In the spirit of the New Year, an editor at The Daily Caller recently sifted through more than 2,000 op-eds published by the popular D.C.-based website over the past year, in search of the most subjectively “interesting” pieces. Despite the whirlwind of newsworthy events that transpired in 2011, only two pieces of commentary were deemed more interesting than an op-ed on seasteading written by The Institute’s Founder and Chairman of the Board, Patri Friedman.
In the piece, Patri notes the stark contrast between technology, which has witnessed fantastic innovation over the last few hundred years, and government, which has been stagnating since roughly the American Revolution. Supporters of seasteading make this observation often, but the reason behind the divergence bears repeating: What separates the government sector from technology sector is the producer’s inability to test out different “products” (rules and regulations) on a small scale, and improve upon them based on the results of the experiment.
To extend the analogy of government-as-technology, seasteads represent laboratories in which new ideas about how we ought to live together (i.e., methods of governance) can be tested and improved. On this theme, Patri writes, “If we could somehow unleash the entrepreneurial spirit upon government in a low-stakes environment, we would see progress without unacceptable levels of risk. Rules would constantly evolve in order to better meet citizens’ needs and respond to new knowledge and new opportunities.”
While we in the seasteading movement are accustomed to thinking about governance in this way, others–including the Daily Caller editor who produced the list–find this perspective to be highly novel. When introducing our vision and strategy for enabling cities on the ocean, it is crucial for members of our movement to include an explanation of the underlying philosophy of decentralized experimentation in governance. If you are uncertain about how to communicate this message effectively, study the rest of Patri’s op-ed, or check out his papers with Brad Taylor on Seasteading and Institutional Evolution, and Barriers to Entry and Institutional Evolution, which can be found on our Law and Politics Research page.
By putting a stronger emphasis on the “Why?” of The Institute’s mission, we can elicit more genuine intrigue and support from our audience as opposed to bemusement or ridicule. The latest tip-of-the-hat from The Daily Caller indicates growing beltway recognition of our movement. Perhaps Washington D.C. is waking up to its inability to cope with the challenges of the 21st century. It is up to all of us in the seasteading community to spread the word about our bold plans to reignite innovation in the government sector, in 2012 and beyond.