Paypal founder invests in floating autonomous cities


September 22, 2011

Paypal founder Peter Thiel is investing in a project that hopes to create floating cities that are free from political agendas (image by Seasteading Media)

Paypal founder Peter Thiel is investing in a project that hopes to create floating cities that are free from political agendas (image by Seasteading Media)

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When creating new companies has become passé, why not start creating countries? So is the case for Paypal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel, who is currently the Seasteading Institute's "most generous funder." His support constitutes a bold move towards creating floating autonomous states. The initiative is inspired by the idea of creating cities that are free from political agendas and social construction. These "floating cities will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for government," says the Seasteading Institute. "The most successful can then inspire change in governments around the world."

The Seasteading Institute was founded in 2008, with recent funding initiatives being led by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel (who was also the first investor in Facebook). "When you start a company, true freedom is at the beginning of things," Thiel told Details magazine. "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?" Creating floating cities is obviously Thiel's answer to that question.

The Seasteading Institute is passionate about remaining apolitical and hopes to overcome the many legal and logistical hurdles, and eventually witness the fruition of thousands of seasteads around the globe. Whilst Thiel remains its most generous supporter, the Institute states that "this doesn't mean that he dictates our plans."

The Institute has put out the challenge to architects and Libertarians alike, to create the world's first independent seastead by 2015. The Poseidon Award will be awarded to the first seastead which houses at least 50 full-time residents, is financially self-sufficient, offers seastead real estate on the open market and has de-facto political autonomy. In constructing the seasteads, participants should keep in mind that they can't flee rough seas and need to be able to weather a heavy storm. They should also be modular, with the possibility of expanding as the population does, be economically built and fully self sustainable.

"We're opening this new frontier because humanity needs better ways to live together to unlock our full potential" declares The Seasteading Institute.

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As much as I support the idea of being \"free from political agendas and social construction\", seasteading seems an expensive way to go about changing people\'s understanding of government. That said, it may be the only way to escape government (secession is hard too).

Julien Couvreur

the only way to enforce politically free agenda environments is by using a political agenda... against political agendas. impossible, contradictory philosophy. but i love the designs!!!

Gabriel Grove

As a Conservative Geek, I am thrilled to see this idea being developed, and would move there in a minute if I could take 50 of my closest friends (notice, I didn\'t say

As a Christian who doesn\'t like people, but loves them with all my heart, I have to wonder if it won\'t end up being a cross between \"Water World\" & \"Escape from New York\" scenario where the elite just leave the lost behind.......

Anyway, full speed ahead....... Freedom Ship is flippin amazing as well!!

ChrisandAlan Horne

he should start by making sure the island has a supply of energy or something otherwise valuable.

since we already know that if you tried \'deep drilling\' somewhere offshore, that any government and pirates would try stealing your rights, if not wait for you to set up shop and then steal your entire rig by force---- then obviously, starting an island/oil rig is not the way to go.

of course the greenies are going to say, well you got all that ocean-real estate so just make solar panels or wind turbines. well of course, if you do this near any\'ll get in trouble, but if you try this somewhere far away from land,

i predict that you if you wind up developing any real successful economic model, you will either be hijacked by pirates, or , if you can defend yourself from them, then you will be extorted by nations who have navies. and if you think you are going to fish your way into self\'re going to run into problems with other fishing boats that have national navies behind them.

so if you really want to start your own nation---not just another utopian failed micronation like the many that were tried in the last 30 or 40 years (i\'ve read about this , you should to)----then you start by calling eric prince, ( i wouldn\'t trust him myself---) or another experience mercenary and you start finding out how to build a military from the bottom up --a grass roots military. and THEN>>>>>every member of your nation must have a civilian job, and a nation job----participating in the nations military ( if they are a fighting man or a fighting woman )-----or a job as an administrator or other \'public service provider.

people have forgotten what it means to start new outpost communities. the western pioneers, the pilgrims that settled new england, these people confronted ALL problems including violence by outsiders. if you think you\'ll start a micronation by piggybacking off of the u.s. militaries navy, than you are not only not going to be \'independent\' but you are also just going to be vulnerable to many pirates and other entities because your micro-nation is not a financial or strategic priority to the u.s. navy or coast guard. so you need to defend yourself and be self sufficient and self defending.

Facebook User

There are a few ways of looking at this: 1. Nothing more than a rich folks backyard tree-house, but as far as \"floating cities will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for government,\" dreamworld. Your existing in a protective and supply bubble. Your living of the shirtails of everyone else around you- for supply, defense, etc.

More ominously, the only thing I see coming out of this is as a vehicle for international corporations that want to totally remove themselves from a tax standpoint from any one nation to have a place to be. If multiple companies banded together to create such a place, it could theoretically be able to afford it\'s own defense and security. They could even purchase a real island somewhere and not have to build something that floats. venusvegasvada

What is it all of a sudden with the floating island stuff. Seriously, how many is that this month....ten? It\'s NOT a new idea, been around a long time. Love the bit about \"minions\" in the last one. Nothing says super rich like being able to afford to push around minions.


A Billionaire, his wealthy buddies, and their expensive toys, all floating in the ocean beyond the protection of the Police and Armed Forces. It doesn\'t take a genius to predict the likelihood of the wealthy being kidnapped and ransomed, their expensive toys taken from them by force, and them being evicted from their \"island\" so it can be turned into a floating methlab. It seems very likely indeed.

Plus, I don\'t really understand why they need an \"island\" at all. It seems to me that this fellow is objecting to the Society that allowed him the freedom to become a Billionaire, he objects to the Society that allows him to spend his money on foolish schemes such as this one. If he were homeless, or persecuted, or just poor, I could understand wanting to try a different system. This just seems like the work of a spoilt wealthy whinger.


Could be an interesting opportunity to show the world what a functioning anarchist community looks like. Why the requirement to be selling real estate? What\'s that got to do anything?

If you designed it to be resource self-sufficient you wouldn\'t even need money, economies, or a state at all.

Now THAT\'s how you scare the shit out of governments.. keep the politicians waking up in cold sweats, terrified that we\'ll realise one day that we don\'t need any of them. ;)

Great way however to say to the world that you don\'t recognise the authority or legitimacy of the established states to tell you how to live your life.. I wonder if someone will take the opportunity?

Defiant Idealist

There are countries that would appear to be easy to conquer but they are not. Why? No ship taken by Somali pirates had so much as an AK47 in the hands of the crew.

Failed utopias are founded by either people who have no idea how to make it work. look at there literature long on what it will be like, but without explaining why it will be like that. Or they are based on false assumptions; collectivism will always fail because most people will not work their ass off for the common good.

Utopian societies are possible. The Amish for example, but they were founded on hard work and common belief.

There are easier ways to set up a floating meth-lab than taking a floating island from some one competent.

Just make sure the floating country that you are planing to join is pro guns, anti welfare, and exports stuff that you approve of.


I\'d suggest the option of submergibility- if we can\'t live on the ocean floor how will we ever live in space?

Go deep,storms are not a problem.

As for the surface, why not just convert a ULCC(Ultra Large Crude Carrier) to an island research center for alternative energy?


re; Womp

Perhaps he objects to being forced to buy health insurance.

Perhaps he objects to having his money taken from him to pay people to be poor so that they will vote for the party oppressing them.

Perhaps he objects to having drug law that have not meaningfully reduced consumption but cost hundreds of billions of dollars, made criminals out of otherwise law abiding people, and financed the criminal gangs that are destroying Mexico.

Perhaps he objects to being taxed to pay for the ending innocent human lives, at the same time as he pays to keep murderers from being executed.

Perhaps he objects to being taxed to give money to exporters of terrorism, and other oppressive governments.

Perhaps he objects to being taxed to give money to people who are in the country illegally.

Perhaps he objects to being taxed so the government can give money to companies that sell their product for less than it costs them to produce it.


re; Muraculous

The only too rich are government bureaucrats making rules and paperwork that benefit none but the government, and judges overruling the will of the people too give a protected class more right than everybody else.

Check out whats happening in Greece, were the bankrupt government is trying to slightly reduce spending.

USofA was built by people who left corrupt oppressive countries.


I say let them go. No one lives in a vacuum, and there is no such thing as a country or place that has \"no government\". It\'s never existed in humanity\'s history for a reason--it doesn\'t work. The reason? Infrastructure. Someone has to pay for it and administer it-education, roads, fire, police, sewer, water, clean food, money, court systems, etc. etc. Even an island, no matter how small, needs these things.

During FDR\'s administration in the 1930s. the rich threatened to leave due to what they called \"excessive taxes\". His response? \"I will hate to see you leave, but there\'s the door. You\'ll be back in a year, mark my words.\" Well said FDR. He didn\'t take the bait. He knew it was important for EVERYONE to pay his or her fair share of taxes to keep this country going--otherwise, it dies, and we too, might as well.

I say the same to any rich person who thinks he will be missed if he leaves. Bye bye and don\'t let the door hit your butt on the way out.

As for the commenter who referred to other 95% of Americans who don\'t have the money to build our own islands as \"lost\". I personally don\'t see myself as \"lost\". Speak only for yourself if you please.

Hugh Shipman

re; Griffin

When submerging in the ocean you increase the presser one atmosphere (14.7psi) for every 33ft (10m) you descend. In space from LEO to interstellar the differential never grows more than one atmosphere from sea level. Space is the friendlier environment.


It would be better if it had a beach.

Janice Robinson-Celeste

re; Hugh Shipman

America might be a better place had the rich left, congress and that d*mmed socialist FDR might have come to their senses, and not done so much damage to the country. If the rich succeed in building the core of a floating libertarian utopia I\'ll build a articulated raft and join them.


A number of interesting questions about seasteading were raised in the previous comments.

Many already have answers at

Also, seasteading is currently proceeding forward with the first commercial shipstead, scheduled to be launched by Blueseed,

Dan Dascalescu

Dear muraculous

I\'m one of the people who\'s \"too timid or to [sic] lazy to change their own communities first\". Change on the scale required is simply too big to attempt, even if you\'re \'the government\'. So as a private individual the only sensible way to make the change is to head for the exit

Given the choice between trying to persuade all the other lemmings not to run off the cliff, or just simply trying to get out of the rush myself, I\'ll choose B, thanks. That is if I have the bravery, drive, privilege and opportunity even to do that.


I\'m really liking this idea of concentrating the ultra-wealthy on isolated, easily torpedoed artificial islands.

Facebook User

re; comment Griffin --- why not just convert a ULCC(Ultra Large Crude Carrier) to an island research center for alternative energy?

While the ship is structurely sound it is too valuable to remove from service and afterwords it is unsafe.


The illogical \"next step\" for the too-rich, the dreamers and the uninitiated who are either too timid or to lazy to change their own communities first.

Still, its your money. May I suggest that you create a sinking fund (no pun intended) to cover the costs of rescue when the first major storm arrives and environmental catastrophe when your man made islands wash up in populated (or unpopulated) shores.

A lovely thought and great exercise for both pushing the living accommodation envelope and revisiting the origins of the structure of our society, though.


For those who think this is a wonderful Utopian idea, Hashima Island is worth a google.


re; PeetEngineer

Granted it is a physical island but is too close to the PRC, North Korea, and the weather sucks. It does not offer mineral advantages over a floating island. (IF there was still coal worth extracting it would not have been abandon.) You would have to pay far more than the island is worth to get even extra territorial status. (The Japanese government is aware of how bad their finances are.)


Those who lives in this island will be in a suicidal mission. According what I see, it would not withstand a tsunami or even some huge storm.

The sad fact is that maintaining these floating islands will require taxation and taxation and law walk hand in hand. Another troubling fact is that no surface vessel is ever safe in either a hurricane or rogue wave. Life during a class V hurricane on the water would put the entire device as well as the people on it at great risk and a rouge wave can easily burst steal plate and cut a major vessel in half. If one of these devices could be pulled into dry dock during ugly weather they might have a chance. Jim Sadler

The only society free from politics is no society at all. Sounds like this guy suffers from Greta Garbo complex - \"I wanna be alone...\"

Stop blaming politicians - they are your representatives, you elected them. Sure we\'d all like to live in a world where we were benign dictators - or possibly not even benign - but that is hardly a model for a sustainable society.


Wow. I've been thinking about this for several years now. How the heck did I miss this article when it first came out???

In my idea though, it was basically strapping a BUNCH of barges together, with two layers of them, then once they were all attached, cutting holes to make two-level underwater living quarters with a sand/dirt/plant-covered island on top.

Of course, governments may try to disallow it. The jerks are actually trying to dictate what we can do in space, saying no one can claim land on any other heavenly body now that they know it's inevitable that we'll live off-planet soon. (And by soon, I mean less than a century, not like next year).

I just can't believe others were also thinking of this though.

Dave Andrews
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