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.