Seasteading is a movement to begin homesteading on the high seas, building permanent dwellings on the ocean. It's one of the most innovative ideas that I've seen that addresses many of the issues that arise with building on land, within a particular political system.
"We believe that current political systems are outdated and work poorly, for two reasons. One is the lack of a frontier - a place to go try out new forms of government (like the crazy new "democracy" which sprung up in far-off America). The other is the lack of mobility on land that happens because people are tied to buildings and buildings are fixed in place, which makes it hard to change states or countries, let alone pioneer."
A seastead is the name for a structure specifically designed for the purpose of long-term living in the marine environment, and the Seasteading Institute is helping to bring the movement together to jump-start the idea. The Institute is not actually building the structures, but rather helping to create the conditions necessary for the idea to take root. Their philosophy is incrementalism - starting small and building up over time. The idea is to grow awareness of the possibilities and to cultivate membership in the seasteading community, meanwhile researching the legal aspects and engineering of floating cities.
"The world needs a new model of politics where a diverse ecosystem of providers offers a variety of institutions that evolve to serve their citizens. The open oceans, Earth's last frontier, are the ideal place to nurture this vision of a better world. By making it safe and affordable to settle this frontier, we will give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get." - Seasteading Institute
The Seasteading Institute is focusing on three major areas initially:
- Community: Building a network of potential residents who are inspired by the possibilities of seasteading and have the skills and resources to establish vibrant new communities.
- Research: Exploring the core requirements for seasteading to be safe and affordable, such as structure design, political feasibility, and infrastructure (power, heat, food) and advancing key seasteading technologies through independent research and partnerships.
- Engineering: Proving that the mission is viable by building a safe, cost-effective, gorgeous seastead, based in the San Francisco Bay and able to travel in the open ocean.
The Institute just received a pledge of $500,000 from entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter Thiel to keep the ball rolling. Thiel said "Accelerating innovation is rapidly transforming the world: the Seasteading Institute will help bring more of that innovation to the public sector, where it’s vitally needed."
The Seasteading Institute is running a $2000 contest to design a seastead with 3-D modeling software. The deadline for entries is May 1, so if you've got design skills and want to help push the seasteading idea, pop over there and check out the full rules.
For more information about the seasteading project, read the Seasteading Institute's FAQ.