Early Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has thrown his weight behind an initiative to create floating libertarian "nations" on oil rig-type platforms in international waters, according to a recent profile in Details magazine.
Thiel is a major backer of the California-based Seasteading Institute.
Seasteading Institute was founded in 2008 by Patri Friedman, grandson of economist Milton Friedman. The group is currently in the process of researching the critical engineering, legal, and business problems of building "seasteading communities:"
"Our mission is to further the establishment and growth of permanent, autonomous ocean communities, enabling innovation with new political and social systems," their Web site states.
Friedman, a former Google engineer, further argues on the site that there is no open space for experimenting with new societies. Therefore, the company hopes to work towards autonomous floating cities that will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for government.
"The most successful can then inspire change in governments around the world," Friedman adds.
The basic idea is for these new countries to start from scratch--free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. The complete details are thoroughly spelled out in a 300 page book penned back in 2008.
The Seasteading Institute says it will "give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get."
Seasteading acknowledges that several crazy people have tried these sorts of things before, but argues that they bring an entrepreneurial, DIY mentality to creating oceanic city-states.
Details says the experiment would be "a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."
Thiel, who was portrayed by Wallace Langham in "The Social Network" as the crisp venture capitalist whose investment and dark questions widened the rift between Facebook's cofounders, is quite serious about his latest business venture.
"There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible," Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. "That's a good thing. We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible, they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late."
His first donation back in 2008 was $500,000. He has reportedly funneled over $1.25 million into the institute.
Plans are in the work to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements to follow seven years later.
As Thiel tells Details:
"The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?"
Learn more about the Seasteading Institute in the video below:
How do you feel about the proposed offshore nations? Share your thoughts in the comments below!