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Paypal Founder Puts a Half Million Dollars Into Seasteading 275

Posted by timothy
from the liberation-seaology dept.
eldavojohn writes "Wired is running an informative article on Paypal Founder Peter Thiel's investment in seasteading. There's a great graphic indicating how the spar design helps platforms weather rough seas with a ballast. There's a lot more than just Thiel throwing the half million towards this and they hope to pitch this to San Fransisco for a bay pilot. Ocean colonies can be both liberating and also downright human-rights-lacking scary."
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Paypal Founder Puts a Half Million Dollars Into Seasteading

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  • Sweet (Score:5, Funny)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:48PM (#23495122) Journal
    After years of being a digital pirate, I've been looking for the chance to branch out into naval piracy. This looks like a great career opportunity!
  • by solweil (1168955) <humungus.ayatoll ... oSpAm.gmail.com.> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:51PM (#23495144)
    It is clear by now that we will not have the possibility for independent space colonization anytime soon. Seasteading is the best bet for those of us who feel that the status quo of society is not good enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Good. Go there and stay there.
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yppupcinataS.> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:45PM (#23496644) Journal
        First time I've ever wanted to friend an AC.

        Living in a society is about compromise and respect for other peoples opinions and beliefs. Groups inside a society who have no tolerance for other views are a serious issue. Most of the problems societies have are when these groups get too powerful.

        Frankly sending them all out into the middle of the ocean sounds like a great idea. Living accommodations optional.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I look forward to ejecting the ethical detrius of society, onto remote platforms. What could be more ideal? Isolating together, that element that believes all of existance should revolve around the desires and foibles of "me".

          What a doom! to be forced to live in isolation with a bunch of other "visionaries", who believe that the works of Ayn Rand are literature, and expound a philosophy.
        • Blatant Hypocracy (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mosb1000 (710161)
          "Groups inside a society who have no tolerance for other views are a serious issue."

          "sending them all out into the middle of the ocean sounds like a great idea"

          Great! When were you planning to leave?
        • by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @07:36PM (#23498904) Journal
          Groups inside a society who have no tolerance for other views are a serious issue.

          The inverse, groups that cannot be tolerated by society can be problematic as well. Giving the Puritans land far far from the rest of England was just as much a blessing to England as the Puritans. Any modern day cult that builds a compound in the middle of nowhere could be said to tolerate other's views, but they don't really fit in so well when we find that they are like to marry 14 year old girls to 45 year old men. But out in the middle of the ocean, it wouldn't really bother us anymore. Or would it? Would the American people allow such a society to sit just off our shores? What about a cannabis farming floating island anchored just north of Bermuda, do you think Uncle Sam would let them alone? I don't think these floating islands are going to be the escape from global government/society that many want them to be.
    • by Bombula (670389) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:33PM (#23495706)
      I'm not sure seasteading is necessarily the best bet. Creating artificial islands might be more feasible than creating floating platforms. There are a vast number of seamounts just under the ocean's surface (ie: within 20 meters) that lie well outside any territorial waters of nations, particularly in the southwestern Pacific and the mid-atlantic. I'm not sure the advantages of mobility offered by seastead platforms outweigh the advantages of building up from the seafloor itself. And don't get locked into thinking this could only be done by building a tower down from the surface. For a a relatively modest cost (hundreds of millions), artificial islands make from deposited rubble just like the projects in Dubai could be undertaken in hundreds of locations worldwide.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      That is the problem. Everybody has there idea of what a free and open society would be. The problem is they all tend to biased one what we think is right or wrong.
      Some would like to ban any oppression by religious groups. But they feel that the mention of religion or the statment that my religion is better than yours or your lack of religion is oppressive. Of course they themselves have no problem with people saying that a total lack of religion is better than having one.
      Just about everyone's vision of Utop
      • That is the problem. Everybody has there idea of what a free and open society would be. The problem is they all tend to biased one what we think is right or wrong.
        Some would like to ban any oppression by religious groups. But they feel that the mention of religion or the statement that my religion is better than yours or your lack of religion is oppressive. Of course they themselves have no problem with people saying that a total lack of religion is better than having one.
        Just about every-one's vision of Ut

  • no thanks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:52PM (#23495152)
    what about piracy = home invasions? and storms (hurricanes) dry land can be dangerous enough, seasteading is just over the top (over the top of an abyss that can drown you that is)...
    • by Hojima (1228978)
      There's a lot of technology that would go into making these colonies, and the elements would actually be less threatening to them than a seaside city. If you think about it, if you become submerged just a few feet (maybe 20-100), a lot of your problems go away. As for thieves, they wouldn't be deterred much by this, but you can always have local police. My bet is that these colonies can be the next Atlantis if someone finds a cheep way to use the local resources to make sturdy building material (something l
      • Re:no thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pjt48108 (321212) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [80184tjp]> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:19PM (#23495496) Homepage

        My bet is that these colonies can be the next Atlantis if someone finds a cheep way to use the local resources to make sturdy building material (something like nanites that turn the sand into quartz). However that is a LONG way off.
        Once upon a time, I read a book which addressed this issue, albeit for a different seafaring concept. It involved using manganese (I seem to recall) bars in a mesh, which, when electricity was run through it, would accrete calcium carbonate to it from seawater. Eventually, this would create a shell on which the colony would float, and from which further accretions could expand it.

        The concept also involved leveraging temperature differentials in seawater to generate electricity, and using the immediate vicinity of colonies to farm algae, etc. Using these colonies as a hub of a hydrogen economy was also envisioned.

        These ideas made it into a website for the Living Universe Foundation, but I don't recall if the book had any connection to them or not.
    • True enough. Anyone on the ocean needs to think about such things as fires, fresh water, food stuffs, sewage... all those messy details which don't make it into manifestos.
    • Re:no thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:44PM (#23495850) Homepage
      Exactly.. storms and quakes are dangerous enough on land. And while there may not necessarily be physical assets worth plundering (because rich people never keep their valuables on hand, I guess), there are still protection rackets, hostage/ransom situations, and random violence to contend with, and as a wealthy independent nation, you'd be ripe for all of the above.

      You'd have low volume, high cost, and high reliance on imports, with little to nothing to export, except perhaps intellectual property (with no means to protect), assuming you even believe in IP as a libertarian. Satellite internet is high latency, low bandwidth, and most people would probably be dissatisfied with such limited connection to the outside world.

      Cabin fever is all but guaranteed, and an active social life is basically out of the question. You'd have to worry about mutiny, sabotage, fires, fresh water supply, leaks, maintenance, and all the other concerns of a seagoing vessel, without the convenience of being able to pull into a port if things get hairy. In short, it seems like the disadvantages seriously outweigh any advantage of pseudo-independence (pseudo, since you're still reliant on the outside world to A) play nice, and B) supply you with durable goods and consumables).

      But what do I know? I've only spent 6 years in the Navy, and 6 years living on a small island.. not like I've had any relevant experience.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) *
        As noted by Samuel Johnson many years ago:

        No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned. ... A man in a jail has more room, better food and commonly better company. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)

        And this would be worse than a boat. At least a boat is designed to go somewhere else.

        Unless you can somehow boot strap this into some huge city sized complex ($$$, 500K isn't even earnest money), it's not g

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Hurricanes happen on land too. But then again tornadoes happen on the ocean too. Earthquakes do have little affect on vessels out in the ocean though.
  • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:53PM (#23495170) Journal
    So, how will we confirm our shipping addresses within paypal? I mean, we'll be constantly moving around the ocean...
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Not if you do it right. Hook a bunch of barges together and create a giant floating mass that is as inflexible as possible so that the surface is basically the average of all the waves that are hitting it at that moment (which should average out to approximately a constant height above the ocean floor). Drop an anchor in the middle. You shouldn't move much more than an island does so long as the length of the total surface is dozens of typical wavelengths long. About the only thing you'd have to worry a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by y86 (111726)

        You shouldn't move much more than an island does so long as the length of the total surface is dozens of typical wavelengths long. About the only thing you'd have to worry about would be a tsunami.

        If a hurricane can derail a train or knock over an oil rig. It could make a mess out of these.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        About the only thing you'd have to worry about would be a tsunami.

        Not at all. It would pass under you virtually unnoticed. Tsunamis aren't a problem until the water gets shallow. As for general stability, you just need to have enough mass well below the surface.
      • About the only thing you'd have to worry about would be a tsunami.

        Tsunamis have wavelengths of hundreds of kilometers and wave heights of only a few feet in open ocean. That means the rig would lift a foot or two, and then go back down once 200 or 300 km of the wave has passed. You would never know it unless somebody told you. Now a hurricane, on the other hand - you've got massive winds there.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Put an old Aircraft Carrier in the middle, and start learning Sumerian...

        The kid with the water-cooled depleted uranium chain gun might be a problem though.
    • by mclearn (86140)
      I know you're being funny. So with that said, here are the options for receiving mail when you are a cruiser. 1) You use a forwarding service to send all mail to a country that you are heading to. 2) You use other cruisers as a forwarding network (this is how they did mail transfer back in the day as well, if you recall). Both are surprisingly effective, though non-intuitively you tend to miss more mail with option #1 than #2. In light of the discussion, though, coordinates for your floating country plu
  • by WMD_88 (843388) <kjwolff8891@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:54PM (#23495172) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone read that as "Paypal Founder Peter Thief...."?
    Would have been oddly suiting....
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Stealing people's peters is just wrong.
  • "We're not trying to pick the one strategy because we think there will be multiple people who want one for multiple reasons," Gramlich said.
    ... Damn Straight! I'd be wantin' to have some sort of bio-nuclear-chemical lab on the 'island' so I could grow mutant fish.

    I'm not sure how many other people want to do that, but I'm sure they aren't the majority...
    • Apart from the "let's start a country where we're the government" possibility, I think there are a number of other more likely applications if this really is a more cost-effective and efficient way of establishing a habitable community at sea.

      Scientific research, tourism, even resource extraction could benefit from a better way of building sea platforms.
  • I don't know about any government based on the writings of Ayn Rand, but I've seen enough Seaquest DSV episodes to know this could be really kickass.
    • I've seen enough Seaquest DSV episodes to know this could be really kickass.

      But that means it'll only be good for the first two seasons, then it'll swing from boring to silly.
  • I think the Free State Project [wikipedia.org] stands a better chance of real reform.
  • 1 Buy a retired aircraft carrier and an oil tanker.
    2 Tie them together.
    3 Let it flow around.
    4 ???
    5 profit.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:02PM (#23495280) Journal
    HA! I believe the proper term is "tax dodge". Or dare I say it? Cult

    Attn: Slashdot,
    Please block this post from reaching the UK [slashdot.org]
  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:02PM (#23495288) Homepage Journal

    You need to compute the value, whenever looking at new commune/ collective/ arcology/ society construction. This is in some ways a non-numeric computation, but you should at least look at the basic per capita cost, e.g., cost(infrastructure + risk) / population. Many managers focus on one but ignore the other, but any cost-benefit study must look at both. One offset to the cost would be the value of goods or services produced by the population.

    A yurt in a comfortable biome houses a small self-sufficient family at nearly no cost. A small crew can man an offshore oil rig (at least, in moderate shifts) because of the immense value of the product. A commune living in a multi-hundred-ton cylinder of concrete and steel floating a dozen miles offshore had better have some damn valuable product to overcome the huge costs of infrastructure and risk.

    • A commune living in a multi-hundred-ton cylinder of concrete and steel floating a dozen miles offshore had better have some damn valuable product to overcome the huge costs of infrastructure and risk.

      Unless, of course, the members of said commune are filthy stinking rich, in which case they can afford the infrastructure costs without having it produce anything other than shelter... Just like the rest of us do when we buy a house.
    • A commune living in a multi-hundred-ton cylinder of concrete and steel floating a dozen miles offshore had better have some damn valuable product to overcome the huge costs of infrastructure and risk

      Well, seeing as value is subjective, here are some potential ones for starters:

      Hands-on research for future ventures into seasteading
      A place of business independent from international law -- this alone may be worth millions and millions
      Site for research into renewable energy
      Site for research into carbon sequest

  • get real (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nguy (1207026) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:08PM (#23495372)
    Do you seriously think the established nation states of this world are just going to let a bunch of platforms float outside their jurisdiction and reach?

    In fact, nations don't even have to do anything about their landmass, they can simply apply their laws to their citizens in international waters, and they can enforce them there too. So, if you are a US or European citizen, you'll still be subject to DMCA, high taxes, and drug laws. Of course, you can give up all your citizenships, but then you'd have a hard time doing business with anybody on land.

    This kind of escapism just doesn't help. Either fix your own nation or stop complaining. Running away stopped being an option when the West was settled, and it won't be an option again until we figure out FTL travel.
    • Re:get real (Score:4, Informative)

      by grassy_knoll (412409) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:30PM (#23495656) Homepage
      Even if they're unable to create their own nation, they might be able to operate under a flag of convenience [wikipedia.org] to achieve the same or similar effect.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) *

        Even if they're unable to create their own nation, they might be able to operate under a flag of convenience to achieve the same or similar effect.

        You can wave your Panamanian flag around all you want to. Any armed naval vessel that takes an interest in you might giggle a bit, but I don't think it would slow them down much.

        Nope, you need sharks. With lasers.

        It's the only way to be sure.

    • Re:get real (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scipiodog (1265802) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:45PM (#23495866)

      This kind of escapism just doesn't help. Either fix your own nation or stop complaining. Running away stopped being an option when the West was settled, and it won't be an option again until we figure out FTL travel.

      You know, for many people it simply isn't an option any more. What are the legal means you have in the USA - you can vote locally, for congress senate and the President.

      Let's face it, for all federal elections (where most power is concentrated these days) you get two choices, which are virtually the same person when it comes down to it.

      If you really intend to "fix your own nation" you virtually have to dedicate your entire life to doing so.

      It is simply unfair to condemn people because they haven't "fixed their own nation" in the face of their compatriots' ignorance and big-government vested interest. It could be argued that it makes more sense to run away to sea - it may be more efficient!

      • by nguy (1207026)
        If you really intend to "fix your own nation" you virtually have to dedicate your entire life to doing so.

        You can teach, you can participate in political parties, you can give speeches, you can choose a socially responsible job, etc.

        It could be argued that it makes more sense to run away to sea - it may be more efficient!

        You simply can't run away; there's no place to go.

        It is simply unfair to condemn people because they haven't "fixed their own nation" in the face of their compatriots' ignorance

        No, I'm co
    • Re:get real (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fastest fascist (1086001) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:55PM (#23495972)
      What if you find the whole concept of nations with millions of inhabitants ridiculous? How do you fix that without resorting to escapism?
    • Re:get real (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bwalling (195998) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:01PM (#23496062) Homepage

      Either fix your own nation or stop complaining.
      A recent poll in the US showed that 17% of people thought that the issue of whether a candidate wore a flag pin on his/her lapel was important. The fix for that is a bullet.
    • not a new idea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dj245 (732906)
      I think what is worse is that they are painting these spar platforms as something completely new. Oil platforms in deep water have been doing this for years. [worleyparsons.com] They're somewhat rare but are one of the best solutions in very deep water. The great downside is that to move them, you generally have to lift the topsides (living areas, oil production and working areas) off of the spar with an enormous crane and then tow the cylinder section lying down.
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:12PM (#23495410)
    I notice the summary workes in a dig at the Scientology Cult, even though there is no real connection.

    Haveing worked the Micro$oft / Windoze pithy witty digs to death, the nut-jobs are the new Slashdot Whipping Post Du Jour?

    Or is there some mysterious eBay-PayPal-Scientology connection I'm ignorent of?

    • by Trespass (225077) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:27PM (#23495624) Homepage

      Or is there some mysterious eBay-PayPal-Scientology connection I'm ignorent of?

      They're all full of assholes?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Insightful, yet incorrect. The 'tologists at the helm of El Ron had a similar idea about having a colony at sea; named Sea Org, or some such nonsense, follow the wiki-link if you really care to. The tie in is appropriate as the summarizer decided to mention both types of motives for moving to a sea colony; for freedom from oppressive governments, or to further your power over stupid people who follow convincing, well spoken lunatics. Fair is fair, I think Peter is quite a lunatic too. Pay "Pal" blows!
    • by popmaker (570147)
      Maintaining a steady stream of spite towards scientology isn't the worst thing, as long as it doesn't interfere with the topic at hand too much. It's just sometimes hard to get off your mind after hearing the most gruesome stories, so subtle (or not-so-subtle) references are going to creep in now and then.
  • Seems akin to the Atlantis Project [oceania.org], which hoped to build the city of Oceania from floating concrete-and-air hexagonal platforms. Sounded promising, but alas no artificial islands have come of it yet.
    • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:24PM (#23495570)
      Here's a crazy idea...

      Word is there exists the Great Pacific Garbage Patch [google.com] which is the accumulation of seaborne trash into a blob somewhere on par with Texas in size.
      Now work with me here ...
      That's a whole lotta floating stuff already in a relatively stable position (occupying a major ocean current vortex); surely an inventive aspiring frontiersman could turn that mass of materials into an inhabitable floating island. Material acquisition & relocation is already mostly taken care of, as there's a Texas-sized mass of it already there. Much of it is plastic, which should be easily (for the "news for nerds" crowd) reformed on-site into more suitable structures. It's already in a stable vortex, so it's not going to be unmanagably mobile, and remains well outside any nation's claimable waters. There may already be sufficiently compacted sections to stand on & start work from.

      Thoughts?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sxltrex (198448)
        From the Wiki article:

        For several years ocean researcher Charles Moore has been investigating a concentration of floating plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre. He has reported concentrations of plastics on the order of 3,340,000 pieces/sq km with a mean mass of 5.1kg/sq km collected using a manta trawl with a rectangular opening of 0.9m x 0.15m at the surface.

        5.1kg/km is not much. You'd have to scoop a hell of a big area just to get as much mass as the boat you're scooping with. I think you're overestimating the amount of debris and the size of the pieces.

  • I'm sure this research will help...In fact I'd bet this tech would help with Colonizing Venus...after all it is just a sea of air to do it

    Aerostat habitats and floating cities

    Geoffrey A. Landis has summarized the perceived difficulties in colonizing Venus [wikipedia.org] as being merely from the assumption that a colony would need to be based on the surface of a planet:

    "However, viewed in a different way, the problem with Venus is merely that the ground level is too far below the one atmosphere

  • ATTFA, it's got _satellites_ on the top of it for internet access. Seems like it would be cheaper to just use satellite dishes and the existing satellite networks. ;-)
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:25PM (#23495588)
    The first thing that came to my mind was this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._Peterbus_Unum [wikipedia.org]

    While he article touches on a lot of the obvious issues (piracy, sovereignty, etc), they seem to have missed this episode of Family Guy.

    For the purpose of discussion, here's a short list of other issues that don't seem that trivial to me:

    1) No natural resources. Or in other words, there's nothing there that anyone wants. You might be able to grow your own food and harvest the necessities from the sea, but you can basically forget about having any exports. This would be a deficit economy just about any way you shake it.

    2) Environment is fatal to humans. Should the platform sink, everybody dies. Few of the places on earth with this level of lethality house humans for any real length of time without some really compelling reason to be there (see above...)

    3) 'Nation problems'. Without any allies, any nation can declare war on you and sink you. You're a nation now, so you're expected to play at that level. Likewise, your neighbor on his own platform can declare war on you - he's running a nation, too. PirateBay platform, meet the RIAA platform... Do you plan to appeal to the United Nations? Can you even do that if you're not a member? What about trade agreements? There's really a LOT to consider here.

    4) 'Hot button' nations. Can Osama float a platform and no longer be considered a terrorist, rather a dictator? What about those pedo-polygamists? Can't they just float a platform and go right on forcing marriage and sex on pre-teens? And if this is possible, wouldn't others want desperately to sink them? Or, if not sink you could they not simply blockade you, or otherwise apply pressure to cut you off from the outside world?

    I guess what I'm trying to say is: Nations are nations because of where they are and what they have, not merely because of their desire to be independent.

    Peter eventually caved. He didn't even manage to get an ink-pen for his trouble...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      While he article touches on a lot of the obvious issues (piracy, sovereignty, etc)

      He touches on them, but he doesn't address them to any degree. Which isn't surprising because many of the proponents of these projects are a bit vague and handwavish on the details themselves. To take the two issues you mention:

      • Sovereignty - these colonies are no more sovereign than a condominium complex. In fact, legally speaking, (though IANAL) they appear to be little more than condominiums. There's a fairly good size
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fedtmule (614169)
      Parent wrote:

      "1) No natural resources. Or in other words, there's nothing there that anyone wants. ..."

      Maybe they could run a trading station. Sailors (the non-commercial kind) could go into harbor there and buy stuff. Larger ships could bring the supplies.

      It might also be attractive for sailers if the whether were bad. A big platform would better sustain the whether than a small boat.

      They could also operate a casino. Hell, they could legalize drugs and prostitution. I am thinking big money from visitors.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dan Ost (415913)

      1) No natural resources.

      Not true. Such a platform could be built around OTEC structure that would provide fresh water and power. It's conceivable that they could export energy. Other forms of energy production could include wind, solar, wave, and perhaps even hydrocarbon (farming seaweed and such for combustion and/or fuel creation).

      Imagine a platform that made diesel from harvested seaweed (which would be plentiful around an OTEC device) via TCP and sold the diesel to passing ships. The ships could get by with less fuel stored u

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      2) Environment is fatal to humans

      The Dutch have been living below sea level for a long time. New Orleans has, too. Both have suffered great casualties because of it. I guess it depends on what you mean by "really compelling reason."

  • ...just look what happened to Rapture.
  • This is no different from running a cruise ship, except that it isn't cruising anywhere. The biggest problem is that it needs a reason d'etre, else it will go bust, just like any poor island nation.
  • OK lets assume for a moment there is demand for this.

    Who controls the "spur"? If 45% want to not defect, 30% want to defect to Constellation B and 25% want to defect to Constellation C, who gets it?

    What happens when 51% of the spur decides left handed people should have to primarily use their right hand from now on? Or they get shot in the face. Or maybe instead of 51% I just mean the security force who just took over. Or the pirates who decided they wanted a nice home.

    Oh I see, you'd only be oppressed
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argent (18001)
      Who controls the "spur"? If 45% want to not defect, 30% want to defect to Constellation B and 25% want to defect to Constellation C, who gets it?

      This is not anarchy. Every spur would have their own governance system, based on "the guy paying the outrageous maintenance fees decides" or other practical democratic themes.

      Don't forget: it's all about lowering the barrier of entry to the business of government!

      "Government is an industry with a really high barrier to entry," he said. "You basically need to win an

  • Keen Insight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy@ a o l . c om> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:39PM (#23495788) Journal

    From TFA:

    "There's a history of a lot of crazy people trying this sort of thing, and the idea is to do it in a way that's not crazy," said Joe Lonsdale, the institute's chairman and a principal at Clarium Capital Management, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund.

    So, to be clear, the idea's not crazy, just everyone who's tried it so far. Hmmm.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:39PM (#23495794) Homepage Journal
    Seasteads are a great way to protect human rights because they protect the most fundamental human right, the one from which all others are derived: The right to vote with your feet.

    If all you do is ensure that anyone can leave any time they want, then you have only one remaining ingredient to support this most fundamental human right:

    Somewhere to go.

    With the current, very limited, number of territories world-wide, the choices available to refugees is limited not only by the number of territories that would welcome them, but by the absolute number of territories.

    Increase the baseline number of territories and freedom reigns.

    The problem with current conceptions of "human rights" is they are enumerated in some sort of unstructured laundry list which results in the entire edifice crumbling under stress. Its tragic because the more you "feel" various things are "rights" -- the more "rights" you put on your wishful-thinking-list, the more "righteous" you sound to the intellectually handicapped. This creates a terrible situation for humanity -- where facades of "human rights" displace the need for territory -- the need for carrying capacity -- that forms the real foundation of life hence humanity hence their rights.

    I've written up some thoughts on the nuances of a more rationally architected system supporting human rights in Deep Libertarianism: Human Ecology [majorityrights.com] that allows jurisdictions to become as "tyrannical" as they want over their territory, so long as they let people leave at will and support the creation of carrying capacity for the formation of volulntary association.

    Seasteading is an important potential in this direction.

    Unfortunately, Google's Patri Friedman, while far better than most, is indulging in more of the sloppy thinking that endangers human rights when he says things like "You can change your government without having to leave your house" or implies the assumption that seasteading jurisdictions will not exclude immigrants at their whim. We live in a physical universe with ecologies that operate in space. Attempting to deny spatial structure because you find it inconvenient or even "oppressive" is simply fantasy.

    • If people can not act morally in MMOGs they will never act morally in real life. Take a look at the behavior on Slashdot for another example of why it can not work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There's something to the idea of increasing choice, but I don't think the biggest barrier to free mobility for most people is finding a better place to live - it's having to uproot your entire life to move elsewhere. The older you get, the harder it gets to just take off and leave.

      Then again, maybe societies designed to be in constant flux would be easier to leave. It depends on how much your life is attached to the physical location of where you live, and the people who share it with you. The latter is w
  • by wdavies (163941) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:49PM (#23495916) Homepage
    Its bad enough living on small islands, where the energy cost of transportation is so inefficient compared to mainland cities.

    Where would you go if you wanted to walk on a hill? Frankly I'd rather be part of a "Red Mars" mission than this.

    It's kind of a sad reflection on the kind of society we would live in if Ayn Rand inspired techno-geeks ruled the world. Do none of them appreciate the social infrastructure than allowed them to spend their time inventing stuff, instead of living the life of a frontiersman foraging for food and dying of disease. Private 737 anyone?

    Spend the research money on tech to save the environment we have. If we were meant to live ON the sea, god would have given us gills and a taste for our urine...

    • by justfred (63412)
      (gratuitous reply to self)

      Ah, there it is in TFA, with the same link.
      "The most ambitious was Marshall Savage's Aquarius Project, which aimed at nothing less than the colonization of the universe."

      The first section of the book describes massive floating islands created by concrete accreted from seawater using electricity derived from temperature differentials. Entertaining as science fiction, a long shot as far as actual science.
  • by jefu (53450)

    The first thing this article brought to my mind is the China Mieville novel "The Scar" which deals with a decidedly dystopian floating city (complete with vampires and other goodies) in a decidedly dystopian world. Quite a fun read but probably not resembling at all what anyone has in mind to try to build.

  • These spar dwellings are designed to minimize the effects of normal wave action on the vessel/building's stability. But what about in a hurricane?

    What's the wave action like a few meters below the surface during a hurricane? Could one of these spars just submerge for the day or so it takes a hurricane to pass, leaving just air pipes and sensors floating on the surface to get wracked by the storm? Or are the waters below also treacherously gyrating all around the storm's visible action above the surface?
  • by mjh (57755) <mark.hornclan@com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:55PM (#23497498) Homepage Journal
    From Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism [amazon.com]:

    Patri Friedman, grandson of [Nobel Laureate] Milton and son of anarcho-theorist David, is even today actively planning to launch artificial sea platform communities, which he's calling seasteads, currently hoping to start one in San Francisco Bay. That's the spirit of America, as John Adams never quite said: may I advocate classical-liberal limited government, so that my son may advocate anarcho-capitalism, and that my grandson may plan to build new artificial countries in the ocean.
    HT: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2008/05/over_the_sea_pa.html [econlib.org]
  • by RockDoctor (15477) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @07:35AM (#23503088) Journal
    Having spent about 40% of the last 2 decades out on various oceans on oil rigs, I look at this and I think "who's going to repair the pumps in the ballast pontoons when they don't work".
    And "Who's going to shovel the rotting shit out of the plumbing system when it blocks up. Including that razor blade that you so forgetfully threw down the shitter last week?"
    And "Who's going to paint the underside of the helideck, before it rusts through from beneath?"

    There are a LOT of skills necessary to running any machine on the high seas. Which means that your libertarian "Sea Steaders" are going to need a considerable staff on board, or easily on call. regardless of the weather.

    Also, having spent a moderate amount of time at sea in 60ft waves and 150+km/hr winds (you know - when you get bodily picked up by the wind and are very careful to keep both lifelines hooked on), I wonder who's going to repair the switch gear for the "making way" motors when they're turned on for the first time in 3 years. Oh, Mr SeaSteader is going to be that conscientious about his maintenance jobs? Which government is going to provide the air-sea rescue when something goes pear-shaped?

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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