Seasteading—homesteading in international waters—is the original, non-coercive acquisition of a place and means to actualize the socio-political and economic systems under which a particular seastead’s inhabitants desire to live, even if those systems are minimalist. It is to truly live under your own roof. Establishing permanent, autonomous ocean communities—independent political entities—will promote innovation of new political and social systems, and over time may result in genuinely new cultural identities and groups. While willingness or desire to permanently take to, rather than across, the sea may seem a curious notion, there are any number of compelling reasons to do so that differ little from what has long stirred humankind to venture abroad.
The impetus to seastead may be a classical frontier spirit accepting of the risks accompanying the adventure and opportunity Seasteading provides. Or it could be frustration with governments and the sectors they control. Many of Earth’s ostensibly successful and moral nations are fiscally unsustainable, and worse, distinguished by a zeal for collectivizing, generally fleecing, and controlling their inhabitants by directing and proscribing their actions, intending to benefit controlling interests and ideologies. Existing governments, in other words, are presiding over the diminishment of their citizens’ natural liberty, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding. Thus for some, all that avails is the sea.
Yet another motivation for Seasteading is progress, which often comes by way of experiment. To create something better often requires something new be tried. Seasteads provide unique platforms on which to innovate better legal and banking systems, medical procedures, and regulations that facilitate, not retard, innovation. Perhaps most importantly, Seasteading represents the development of new political systems to compete head-to-head with existing nation-states for human and financial capital. Such competition is constructive and necessary for the advancement of the human condition.
Dwelling on the ocean requires seasteaders to grapple with complex challenges, each requiring innovative solutions. In addition to providing energy, fresh water, food, and real-time communications, seasteads must guard from the natural and often unpredictable dangers of the ocean. Though the ocean is a formidable frontier, an increasing number of individuals worldwide are committing their time, creative talents, and capital resources to realizing the Seasteading vision of autonomous ocean communities.
Most importantly, and unlike virtually every prior episode of human exploration and acquisition of resources, Seasteading neither hurts nor takes from anyone, and yet will benefit many. That humans may settle new territory peacefully, consistent with the principle of non-coercion to which all should aspire, is a remarkable development in the human experience.
The grand experiment that is Seasteading will soon commence. Two very different Seasteading projects are underway. Both projects reflect the incrementalist philosophy—start small and build up over time—championed by the Seasteading Institute, the non-profit, Seasteading support organization blazing the path to the ocean frontier through advocacy of the Seasteading vision and providing logistical, legal, and educational support to independent Seasteading projects. Given that not all of the challenges posed by the ocean’s inhospitable environment can be at once solved (or even foreseen), the Seasteading Institute’s incrementalist, step-by-step approach is logical, necessary, and sound.
Blueseed is a seastead project planning to house a visa-free knowledge incubator on an ocean vessel in international waters west of Silicon Valley, California. Information technology workers unable to obtain the visa necessary to work in the United States will be just a ferry ride away, rather than across the world, from their employers. Thus Blueseed will provide a creative solution to the work-visa related regulatory obstacles facing foreign-born, information technology entrepreneurs and workers. It may also have the distinction of being the first seastead.
Seasteading’s potential and possibilities are only beginning to be unlocked, and the incremental process of peacefully establishing permanent, autonomous ocean communities is ongoing. Anyone may contribute, whether by increasing public awareness and building a core Seasteading community, or by researching the critical engineering, legal, and business challenges Seasteading presents. All who contribute may take satisfaction in having assisted with peacefully redefining what lies abroad.
Here’s Patri Friedman discussing Seasteading at a TED Talk: