Seasteads represent a tangible, near-future opportunity for multiple societal restarts.
Today, many nation states suffer from massive fundamental problems such as a lack of vision, disregard of the will of the people, excessive bureaucracy, over-restrictive regulations, economic inefficiency, rampant indebtedness, and so forth.
As it stands, we take societal institutions for granted. But they are only human constructions that became established over time. Everything could be done in another way: Why are marriages subject to public law—when they could simply be private contacts? Are all subjects that are taught at school worth teaching—which ones are missing, which ones can we strike off from the curriculum? Patents are temporary monopolies—should we still allow them? Should we keep measuring our prosperity in terms of GDP? As monopolies are usually regarded as bad: Why is there just one central bank and one currency in a state—and not several? Why do we elect politicians?—We could try E- or M-referenda for every decision, evidence-based politics, AI, or prediction markets instead. The list of questionable societal institutions could go on and on.
Just because things are done in a certain way by many people and for a long period of time doesn’t mean that this is the best way to do them. But the way things are today, nobody can actually do these issues in another, better way, because we are trapped in our over-complex, rigid systems. Due to apparently unbreakable path dependencies, no serious reforms and consistent improvements are in sight.
In contrast, the open sea is a clean slate. Just like outer space. Artificial settlements on the open sea make it possible to design new societies from scratch. On multiple seasteads, we can start multiple societal experiments. So, not only one, but many restarts are possible simultaneously. Seasteads make it possible to societally innovate. And for individuals, there is choice.
This book discusses opportunities and challenges of seasteads. Many “seasteaders” focus on technological aspects, and these are certainly challenging. However, the focus of this book is on socio‑philosophical, political, economic, and legal aspects of founding new, small societies of pro-active and productive individuals and groups. We must think about these things if we don’t want seasteads to become simply small versions of today’s nation states after a while. This book is explorative, exemplary, and normative. It presents paradigmatic ideas and suggestions. There are many more aspects that have to be discussed and this volume certainly can’t cover them all.
Thank you very much to the authors who courageously confronted themselves with the non‑commonplace concept of seasteads and who investigated various partial aspects of cohabitation on seasteads. I also thank Tom Williamson for proofreading the book and Angelika Rodlauer, editor at vdf Hochschulverlag at ETH Zurich, for the pleasant collaboration.
I wish all readers lots of interesting insights and pleasure.
London, January 2017
Victor Tiberius (2017): Seasteads. Creating New Small Societies From Scratch, in: Victor Tiberius (Ed.): Seasteads. Opportunities and Challenges for Small New Societies, Zurich (vdf), pp. 3-63.
II. Political Economy and Governance
III. Legal Aspects
IV. Exemplary Aspects of Daily Life on Seasteads
Victor Tiberius (Ed.): Seasteads. Opportunities and Challenges for Small New Societies, Zurich (vdf).