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No man is an island entire of itself. Except maybe Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal. Working in tandem with the Seasteading Institute, the Silicon Valley billionaire is making plans for the first floating city to be launched off the coast of San Francisco next year. As an organisation experimenting in the creation of floating island states, the institute is a hub of design and innovation in offshore communities.
What can be best described as 'oil-platform like structures' will operate according to Mr. Thiel's ideas of a "more efficient, practical public sector model", unfettered by minimum wage, welfare, restrictions on weapons and tight building codes. Quite a list you say. The icing on the cake is Mr. Thiel's US$1.25 billion pledge, calling upon Seastead to 'open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government'. In an interview with Details magazine, founder of the Seasteading Institute has estimated the project to start small with 270 residents, and rapidly upscale to support over ten million by 2050.
For those averse to the idea, Margaret Crawford, Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley, cites it as particularly shortsighted, and "without any urban-planning implications whatsoever". And she has a point. Many other concerns that have been raised, namely "What about pirates?" and "Are seasteading enthusiasts just a bunch of rich guys wanting even more freedom?" are also addressed as perfectly legitimate in the Institute's FAQ section.