“Big ideas start as weird ideas,” Patri Friedman, an ex-Googler and the grandson of the late economist Milton Friedman, recently told Details. And Friedman’s idea is weirder than most. The libertarian blogger is tired of the restrictions he feels are imposed on him by American society. The solution? Floating chains of micro-countries, each little colonies in the vast Petri dish of the sea, and each an experiment in a new form of government. The idea, which Friedman terms “seasteading,” caught the eye of PayPal founder Peter Thiel who sunk $1.25 million into the idea.
I saw Patri Friedman at a Singularity University event giving a talk on the idea of seasteading as a means of experimenting with government.
Microcountries are really more accurately thought of as city states.
Singapore is a prime example of success as were the Chinese economic development zones.
Patri Friedman was thinking to start with the economic and governing rules of Texas and then experiment with variations from that point.
Friedman wants to establish new sovereign nations built on oil-rig-type platforms anchored in international waters—free from the regulation, laws, and moral suasion of any landlocked country. They’d be small city-states at first, although the aim is to have tens of millions of seasteading residents by 2050. 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.
“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.