pseudonymous economy that could diminish the effects of cancellation and discrimination. [40:27]
  • Roam Research co-founder Conor White-Sullivan once said: “‘Balaji was right’ might be the most terrifying phrase in the English language.” Eerily accurate early speculation about the COVID-19 pandemic aside, how would Balaji strategize a sizeable investment made today? (A reminding disclaimer: we’re not registered investment advisors, so do not take this or anything else here as legitimate financial advice.) [1:07:29]
  • What participating in 1729 — “the first newsletter that pays you” — would ideally look like. [1:10:55]
  • How Balaji envisions 1729 as a skyhook to rescue the world’s brightest minds from places that usually get overlooked — like developing countries and war zones — or allow them to operate on home ground pseudonymously. [1:14:01]
  • A digital native solution to education that qualifies students to work as they go instead of waiting years until a full degree is earned. [1:17:37]
  • How do you pseudonymously show proof of skill? Enter the crypto credential. [1:21:33]
  • Don’t underestimate the power of microincentives. [1:25:27]
  • How does Balaji rationalize a “half in Bitcoin, half in Ethereum” investment, and how does it tie into shifting establishment dynamics? [1:27:51]
  • Why does Balaji believe that “not many institutions that predated the internet will survive the internet” — including nation states and fiat currencies? [1:35:44]
  • Addressing downside risk, what circumstances might make Bitcoin or Ethereum bad investments? [1:45:06]
  • How can we expect crypto regulation to play out in the United States? How are cities, states, and countries with an eye on the future currently signaling their friendliness toward innovation? [1:51:57]
  • Why Balaji believes “win and help win” is neither progressive, nor conservative, nor libertarian, but a concept that beats them all. [2:02:22]
  • How Bitcoin regulation thus far hasn’t followed the course that popular opinion predicted, and why you should hold your keys locally. [2:05:07]
  • How do Ethereum risks differ from those faced by Bitcoin? [2:09:44]
  • Want to get an understanding of how unrecognizable the near future will be? Consider how much the world has changed between the year 2000 and now — and how little it changed, comparatively, between then and 1970. [2:12:36]
  • Does Balaji believe the changes we’re about to experience en masse will be mostly positive or mostly negative? [2:22:16]
  • Thinkers, scientists, or resources Balaji would recommend for people who want to further explore life-extension and transhumanism. [2:32:16]
  • Who was Lee Kuan Yew, and why he is interesting? [2:35:04]
  • What countries are on Balaji’s shortlist to watch as examples of what the future holds? [2:39:56]
  • Woke capital vs. communist capital vs. crypto capital, the Maginot Line revisited, and why China is so underestimated while the US is overestimated when it comes to facing the challenges of present and future. [2:45:28]
  • If there were a conflict with China over Taiwan and the US lost, what would be the consequences? [2:56:44]
  • Does Balaji see any obvious fixes the US could implement to mitigate against the risks of a cold war with China turning hot? Is there any way we can select our leaders for legitimacy and competence over popularity and inheritance? [3:01:38]
  • Balaji explains how a 51 percent democracy is like a Fosbury Flop, and the types of votes that really make a difference in such a system. [3:05:18]
  • What a convince-oriented “crypto” government versus a coercion-focused fiat government might look like. [3:12:41]
  • India: the dark horse, what is currently at stake as it considers banning crypto, and what Balaji sees as its way forward — by embracing crypto, learning from China’s ascendancy in the global value chain, and claiming its rightful place in the media hierarchy. [3:17:42]
  • Parting thoughts. [3:40:00]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

DISCLAIMER FROM TIM FERRISS: I am not an investment adviser. There are risks involved in placing any investment in securities or in Bitcoin or in cryptocurrencies or in anything. None of the information presented herein is intended to form the basis of any offer or recommendation or have any regard to the investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of any specific person, and that includes you, my dear listener or reader. Everything in this episode is for informational entertainment purposes only.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.