Economist Article Points to Growing Mainstream Recognition of Seasteading

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Seasteading enthusiasts will immediately recognize the colorful computer rendering of a floating platform on the cover of the December issue of The Economist’s Technology Quarterly. The image by András Gyõrfi, which won our 2009 seastead design contest, is sure to catch people’s attention at news and magazine stands around the world. Inside the magazine, more images of potential seastead designs are accompanied by an in-depth profile titled "Cities on the ocean," which focuses on both the technical and legal problems that must be overcome if seasteading pioneers are going to succeed.

We recommend the article as a solid primer on seasteading (of course, our introduction page is also a good place to start). In addition to providing a good factual overview of The Seasteading Institute’s activities, the article portrays seasteading as more mainstream than some past media treatments.

In assessing the likelihood of a successful seasteading movement in the near future, The Economist echoes a point we often make here at the Institute: numerous seastead-like structures, such as cruise ships and oil platforms, already exist. Our vision is squarely based on existing technology, and spending in related industries already totals more than $150 billion per year. The current engineering challenges to enabling permanent seasteads involve scaling up the size of platforms and reducing their cost within a reasonable time frame. On these issues, The Economist seems guardedly optimistic about the prospects for seasteading. After reviewing specific obstacles, the article concludes that "the ideal builders of seasteads may not be small groups of innovators, but giant engineering firms." The Institute believes in an incremental approach to achieving the ultimate goal of permanent floating cities on the ocean, and is optimistic about the prospects for small startups like Blueseed. At the same time, we are just as willing to support larger corporations that might share parts or all of our vision.

The Economist’s Technology Quarterly is a respected publication which focuses on the cutting edge of applied science and technology within the broader context of the world’s social and political institutions. We expect to find a receptive audience in the magazine’s readers, given seasteading’s close connections to economics, politics, and technology.

2 comments

  1. i_is_j_smith 8:02 pm

    Wow, what a poorly-written article.

    "THE Pilgrims who set out from England on the Mayflower to escape an intolerant, over-mighty government and build a new society were lucky to find plenty of land in the New World on which to build it."

    Should read:

    "Religious fanatics, whose theological beliefs were too radical even for the Church of England to stand, decided to leave their homeland and find another place to live. They were lucky to find this new land was already populated by a trusting, technologically-inferior society that could be easily destroyed once all use for them had vanished."

    As for Sealand, they got their facts horribly wrong. Bates never "fought various lawsuits to try to get it recognised as a sovereign state". He was brought to court for firing on a UK ship, the charge was dropped when the court decided Sealand was outside it’s jurisdiction. And it isn’t "occupied by a family", it’s abandoned as they try in vain to sell it off.

    And lets refer to libertarianism with a little snark, shall we:

    "the libertarian dream of escaping the evil ways of existing governments."

    Oh those crazy libertarians, worried about dirty evil government!  *cue eye roll and knowing wink*

    And the way they refer to the Free State Project as a "scheme" minimizes and pokes fun at it.

    "Unless a seastead were the size of Manhattan its citizens would have to forgo the cultural life, the parks and the wide choice of shopping and restaurants"

    Yes, because there aren’t any places in the world, smaller than Manhattan, that have cultural life, parks, and wide choices in places to shop and eat.

    Sorry.  They got a lot right in the article, especially in the discussion of the legal and technical issues facing seasteading.  And they certainly treat seasteading more seriously than many other media outlets.  But it just kept falling into hyperbole and sensationalistic writing.

  2. Joep 3:52 am

    Comparing all articles in major magazines till now to this one, most of which totally missing the point, this article actually shows deep interest and understanding. I like it a lot, and I hope the readers (who are not average)  will do, too.

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