Seasteading: A Space Colony Analog on the High Seas?

A Seasteading floating city. (Credit: Seasteading Institute)

Here’s an interesting space colony analog: autonomous floating city states.

A libertarian group, the Seasteading Institute, wants to build these facilities out in the ocean. The stated goal is to conduct experiments in new ways of living in and governing human societies:

Right now, there is no open space for experimenting with new societies. That’s why we work to enable seasteading communities — floating cities — which will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for government. The most successful can then inspire change in governments around the world.

We’re opening this new frontier because humanity needs better ways to live together to unlock our full potential.


Sounds interesting. If and when they get these things up and running, they could be good analogs for future colonies in space and on other worlds.

I’m not sure what sort of new political or social systems they’re expecting to discover out there on the ocean. Human history is very long; what else is there to try at this stage? And how much freedom does one have on a small floating platform that would have to remain 200 miles off the coast to remain outside of any nation’s territorial waters? Your movement and actions will be limited, not because of onerous government regulations but because of the very environment in which one has chosen to live.

My guess is that this is as much of a tax dodge as anything else. Set up an autonomous city in international waters, and you can create your own nation (and tax haven). Which may be why billionaire PayPal co-founder and Facebook angel investor Peter Thiel, a staunch libertarian, is backing the venture, which was founded by economist Milton Friedman’s grandson Patri.

I don’t know, if that works then perhaps lunar colonies will become economically viable. But then, what would happen to the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man?