Last month, PayPal mastermind Peter Thiel pledged $500,000 to The Seasteading Institute. Co-founded by Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton), the Institute‘s official mission is to
Establish permanent, autonomous ocean communities to enable experimentation and innovation with diverse social, political, and legal systems.
In an article for the Wired website, Alexis Madrigal zooms in on the original motivations of the Institute‘s founders;
True to his libertarian leanings, Friedman looks at the situation in market terms: the institute’s modular spar platforms, he argues, would allow for the creation of far cheaper new countries out on the high-seas, driving innovation.
“Government is an industry with a really high barrier to entry,” he said. “You basically need to win an election or a revolution to try a new one. That’s a ridiculous barrier to entry. And it’s got enormous customer lock-in. People complain about their cellphone plans that are like two years, but think of the effort that it takes to change your citizenship.”
While over at the excellent BLDGBLOG, Geoff Manaugh has turned his mind to the potential implications of “seasteading”;
What interests me here, aside from the architectural challenge of erecting a durable, ocean-going metropolis, is the fact that this act of construction – this act of building something – has constitutional implications. That is, architecture here proactively expands the political bounds of recognized sovereignty; architecture becomes declarative.
Sovereignty for sale? Whether you see this as a laudable quest for self-government or – as China Mieville argues – a morally bankrupt flight from responsibility, there are definite echoes of a certain late-80s paperback. But who knows? $500,000 might just be enough to give this scheme some real momentum.
[Image by Valdemar Duran, via Wired]