Joining the manifesto / strategy proposal tradition started by Vince, Dan B has written up his proposal for BaseSteading. While TSI of course has our own strategy (which will be released for comment quite soon), seasteading is a diverse movement and we are delighted to see other people working on their own approaches. This is a hard problem, and we’d love to see several different groups trying different methods to tackle it.
When examining any project, it makes sense to compare it to other similar projects that have been carried out in the past. By analyzing the causes of the success or failure of previous projects, one can gain insight into the problems and pitfalls that the present project will likely encounter.
To begin, consider this Paul Graham essay. It contains two maxims that I think are especially relevant: Launch Fast and Let Your Idea Evolve. Taken together, the point is that you want to launch something, and then get feedback from users to guide the subsequent evolution of the idea. The underlying point is that it is meaningless to speculate about the ideal ultimate design of the product, prior to actually putting the product in someone’s hands and seeing how it works.
I submit that the Seasteading community is following an approach which is the exact opposite of the one Graham advocates. We are engaged in speculation regarding the ideal ultimate seastead design, without having nearly enough information to justify that speculation. The overall well-being of a seastead is a complex function of its social arrangements, economy, and physical structure; we are attempting to precisely design the latter component without any real clue as to how the former two will work.
And makes a suggestion:
I suggest the following alternative strategy. It involves the use of a “base”. This is just a living place which is much more reliable than a seastead prototype would be. Some examples are the following … The important property of a base is that it is highly reliable. The problems of living on a base are well-understood and -solved. If a group of people decided they wanted to form a community on a base, there are no technological problems stopping them.
The basic idea can be summed up as: SeaStead=base+X. X represents the work and money expended on designing and constructing the floating platform. At the beginning of the process, X is small. In this regime, the seastead is not much more than the base. This is not great, but is also not so bad (compare the formula seastead=X). As time goes on X becomes large, and eventually we no longer rely on the base at all.
You can discuss this proposal on the forum, James & I have replied on pages 3 and 4.