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Seasteading, United States 
Thursday 22 May 2008
 
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Editorial

The Seasteading Institute established to develop permanent ocean communities. 

An institute has been established to develop permanent man-made communities at sea known as 'seasteadings'. The Seasteading Institute this week laid out their focus and direction for the Seasteadings scheme and sent out a request for volunteers to be the first to live this new kind of existence. The Institute outlined their plans as to: “establish permanent, autonomous ocean communities to enable experimentation and innovation with diverse social, political, and legal systems.  It will continue and expand on the work of Patri Friedman and Wayne Gramlich, authors of "Seasteading: A Practical Guide to Homesteading the High Seas".

The practical guide was copyrighted in 2002 and contains detailed information and calculations as to how the seasteading process could work. It outlines different structural requirements and methods including underwater homesteads however The Seasteading Institute is focusing on a Tower-like structure above water which can float to its destination and anchor where it chooses, or where it is allowed.

The seasteadings will be used, rather than as a solution to housing problems or as a counter-effect of global warming but rather for sociological studies. TSI's Executive Director, Patri Friedman, said: "The public sector is simultaneously the largest industry in the world and the least innovative, with a barrier to entry and lock-in on its customers that dwarfs any private monopoly.

“The world needs a new model of politics where a diverse ecosystem of providers offers a variety of institutions that evolve to serve their citizens. The open oceans, Earth's last frontier, are the ideal place to nurture this vision of a better world. By making it safe and affordable to settle this frontier, we will give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get."

Far from a pie-in-the-sky idea The Seasteading Institute have already secured $500,000 of funding from philanthropist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel and the design process is already underway.

The progress of the Seasteadings will initially run in 6 stages. This year the institute aims to create five trial models and be prepared to construct the sixth and final Seasteading in 2009. The first model, called the PintStead, will be small enough to float in a beer glass and will be used to start discussion and to generate ideas. The second, the AquariumStead, will be used to establish basic stability characteristics. The third, will be a similar design but will be much more advanced and trialled in the ocean on quiet days. The fourth, the BayStead, will be the first concrete steading (the previous 3 being made of plastic) and will be used to test buoyancy control, communications, power and other logistics. The CoastStead will be the final practice model and will be fully mobile, travelling up and down the coast of the United States and Canada. The Institute will use this model to learn all about the engineering of the final structure and the physical and legal realties of creating a new living space in the ocean.

While some commenting on the concept of Seasteadings on the official website were cynical, there have so far been around 40 people who have requested 'permission to board'.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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