Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to the MIT Enterprise Forum in Hong Kong in cooperation with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park The speaker was Josephine Cheng CTO of IBM Greater China and Korea. The topic was “CTO Crystal Ball Gazing: Technologies That Will Matter” so I took this opportunity to ask a question and I was quite surprised by the response.
“Do you see in the future a virtual nation, one that is not based on geographic boundaries”
I based this on some observations of mine. Several years back Google took on the China government and suggested sovereignty by aligning with the U.S. It did not go over well. We then have Facebook which if it was a nation is the 3rd largest by population. And we now see the emergence of Bitcoin and cross border currency. There are many other examples, but it does seem to point in the direction of a virtual nation.
Josephine Cheng’s response (as recorded in my notes):
“I don’t think so, McDonalds makes different hamburgers for China different than Thailand and other places.”
I don’t think that Ms. Cheng was suggesting that McDonald’s will be the new world order but instead that cultural similarities bind people’s together and those are largely dictated by geography. The exception to that being the U.S. which at one time had no dominant culture other than its own emerging culture.
Within most every country are pockets of other countries which are governed by different laws these are usually embassies with sovereignty. Recently in the states we saw how the rights of some persons can be stripped away. We also see tax agreements cross countries as with Duty Free Shopping. I also live in a virtual nation. I am an expat living in countries which laws are different, but I always have access my passport to mitigate most issues that arise. I wonder if a virtual state was created if people would immigrate? Would it bring us closer together or separate us more?