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Paypal Founder Puts a Half Million Dollars Into Seasteading 275

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:59PM (#23495244)
    Good. Go there and stay there.
  • 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.

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:05PM (#23495314)

    It sounds like a way for the wealthy to go out and do what they want without having to bother with laws they don't like.
    No, it sounds like a frontier. The wealthy did not go to the frontier, wealth was made ON the frontier.
  • by y86 ( 111726 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:08PM (#23495364)

    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.

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:30PM (#23495660) Journal
    I'd amend that as "as long as there are those who are both greedy and short sighted there will never be utopia." Enlightened self interest usually coincides with everyone else's self interest.

    Enlightenment aside, human nature is not static. We have several stable states, selfishness being one of them. In a society that encourages selfishness, does not allow the common person the ability to easily punish unfairness. If everyone around you is being selfish, chances are you will be, too, because you have to, or be taken advantage of. But if everyone around you is being cooperative, you most likely will act that way, too. So human society has an impact on human nature. Which is the point of utopias.
  • Keen Insight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FurtiveGlancer ( 1274746 ) <{moc.loa} {ta} {yuGhceTcoHdA}> 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 [] 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.

  • 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 LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:48PM (#23495904) Homepage Journal
    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 Utopia is a place where everybody thinks like they do.

    I on the other hand will be happy with non utopia where everybody just tries to be a little polite to each other.
  • 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.
  • by fedtmule ( 614169 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:17PM (#23496300)
    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.

  • by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:19PM (#23496328)

    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 up which reduces weight and fuel consumption. The platform would have income and the ships would save money.
  • by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:25PM (#23496388) Homepage Journal

    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."

  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> 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.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) * on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:14PM (#23497018) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:18PM (#23497072) Homepage Journal
    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 election or a revolution to try a new one. That's a ridiculous barrier to entry. And it's got enormous customer lock-in." -- Wired []
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:25PM (#23497136) Journal

    Utopia is not an option. On the other hand, free markets and private property limit the negative effects of greed and turn it into a positive externality.
    Prove it. From what I've seen, free markets allow greedy and selfish people to accumulate more money than cooperative people. Money is force. With enough money, one can manipulate markets. This allows the greedy to attack the rest of us economically, to force us into servitude.

    By encouraging greed and discouraging cooperation, a free market system ensures that everyone will have to act in a greedy and selfish fashion in order not to be taken advantage of by the greedy and selfish.
  • by HorsePunchKid ( 306850 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:28PM (#23497192) Homepage
    So just pick a place [] where there aren't any hurricanes. :)
  • Blatant Hypocracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:41PM (#23497358)
    "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 RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @06:18PM (#23498254)

    Prove it. From what I've seen, free markets allow greedy and selfish people to accumulate more money than cooperative people.
    Of course, non-free non-markets allow the greedy and selfish people to accumulate more money than cooperative people. Greedy people exercising power to do terrible things seems pretty much a universal part of history. See the old Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea, Cuba, as examples of state-run economies rife with inequality and greed.

    The disagreement comes from people who believe authoritarian states can fight greed and inequality, so long as the "good" people are in charge... and those who believe that authoritarian states just provide yet another tool for the greedy to exploit more effectively.

    Socialists seem to have a lot of faith in their own incorruptibility.
  • 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 newgalactic ( 840363 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @07:56PM (#23499060)
    ...end of message.
  • by kiatoa ( 66945 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:38PM (#23499368) Homepage
    There are two basic ways to make money. The one you illustrate nicely in your post is service, labor, intellectual effort etc. I.e. the work you do. The other you don't mention: controlling resources. Many very wealthy and powerful people gained their wealth by this second method and I think it can be reasonably argued that said wealth is often NOT from serving the interests of others.
  • Re:get real (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SideshowBob ( 82333 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:24PM (#23500566)
    Exactly. As we all know, it is not one's deeds, or even one's words, that define one's patriotism. It is how that person chooses to dresses and styles his hair that defines that person's patriotism. After all a politician could literally wipe his ass with a copy of the Constitution but as long as he's wearing a flag pin it would be OK. I think that this may have actually occurred a few times over the past 8 years and we're still doing fine, right?

    That's why I propose that the Democrats start wearing Uncle Sam outfits. How could the Republicans continue to accuse them of being traitors if they're completely clothed in the flag? Then the Democrats could enact whatever legislation that they like, expand the powers of the police state to new and untold heights, and what can anyone do about it without looking like america hating faggots.
  • 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?

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming