Seasteading New Nations Becomes a Practical Engineering Challenge

SeasteadWhen it comes to large numbers
of people living in close proximity to the ocean, few people can
beat the Dutch for experience. So, it makes sense that a Dutch
engineering firm, DeltaSync, which
specializes in “floating urbanization,” was hired by the
Seasteading Institute to develop initial plans for habitations at
sea that would be safe, practical and meet the institute’s goal “to
guarantee political freedom, and thus enable experimentation with
alternative social systems.” With initial designs and
specifications now delivered, the dream of floating political
experiments takes an important step toward becoming reality.

DeltaSync’s Seasteading
Implementation Plan
works from the premise that early
efforts will be anchored in sheltered harbors—specifically, the
Gulf of
, bordering El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua—until
more experience is acquired. The modular design is still intended
to be mobile, however, and potentially suitable for deep-sea
location if surrounded by a breakwater.

The first-draft design assumes the construction of concrete
modules, 50 meters by 50 meters, each with a population of 225
people, which can be easily connected and disconnected. The modules
could be moved by tugboat and linked in various configurations as
needed. And those configurations could then be rearranged to suit
the needs and preferences of community members.

In terms of sustainability, the plan envisions algae farming,
aquaculture, and aquaponics for growing fresh vegetables, so that
at least some food could be locally sourced. Rainwater would be
collected for freshwater and as an alternative to energy-intensive
desalination or importation.

Speaking of energy, a tropical, oceanic location lends itself to
solar power collection, with battery storage and backup diesel

And the “why” of all this? That is, what’s the motivation to
wave goodbye to friends, family, and the nice people in the local
bureaucracy to set up shop on a man-made island, far from tax
collectors, regulators and— Wait, That answers itself, doesn’t it?
Nevertheless, the plan considers the question.

While experimentation with rules and new forms of government is
the highest priority for the seastead, economic influences cannot
be ignored. This means the city should be attractive for a diverse
array of manufacturing and service-based companies. Also sufficient
incentives should be developed for companies and entrepreneurs to
move to the seastead. Such incentives should include: clear and
simple legislation, low taxes, lower office rents than in the city
center, a diverse and well-educated work-force, access to
knowledge, technology and innovation, good (public) transport
connections to the wider metropolitan area, especially when the
city is small at the beginning. Another important asset is the
access to global markets by connections to an airport and seaport.
The marketing to attract these businesses to the floating city
should be very good. The first floating city in the world will also
attract a large number of tourists, in order to create
opportunities for recreational businesses like hotels and

None of this is a done deal, yet. Barriers remain to creating
independent or semi-independent new communities at sea. And while
those barriers are real, they increasingly look political, and
surmountable, as the engineering and economic hurdles to such
projects are understood and overcome.

What’s interesting about seasteading is that the mere ability to
create new nations where innovators and dissenters might find
refuge could put pressure on existing nations to at least moderate
their excesses, even if the floating communities don’t attract vast
numbers of residents. The United States and Europe have been trying
to reduce policy competition in recent years,
specifically targeting “tax havens
.” Seasteading could blow
that all open again, by creating new competitors.

Don’t miss
Brian Doherty’s coverage
of the early
of the
seasteading movement

from Hit & Run

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