Modern-day Pioneers and Frontiers
I was recently researching my family's ancestry. I was able to trace the last 500 years with surprising ease using Ancestry.com. One of my ancestors joined the Hore's voyage, one of the early British expeditions to North America, landing in present-day Canada in 1536. Later another ancestor, Zachary Wade, immigrated from England as an indentured servant in the early 1600s. Later in life, he ended up serving in public office and owning four thousand acres of land in then province of Maryland. Wealth gained and lost, my family's journey continued west, moving to Tennessee, Missouri, and eventually to Oklahoma in the 1900s.
I can't help but reflect on my own life story, continuing that move west to San Francisco in my early 20s. Then moving across the world to Asia where I lived for nearly a decade. Wealth gained and lost. The pioneering spirit seems to be in my DNA.
It also got me thinking, what does a modern-day pioneer explore? On the surface it may seem that the days of pioneers have passed. Nation-states have claimed every square foot of land on Earth while immigration policies grow increasingly restrictive.
But pioneers will endure. Humans will chase new opportunities, start from scratch, seek adventure, and pursue their curiosity. It will just take new forms.
So where are the new frontiers?
Space is undoubtedly one. Elon Musk and SpaceX have the aspirational goal to land the first humans on Mars by 2026.
The internet has created another. In Software Is Reorganizing the World, Balaji Srinivasan provides an early map of this new emerging terrain.
Modern-day pioneers of this new terrain are building online communities and cryptocurrencies.
In the future, they may also build cities and even countries, described by Balaji as network states. A network state is "...built cloud first, land last. Rather than starting with the physical territory, we begin with a digital community."
Human history is a story of unstoppable and continuous evolution and reinvention. New frontiers will emerge, and new pioneers will arise. You will likely find me there.