In a move eerily reminiscent of Bioshock’s Rapture progenitor business tycoon Andrew Ryan, Billionaire PayPal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has donated $1.25 million to a project to design laissez-faire floating city-states.
According to a Details magazine profile, Thiel is looking for the new frontier. He believes he has found that frontier in the Seasteading Institute, an initiative headed by former Google engineer Patri Friedman in 2008. The idea is to establish (manufacture) small city-states built on platforms similar to oil-rigs which would be stationed in international waters; there they would be autonomous blank-slates, ready to be inscribed with fresh governing ideas.
“The ultimate goal,” Friedman says, “is to open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government.”’
Details points out, with Thiel and Friedman both being Libertarians, the project is an alternative to the indifference their party has faced in polls. With Seasteading they would have their chance to implement policies in a sort of “floating petri dish” filled with no minimum wage, looser building codes, no welfare and less restrictions on weapons.
Thiel posited that one possible model for government be based on a corporation which ‘starts a country as a business’; he calls it Appletopia. It would be tantamount to a benevolent dictatorship where “citizenship is a free agency”. Thiel and his partners envision a sort of cartel of governments forcing a competition between governments in desirability to attract the choicest citizens onto their barge.
Seasteading’s Friedman believes that the city-states will start off small but aims to have millions of residents by the year 2050. The prototype plan is a 12,000-ton structure which will be able to house 270 residents and have the ability to interlock with similar structures. The project aims to take off from the coast of San Francisco next year, and within 7 years be recognized by the United Nations.