The Seasteading Institute April/May 2011 Newsletter

The Seasteading Institute – April/May 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friend of the Seasteading Institute,

At times it may seem as if seasteading is still years into the future. It’s good to keep in mind that, with each passing day, we’re getting closer and closer to the day seasteading becomes a reality. Lest we lose momentum, it is also worth reminding ourselves that, as Executive Director Patri Friedman says, “Seasteading is epic!”

Earlier in April, Patri was fortunate enough to attend the Summit At Sea, a gathering of 1000+ top entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson, Peter Thiel, Tim Ferriss, and many more on a chartered cruise ship.

“These were big names with big projects and big ideas,” Patri reported, “but they told me over and over that seasteading dwarfed them all. Numerous people said ‘That’s the biggest/awesomest/craziest idea I’ve heard yet!'”

“One interaction was particularly funny,” Patri goes on. “After describing seasteading to two entrepreneurs who have created innovative nonprofit donation and event management software, they looked at each other dumbfounded, cracked up, and said, ‘For the last two days whenever we explained what we do, we added that in our spare time, for fun, we work on colonizing the ocean. Just as a joke, because it was the hardest, most ridiculously ambitious thing we could think of doing. And you’re doing it! Wow!'”

“I’m so immersed in seasteading,” Patri continues, “that I forget just how epic and world-changing it is, and so this was an inspiring reminder of how ambitious our movement is.”

In other news, our team just released two economics papers that define the rationale for creating startup governments on the high seas. Our legal department is making tremendous progress on a legal frameworks report, our engineering department is forging ahead on an engineering report, and our business strategy department is preparing an entrepreneurs guide to creating businesses on seasteads. We’ll release all of these important reports later this year.

Also of interest, we are now taking applications for our brand new ambassadors program, which empowers volunteers to represent us and support the growth of our movement. And on Wednesday, May 25, we will be hosting an online town hall for members to discuss the engineering aspects of seasteading. If you are not a member and you would like to participate, please become a member today.

Perhaps more exciting than all of the above is the ongoing high-level strategic discussions we’ve been having. Bold initiatives are forming right now. While we haven’t finalized the new strategy, I want to drop this little nugget: we are preparing to move from being “just thinkers” to “thinkers and doers.”

On behalf of Patri and the rest of the team, thanks for being a part of the seasteading movement!

Sincerely, Randolph Hencken Director of Communication

P.S. Even if you are not going to participate in the next town hall, if you have not yet become a member, we would appreciate your support of our important work. Please become a member today.

Table of Contents

News: Two New Economics Research Papers by Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor Patri and Brad Present Papers at APEE Conference in Bahamas Max Marty’s Interview on Steppin’ Off the Edge Podcast Patri’s Free Cities Conference Talk is Online The Answer to Bad Government is More Competition (Not More Policy Papers): Patri’s Talk From the Agora Conference is Online

Participate: Seasteading Ambassadors Program Now Accepting Applications Save the Date: Online Members Only Engineering Town Hall May 25 Lets Obtain Official Dictionary Recognition of the Word “Seastead” Survey Results: What Size Seastead Would You Live On? Survey: Which Political Philosophy Do You Most Identify With?

Two New Economics Research Papers by Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor

Within the last thirty days we released two important economic research papers that demonstrate the need to create new experiments in governance on seasteads. Executive Director Patri Friedman and Research Associate Brad Taylor collaborated on these papers, and are now preparing them for submission to a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Barriers to entry and institutional evolution” argues that the technology of governance improves through an evolutionary process of trial and error. If we want innovation in governance, we need to allow many ideas to be tested, and this requires low barrier to entry. People and groups with new governance ideas need to be able to test them out by starting their own governments, rather than attempting to reform an existing one. The examples of ancient Greek city-states and colonial America show how this process works to produce new and better ways of governing.

Seasteading and institutional evolution” extends public choice theory by developing a three-level model of politics. Policies are shaped by the incentives of political systems, and political systems are shaped by the competitive environment in which they exist. The only way to robustly improve policy is to intervene at the root cause of the problem—the uncompetitive market for governance. The paper argues that seasteading is the most promising and realistic path to radically better government.

These two papers evolved from Patri and Brad’s previous collaboration, “Seasteading: institutional innovation on the open ocean.”

Patri and Brad Present Papers at APEE Conference in Bahamas

On April 12, 2011, Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor presented the two papers mentioned above at the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) Conference in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Having our research recognized by an academic association such as APEE is an important milestone for the seasteading movement. Accomplishments like this will not only serve to spread awareness about seasteading among scholars and thought leaders, but said accomplishments increase the likelihood that our ideas will begin to reach lay audiences. Most importantly, we view recognition by such venerable organizations as victories because we’re starting important conversations among exceptionally bright and well-connected people.

Note: The Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) “believes that individual knowledge and understanding of a society based on freedom in enterprise and personal life can provide an environment in which people can fulfill their greatest potential.”

Max Marty’s Interview on Steppin’ Off the Edge Podcast

Max Marty, our Director of Business Strategy, gave a great interview on the April 3, 2011 edition of the Steppin’ Off the Edge podcast. This hour-long interview is worth listening to, as it contains the essential vision of The Seasteading Institute. Max addresses long term questions like state recognition and the ideal size of seasteads, and short term questions about what seasteading will look like in the near future, what sorts of currencies seasteads will likely make use of, and what other problems they’re likely to deal with.

Patri’s Free Cities Conference Talk is Online

From April 3-5, 2011, The Seasteading Institute co-hosted The Future of Free Cities Conference in Roatan, Honduras. “Free cities” are similar to special economic zones that are delineated and tolerated by governments of territorial nation-states. Like special economic zones, these cities often have fewer regulations and more commerce-friendly tax rates relative to their host countries. Free cities, however, have even fewer ties to the host-country’s bureaucracy and can import foreign institutions. The idea is, if host governments can insulate these cities from the failing institutions surrounding territories, these free cities can become engines of prosperity.

Competitive governance is a fundamental element of The Seasteading Institute’s vision. We have been promoting competition among governments as the path for improving governments for years. It is really exciting that a movement is taking on its own momentum with additional parallel paths to increasing choice in government.

At the Roatan conference, Patri gave a brief presentation titled, “Theory of Free Cities and Seasteading“, which is now available online. In his talk, Patri discussed the need to create innovative, competitive governments worldwide. He also presented his rationale for creating micro-nations on the high seas. This is a great, short talk, which can be useful for introducing the concept of micro-nations, competitive government, and seasteading to others. Please consider sharing this with friends who haven’t yet heard about seasteading, or are skeptical of our reasoning.

Roatan, Honduras was chosen to host the conference because it is possible that the new Honduras government will allow it to become a trial site for a free city, or that entirely new cities will be built in rural area of Honduras.

The Answer to Bad Government is More Competition (Not More Policy Papers): Patri’s Talk From the Agora Conference is Online

On March 25, Patri gave a fascinating talk for the Agora I/O un-conference, which was an entirely online affair. His talk was titled, “The Answer to Bad Government is More Competition (Not More Policy Papers).”

Patri discussed his belief that activism within the current system is more often than not a futile effort, while the action of creating seasteads can actually lead to new and better governments. This is a talk for liberty types who don’t yet appreciate how seasteading can lead to better government through competition.

We’d like to offer two disclaimers:

1) Agorism is a political philosophy rooted in free-market capitalism, so this talk was designed with an agorist audience in mind; 2) The video was made using Patri’s web camera (it was an online conference), so the video and sound quality leave something to be desired.

Despite the low-budget production values, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Seasteading Ambassadors Program Now Accepting Applications

The Seasteading Institute ambassadors are volunteers committed to representing us and promoting the seasteading vision. Each ambassador’s efforts are crucial to the success of The Seasteading Institute’s movement building campaign. Ambassadors take on an important role representing the organization and advocating on behalf of the movement at conferences, schools, other events, online and through other special assignments.

Ambassadorships will be fun and rewarding. Serving as an ambassador provides someone with a greater level of visibility in the seasteading community. Ambassadors receive recognition throughout the year in a variety of ways including listing on the Seasteading Institute’s ambassador web page, recognition in our email newsletters, and recognition at seasteading events where they volunteer. Ambassadors will also be provided with business cards with their names on them to aid in networking on behalf of the institute.

We hope you will apply to become an ambassador. If interested visit our ambassadors page.

Save the Date: Online Members Only Engineering Town Hall May 25

We will host our next online town hall on Wednesday, May 25, at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET. This town hall will focus on the engineering aspects of seasteading. George Petrie, our Director of Engineering, will lead the forum. We will send members more information soon about how to participate. If you are not yet a member and you would like to participate, please become a member today.

Let’s Obtain Official Dictionary Recognition of the Word “Seastead”

Wouldn’t it be great if Merriam-Webster, Oxford, and other major dictionaries officially recognized the words “seastead”, “seasteading”, and “seasteader”? Well maybe they will if several of us point out how often the word is used these days.

If these words were in a dictionary, they might appear like this:

sea-stead [see-sted]


  1. A floating artificial structure designed to accommodate permanent residents on the ocean: Seasteads need to be seaworthy.


  1. To leave a land-based nation and move to an artificial land mass on the ocean: They wish to seastead the Caribbean.

sea-steading [see-sted-ing]


  1. An act or instance of establishing a seastead: It is possible that there will be seasteading all around the world.

seasteader [see-sted-er]


  1. Those who live on a seastead, or who desire to live on a seastead: The seasteaders are making plans to create artificial islands on the ocean.

If you can spare a few minutes, how about sending a note suggesting consideration of the terms to one or all of the following contacts:

Merriam-Websters: Oxford Online Dictionary: Dictionary dot com: Cambridge Dictionary:

Survey Results: What Size Seastead Would You Live On?

Small is beautiful? Last month we asked you what the smallest seastead population you would consider living with. We received 130 responses, which you can see broken down in the chart below.

We were pleasantly surprised to find out that 79 percent of you would consider living on a seastead with as few as 500-1000 people. Since the incremental approach to a world of several metropolis-steads means the first seasteads will have small populations, it is encouraging to know that there are numerous people willing to venture out in small communities.

Survey: Which Political Philosophy Do You Most Identify With?

We look forward to bringing you more news soon. In the meantime keep up with all that is happening at The Seasteading Institute by visiting our blogs, forums, and Facebook page. We’re also on Twitter.


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