The idea of seasteading was first born when Wayne Gramlich stumbled across the Oceania Project. While impressed with the concept, he immediately recognized that the enormous overhead would make it impossible to get such a program off the ground. He wrote his own proposal for a way to live at sea that was smaller and more incremental than other, similar projects. He posted his ideas on the web, which is how they came to the attention of Patri Friedman.
Patri’s many interests had led him in the direction of seasteading. Burning Man showed how much can be created from combining artistic vision and engineering practicality; the co-housing/intentional communities movement illustrated the value of community, and what small and committed groups of people can achieve. His libertarianism, and his dissatisfaction with current political structures finally led him to the micronation movement, but he was disappointed by what appeared to be an endless string of crackpots and failures. When he found Wayne’s proposal on the web, he was immediately struck by its practical approach grounded in fundamentally sound engineering principles.
What attracted Patri to the idea of seasteading was the notion of being able to approach government from the same constantly evolving, crowd-sourced, innovative perspectives that are fundamental to the tech industry. In seasteading he saw the possibility to approach government the way that developers approached the web. If brilliant minds and passionate dedication could create Web 2.0, why couldn’t they create Government 2.0?
Wayne and Patri discovered that they lived only a few miles apart, and quickly began collaborating. Together they wrote a book on the subject of seasteading, and started a blog, which came to the attention of Jeff Lonsdale. Jeff told his brother Joe and Ajay Royan about the project, and they were both immediately excited about the possibilities. Joe, Jeff and Ajay approached Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, about the project, and after meeting with Wayne and Patri, Peter decided to help fund an organization to further research and development of seasteading.
On April 15th, 2008, The Seasteading Institute was officially formed amid a flurry of internet press. Since that time TSI has begun developing a broad range of supporters from around the world. The first annual TSI conference, held in October of 2008, attracted attendees from the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Costa Rica, Russia and other countries.
In the years since 2008, TSI has hosted several conferences, collected hundreds of engineers, artists, legal scholars, planners, builders, and thinkers together to produce dozens of research papers, and over a dozen real active seasteading projects.