The Seasteading Institute’s position on the recent Details article

Seasteading has recently received a lot of media attention after an article published in Details on August 13 has been picked up by numerous media outlets, including the front page of Yahoo! News.

While we enjoy the publicity, we would also like to point out that the following two paragraphs aren’t exactly accurate, and have been misinterpreted by other media outlets who ran stories without seeking verification from us:

Architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered, 12,000-ton structure with room for 270 residents, with the idea that dozens—perhaps even hundreds—of these could be linked together. Friedman hopes to launch a flotilla of offices off the San Francisco coast next year; full-time settlement, he predicts, will follow in about seven years; and full diplomatic recognition by the United Nations, well, that’ll take some lawyers and time.

While we’re researching such architectural plans, there are not any plans to build such a seastead in the near future. Friedman isn’t launching an office flotilla next year. However, our former staff members are developing a business that will take place on a ship off the coast of Silicon Valley:

“The ultimate goal,” Friedman says, “is to open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government.” This translates into the founding of ideologically oriented micro-states on the high seas, a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.

The later part of this paragraph is the author’s interpretation, not ours. For one thing, while seasteads might not have the same building codes that one would find in a highly regulated city, there is a minimum of naval engineering that will have to be implemented in order to survive the ocean. For some reason all these other media outlets have picked up this paragraph and are quoting it as if that’s what Peter Thiel or The Seasteading Institute think.

Lastly, there is a distinction between The Seasteading Institute and Peter Thiel and donors in general. Of course, Thiel is our most generous funder, but this doesn’t mean that he dictates our plans. We do solicit feedback from our donors, however they become our donors because they believe in our vision and existing plans. While it is possible that the first seastead will be operated by libertarian entrepreneurs who wish to opt-out of the status quo, The Seasteading Institute remains steadfast about being apolitical and desires to see the creation of thousands of innovative governments on seasteads competing for citizens.

4 thoughts on “The Seasteading Institute’s position on the recent Details article”

  1. There are flaws in every newsreport and Yahoo is no exception (though they should have checked with TSI of course before putting the article on their web site). The good news is: the Yahoo article got more than 16,000 comments which even for Yahoo is huge! In 2008 any news story about Seasteading had 85%  “Bioshock”,   “will never work”,   “tax haven”, “the rich” etc. comments which were obviously beside the point.

    I’ve spent quite some time reading thousands of the comments on Yahoo (until my browser couldn’t handle it any longer), and things have improved tremendously! Many more people already seemed to know about the concept and have clearly thought about it. They didn’t have a poll, but my guess is that a majority would either vote for  “I want to be part of it”, or “Let them”. Which is precisely the public support Seasteading will inevitably need.

  2. Over the three day period of Tuesday, 16-August, through Thursday, 18-August, we had 250+ new user registrations on the TSI website.

    For comparison, the same period in the prior week we had six.

  3. That was a nice spike indeed. I know banks won’t buy “if only 1% of the 6000 would be paying such and such” as Seasteading certainly won’t fit their Excel sheet designed for mom-and-pop stores. Which is different for investors of course, who have to choose between formerly safe havens now like US or EU bonds yielding less than inflation and only slightly more adventurous investments for which almost 6000 potential clients (not counting the ones that just didn’t feel like registering, etc) do count. If only 1% would pledge to move for let’s say 200k , provided another 59 people will too, I think there is a perfect (and pretty safe) business case for any investor to refurnish an old cruise ship and actually start the whole thing!

  4. I think your 6000 is referring to the approximate number of registered users. If not, please ignore the rest of this.

    First, among the older user profiles, there are still a lot of spammer profiles. I’ve deleted several hundred, but there are a lot more to go. So the number of legitimate users is a LOT lower than 6000.

    Second, there are a lot of users who register but never actually log in.

    Third, there are a lot of users who log in right after registration, but never again after that.

    Others are around for a week or two or a month or two and then kind of fade away, perhaps to return later, perhaps not.

    I don’t have any way to tell who many different users are visiting the site while not logged in.

    But as far as the numbers of registered users who have a regular visible presence as a logged-in user (even if they never post), unfortunately I’d have to say that it’s just a few dozen.

    Most of those never make even the lowest level of membership donation.

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