floating colonies


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want to live in a micronation for billionaires?


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Meh. They're floating on water. I was hoping for hovering half a mile above the ground.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Interesting commentary from someone who grew up on an off-grid (US) island with no utilities and only private transit: link.

"Where do the sewage engineers live? Why do they come there voluntarily? Why do their countries of origin allow them to work there? Why would even a billionaire want a house there? [...] Supply chains are really, really tricky, and it would be quite a trick to sign up for them without entraining a bunch of stuff to do with credit supply, labor and safety laws, and so on."

Spoiler:
The link in the coda delves into another potential problem: the risks of interpersonal conflict in small, closed societies like the island the author is from. There, a feud between residents temporarily left folks with NO commercial way to get to or from the mainland.


A floating trailer park filled with techie libertarians? No thank you please!


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With some experience of the remaining shreds of a community on a fishing island (which had existed since at least the 1500s), the Waldron article sounds pretty familiar, but on Waldron, they were still trying to define themselves. In the community I am talking about, that happened ages ago, the conflict lines had existed for centuries. Lots to say about it, both good and bad... but this community did not defend itself. At least not thoroughly enough. Today, it is a thoroughly exploited vacation island. Many have moved out. The old ones are dying off. It is something you can talk about, how seeking isolation doesn't work - but maybe the point is the effort done, and perhaps a partial result IS better than the end result from complete inclusion? I don't doubt the seateaders will have problems. Of course they will. Tons of them. But who knows, perhaps those little dreams of isolation and ruling yourself will matter more than we know one day? Not to mention the obvious: The more hyper-controlled the other countries become, the more alluring the seasteads will become. I don't see why plumbers and even some bureaucrats couldn't think it would be wrong to be subjected to DNA testing and continuous surveillance just for going to work.


But Sis, isn't DNA testing and constant surveillance exactly what people would coming to the seasteads to escape? I just don't see how you could spontaneously create a sovereign government without all the downsides of a sovereign government, you see?


What about pirates?


Wait, pirates acting under the aegis of the bluesea seastead compact? I think I just stumbled upon the career path that RPGs have been preparing me for for all of my entire life!

(Yes, Skull & Shackles was a training program. :P )


Hitdice wrote:
But Sis, isn't DNA testing and constant surveillance exactly what people would coming to the seasteads to escape? I just don't see how you could spontaneously create a sovereign government without all the downsides of a sovereign government, you see?

Uhhhm, that was kind of my point. People would go to seasteads to escape constant surveillance. I imagine there would be some plumbers in the group of people who would consider an amount of freedom appealing.

And as for downsides... are you seriously saying every government MUST, per definition, exercise complete surveillance of their population, even in a country designed from the start to be a way OUT of that crap? Surprising, considering that only a few decades ago, there was no constant surveillance - and there were still governments.

The Exchange

Sissyl wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
But Sis, isn't DNA testing and constant surveillance exactly what people would coming to the seasteads to escape? I just don't see how you could spontaneously create a sovereign government without all the downsides of a sovereign government, you see?

Uhhhm, that was kind of my point. People would go to seasteads to escape constant surveillance. I imagine there would be some plumbers in the group of people who would consider an amount of freedom appealing.

And as for downsides... are you seriously saying every government MUST, per definition, exercise complete surveillance of their population, even in a country designed from the start to be a way OUT of that crap? Surprising, considering that only a few decades ago, there was no constant surveillance - and there were still governments.

I was wondering how long before cultists start their own sovereign state? Like canadian mennonites moving to brazil.


Sissyl wrote:
Hitdice wrote:
But Sis, isn't DNA testing and constant surveillance exactly what people would coming to the seasteads to escape? I just don't see how you could spontaneously create a sovereign government without all the downsides of a sovereign government, you see?

Uhhhm, that was kind of my point. People would go to seasteads to escape constant surveillance. I imagine there would be some plumbers in the group of people who would consider an amount of freedom appealing.

And as for downsides... are you seriously saying every government MUST, per definition, exercise complete surveillance of their population, even in a country designed from the start to be a way OUT of that crap? Surprising, considering that only a few decades ago, there was no constant surveillance - and there were still governments.

I don't think escaping surveillance is why people will flee to seasteads to begin with. I think they'll move there to avoid paying taxes, and once the internal systems start breaking down and all the residents have to pool their money to afford a helicopter visit from a maintenance engineer, they'll have a rude awakening as to what taxes were even there for to begin with.


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I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.


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Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea.

One must not break the status quo.

Shadow Lodge

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Matt Thomason wrote:
Meh. They're floating on water. I was hoping for hovering half a mile above the ground.

Have to admit, that was my first thought upon reading the title too.


Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.

You say that there was no societal framework but there were also hostile natives? Did the natives have no society? Indeed I would say that they did and were hostile because the settlers were making war upon them.


Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.

I wouldn't say I'm hostile to the idea beyond pointing out how ludicrous it is. If you want to opt out of an over regulated society, go for it, but the only thing that makes building a seastead in the next ten years possible is an over regulated society. A self sufficient techno island with a population of one thousand has enough resources for maybe one person to live at the level of consumption your typical silicon valley resident is used to, and I'm certainly not going to sign up as a techno-serf.


Winfred wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.
You say that there was no societal framework but there were also hostile natives? Did the natives have no society? Indeed I would say that they did and were hostile because the settlers were making war upon them.

Seriously? Really? You are arguing that there WAS a societal framework the settlers could use, because said hostile natives had a societal framework the settlers could use???

No further questions.


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Hitdice wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.
I wouldn't say I'm hostile to the idea beyond pointing out how ludicrous it is. If you want to opt out of an over regulated society, go for it, but the only thing that makes building a seastead in the next ten years possible is an over regulated society. A self sufficient techno island with a population of one thousand has enough resources for maybe one person to live at the level of consumption your typical silicon valley resident is used to, and I'm certainly not going to sign up as a techno-serf.

Good for you. Why do you ridicule someone willing to take risks that will only hit them? Because it sticks in your craw that they want to live without total surveillance, and you aren't brave enough to do what they do? I am trying to understand here...


I'm ridiculing them because I find the notion ridiculous. I grew up off the grid (well, Until I turned 15 and went to boarding school, because living at school 24 hours a day beats the hell out of crapping in an outhouse), I currently heat my house with wood, and I get water from a well rather than the town system, and I'll tell you: there are much more cost effective ways of living off the grid than building a starship enterprise to float around in. From everything said in the linked article, I don't think the people involved want to escape constant surveillance, or opt out of an over regulated society, they just want to be the ones doing the surveillance and regulating.

Shadow Lodge

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You're one of those people who believes it's impossible for anyone to be in charge without wanting to be in complete control, aren't you?


Through yourself, you know others.


Orthos wrote:
You're one of those people who believes it's impossible for anyone to be in charge without wanting to be in complete control, aren't you?

I don't feel a need to flee to a floating colony in international waters, if that's what you're asking. :P


Just trying to place you on my scale.


Sissyl wrote:
Winfred wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.
You say that there was no societal framework but there were also hostile natives? Did the natives have no society? Indeed I would say that they did and were hostile because the settlers were making war upon them.

Seriously? Really? You are arguing that there WAS a societal framework the settlers could use, because said hostile natives had a societal framework the settlers could use???

No further questions.

The story of proto-US American colonialism has quite a few stories of non-hostile natives offering the colonists a societal framework and the colonists slaughtering them for their efforts.


Indeed. But what I am talking about is what people thought they were heading into before they were there.


Sissyl wrote:

Seriously? Really? You are arguing that there WAS a societal framework the settlers could use, because said hostile natives had a societal framework the settlers could use???

No further questions.

Sounds about right to me...


Ah. Well, from what I've been reading lately, with the exception of a few religious zealots, most of them came over to be indentured servants.

Anyone wanting to extend the metaphor to proposed techno-libertarian billionaire floating cities is more than welcome.


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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
Ah. Well, from what I've been reading lately, with the exception of a few religious zealots, most of them came over to be indentured servants.

I didn't need to read anything to learn that, I just had to play Colonization ;) Always the darned indentured servants when I needed a blacksmith.


Cynic wrote:
Just trying to place you on my scale.

Well, like every single other person in the world, I think I'm so reasonable in my cynicism that it should be called "judicious" instead. I don't know how much power is too much power for one person to have over another in the abstract, but I'm pretty sure just rulership and megalomania feel exactly the same from the inside.


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My opinion is: It is their time, money, and effort, and they can spend it how they wish.


Sissyl wrote:
Winfred wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
I honestly don't understand this hostility toward the idea. Taxes can be eminently escaped by moving to, say, Guernsey, already. If nothing else, a rich enough person can set up an armed camp in any of dozens of poor countries, meaning they don't have to pay taxes for anyone. Nor do I understand the idea that everyone trying for a new life in seasteading is a complete and utter moron. The people who settled the US weren't, and they took enormous risks in a similar vein. They had to contend with no societal framework, violence from hostile natives, and so on. But then, I am sure many people said stuff about their coming rude awakening. These people are willing to take risks, and think they can make it work. Let them. We, as a species, are only served by having people who want to reduce conformity.
You say that there was no societal framework but there were also hostile natives? Did the natives have no society? Indeed I would say that they did and were hostile because the settlers were making war upon them.

Seriously? Really? You are arguing that there WAS a societal framework the settlers could use, because said hostile natives had a societal framework the settlers could use???

No further questions.

No I am arguing that there was a societal framework in place and that the settlers prospered from the resources formerly held by that framework. It is a stark contrast with the seasteaders who have no natives to kill and land to take. Harder on the seasteaders. Also the settlers obviously had a societal framework. Either the society they came from or religious notions or both. It is why we have common law today.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I think the issue is that...if you are living in a city of a 1000 people, which is what the article opens with...you are going to need some shell of government to function. There is no guarantee that government is going to be any better, and indeed might be worse if it has complete control of the supply chain or major resources. So this idea is great if you are wealthy and can buy into those sect, but for a society like this to function there is probably going to be a lot of maintenance and service sector workers that won't be so lucky.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Meh I put this in the same idea catagory as those shows that insisted we would be living on colonies on the moon by now. Interesting idea but I'll believe it when I see it.


MMCJawa wrote:
I think the issue is that...if you are living in a city of a 1000 people, which is what the article opens with...you are going to need some shell of government to function. There is no guarantee that government is going to be any better, and indeed might be worse if it has complete control of the supply chain or major resources. So this idea is great if you are wealthy and can buy into those sect, but for a society like this to function there is probably going to be a lot of maintenance and service sector workers that won't be so lucky.

I'm suddenly getting a Bioshock Infinite feeling.


ALL THESE AQUATIC MICRONATIONS ARE YOURS, EXCEPT SEALAND.

Spoiler:
BLACK DOODLEBEARD AND THE GOBLINS ARE GOING TO RE-TAKE IT FOR A PIRATE RADIO STATION AND HYDROPONIC AGRICULTURE.

ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.
USE THEM TOGETHER.
USE THEM IN PEACE, STUPID PINKSKINS.


Who knows with overpopulation an ever increasing problem perhaps man made self sufficient islands is a possible solution...as long as you are not allergic to fish like me.

The Exchange

Pillbug Toenibbler wrote:

ALL THESE AQUATIC MICRONATIONS ARE YOURS, EXCEPT SEALAND. ** spoiler omitted **

ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.
USE THEM TOGETHER.
USE THEM IN PEACE, STUPID PINKSKINS.

Pinkskins? An andorian used that term in enterprise. Damn trekkies.


Mike Franke wrote:
Who knows with overpopulation an ever increasing problem perhaps man made self sufficient islands is a possible solution...as long as you are not allergic to fish like me.

For all my nay saying, I've got no problem with aquaculture and marine settlements (although, I think it's a bit less off-putting to call them houseboats, as we have through all of recorded history) as a solution to population growth and sea level rise.

My issue is that envisioning a sovereign state of one thousand people supporting themselves on a self sufficient floating colony at a first world, middle to upper class standard of living requires so many hypothetical best outcomes that it it doesn't seem very realistic. It's all well and good to trust innovation, but if the seasteads are going to rely one solar (or wind, or whatever) powered desalinization plants to provide drinking water for one thousand people day in and day out, we better get innovating.

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