The Seasteading Institute May 2012 Newsletter

The Seasteading Institute May 2012 Newsletter

Dear Friend of The Seasteading Institute,This is the last email I am sending as President of the Institute. While I very much appreciate the good fortune to have had a leading role here, I am headed on in search of new challenges. I remain fond of the Institute and committed to the vision of seasteading. The Institute is in good hands under the supervision of Senior Director Randolph Hencken. Founder and Chairman of the Board Patri Friedman will return part time to offer additional support. Personally, I am looking forward to getting involved with another seasteading-related venture.

In addition to bringing you up-to-date on the latest news from the seasteading movement, this newsletter is a reminder of some important deadlines relating to our conference, now only 31 days away! Tomorrow is the last day to purchase registration to The Seasteading Conference before the price increases by $100. It is also the last day to reserve a room at the conference hotel for a discounted rate, and to apply to pitch your seasteading-related idea during the conference lightning rounds. These five-minute long talks will spur cross-pollination of novel solutions and give anyone a chance to influence the course of seasteading evolution. If you are hoping to get in on the ground floor of exciting new business opportunities in aquaculture, medical tourism, renewable ocean energy, or any other seasteading venture, we encourage you to register and reserve your hotel room now. We can’t guarantee rooms will be available at Le Meridién after May 1, and if they are available they may cost as much as $279 a night.

In addition to recapping some of our recent movement building activities, this newsletter showcases three major developments from our research departments. First, our Director of Engineering George Petrie has released the second and final part of his “Parametric Analysis of Candidate Configurations for Seasteads”. Part 2 analyzes the effects of wave motion on 12 different options, and identifies the “sweet spot” for seastead platforms that would be both comfortable and capable of housing a medium-sized community of a few hundred people. Second, our paper, “Seasteading: Competitive Governments on the Ocean”, authored by Institute Founder and Chairman of the Board Patri Friedman and Research Associate Brad Taylor, has been published in Kyklos, a leading economics journal. Lastly, we are proud to release an English-language version of Research Associate Miguel Lamas’ dissertation, “Establishing Offshore Autonomous Communities: Current Options and Future Evolution”.

Lastly, I would like to express my deep gratitude for the opportunity to have been the President of the Institute and for your support. I look forward to seeing you on the high seas!

Sincerely, Michael Keenan



Table of Contents:


Parametric Analysis: The Sequel

(This item was contributed by Director of Engineering George Petrie) Last July, The Seasteading Institute published the first part of our engineering report, “Parametric Analysis of Candidate Configurations for Early Seastead Platforms: Platform Configurations and Cost Estimates”, an investigation of the optimal size and shape characteristics for seasteads in terms of cost and layout. We have now completed the second part of the study, consolidated it with the first, and published the combined report on our website.

While Part 1 set forth the size, shape, capacity, and costs of the 12 configurations that were evaluated, Part 2 addresses performance of each configuration in the ocean environment, with particular attention given to wave-induced motions. Establishing criteria for long-term comfort and safety was of paramount importance in this study, because we believe seasteads must be as comfortable and conducive to work and leisure as land-based homes or offices. Perceptions of motion should be limited to something similar to the gentle swaying of a hammock; getting tossed about by the sea may be enjoyable as an adventure, but not as a way of life.

The report dovetails with environmental data that was compiled from our location study, but figures on wave severity don’t tell the whole story. More important is how each size and type of hull form will respond to the waves. A ship riding in rough waves is comparable to a vehicle riding over a pothole on the highway: it is barely noticeable in a tractor, but tooth-rattling in an old pick-up truck. As the analogy suggests, bigger is better, and the extra cost of a semi-submersible type of hull (equivalent to a sophisticated suspension system in a motor vehicle) can be justified by the comfort it offers in harsh conditions. In smooth seas, however, you’ll be equally comfortable in a flat-bottomed barge as an old rowboat.

Results of this study will enable more informed decisions about the relationship between size, cost, and configuration in the context of wave conditions expected at any proposed seastead location. It is an important stepping stone for taking the seasteading movement forward.


Leading Economics Journal Kyklos Publishes Friedman and Taylor Seasteading Paper

(This item contributed by Research Associate Brad Taylor) Seasteading is a bold proposal based on original, subtle, and often misunderstood political-economic ideas. These ideas need to be continually refined, and engaging the academic community is therefore a crucial aspect of The Seasteading Institute’s work. We’ve now reached a big milestone with the publication of Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor’s article “Seasteading: Competitive Governments on the Ocean” in the leading economics journal Kyklos.

The paper makes the general case for seasteading, focusing on its advantages over other proposals for competitive government. Patri and Brad point out that most proposals require that existing governments decentralize power. While opportunities to create new jurisdictions on land do sometimes arise and should be vigorously pursued, such situations are too rare to lead to a genuine Cambrian explosion in government. The central insight of competitive government is that the only reliable means for improving policy is competition, yet land-based proposals put the cart before the horse, by requiring radical reform at the outset in order to trigger competition. Seasteading avoids this catch-22 by intervening at the foundation of society.

Kyklos is known for papers that challenge the academic orthodoxy and innovatively use economics to shed light on real-world problems. The journal has published work by Nobel laureates such as James Buchanan and Gary Becker, as well as some very important papers by younger economists. We think this is the ideal venue for the idea of seasteading to reach an academic audience. The paper has already been assigned as reading for two student seminars that we are aware of, and we hope the paper will generate much more interest over the coming months and years.

An early version of the paper can be found on our website in our law and policy research section. If you would like a copy of the published Kyklos version of the paper, please send an email to .


English Translation of Dissertation about Seasteading by Research Associate Miguel Lamas

Last year, The Seasteading Institute published a Spanish-language doctoral dissertation by Miguel Lamas, and we have now completed the translation of the paper into English. “Establishment of Autonomous Ocean Communities: Current Options and Future Evolution” focuses on different forms of ocean colonization and their respective benefits and practical obstacles. The first section evaluates instances of ocean colonization attempts and the conditions that led to their failure. In the second section, Miguel evaluates prior failures in light of four types of requirements for ocean colonies: economic and trade, technical, legal/external relations, and self-government. The third section analyzes legal and regulatory aspects of maritime law that relate to seasteads. The fourth segment makes predictions about future ocean colonization trends and proposes a timeline for the evolution of full-scale ocean micronations. The paper suggests that the creation of a floating city will result from the expansion of terrestrial space, the evolution of mobile settlements, and an increased demand for marine resources.


Financial Times Profiles Seasteading Movement

“Imagine a network of self-sufficient communities floating in oceans beyond the reach of international governments, capable of setting their own laws, norms and social rules. Led by pioneering individuals, these societies could become a blueprint for a new way of life – one that is more equitable, tolerant and entrepreneurial.”

Financial Times, 3/30/2012

The Financial Times recently featured both The Seasteading Institute and Blueseed in an article that gives a detailed description of the philosophical foundations of the seasteading movement, and the origins of the Institute itself. Titled, “Seachange”, the article attributes the rise in mainstream popularity of seasteading to political and economic unrest, and describes our proposed solution in simple terms: “If you are unhappy with your government, then you should be free to use another one – or, better still, start one yourself.”

While the author makes the common error of labeling us as ideologically libertarian early on, he eventually sets the record straight: “[President of the Institute] Keenan tells me that the people working at the Seasteading Institute ‘come in from different angles … a lot of people are interested in creating diverse, autonomous societies. Some think government is a trillion-dollar industry and a lot of money can be made here, potentially. I don’t want to impose libertarianism on everyone. I want people to have the government that they want.’”

The article is gated, but a quick sign-up will allow you to access it for free.


Higher Resolution Heat Maps from Location Study Now Online

In our last newsletter, we announced the publication of the groundbreaking location study, which analyzed multiple criteria ranging from wave height to distance from data cables, and displayed the desirability of different regions in the form of color-coded “heat maps”. The study was not meant to provide the final word on the single best location, but rather to provide a framework for seasteading entrepreneurs to determine the best prospective places for their ventures. We plan to eventually create an interactive application that generates customized aggregated heat maps based on the weights applied to each criterion. For now, however, we have made the high-resolution maps available online to enable better judgment of individual criteria. We thank Marc Joffe for the suggestion.


NYC FutureSteading Event Draws Over 250

Although Silicon Valley and San Francisco are often considered the hubs of disruptive technology, New York City is certainly in contention as a focal point for the future-oriented. We’re not sure how else one can explain the inspiring turnout at FutureSteading, organized by seasteading ambassadors Kim Blozie and Charles Peralo. The futurist forum, which was held at Columbia University on March 21, convened over 250 attendees with wide-ranging backgrounds, all tied together by a shared interest in helping define “where we as a human species are headed”.

The crowd was treated to an impressive program of speakers leading up to Michael Keenan’s keynote on how the Institute plans to open the ocean as the next frontier. Following introductory remarks from the hosts, Thiel fellow Jeffrey Lim talked about his ambitious projects to introduce new forms of currency that are better suited for the information age. Next, Aubrey de Grey spoke about research by SENS Foundation into rejuvenating treatments that could eventually put an end to aging. Finally, Sean Hastings spoke on the seasteading project of HavenCo, the world’s first data haven, which he co-founded in 2000 aboard the Principality of Sealand. Hastings also talked about why seasteading is such an important cause, and is so worthy of support.

Michael’s speech built on Sean’s remarks. First he covered the philosophical underpinnings of the seasteading movement, before giving an overview of how the Institute is breaking down our vision into feasible, incremental steps, and is making substantial progress toward enabling a vibrant for-profit seasteading sector.

The audience of futurists and freethinkers was also able to interact with participating organizations at booths, each of which represented “the future of” various domains. The Seasteading Institute, for example, represented the future of culture; we were honored to be in the company of so many other innovative groups, including B.E.A.R. Oceanics (the future of energy–a group working on renewable algae biofuels), EnlightenNext (future of spirituality), the Bar-Barians (future of exercise), and many more.

Once again, our Ambassador team has blown us away with its commitment to raising awareness about the seasteading movement, and Kim and Charles deserve a huge thanks from the Institute, and from anyone who is concerned with bringing about a better future. Due to popular demand, we are building a whole community around the event, and can’t wait to see what FutureSteading becomes!


Seasteading Explores the Ocean and Governmental Ecosystems at TEDxSF

On April 12, The Seasteading Institute Founder and Chairman of the Board Patri Friedman addressed an ocean-loving audience at a TEDx San Francisco event. The talk was the same night as the premiere of the dance-circus performance Okeanos, and an exhibition of ocean-related organizations at the post-show Okeanos Café. The Institute set up an exhibit booth for all four nights of the show, and interacted with many audience members and representatives of other participating organizations.

While other presenters and organizations came to the event to talk about how humans can save the oceans, Patri and the rest of the Institute’s staff offered a complementary perspective: how the ocean can save humanity. In his talk, Patri explained how governments evolve within a broader ecosystem of institutions that constrain their ability to serve certain functions, much like the evolution of life on earth has been influenced by different ecosystems throughout time; oceans originated the single cell organisms from which humans are descended, and whose formation depended on the constant mixing of nutrients and floating particles. Later bursts of biological evolution were only enabled by radical changes in the earth’s environment, such as the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. Governments, Patri argued, need a new ecosystem to start evolving again. Therefore, we must return to the ocean, where the constant mixing of ideas and physical structures can lead to new governmental “organisms” capable of solving existing problems and the unknown challenges the future will inevitably bring.

Although the Institute’s express purpose may not be to save the whales, we worked hard to persuade attendees that those who live on the ocean will be the most likely to take care of it. We envision seasteading ecotourism ventures run by organizations with a vested interest in preserving wildlife environments. These aquatic parks would in turn inspire visitors to look more closely at our interactions with the ocean, and see how we can benefit from it while leaving its natural features intact. Further, we are actively investigating renewable energy technologies, such as OTEC, wave, and wind power, as well as methods of sustainable aquaculture that would enhance rather than detract from biodiversity.

We were lucky to have seasteading Ambassador John Bechtol at our booth, lending us his credibility as a sailing enthusiast and passionately advocating for responsible human use of ocean space throughout the entire weekend.


Featured Donor: Alan Light

This edition’s featured donor is Alan Light, a long-time member of The Seasteading Institute and an active participant on our discussion boards.

Alan Light has long been interested in all aspects of the human condition, from philosophy and history to psychology and literature. He supposes that those interests, “combined with mediocre social skills [don’t] lead to paying jobs,” so Alan has also learned some practical skills in construction, and has worked as an electrician in North Carolina and at the South Pole Station in Antarctica. He hopes this strange combination of attributes may nevertheless prove useful in colonizing challenging environments in preparation for the colonization of space and the expansion of humanity.

For all the technical matters involved, Alan especially appreciates seasteading for the opportunity for innovation in political institutions and freedom of choice in systems of governance. He believes that competition in government is an essential part in guaranteeing human freedom.


Featured Ambassador: Alexis Campestre

Alexis Campestre joined our Ambassador team last November, and soon after, he published an article about seasteading on the popular progressive opinion site In the article, titled “What is the ‘Right’ Government?”, Alexis offered the following insight:

“Ultimately, what is ‘right’ is subjective and should be determined by those affected. Therefore, the ‘right’ form of government is the government that is demanded by those being governed. Those individuals who prefer a deferment of decision-making responsibilities and desire more government presence in their lives should have access to government options that meet those demands.”

The article was an excellent example of how to appeal to a target audience, in this case, one which tends to favor a larger role for government. The piece prompted a diverse response from the site’s commenters and introduced countless others to our message of competitive governance on the high seas. Email for more information.

Currently, Alexis is using his experience as a volunteer for the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign to help us promote opportunities at our conference by directly contacting potential investors, entrepreneurs, and other interested organizations. Working on a high-profile presidential campaign gave Alexis insights into in-person sales and brand promotion. He’s also made cold calls to tens of thousands of voters, delegates, precinct captains and others, and feels motivated to channel his recent experience for the benefit of the Institute. We thank Alexis for being a model of an outstanding Ambassador and community member, and we welcome additional help from anyone seeking to promote the conference in a similar or unique fashion.


Velkommen Celia, New Volunteer Intern from Denmark!

We’re excited and extremely grateful to have a new intern in the office, Celia Schow, who flew all the way from Copenhagen, Denmark to volunteer for the Institute. Currently on summer vacation, Celia will be staying in the Bay Area until early August, after which she will return to Copenhagen Business School to obtain a BSc in International Business and Politics. Previously, Celia has been involved with the Liberal Alliance party, which advocates for increased social and economic freedoms in Denmark, a country known for its high taxes and regulation. Now, she will be moving “beyond folk activism” to apply her creativity and research skills toward a number of projects that are currently under-developed at the Institute. For example, Celia will be creating a new page for the website that will detail past and present seasteading projects, visions, and attempts that have taken place outside of the Institute. The concept of permanent living on the ocean was being explored long before the Institute was founded in 2008, and even before Patri Friedman began thinking and writing about seasteading. Celia’s research will bring fresh perspective on what has and has not worked, as well as the designs and ideas that have inspired successive generations and groups to pursue the grand vision of future cities on the ocean.

Celia will also assist with our conference, revamp our media archive, and interact with our community through various social networks more actively than we have been able to do in recent months. We’re fortunate to have so many talented and passionate people willing to donate their time and energy to our movement. Velkommen ombord, Celia!


Seasteading Ambassador Baoguang Zhai Secures Grant to Intern at the Institute

Baoguang Zhai, a sophomore studying Environmental Science and Economics at Tufts University, was recently awarded $3,500 from his school to pursue an investigation of open-ocean “algaculture” systems during a summer internship at The Seasteading Institute. Zhai became an Ambassador in February, but began investigating potential seasteading businesses much earlier than that, settling on algae cultivation for biofuel production as the most likely model to revolutionize the ocean frontier. The grant program at Tufts University is very competitive, and Zhai was the only student selected for the area of Innovation in Science and Technology.

Zhai will focus on designs and life-cycle analyses of algae cultivation, harvesting and processing systems that are not only compatible with the ocean environment, but actually harness its natural features, thus providing an advantage over land-based firms. He will be facilitating the efforts of several remote community members in our algae work team, seeking new connections and partners in academia and industry, and crafting an in-depth written report to lay the groundwork for a viable venture that can be executed in the near-term. We’re excited to work with Zhai, and welcome participation from anyone who is interested in the project. For more information about the algae work group, email .


Ephemerisle, June 6 – 10 on the Sacramento Delta

Billed as “Burning Man on the Water”, Ephemerisle will happen again from June 6 – 10 on the Sacramento River Delta. Now in its fourth year, the event was started in 2009 by The Seasteading Institute. The Institute’s founders hoped Ephemerisle would bolster our community and give land-lubbing seasteaders a chance to experience life on the water in a safe manner. They also hoped that by making it a fun, art-filled event, it would inspire people with the dream of living in a city on the water.

The Institute officially organized and planned the first Ephemerisle, and there were approximately 100 people in attendance. Many people created art boats/projects, including a two-story pirate boat named “Apocaisle”, a Chevy-powered floating couch, and the Achievement Lounge, a balance beam obstacle course with a reward of a free beer for those who made it across.

In 2010, The Institute decided not to organize the event, citing concerns about excessive insurance costs. However, since the participants in the event had such a good time the first year, they decided to spontaneously organize Ephemerisle on their own, and have done so ever since.

This year’s Ephemerisle is a completely participant-driven, spontaneously organized event with no official organizers or backers. Participants expect that more than 27 different boats/platforms will be there, and that about 300 people will attend the four-day event. Several art projects are in the works, including a lighted, submerged giant octopus sculpture, a laser lemonade stand, and an art gallery/performance/chill space. Blues dancing, yoga, art demonstrations, and “microtalks” on topics ranging from Bitcoin to Zen Buddhism will also be in the offing.

Want to build art on the water? Boat with some fellow seasteaders? Find out more about Ephemerisle at the following links:

website: facebook: mailing list:

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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