is the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by any government. The term is a combination of the words. No one has yet created a structure on thehigh seasthat has been recognized as asovereign state.
Seasteaders say such autonomous floating cities would foster faster development of techniques to feed the hungry, cure the sick, clean the atmosphere and enrich the poor.Some critics fear seasteads are designed more as a refuge for the wealthy to avoid taxes or other problems.
Proposed structures have included modifiedcruise ships, refittedoil platforms, decommissioned anti-aircraft platforms, and custom-built floating islands.
As an intermediate step, theSeasteading Institutehas promoted cooperation with an existing nation on prototype floating islands with legal semi-autonomy within the nations protected territorial waters. On January 13, 2017, the Seasteading Institute signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) withFrench Polynesiato create the first semi-autonomous seazone for a prototype.On March 3, 2018, a mayor from French Polynesia said, in response to a challenger contesting the issue for the May 2018 elections, that the agreement was not a legal document and had expired at the end of 2017.The project nevertheless continues, and will begin a crowdfunding campaign in May 2018.
Many architects and firms have created designs for floating cities, includingVincent Callebaut,Paolo Soleriand companies such as Shimizu and E. Kevin Schopfer.
Marshall Savagediscussed building tethered artificial islands in his 1992 bookThe Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps, with several color plates illustrating his ideas.
Other historical predecessors and inspirations for seasteading include:
Ocean-going cruise ships, often described asfloating cities.
ThePrincipality of Sealand, amicronationformed on a decommissioned sea fort nearSuffolkEngland.
Smallerfloating islandsin protected waters, such as Richart SowasSpiral Island
Floating communities, such as theUru peopleonLake Titicaca, theTanka peopleinAberdeen, Hong Kong, and theMakokoin Lagos, Nigeria.
The non-profitWomen on Waves, which operates hospital ships that allow access to abortions for women in countries where abortions are subject to strict laws
Pirate radiostations anchored in international waters, but broadcasting to listeners on shore.
At least two people independently coined the term seasteading: Ken Neumeyer in his bookSailing the Farm(1981) and Wayne Gramlich in his article Seasteading Homesteading on the High Seas (1998).
Gramlichs essay attracted the attention ofPatri Friedman.The two began working together and posted their first collaborative book online in 2001.Their book explored many aspects of seasteading from waste disposal toflags of convenience. This collaboration led to the creation of the non-profit The Seasteading Institute (TSI) in 2008.
On April 15, 2008, Wayne Gramlich andPatri Friedmanfounded the501(c)(3) non-profitThe Seasteading Institute (TSI), an organization formed to facilitate the establishment of autonomous, mobile communities on seaborne platforms operating ininternational waters.
Friedman and Gramlich noted that according to theUnited Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a countrysExclusive Economic Zoneextends 200 nautical miles (370km) from shore. Beyond that boundary lie thehigh seas, which are not subject to the laws of any sovereign state other than theflagunder which a ship sails.
They proposed that a seastead could take advantage of the absence of laws and regulations outside the sovereignty of nations to experiment with new governance systems, and allow the citizens of existing governments to exit more easily.
When seasteading becomes a viable alternative, switching from one government to another would be a matter of sailing to the other without even leaving your house, said Patri Friedman at the first annual Seasteading conference.
The Seasteading Institute (TSI) focused on three areas: building a community, doing research, and building the first seastead in theSan Francisco Bay. TSI advocated starting small, using proven technology as much as possible.
The project picked up mainstream exposure after having been brought to the attention ofPayPalcofounderPeter Thiel. Thiel donated $500,000 in initial seed capital to start The Seasteading Institute, and has contributed $1.7 millionin total to date. He also spoke out on behalf of its viability in his essay The Education of a Libertarian.
As a result of Thiels backing, TSI received widespread media attention from a variety of sources includingThe EconomistBusiness Insider,and BBC.
In 2008, Friedman and Gramlich had hoped to float the first prototype seastead in theSan Francisco Bayby 2010Plans were to launch a seastead by 2014,and TSI projected that the seasteading population would exceed 150 individuals in 2015.TSI did not meet these initial targets.
In January 2009, the Seasteading Institute patented a design for a 200-person resort seastead, ClubStead, about a city block in size, produced by consultancy firm Marine Innovation & Technology. The ClubStead design marked the first major engineering analysis in the seasteading movement.
In the spring of 2013,TSI launched The Floating City Project.The project proposed to locate a floating city within theterritorial watersof an existing nation, rather than the open ocean.TSI claimed that doing so would have several advantages:
Easier to engineer a seastead in relatively calm, shallow waters
Easier for residents to travel to and from the seastead
Easier to acquire goods and services from existing supply chains
Would place a floating city within the international legal framework.
In October 2013, the Institute raised $27,082 from 291 funders in a crowdfunding campaignTSI used the funds to hire the Dutch marine engineering firm DeltaSyncto write an engineering study for The Floating City Project.
In September 2016 the Seasteading Institute met with officials inFrench Polynesiato discuss building a prototype seastead in a sheltered lagoon. Teva Rohfristch, Minister for Economic Recovery was the first to invite The Seasteading Institute to meet with government officials.The meeting was arranged by Former Minister of Tourism, Marc Collins.
On January 13, 2017, French Polynesia Minister of Housing, Jean-Christophe Bouissou signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with TSI to create the first semi-autonomous seazone. TSI spun off a for-profit company called Blue Frontiers, which will build and operate a prototype seastead in the zone.The prototype will be based on a design by marine engineering firm Blue 21.
On January 13, 2017, theFrench Polynesiangovernment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Seasteading Institute to cooperate on creating legal framework to allow for the development of The Floating Island Project. The legislation will give the Floating Island Project its own special governing framework creating an innovative special economic zone.
The Seasteading Institute announced the formation of a new company, Blue Frontiers, to construct the Floating Island Project.
On March 3, 2018, a mayor from French Polynesia said the agreement was not a legal document and had expired at the end of 2017 in response to a challenger trying to make it an issue for the May, 2018 elections.
In May, 2018 Blue Frontiers will be raising funds through a cryptographic token (Varyon) to prepare for building in the Sea Zone when the French Polynesian government passes the SeaZone act later in the year.
Cruise shipsare a proven technology, and address most of the challenges of living at sea for extended periods of time. However, theyre typically optimized for travel and short-term stay, not for permanent residence in a single location.
Platform designs based onspar buoys, similar to oil platforms.In this design, the platforms rest on spars in the shape of floating dumbbells, with the living area high above sea level. Building on spars in this fashion reduces the influence of wave action on the structure.
There are numerous seastead designs based around interlocking modules made ofreinforced concrete.Reinforced cement is used for floating docks, oil platforms, dams, and other marine structures.
A single, monolithic structure that is not intended to be expanded or connected to other modules.
TheSeaOrbiteris an oceangoing research vessel designed to give scientists and others a residential yet mobile research station. The station will have laboratories, workshops, living quarters and a pressurized deck to support divers and submarines. It is headed by French architectJacques Rougerie, oceanographerJacques Piccardand astronautJean-Loup Chretien. The cost is expected to be around $52.7 million.
Blueseedwas a company aiming to float a ship nearSilicon Valleyto serve as a visa-freestartupcommunity and entrepreneurialincubator. Blueseed founders Max Marty andDario Mutabdzijamet when both were employees ofThe Seasteading Institute. The project planned to offer living and office space, high-speed Internet connectivity, and regular ferry service to the mainlandbut as of 2014 the project is on hold.
Criticisms have been leveled at both the practicality and desirability of seasteading. These can be broken down intogovernmental,logistical, andsocietalcategories.
Critics believe that creating governance structures from scratch is a lot harder than it seems.Also, seasteads would still be at risk of political interference from nation states.
On a logistical level, seasteads could be too remote and uncomfortable (without access to culture, restaurants, shopping) to be attractive to potential residents.Building seasteads to withstand the rigors of the open ocean may prove uneconomical.
Seastead structures may blight ocean views, their industry or farming may deplete their environments, and their waste may pollute surrounding waters. Some critics believe that seasteads will exploit both residents and the nearby population.Others fear that seasteads will mainly allow wealthy individuals to escape taxes,or to harm mainstream society by ignoring other financial, environmental, and labor regulations.
The Seasteading Institute held its first conference inBurlingame, California, October 10, 2008. 45 people from 9 countries attended.The second Seasteading conference was significantly larger, and held inSan FranciscoCalifornia, September 2830, 2009.The third Seasteading conference took place on May 31 – June 2, 2012.
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L. Ron Hubbard, founder of theChurch of Scientology, and his executive leadership became a maritime-based community named the Sea Organization (Sea Org). Beginning in 1967 with a complement of four ships, the Sea Org spent most of its existence on the high seas, visiting ports around the world for refueling and resupply. In 1975 much of these operations were shifted to land-based locations around the world, especially in the USA (e.g.Clearwater, FL) and the UK (Saint Hill Manor).
Seasteading has been imagined numerous times in pop culture in recent years.
was a major motion picture featuring various seastead communities.
In video games, a city on the ocean free from any kind of government is the premise of the games
, a fictionalprivate military companynamed Militaires sans Frontieres (Soldiers Without Borders) maintains it Mother Base on the ocean, independent from any government.
Transhumania is a seasteading city in the novel
takes place partly on Rifes Raft, a floating refugee camp of boats and rafts tied together.
is a Japanese anime that takes place mainly on a traveling city made of an interconnected fleet of ocean ships.
Armadais the fictional floating city inChina Mivilles novel
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Russian floating nuclear power station
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