Floating City, Libertarian Colonies Close to Reality

PayPal founder Peter Thiel has invested $1.25 million in an ambitious project -- floating, autonomous colonies at sea.

Photo Credit: András Gyõrfi/via SeaSteading competition Cities come in all shapes and sizes, but can they float?

PayPal founder Peter Thiel recently invested $1.25 million to try to make that happen. By offering support to the Seasteading Institute, he has jump-started efforts to create city-state communities afloat on ocean platforms. In 2009, the institute held a 3D design competition to help people visualize what these sea-bound communities may look like (see photos above and below).

The structures will be 12,000 tons, diesel-powered and carry around 270 people per unit, as reported by Details Magazine. The idea is to link the structures together to create ocean metropolises equipped to accommodate millions of people.

Photo Credit: Marko Järvela/via SeaSteading competition But here's the kicker: Thiel hopes to place the structures beyond the coastal jurisdiction of existing countries and their laws. Call it a libertarian pipe dream if you will, but he hopes to experiment with different types of government styles. In some cases, he wishes to start up city-states without minimum wages and welfare, with fewer weapons restrictions and "looser" building codes, he says. Seasteading already has a team working on the legal issues involved.

Floating pilots, which will include office buildings, will be placed off the coast of San Francisco as early as next year.

Photo Credit: Emerson Stepp/via SeaSteading competition Investors such as Thiel believe the city-states offer an opportunity to better humanity and its right to true democracy, while critics point out executing the plan would be a logistical and environmental nightmare devoid of proper urban planning.

Either way, it looks like the project is transitioning from being a thing of the future to a thing of the present.

Would you get on board with a floating city?

Seasteading Institute, a non-profit, will not directly launch the pilots near San Francisco. The organization views itself as a facilitator. Instead, a company called Blueseed will pilot the vessels in hope of creating innovative atmospheres for entrepreneurs and start-ups.