Dear Friends of The Seasteading Institute,
It is with great delight that I pen my first newsletter to the supporters and friends of The Seasteading Institute. At the beginning of February I joined the team as the first ever Director of Communication. When I applied for the position I knew I was on the verge of a life changing and world changing opportunity. I am eager to increase our outreach, build a larger base of support, and expand the seasteading movement.
As a seasteading enthusiast you are already aware of the enormous potential seasteading has to improve life on our planet. You and I believe there must be better methods for us to construct societies. Seasteading has unique social-change value—because we don’t have to agree on which method is best. The libertarian beliefs of our founders and major funders may have attracted many people to our organization, but there is plenty of room on the high seas for thousands of governing experiments to be tested.
The Seasteading Institute is an umbrella organization that welcomes anyone who aspires to participate in creating better governments. Since the oceans are the only place left on Earth we can build new nations, anyone who has reached our conclusion—that it is next to impossible to significantly and peacefully change existing governments due to their tendency to self perpetuate—has a reason to join our movement.
A fantastic example of how seasteading can be accessible to multiple audiences is demonstrated in our newest staff member Brittany Benjamin’s introductory letter below. She shares her passion for enabling the creation of societies that avoid patriarchal bias. Through “sexually egalitarian constitution development,” she envisions societies where men and women truly have equal opportunities.
As The Seasteading Institute expands our base of support, we welcome the involvement of people from a wide spectrum of political beliefs. It will make our movement stronger and allow us to realize our dream sooner. The work we do together now will result in a resounding impact on humanity in a few decades. I am ecstatic to engage with you and to grow the seasteading movement together and to transform our world for the better.
Director of Communication
P.S. If you have not yet heard The Thiel Foundation has established a $500,000 matching grant for us. This means it is a great time to become a member or make an additional donation since every dollar you give will be matched by the foundation’s generosity. Please make a contribution today.
Table of Contents
Last Wednesday, March 16, we held our first ever virtual-town hall for past and present dues-paying members. The Seasteading Institute’s Executive Director Patri Friedman led the forum and took questions from audience members. All ten full- and part-time staff members attended, many of whom discussed their projects or fielded questions.
Participants addressed a vast array of topics about our strategy and research. Julien Dubois, a sesteading member from South Africa, inquired about the progress of our Magellan Network, a seasteading entrepreneurs’ network managed by Director of Business Strategy Max Marty. Max shared:
We currently have about 20 members and will be sending out our first newsletter soon. For all of those who don’t know what the Magellan Network is about, it is a network for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors who may be looking to start [seasteading] ventures that [would] work within a seasteading environment, or be the seastead itself. Which puts the movement into a free-market, competitive, environment, and allows it to innovate and create a life of its own without us—The Seasteading Institute—having to be the ones to push it. The for-profit motive is very important and the Magellan Network is meant to seed it. The network is kind of small at the moment…but it will grow, and hopefully it will grow into something very interesting.
Member Tim Potter asked, “What is the institute’s current opinion of the car tire ring-weave raft strategy?” To which Patri responded:
I don’t think we have a lot in the way of new information since we posted this [on our blog]. It is very intriguing and I love the use of recycled materials. I am a bit concerned about the size it would need to be to really attenuate the waves out in the ocean…I think it would have to be very large [to resist the waves]. I am not sure whether this compared to a breakwater would be the most efficient way to attenuate waves on a large-scale. But I’d love to see it tested, the use of recycling scrap tires is awesome—it’s a very cheap way to get a very strong material. I hope the guy who invented it does more testing so we can see how it works out. One thing I could imagine is this being used to create something like a yard for a [seastead] house…this could be a yard area outside that might be really uncomfortable during big waves in a storm, but when the weather is reasonably calm you’d get this nice cheap extra area.
Director of Engineering George Petrie responded to member Brian Beckman’s question “Are rogue waves being factored into current engineering designs?”
The short answer to the question is yes. The full gamut of wave conditions that are expected to occur at any particular location are being taking into consideration. In the case of a ship-shaped seastead, we would ensure that we have sufficient freeboard to keep the rogue wave from washing up onto the deck and endangering the inhabitants of the seastead. In the case of a platform configured more like an offshore drilling rig, we would ensure that there is enough air gap that the largest anticipated waves would not cause a risk to the platform or its occupants. In the longer term, the idea for the very large seasteads of the future would be to encircle the seasteading community with a breakwater that would keep the rogue waves outside and keep the community relatively sheltered on the inside of the breakwater.
If you were not invited to this town hall and you would like to be included in the next one, please sign up for a membership today.
A video of the town hall is available here for viewing. Please be aware that the town hall used an online web-conferencing platform that resulted in some spotty footage and rough transitions captured in this unedited video. But the content is really good and we hope you enjoy it!
On February 17, 2011, Patri was featured on the John Stossel Show, where he explained to viewers that the fundamental reason for seasteading is that “No technology advances unless you can try new things. The same is true for political systems.”
Stossel inquired if the seasteading concept is in fact intended to allow “A few people to experiment [with governments] to see what worked best?”
“Exactly,” replied Patri, “Instead of arguing about what will work without actually seeing it in practice, lets let a bunch of groups go and put their ideas in practice and let reality decide what actually works.”
Over half of the young New York City studio audience raised their hands when asked if they would be interested in moving to a seastead. This demonstrates that seasteading is an attractive idea. When seasteading is accessible to the masses, we can infer that many will be attracted to the high seas for experimental societies.
The Stossel Show airs on The Fox Business Channel Thursdays at 10 PM ET. You can watch the whole video by clicking the image to the right.
This past January 30 to February 6, 2011, The Seasteading Institute co-sponsored the Reason Cruise. Videos of the presentations given by our staff are available on our online Vimeo channel. We hope you enjoy watching them, and we want to give this small disclaimer: The Seasteading Institute is an apolitical organization that works to enable the creation of seasteads for anyone with the desire to create startup governments. The talks given at the Reason Cruise are directed to a libertarian audience and our speakers were not shy to express their own individual political views—which we encourage each other to do.
Check out presentations by:
- Executive Director Patri Friedman (part 1) (part 2)
- Senior Director James Hogan (part 1) (part 2)
- Director of Legal Strategy Dario Mutabdzija (part 1) (part 2)
- Director of Business Strategy Max Marty (part 1) (part 2)
On March 22, 2010, the weekly podcast “Surpisingly Free” released an interview with Patri. Host Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, asked several good questions on a variety of topics. Take a listen to hear Patri’s thoughts on why seasteading is a better alternative to trying to “fix” an existing land based government, who the majority of seasteaders will be, and whether there will be an imbalance of men and women on seasteads.
Patri is speaking at the first Agora I/O un-conference this Friday, March 25 at 2PM ET/11AM PT. Agora I/O is a new un-conference that is an experiment in liberty about liberty. The event takes place online and is absolutely free to attend. Presenters will share ideas and tools for advancing liberty. The first conference titled, “Étienne” runs from March 25th to 27th, 2011.
The Seasteading Institute is hiring a staff writer. The writer will be a critical member of our team, crafting highly visible publications that are key to our research and movement-building programs. Most of our organization’s current output is in written form, so it’s essential that the writing be of stellar quality for our work to be most effective.
This role requires an exceptional degree of passion, talent, and versatility. We are looking for somebody who deeply enjoys the writing process, and who has the ability to quickly write inspiring, accurate, and error-free prose.
Skill with a wide variety of writing styles will be necessary. The writer must be effective at relatively technical writing, extracting plans about legal strategy, business models, or economic theory from other team members and crafting them into research papers. They must be equally skilled with persuasive, marketing-style writing, conveying information in a concise and compelling way with a clear sense of the the audience’s identity and desires.
Mark your calendars for Not-Ephemerisle June 9-12, 2011. Not-Ephemerisle is a community organized spin off event of The Seasteading Institute’s 2009 Ephemerisle, a three-day festival that took place on the water in California’s Sacramento Delta. The original event was conceived to inspire people about seasteading. We abandoned producing the festival last year due to prohibitive costs, which led to the self-organized “Not-Ephemerisle.” In the spirit of inspiring more people about seasteading we are offering small grants to encourage the installation of “seasteading-esque” projects at this year’s gathering.
What is a seasteading-esque project? Can you imagine a game that demonstrates the seasteading vision of competing micro-nations? Can you conjure up a project that forecasts what innovative governments could look like? Can you design an art piece that communicates what our world could look like a half century from now when millions of people live on seasteads? We are interested in making one or two small grants (in the neighborhood of $500) to projects promoting seasteading. If you have an idea you would like us to consider, send an email to email@example.com.
By Eric Jacobus
To remind [King George III] that our ancestors, before their emmigration to America, were the free inhabitants of the British dominions in Europe, and possessed a right which nature has given to all men, of departing from the country in which chance, not choice, has placed them, of going in quest of new habitations, and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and regulations as to them shall seem most likely to promote public happiness.
-Thomas Jefferson, The Rights of British America
In the recent protests erupting in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and multiple other countries, protesters have taken to the streets accusing their governments of corruption, human rights abuses, and political oppression. With the help of the international community, overthrowing these old-fashioned governments seems to be the order of the day. But what of those who don’t wish to take part in the revolutions, who want to avoid the bloodshed on both sides? What about those who embrace the love-it-or-leave-it philosophy of Jefferson, the nature-given right of travel, and wish to simply walk away? Seasteading could provide that opportunity.
The love-it-or-leave-it philosophy once carried serious weight. As Andrew of Evolify explains, hunter-gatherer tribes faced certain hardship if their members became disillusioned and left, because a tribe could function best with an optimal number of tribes people. Since having too few members of a tribe could make it more difficult to hunt and protect one another, threatening to leave was actually a threat and cooperation was actively sought. The “threat” of leaving to the frontier lasted until modern day, when all land has been claimed and governed. Protesters in the Middle East now see toppling the government as their only recourse against government they dislike. What will the results be? We’ll see, but in Egypt’s case, this won’t be the first time a revolution has taken place. Without new land to settle, is it inevitable that other Egyptian generations will revolt again in the future?
The Middle East and North Africa might be continuing a vicious cycle due to the lack of a frontier. The ability to expand, experiment with, and establish new governments is an option that seasteading can provide. Seasteading enables the dejected to leave peacefully, hearkening back to the hunter-gatherer mentality of “treat me badly and I’ll leave.” Those who wish to stay and fight for their territory will always have the option. Corrupt governments, worried about losing citizens to innovative startup countries, may be more willing to cooperate peacefully with reforms, greatly reducing violence and preventing the loss of lives.
My name is Brit and I am The Seasteading Institute’s new administrative assistant. My first few weeks at The Seasteading Institute have shown me exactly how much a dynamic team of mission-minded individuals can accomplish and I am excited to be part of the seasteading community. I would like to use my space within this newsletter to express some feminist-oriented ideas that initially drew me toward seasteading.
As is noted in many parts of the seasteading information base, “all land is already claimed” and therefore, it is extremely difficult to initiate new forms of governance. The anti-egalitarian elements of patriarchy are the foci of feminist critique, but feminists have thus far focused on reforming the current system, which as seasteaders know is very difficult. Just as with any desired change to current systems, seasteading offers an attainable outlet to experiment with new government systems that address feminist concerns, and to create living examples of egalitarian societies. A seastead could allow for the testing of new forms of organization that do not have patriarchal elements embedded within them. This feminist stance is not, by any means, inherent in the seasteading plan and the achievement of this goal will require contributions from individuals who hope to see sexual equality emerge as a reality.
There is a place for this agenda within the seasteading movement, even though this space is largely undefined at this point. I would like to see contributions toward this aim in the areas of sexually egalitarian constitution development, consciousness-raising, and the engagement of male and female entrepreneurs who realize the value of untapped human potential caused by stringent definitions of what it means to be a woman or a man.
While the human sexuality angle is what once pulled me into the idea of seasteading, after only a few short weeks of working at The Seasteading Institute, I am finding that there are countless potential trajectories to be explored. I hope to collaborate with members of the seasteading community on many exciting possibilities for human self-realization and self-exploration, as well as the numerous other areas of focus based on ideals of mutually beneficial exchange and competitive government. Through unearthing how failing forms of social and political governance shape self-perception, we may embark on a journey of cultural innovation that could wash dated notions of personhood out with the tide.
Below are selections from The Seasteading Institute’s blogosphere:
The Seasteading Institute’s main blog:
- Official Engineering Report Released
- The Thiel Foundation pledges up to $1,000,000 to The Seasteading Institute!
The Seasteading Institute’s engineering blog:
Let A Thousand Nations Bloom blog:
The article below is from Mike Osborne, who has been a member since May 2009
I’ve been interested in cultural experiments and utopian communities for my entire adult life. Like many libertarians of my generation, I was greatly influenced by the writings of Robert Heinlein, Harry Browne, and Robert Ringer. In college, I was so impressed by the ideas expressed in Robert Rimmer’s The Harrad Experiment that I voluntarily “enrolled” myself in Harrad College by reading and studying about 80% of the “curriculum” texts (over 100 books) listed in the appendix; hence I’ve always felt that I earned 2 degrees while in school. I graduated from Purdue University with my actual degree in Astronautical Engineering in 1982.
Immediately out of school, I worked as an officer in the USAF launching GPS satellites on Atlas rockets. While I gained immense satisfaction being part of this work, my time in the military enabled me to experience firsthand the incentives, thinking and actions that drive government projects. I became absolutely aghast at the waste and irrationality that went into every decision, despite the good intentions of many employees. I felt I had no choice but to withdraw my consent from the entire structure and work in the nongovernmental sector for the rest of my life.
I subsequently have worked in the tech industry in various roles: software engineer, technical sales and marketing, and business intelligence. My current position is Sr Business Intelligence Analyst with the best company on the planet: Zappos.com. Zappos is revolutionizing the business world by showing how to engage in commerce by delivering happiness to everyone that comes in contact with it: customers, employees and vendors. We are a living, breathing experiment in how to have fun, deliver great customer service and be hugely profitable simultaneously.
I’m very excited by the work The Seasteading Institute is doing to bring us practical, real world solutions to the problem of government non-accountability. I support Patri and his entire team’s effort to change our world for the better. The Seasteading Institute is very deserving of our support.
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.