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Interview With Roger Ver: His Plans to Start a New Libertarian Country

Imagine a country where you could live free without a central government telling you who to be, what to do and how to act. Roger Ver does, and he is inviting people to join him on a ground level in plans for creating a libertarian utopia.

The early Bitcoin investor and voluntaryist (someone who advocates nonviolent strategies to achieve a free society) took the stage last week at Nexus Conference, a three-day event in Aspen hosted by the cryptocurrency platform Nexus Earth, to announce Free Society, a project aimed at raising money to organize the venture.

Ver, who is founding the project along with Olivier Janssens, another early Bitcoin investor, stated he has already raised $100 million, but hopes to raise plenty more.

As Ver explained to a surprised audience, who settled into their seats expecting a talk about Bitcoin Cash, he is currently negotiating with different countries to purchase sovereign land with the hope that fellow libertarians will begin populating the area in one to two years.

eBits.Co caught up with Ver in Aspen to learn more about his ambitious plans for a free country.   

Non-Country

Inspiration for the libertarian country or “non country,” as Ver called it, comes from David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom, a book that explores the idea of a society organized by private property, individual rights and voluntary cooperation.

Ver’s dream is to create a free society where people voluntarily abide by a set of rules they sign off on when purchasing a land title. “It will be a new experiment where it is the first time it’s been tried in the world,” he said.

The Bitcoin enthusiast hopes to raise more money for more land. “I think very realistically, we can raise half a billion dollars and maybe a billion dollars. If we have a billion dollars, we will have a lot more capital to play with for a bigger piece of land,” he said.

Right now, the seed funding comes from early Bitcoin and Ethereum adopters. “I’m one of them,” he said. He would not disclose who the others are, saying if they wanted to come forward, that was up to them.  

But the general idea was to open the door to the public. “We were planning to have an ICO, but the regulators have kind of gotten in the way of that at the moment. But basically, we are working out the details as to how people can participate directly,” he said.

Ver added that this type of project is only possible due to cryptocurrency. “Thanks to cryptocurrencies, now there is a way to fundraise for people all over the world who are interested in this. Myself and my other friends all have a fair amount of capital now because of cryptocurrency. Dying with a pile of money isn’t any fun, so let’s make the world a better place,” he said.

Search for Land

But before he can build out his libertarian paradise, Ver and his team need to find some land to buy. He doesn’t see that as being an issue though.

“We have approached a number of different governments already, and we have actually been really surprised at how eager they are. Governments love money, and so, we will have to negotiate the final details.”

Of course, they have criteria. “We want to have a seaport, we want to be geographically close to other economic powerhouses so we have trading partners. We don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere,” he said, adding that something close to Europe or South America or parts of Asia would be best.   

Once they buy the land, the next step is putting the infrastructure in place. “When we auction off the land, we suspect a lot of the people who would be most interested in buying land will be development companies that will want to develop the land into big buildings,” he said.  

Governance

The concept of libertarianism revolves around the idea that order evolves spontaneously, rather than through some central authority pushing out arbitrary laws.

Still, for many, it can be hard to imagine how that might work exactly. How will the country resolve disputes? What if someone gets out of line?  

Right now, decisions are easy because so far only a handful of people are involved, said Ver. Otherwise, instead of laws, there will be guidelines similar to what someone might agree to before joining a condominium homeowner’s association.

“Everybody can do whatever they want within the guidelines, and they will be agreeing to the guidelines by the time they purchase in. There will not be a government. It will all be private institutions and private organizations,” he said.  

The idea is to purchase land from a government that will allow sovereign behavior. “We are guessing that the governments will still try saying things like, you can’t export drugs, you can’t have nuclear weapons and that sort of thing,” he said, adding, “I think the main answer is there isn’t going to be some centralized institution imposing these rules. That is what we are trying to escape.”

He also emphasized that there would be no taxes. People would need to raise money for roads and other projects on their own.

Who Will Live There?

What will people do for work in the country? “We suspect it will be a lot of people working on the internet,” said Ver, adding that he thinks 90 percent of the population will come from the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

And will citizens be forced to use cryptocurrency? “People will be free to use whatever form of money they want,” said Ver. But whatever the case, he made it clear, the time to act was now. “Life is short,” he said. “We want to move quickly.”

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Russian IT Giant Mail.Ru Enables Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash Payments

One of the biggest Russian IT holdings, Mail.Ru Group, is allowing advertisers and the owners of advertising sites to pay and be paid with cryptocurrencies on the advertisement platform myTarget.

Mail.Ru Group is the worldwide technology company which unites three big social networks Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World; ICQ messenger; mobile ads service Youla; popular online games Warface, Allods Online, Armored Warfare and Skyforge; food delivery platform Delivery Club; and ridesharing service Beepcar.

The myTarget platform helps advertising parties purchase and place ads on Mail.Ru properties. It also allows owners of sites to earn money by having ads displayed on their pages.

Using BitPay, bitcoin and bitcoin cash can be used to pay on Mail.Ru as well as on social networks Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte. Odnoklassniki is one of the oldest social networks in Eastern Europe with more than 45 million users. It is especially popular among 30 to 55 year olds. Vkontakte, “The Russian Facebook,” is the most popular social network in Europe with more than 80 million active users and about 460 million registered users. It’s translated into 90 languages but is most popular among Russian-speaking users.

Dmitry Sergeev, the first deputy chief director of Mail.Ru Group said in a statement: “We tend to give our clients maximum opportunities for their business development. The myTarget platform will become a starting point for the ecosystem, which will develop in the future and include other products of Mail.Ru Group, including gaming projects.”

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Washington Post Adds Support for Brave Browser, Basic Attention Token

The Brave browser and its Basic Attention Token (BAT) just added another verified mainstream publisher to its list of partners.

According to original posts on Reddit, the Washington Post recently integrated with Brave to accept contributions in BAT on its website. As such, the Post’s readers can now donate BAT to the publication via the Brave platform.

Users trumpeted the news as a major adoption milestone and with good reason. Owned by Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post is one of the largest media outlets in the United States, and this is just the latest publisher to adopt Basic Attention’s model in recent months. Other mainstream publishers that Brave and BAT have on board include Vice and the Guardian (U.K.).

The Washington Post, Vice and the Guardian are all impressive bedfellows, but the Brave browser gets around with more than just media outlets. Popular YouTube channels, such as PewDiePie, Casey Neistat and Philip DeFranco started accepting BAT back in November of 2017, and, this February, the project announced that it has enabled streamers on the popular streaming service Twitch.tv to receive user donations via Brave Payments.

Founded by Mozilla Firefox creator Brendan Eich, Brave offers a eBits. Eich created Brave to fix the problems that plague digital advertising, such as bot views, inequitable share of advertising revenue and fraud. Brave attempts to streamline the process by connecting advertisers and publishers directly, cutting out middlemen and third party partners.

As the first working iteration of BAT’s model, the Brave browser works with publishers and users to deliver a less intrusive and more equitable advertising model. With Brave, users can hide ads from any website they visit on the browser. However, they can also disable this ad-blocking feature and earn a portion of advertising revenue for every ad they interact with. Users can then spend these tokens for services, promotions and the like on participating sites, or they can donate them directly to publishers they especially appreciate if they’re feeling generous.

The platform also anonymously gauges user attention to ensure that publishers get no more or no less than their allotted share of ad revenue. Additionally, it keeps tabs on what ads consumers favor so that advertisers can know which products they should direct at which audiences. Thus, Basic Attention Tokens monetize user engagement so as to reward consumers for their attention; cut publishers a fairer piece of the advert pie; and give advertisers more reliable data on user interests.

Currently, only the Brave Browser supports BAT, but the team has it in its sights to expand the token to other browsers in the future. If the project can onboard more browsers, BAT may become more attractive to online publishers as its proof of concept morphs into adoption.

Image attribution: By Michael Fleischhacker – Own work, Public Domain.

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“Cryptocurrency,” “Blockchain” and “ICO” Make Their Merriam-Webster Dictionary Debut

Anyone needing an established definition for “cryptocurrency,” “blockchain” or “ICO” now has a trusted resource: the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. On March 5, 2018, Merriam-Webster announced the addition of 850 new words, phrases and new meanings for existing words to merriam-webster.com and to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary print edition.

Interestingly for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, out of all 850 new words and phrases such as “dumpster fire,” “glamping,” “welp,” and “life hack,” the Bitcoin logo took center stage on both Merriam-Webster’s main tweet and its website announcement about the new dictionary entries. The website also features this statement just above the words “‘Cryptocurrency’ is now in the dictionary” and the Bitcoin logo:

The language doesn’t take a vacation, and neither does the dictionary. The words we use are constantly changing in big ways and small, and we’re here to record those changes. Each word has taken its own path in its own time to become part of our language — to be used frequently enough by some in order to be placed in a reference for all. If you’re likely to encounter a word in the wild, whether in the news, a restaurant menu, a tech update or a Twitter meme, that word belongs in the dictionary.

Emily Brewster, associate editor at Merriam-Webster, stated, “In order for a word to be added to the dictionary it must have widespread, sustained and meaningful use. These new words have been added to the dictionary because they have become established members of the English language and are terms people are likely to encounter.” The addition to the Merriam-Webster dictionary of the words cryptocurrency, blockchain and ICO seem to fit those criteria well.

cryptocurrency noun cryp·to·cur·ren·cy   ˌkrip-tō-ˈkər-ən(t)-sē , -ˈkə-rən(t)-sē : any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions. First Known Use: 1990

blockchain noun block·chain   ˈbläk-ˌchān : a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network; also : the technology used to create such a database. First Known Use: 2011

ICO noun   ˈī-ˈsē-ˈō : an initial offering of a cryptocurrency to the public : initial coin offering. First Known Use: 2014

Bitcoin was added to the dictionary in April of 2016.

The dictionary’s editors added two other words that describe how money is organized and distributed: “microcredit” and “microfinance.” Other new entries include previously existing words with additional new meanings, such as the venture capital term “unicorn” (noun used figuratively to mean a startup valued at $1+ billion); the psychophysical word “bandwidth” (noun used figuratively to mean “emotional or mental capacity”); and the web-centric words “case-sensitive” and “subtweet.”

There were some tongue-in-cheek comments on the Twitter announcement, including “GenZ hijacking language and grammar, while the adults still think they are in control of the narrative;” “The damnable youths seek to corrupt the invaluable and inviolable institution of tongue to their own devices;” and “Didn’t add covfefe?”

Merriam-Webster has not yet released a full list of the new words and phrases, though “HODL” is not included in the current update.                    

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