Urbit tilde logo
Type of site
|Peer-to-peer network of personal servers|
|Written in||Nock, Hoon|
Urbit is a decentralized personal server platform. The platform seeks to deconstruct the client-server model in favour of a federated network of personal servers in a peer-to-peer network with a consistent digital identity.
The Urbit software stack consists of a set of programming languages ("Hoon," a high-level functional programming language, and "Nock," its low-level compiled language); a single-function operating system built on those languages ("Arvo"); a personal address space, built on the Ethereum blockchain, for each instance of the operating system to participate in a decentralized network ("Azimuth"); and the decentralized network itself, an encrypted, peer-to-peer protocol running on top of the User Datagram Protocol.[non-primary source needed]
The Urbit platform was conceived and first developed in 2002 by Curtis Yarvin. It is an open-source project being developed by the Tlon Corporation, which Yarvin founded with John Burnham, a Thiel Fellow, in 2013; Burnham left the company in 2014 and was sued for fraud by Yarvin. The company has received seed funding from various investors since its inception, most notably Peter Thiel, whose Founders Fund, with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz invested $1.1 million in 2013. The platform is known for being complicated and obscure. It is also controversial due to the anti-democratic political opinions of its creator, Curtis Yarvin, and his association with the Dark Enlightenment.
Politics and controversy
Yarvin's public statements on race and slavery have led to controversy at public events and conferences related to Urbit. At the functional programming conference LambdaConf in 2016, Yarvin's speaking engagement resulted in five other speakers and three sponsors withdrawing their participation. Yarvin had previously had his invitation to the 2015 Strange Loop conference rescinded, with the conference's organizer noting that "his mere inclusion and/or presence would overshadow the content of his talk".
The source code and design sketches for the project have made various allusions that correspond to Yarvin's views, including initially classifying users as "lords," "dukes," and "earls." Yarvin and Tlon reject any ideological associations for the project, with Tlon CEO Galen Wolfe-Pauly responding that "the principles of Urbit are very palatable ... we're interested in giving people their freedom." Andrea O'Sullivan of libertarian magazine Reason commented that "when you parse through the underlying values that guide the system, a rather libertarian ethos begins to emerge."
After seventeen years of working on the Urbit project, Yarvin departed Tlon in 2019.
- Wolfe, Alexandra (2017). Valley of the Gods: A Silicon Valley Story. Simon and Schuster. pp. 219–222. ISBN 9781476778945.
- Jeff Meyerson (20 January 2017). "Urbit with Curtis Yarvin and Galen Wolfe-Pauly". Software Engineering Daily (Podcast). Event occurs at 8:55. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
- Yarvin, Curtis; Philip, Monk; Dyudin, Anton; Pasco, Raymond (May 26, 2016). "Urbit: A Solid-State Interpreter" (PDF). Tlon Corporation. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Lecher, Colin (2017-02-21). "Alt-right darling Mencius Moldbug wanted to destroy democracy. Now he wants to sell you web services". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Curtis Yarvin v. John Burnham (filed 24 December 2014)  (Retrieved August 21, 2019.)
- Pein, Corey (2018). "Poor Winners". Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley. New York: Metropolitan Books. ISBN 9781627794862.
- O'Sullivan, Andrea (2016-06-21). "Can Urbit Reboot Computing?". Reason.com. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Townsend, Tess (2016-03-31). "Controversy Rages Over 'Pro-Slavery' Tech Speaker Curtis Yarvin". Inc.com. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Auerbach, David (2015-06-10). "When All It Takes to Be Booted From a Tech Conference Is Being a "Distraction," We Have a Problem". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- "A Founder's Farewell". Urbit.org. January 14, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2019.