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Seasteading is living on environmentally restorative floating islands with some degree of political autonomy.
The term comes from homesteading, which means making a home for oneself in new, uninhabited places. It generally has associations with self-sufficiency and a frontier lifestyle. Seasteading is reminiscent of that idea, but at sea.
All land on Earth has been claimed; the ocean is humanity’s next frontier.
The world needs a place where those who wish to experiment with building new societies and new technology can go to test out their ideas.
Currently, it is very difficult to experiment with alternative social and governance systems on a small scale; countries are so enormous that it is hard for an individual to make much difference.
See our videos…
Seasteaders are a diverse global team of marine biologists, nautical engineers, aquaculture farmers, maritime attorneys, medical researchers, security personnel, investors, environmentalists, and artists. We plan to build seasteads to host profitable aquaculture farms, floating healthcare, medical research islands, and sustainable energy powerhouses.
Our goal is to maximize entrepreneurial freedom to create blue jobs to welcome anyone to the Next New World.
We are credentialed, qualified, pragmatic idealists who plan to apply hard economics, evolutionary principles, and business savvy in order to create the first nations not to aggress against any people.
Although Waterworld may be a fun movie, it depicts a dystopian future where food, water, and energy are scarce. But food, water, and energy are abundant in the ocean. Floating structures naturally provide rich ecosystems for mussels, clams, oysters, coral, algae, and fish. None of this aquaculture requires fresh water or soil. Imagine if your home was sitting on a perpetual source of energy that didn’t require drilling. The sad truth is that Waterworld is a parable for the problems with living on land.
See our video Seasteading! Like Waterworld?
Hundreds of private islands are for sale, but even if seasteaders bought all of them, we would not advance seasteading one iota. All land on earth is claimed by existing governments. Besides, seasteaders don’t want to create one floating island. We want to foster the technology for people to create thousands of floating startup societies to diversify the governance solutions available for people to freely choose.
Seasteads float, increase biodiversity, provide a measure of political autonomy, and are funded voluntarily.
Artificial islands don’t float. Building them is environmentally destructive. In the South China Sea, they are often built to expand the jurisdiction of an existing state. And they are generally funded through force, namely, taxation.
Thus, building artificial islands through land reclamation is the precise opposite of seasteading. Seasteads offer an alternative to existing governments, while artificial islands seek to expand their power onto the sea.
Seasteads will be unique in history as the first societies not to initiate aggression against any individual or ecosystem. The Seasteading Institute is focused on securing legal standing for seasteads to be recognized by legacy governments. Seasteads are a technology for voluntary societies.
Seasteading is already underway. We have the technology to build floating platforms large enough and stable enough to host cities that can grow sustainable food, generate electricity, and provide a myriad of services.
See our video Seasteading! What did the first seastead achieve?
The challenge for seasteaders is to secure funding from savvy investors. In other words, the cost of living on the ocean must be low enough, and the business opportunities promising enough, such that there is an economic incentive for people to live on seasteads.
Companies like Ventive Floathouse and OnHand Agrarian are focused on cost-reducing solutions within the territorial waters of host nations, while still remaining dedicated to the goal of obtaining political autonomy for governance experiments.
Ocean Builders are building seasteads now. They’ve hired two dozen Panamanians and completed their seastead factory containing the largest 3-D printer that Central America has ever seen. They plan to host a Seasteading Tech Incubator in Panama. Participants will develop technology for seastead homes that will be available through Sensorica on their open-source development platform to benefit the worldwide seasteading movement.
Materials science is advancing rapidly.
For instance, Ventive Floathouse, led by engineer Michael Eliot, is developing a game changer material known as geopolymer concrete, which is carbon-negative and can last centuries in seawater. His experiments show its stronger, barnacle-resistant, easily repaired, sequesters C02, and is composed in part from fly ash, which is the byproduct of coal-burning normally disposed of in landfills. Floathouses will be carbon-negative and fly-ash-negative.
See our video: Seasteading! What About Pollution?
Many seasteaders independently came to the idea of seasteading because they wanted to implement solutions to restore the environment. You can read, in detail, about aquapreneurs and their eco-restorative business plans in the seasteading book: Seasteading: How Floating Nations Will Restore the Environment, Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity from Politicians.
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Currently we know of projects in Panama, Los Angeles, and Brazil.
Be sure to check out our Active Projects page to learn about the most promising seastead projects.
Seasteads will be located in areas of favorable wind, waves, tides, currents, storm and seabed conditions, maritime traffic, and trade access. Low threat of piracy is also a factor.
The possibilities are endless. We do not promote any particular ideology or specific policies. Rather, we provide a platform for others to try new ways of living together which they believe will make them happier. Some seasteads might want to try a universal basic income, while others might prefer free market solutions. Some might rely on electronic direct democracy, others might entrust public policy to technocrats, while others might use consumer-choice-based services, or anything in between and beyond. Since we are currently pursuing relationships with various countries to host the first seasteads in their protected waters, we expect many local laws to apply there. International laws would apply in any jurisdiction, including the open ocean.
See our videos: Seasteading! Whose Laws?
All new countries are forged in negotiation with traditional countries, and the process always happens in steps. Building for the open ocean is technically possible, yet it is expensive and the legal status of permanent dwellings is as yet undefined in international law. Forging partnerships with host nations solves both problems and allows us to provide seasteads to more people sooner, and to learn the techniques of sea living in preparation for more ambitious goals.
We are negotiating with a number of potential host nations for maximum autonomy for seasteads in exchange for the economic and social benefits it could provide. This will allow for a proof-of-concept, and will hopefully spawn many more experiments with floating cities around the world, including those further offshore, and under different legal arrangements.
We pursue a strategy of incrementalism – breaking this huge vision down into manageable, practical steps.
We expect the first communities to attract mostly pioneers and innovators at first. Hundreds of people have filled out our Floating City Survey, and hundreds more have informed Ocean Builders they want to buy a SeaPod or put down a deposit. Our first seasteads in protected waters should be affordable to the middle class of developed nations, and we hope that new materials and improvements in manufacturing will help bring costs down further so anybody can move to a seastead eventually. We are particularly excited at the possibility of offering options for resiliency to communities threatened by sea level rise.
Space in buildings on seasteads may be sold, leased, or rented, like property on land. Fees may support infrastructure needs. The actual arrangements may vary among seasteads. Some could be collectively owned, for example. Ocean Builders plans timeshares and “SeaBnBs.” The Seasteading Institute will not be operating or managing seasteads itself.
The first single-family seastead produced 60 gallons of fresh water every day, powered by just a few solar panels, and the price of solar just keeps dropping. There are many existing technologies to make drinking water from seawater given a source of energy such as electricity or heat. Energy can be generated in a variety of ways depending on the location. A combination of biofuel, wind, solar, wave and marine current energy generation coupled with storage is already viable and cost effective at smaller scales. Seasteads can grow fresh produce in vertical farms and raise seafood using aquaculture. Excess food and energy can be traded with the host nation or even exported.
See our videos Live in Balance with Nature and Feed The Hungry.
Seasickness is a problem with boats, not seasteads.
In a 2017 National Public Radio interview on the popular show Living On Earth, host Steve Curwood and Joe Quirk engaged in the following exchange.
CURWOOD: Joe, I enjoy being on the ocean, but you know there are times, may I say, when it’s a bit choppy. I mean, how comfortable are people going to be living at sea …?
QUIRK: You absolutely need to solve the seasickness problem if you’re going to create civilization on the sea … I call it the “martini test”, where if I can sit on the dock and order a martini, and they can pour it right to the brim, and it doesn’t spill, then I am in civil society.
CURWOOD: Although after the third martini you might not care.
QUIRK: [LAUGHS] I can create my own seasickness, but I’d rather the oceans not do it for me.
A year-and-a-half later, when a big storm struck the first seastead in international waters, Chad and Nadia were eager to pass the martini test … until they realized they didn’t have the elements to make a martini.
But they had red wine, which they declared a better test, because you can see ripples on the surface of red wine in a wine glass.
Nadia turned on her camera and triumphantly passed “the wine test,” which is immortalized in the final seconds of The First Seasteaders 3: Lifting the Stead.
In 2020, they passed the wine test again on their triple-spar prototype in Panama, showing off the fact that the wine didn’t ripple in waves as motorboats pass by at 20:00 in this video: Ocean Builders Deep Water Prototype
Before the COVID-19 crisis, cruise ships provided private medical services to over 20 million people a year, many of them elderly, and their routes remained within helicopter distance from land hospitals. Oil rig workers often must remain in more remote places performing more dangerous work than seasteads will ever have to face, and they are served by telesurgery and telediagnosis in emergencies. Many medical entrepreneurs want seasteads precisely in order to offer patients better, cheaper services than they can acquire on land. As the seasteading population expands, entrepreneurs may establish a medical practice similar to what is available on cruise ships. Hospitals, doctors’ offices and clinics will be available at the host nation for early Seasteads in protected waters.
A seastead stationed in international waters 12 miles from the coast would typically be a 20-minute ferry ride from shore, which in itself is shorter than the average American commute. Initial seasteads in a host nation’s territorial waters should be relatively short travel from restaurants, shops, businesses, museums, art galleries, concert halls, hospitals, etc. Soon enough, seasteads will be hosting all these attractions.
While seasteaders are interested in new or better ways of organizing their communities, they’re also interested in peacefully sharing ideas and trading with others locally, regionally and internationally. We wish to be good neighbors to those near us. We value openness, choice and transparency as beneficial to all.
In order to create something better, often you have to try something new.
Any business that can profit from operating from startup governance innovation hubs will need to hire. A floating hospital offering cheaper, faster, better care 12 miles offshore, or a medical research seasteads accelerating discoveries with streamlined rules, will create unique jobs. Futuristic aquaculture ventures restricted by 20th century rules will flourish in 21st century rules provided on the high seas. Schools for the Blue Economy. Cryptocurrency mining with seawater cooling. Entrepreneurs imagine it, and seasteds will provide it.
Seasteading will create unique opportunities for aquaculture, vertical farming, and scientific and engineering research into ecology, wave energy, medicine, nanotechnology, computer science, marine structures, biofuels, etc.
Join seasteader discussions online to learn more about all these proposed ventures.
See our video Seasteading! Can You Afford It?
Piracy is generally a problem occurring near the coast of failed or poor states. Just as you wouldn’t want to build your beach home in a dangerous neighborhood, you wouldn’t want to park your cruise ship off their coasts either. Initial seasteads will be hosted in the territorial waters of secure nations who patrol their own waters. Private security firms that protect cargo ships passing through piracy waters right now can also protect seasteads in safe waters.
See our video Seasteading! What about Pirates?
Circling the earth at the equator is a thousand-mile-wide band of calm tropical oceans with low wind and waves. This area of international waters is larger than any country. Seasteads will be located in many areas of favorable wind, waves, tides, currents, storm and seabed conditions, maritime traffic, and trade access.
Ships are necessary to support seasteads’ trade and transportation needs, and they can be used as housing for cruisers and ocean researchers who visit us. For the open ocean, the motion of ships is less comfortable when they’re not under way (motoring or sailing in transit). In the protected waters of a marina, ships may be relatively comfortable compared to being in the open ocean.
See our video Seasteading! Why not just live on a boat?
Tsunamis are only a threat close to land. On either side of South America is a vast expanse of hurricane-free space, each just as large as South America. Waves are not only a challenge, but also an asset. Imagine if your home was sitting on a constant source of energy. Open ocean seasteads would need to develop technologies for mitigating waves, preferably while also harvesting their energy for productive use. Many seastead entrepreneurs are developing these technologies right now.
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The Seasteading Institute is a small nonprofit. We don’t intend to design and build systems ourselves. We provide key research in engineering, law, business, governance, and environment.
We are working to introduce new audiences to the concept of seasteading by creating videos and presenting at conferences. We are also negotiating with countries to establish a SeaZone (a specially designed economic zone where seasteading companies could build their platforms).
We have inspired entrepreneurs all over the world to make seasteading happen in the next few years. We have achieved amazing things entirely through the support of donations from individuals.
Our supporters include over 1000 donors and numerous advisors and volunteers from all over the world with highly varied backgrounds. Patri Friedman started the Institute in 2008, and Peter Thiel was an early supporter. The Thiel Foundation last donated to the Institute in 2014. Please consider donating to The Seasteading Institute to accelerate the seasteading movement!
View profiles for our Board of Trustees, Advisors, and Staff
If you are interested in volunteering for The Seasteading Institute, please email email@example.com.
We are always ready to welcome new Ambassadors. Ambassadors are volunteers committed to promoting the seasteading vision and representing the organization. They represent the organization and advocate on behalf of the movement at conferences, schools, other events, online and through other special assignments. We rely on the Ambassadors to take the lead in planning projects and events to introduce new audiences to seasteading. We host monthly Ambassador video calls for sharing ideas and collaborating on projects.