An 'Apple or Google country' out at sea?

Ex-Google employee Patri Friedman--grandson of Milton--wants to create "Burning Man meets Silicon Valley meets the water," 12 miles off the coast of San Francisco. He imagines "an Apple or Google country."

Given that the world is ending with a rapidity that even the prophets of doom didn't anticipate, it's healthy to think how we might prefer to spend our last remaining years.

A former Google engineer would like to extend an invitation: come and live on a series of barges and water platforms and create your own government and your own way of life.

You might think that Patri Friedman --grandson of the very free economist Milton and son of the very libertarian law professor Paul--is possessed of unrealistic notions.

However, his proposal will be, for many, severely tempting. With fascism, communism, and democracy all having been discredited to within a whisker of laughter, many people are secretly searching for a new way out.

Yet when they turn to the left and see Dennis Kucinich and then turn to the right and see Ron Paul, they tend to reach for their chosen narcotics, in liquid or pill form.

So Friedman's idea--which he calls "seasteading"--unquestionably has its attractions.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, he imagines this new, new world floating 12 miles off the coast of San Francisco.

Friedman's new floating world should certainly mean new business for this company. CC Ben Husmann/Flickr

He imagines it housing everything the modern human might need, save for a major league baseball team. He imagines a society run by the rigidly free-wheeling principles of the free market, in which folks can create their own governing structures and ways of existence which might, one imagines, include such concepts as polygamy, polyandry, and polytheism.

But why must this interesting world be created out to sea? Some people simply aren't very good swimmers.

"We can't experiment here because all the land is claimed--the only place left is the ocean," Friedman told the Chronicle. Some might think that there is plenty of room for this sort of thing, in, say, Montana. However, Friedman is thinking in a scale beyond the most mountainous states.

For he believes that by 2040 there might be tens of millions of people living the floating life off the coast, from San Francisco all the way down to San Diego.

Friedman has secured significant funding from the likes of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. And perhaps one of the more interesting concepts behind his vision is the notion that these offshore governing bodies (or companies) will actually compete for citizens, just as Facebook and Google compete for engineers.

"I envision tens of millions of people in an Apple or a Google country," he told the Chronicle.

This thought he followed up with another interesting picture: "If people are allowed to opt in or out, you can have a successful dictatorship."

Might this be an astute commentary on the management styles of Steve Jobs and Larry Page? Would their strong-minded methods of government really be any worse than those that are currently on offer in the outside world?

Friedman says that construction of floating offices will commence next year. One can only imagine how many of the world's citizens, especially the stressed engineers of San Francisco, will depart land to join a new, new world out in the freely tossing seas.

 

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