Great Protocol Politics with Parag Khanna

Great Protocol Politics with Parag Khanna
Parag Khanna explains how technology will reshape geopolitics and monetary systems in the 21st century.

Fresh out of the studio, Parag Khanna, CEO of Climate Alpha & celebrated author of "Move" joined us in a discussion to explain why the 21st century belongs to the Internet and not to any great power nations out there. We discussed his recent popular article "Great Protocol Politics" that he co-authored with Balajis Srinisavan and we dived deep into the weeds how technology such as web3 and cryptocurrencies will be important in reshaping society and monetary systems and what it means globally in the next decades to come.


"But what I would want everyone to take away from this is that you have the geopolitics, the geoeconomics and the geo technology as a triangle, three corners of this triangle. A successful society, a power, a great power is going to be one that is fluent in all three of those languages that focuses on building capacity in all three of those areas and looking for the linkages and synergies between their technological innovation or economic power and their military power and state capacity." - Parag Khanna

Introduction

  • Parag Khanna (@paragkhanna, LinkedIn, personal site) Founder and Managing Partner of Futuremap, CEO of Climate Alpha and author of “Move”, “The Future is Asian”, “Technocracy in America”, “Connectography” and “The Second World”.
  • Since our last conversation, what have you been up to?
  • Having you here, I cannot help but ask you, as an observer of global trends in geopolitics and mobility, what are your thoughts on the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine?
  • What do you think the endgame would look like for Ukraine and Russia?

Great Protocol Politics (in Foreign Policy), co-authored with Balaji Srinivasan

  • What is the inspiration behind the collaboration that led to this article?
  • The central thesis of the article, if I have interpreted correctly, is that there is the third way to the global order which is brought about by technology. We have often seen technology as an enabler, rather than being a force by itself to enter into geopolitical order. What has changed in how we perceive current geopolitical order?
  • What are the mental models that we need to rewire in order to see how geopolitics are transitioning into one of techno-politics?
  • Network proximity is now on par with physical geography. Given that we have balkanized Internet systems like the Great Firewall of China and even Russia shutting down internet access. Given that satellite Internet like starlink by SpaceX or One Web are coming around in the sidelines, can this network proximity triumph over physical geography?
  • The central bank fiat currencies are currently competing with the cryptocurrencies leveraging on decentralized finance (or what we called DeFi) that circumvent the geographical boundaries of financial markets. Even with the central bank digital currencies where China will launch soon, and now Biden’s executive order has initiated a study of such which I predict will co-opt one of the current stablecoins to be part of the system, what are the potential scenarios on the outcome of this digital monetary competition?
  • Of course, for the first time, we have real digital ownership with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), are we naturally moving towards bits reshaping atoms?
  • A common perspective that a lot of people do not understand web3, is that we shift from valuing companies to valuing economies. In fact, I would put forward the assertion that the “unicorn” for web3 is not a billion dollar company but a trillion dollar economy. It also means that the international rule of law is shifting to become a rule of code. How do we think about property rights from that point of view?
  • With technology, are we really going to decentralize power away from the US and China? China has banned bitcoin and cryptocurrencies while the US is embracing it. Will we see a multipolar world?
  • Despite the digital revolution and exponential growth of technology, we are still limited by geopolitics with countries holding both military and economic power and the people who have the power are not likely to let technology companies or protocols rise. It made me recall a science fiction book “Daemon” by Daniel Suraez where a dead CEO of a company unleashed chaos from a decentralized world with weapons attacking people with power, and bringing about a new world order. Can technopolitics co-exist with great power politics?
  • What will the world look like if it is completely dominated by technopolitics?

Closing

  • Any recommendations that have inspired you recently?
  • How can my audience find you?

Podcast Information: The show is hosted and produced by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong, Linkedin) and Carol Yin (@CarolYujiaYin, LinkedIn). Sound credits for the intro and end music: "Run it" by DJ Snake, Rick Ross and Rich Brian and the episode is mixed & edited by Geoffrey Thomas Craig (LinkedIn).