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“Floating Capitalist Utopia” With its Own Sovereignty and Cryptocurrency?

             7/21/2018

Designs For Floating Nation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

It sounds like something right out of a sci-fi movie, but an experimental “floating utopia” could be a reality by 2022 if its creators are to be believed. The Seasteading Institute, co-founded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel (of PayPal) and economist Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton Friedman), is partnering with Blue Frontiers, who specialize in building floating islands. They plan to construct an artificial reef wall to create a contained area of ocean water in French Polynesia, where they have an agreement with the government to undertake their project. The contained waters will be home to the first-ever “seastead” and will be independent of any national government (since it will be in international waters, legally). According to Thiel and his Institute, the seastead will consist of floating buildings constructed from sustainable natural materials and powered by alternative energy sources such as solar and wind. These floating islands are intended to have their own government(s) and to run their economy off of a cryptocurrency created by the Seasteading Institute and Blue Frontiers called Varyon.

The project has several goals in mind. Firstly, the fact that all structures will be floating rather than rooted to the ocean floor means that they will not be harmed by fluctuating sea levels, which is a serious concern for small islands that worry about the mass flooding of what precious ground territory they have. Another factor that was likely a major selling point to the Polynesians is that the Seasteading Institute intends to make the seastead a major tourist hotspot, which will no doubt prove highly beneficial to the economy of French Polynesia. Furthermore, Thiel has stated that he intends for the seastead (and in the future, seasteads) to be a place to experiment with innovative technologies and theories, ranging from aquaculture and medicine to laissez-faire markets and voluntary governance. The Institute’s website states that the first “seasteaders” are “a diverse global team of marine biologists, nautical engineers, aquaculture farmers, medical researchers, investors, environmentalists, and artists,” as described by Daily Mail. In other words, the floating islands will permit these groups to exist and each carry out their purpose in life with relatively little government intrusion. It has also been noted that, theoretically, if someone took issue with the policies of one island, they could simply float their residence or facilities to another island where they may receive more favorable treatment.

The potential impact the Floating Island Project is enormous. If successful, it will serve as the first legal setting where a cryptocurrency will serve as the primary unit of economic exchange (since most previously have been used largely in Dark Web transactions or as a commodity). Theoretically, it is also possible that a barter system could come into play, given the loose socioeconomic framework that is likely to develop. Ideally, the Floating Islands could become a utopia for minarchists and laissez-faire capitalists to experiment with their socio-political theories; meanwhile, scientists would be free to pursue their interests into numerous areas of groundbreaking development.

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