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29 September 2023
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Ethereum co-founder Buterin launches experimental city in Montenegro, Ex-Coinbase CTO Balaji among attendees

  • Ethereum co-founder Buterin launches experimental city in Montenegro, Ex-Coinbase CTO Balaji among attendees
  • Ethereum co-founder sent big players across diverse industries home after over two months in Zuzalu.
  • Zuzalu is Buterin’s experimental “pop-up city community” where attendees were tasked to envision the future for humanity.
  • Former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan was among the attendees, backing the concept of a “network state.”
  • Drama around Montenegro’s currency, Bolivar, made for the most exciting part of the gathering, sprouting a valuable commodity among Zuzalans.

Almost 200 key players in the crypto playing, big pharma, politics, and academia returned home the past weekend after over two months in Zuzalu, an experimental “pop-up city community” conceived by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.

Ethereum co-founder’s Zuzalu and the discussions therein

Zuzalans, the attendees of Ethereum co-founder’s Zuzalu community, had temporarily abandoned their lives and living identities, signing up to become the first netizens of a new civilization. Zuzalu is established among the resort hotels and Airbnbsof Lustica Bay in Montenegro. During their stay, their sole task was to envision what they considered a new future for humanity.

During the getaway, attendees discussed the role of crypto, blockchain networks, and AI. Notably, these three disciplines have frothed the rage in the recent wave of crypto developments. The experience also poked into disciplines such as human longevity and the idea of a “network state” as advertised by former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, who made a remote appearance for a Zuzalu panel discussion that was described as the “Doomer presentation” by one attending engineer.

To some, the novel city is a “Burning Man for futurists,” while others call it a sleepaway camp for the crypto elite. Others, mostly attendees, call it a “life-altering experience with historical implications for our species’ biological, political, and social potential.”

The Zuzalu experience, what it is like to be there

Citing DeFi protocol Asymmetry co-founder Hannah Hamilton:

Every single person here believes that they can change the world. Normally, you meet one person who believes they can change the world—but it’s everyone.

Decentralization extended to Zuzalu, with attendees enjoying impromptu conversations and breakout seminars planned by participants to propel the conference’s cadence. With most Zuzalu events being informal to some degree, even a house party was ripe for optimizing human potential at any moment.

The Interesting Part

Notably, one cohort of Zuzalans brought a large stack of bolivars—the hyperinflated Venezuelan currency—with them to Montenegro; and handed out the near-worthless bills as non-fungible, secure invites to a party. While some mocked the move as a “performance,” once the would-be partygoers arrived at the gathering later that night, they have turned away immediately for failure to produce a bolivar. Further, they were compelled to relinquish their own bolivar if they brought a guest unable to produce a bill.

Bolivars eventually became a valuable commodity among Zuzalans, running out shortly afterward. As a result, their distributors developed an app through which bolivar holders could input their bill’s serial numbers and create authenticated virtual IDs that could one day (or so their creators hope) serve to create a vouching system to grow social groups.

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