By way of a comparison between two subcultures/communities that both assert their autonomy vis-à-vis the State through a 'flight into the future', hackers and psychonauts, the former innovating around intellectual property law, the latter around controlled substance acts, a reflection is made on the limitations of instituted, sovereign power. The entire face of the earth having been mapped out and divided up between instituted powers, the last remaining no-mans-land is the ever-evasive near future. Providing a hideout for occasional "social bandits", the legal greyzone is concurrently being turned into an incubator for corporate innovation, placed right at the centre of the innovation-driven, high-tech economy, and much lauded by EU policy makers. In management discourse, a half-conscious admission is given to the intimate relation between corporate innovation and illegality by the much talk about "Shenzhen innovation". Here "Shenzen" does not designate an industrial region in China but the historical state of being outside-the-law that was constitutive of innovativeness.
As filesharing and hacking provides numerous examples of, the "open" innovation model is fine-tuned as a model for procuring innovation from users, out of which some may even be hostile to the corporations, and possibly find themselves on the "wrong" side of law. Their illegal status does not gainsay that corporations can make a profit from them, on the contrary, illegality lays down the base-line for negotiating the labour conditions of the pirates. The exchange rate of their "labour" is negative. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is opening up its methods for innovating drugs, where the old, in-house, and top-down model for developing a new medicine is replaced with an inductive approach to drug development.
Drugs whose effects are barely known are released on the pharmaceutical market, and a monitoring system scans for unexpected side-effects among patients that could provide the starting-point for a new cycle of drug discovery. In the light of this development, the psychonauts, making up the least risk-averse and most knowledgeable niche in the drug market, come to occupy a similar position vis-à-vis the pharmaceutical industry as do hackers vis-à-vis computer industry. Labouring in the legal greyzone, subject to the punitive side of law but not to its protective clauses, hackers and psychonauts are pioneering new forms of citizenship in the Schumpeterian-Shenzen innovation state.