Seasteading Part 3: Key Barriers to Success & Outlook

By Chase Baker & Carter Bermingham

The idea of seasteading has been around for almost ten years, yet progress has been slow. It turns out creating a floating island in the middle of the ocean and claiming it as a recognized sovereign nation isn’t the easiest thing to do. The process of bringing seasteading to fruition has encountered many barriers such as design, government regulations around sovereignty, and finding a viable business model for this innovation.

Design

The first barrier is designing the “floating island”.  In the troubled seasteading pilots, the major problems haven’t been housing a few hundred people; rather, it has been purifying water, managing waste or providing energy in a safe manner for potential customers.

The main barrier has been building a strong enough shelter to withstand rogue storms with high winds. Multiple proposals have attempted to tackle this issue, yet no designs have been flawless or strong enough to go into production. The lack of a safe, cost effective model to build the seasteading community continues to be the major barrier.

Putting aside these design barriers, we move on to imagine a world where a seastead has been created to understand the next level of barriers to successful implementation, specifically government regulations.

Government Regulations

Creating a sovereign country in a world where available land is already claimed, seasteading proposes to bridge the gap between living on land, living on water and creating a new society. Because different models of government for seasteading have not succeeded, seasteading has pursued a different direction. “In 2017, [The Seasteading Institute] secured an agreement and cultivated a special relationship with French Polynesia to co-create a seazone with ‘a special government framework’ for floating islands in the protected waters of a Tahitian lagoon.”[1]

Although a sovereign nation is the end goal, The Seasteading Institute has crafted an agreement with French Polynesia to create the first seasteading community. Rather than try to create a distinct sovereign country, TSI found it easier to secure a territory through an existing country to host the seasteading community in their waters.

Monetization

Developing a way to monetize seasteading has also been a barrier.  With a need for intense research and design, millions of dollars have been invested.  The question is how to make seasteading profitable?  With the goal of people trying to achieve government liberation, low tax rates, no army, etc., one wonders how seasteading will ever generate a dollar from any mainstream or average person.

One solution for the seasteading community to generate revenue might be to attract businesses to the country by advertising less regulation and lower tax rates. By hosting businesses, the seastead could raise revenue by taxing corporations, in turn making it easier and more affordable for the residents to live there.

Looking Ahead

After diving into seasteading and learning about its potential applications, we are excited to see what the future holds for seasteading. With construction currently under way on the first seastead in French Polynesia, this once imaginary concept is slowly turning into reality, a monumental step for The Seasteading Institute.

As mentioned in the second blog post, we believe one of the best ways to help catalyze the viability of seasteads is to create prototypes that can be tested by innovative and adventurous customers. Creating tangible models can allow customers to test the different types of seasteads such as: varying cultures, varying medical practices and varying financial practices, just to name a few. The creation of these seasteads will allow customers first-hand experience, with the potential for word-of-mouth to spread to other individuals who might also have the financial means and interest to seastead.

In turn, these early successes could entice travel organizations such as airlines, cruise lines and hotels to begin taking interest in seasteads as another form of destination for customers.

Some day, we hope to visit you in the floating city of New Chicago.

Sources

[1] Frequently Asked Questions. (2017, March 14). Retrieved October 17, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/frequently-asked-questions/

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