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Why Was the Male to Female Ratio at the Seasteading Conference 10:1? - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Oct. 24th, 2008

12:10 pm - Why Was the Male to Female Ratio at the Seasteading Conference 10:1?

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That’s the question commonreader asks in a recent lj post. It’s an interesting question, but not one I’m going to address yet. Instead, I’ll answer some of the other objections to seasteading that came up in the comments.

Unless you are ready to subsist on the mercurial nature of eating the opportunal fish for the rest of your life, you aren’t going to be happy.

Like cruise ships, seasteaders plan to import most of their food.


Won’t it be prohibitively expensive to live aboard a ship fulltime?

According to this study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the cost of living full-time for a year on a cruise ship would be around $34,000/year (in 2004). The cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area for a single adult is $29,633/year (in 2007).

Therefore, living fulltime aboard existing cruise ships does not cost much more than the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the initial prototypes will cost more than cruise ships, seasteaders expect that living aboard seasteads will ultimately cost less than cruise ship living since a) seasteads will be semi-stationary, and therefore will not incur as much fuel cost as a cruise ship and b) seasteaders will provide for themselves many of the services provided on a cruise ship (maid service, cooking, etc.)


What about motion sickness?

Millions of people travel every year on cruise ships. Most passengers seem quite capable of tolerating the wave motion for those trips. Moreover, most cruises are of a short duration. The longer one is at sea, the more acclimatized you become. Finally, the seastead prototypes current under consideration are designed to minimize wave motion.

How to you plan to raise the money?

On a square foot basis, the cost is estimated to be in the $500 - $600 range. Housing costs in the Bay Area are in the $300 - $400 range. So the expectation is to pre-sell units to wealthy Bay Area nerds. Some of the units are also expected to be time shares and rentals, since the pool of people willing to live on a seastead a few weeks out of the year is probably much larger than the pool of people willing to live there full time.

Although financing is uncertain, of course, we think there will be enough of a market to raise $50 million (+-20%), given that there was enough of a market to raise the $355 million required to build the Residensea.

I don’t understand how they plan on keeping organized crime from blowing them out of the water, since they are obviously going to compete in drugs and prostitution. The Family International was muscled out of running escort services and they were a lot more realistic and unified than these people seem to be. Plus they had actual, you know, women.

Piracy is discussed in the book. (Although perhaps we need to expand upon it.) I don’t think the mafia will perceive seasteads to be much of a threat, since we’ll be on a ship floating at least 12 miles out at sea. Unless seasteads start selling drugs into the U.S. mainland, I don’t think the mafia will care much more about seasteads than they do about Burning Man.

In my opinion, the biggest threat is the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. asset forfeiture laws. The U.S. claims the right to enforce U.S. drug laws anywhere in the world, and can seize your ship even if you’ve not been convicted of a crime.

So it may be that the first seasteads will have to forgo drugs and prostitution initially, until they’ve grown enough to have the power to successfully defend themselves against the predations of the mafia, both legal and illegal.

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

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From:pasquin
Date:October 24th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
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So it may be that the first seasteads will have to forgo drugs and prostitution

My friend, how did the artificial oasis of Las Vegas get built? On the backs of prostitutes! And gambling. In other words, seasteading will offer little in the way of enticements other than entertainment that folks might not otherwise get.

How does Pasquin's house of Pleasure sound?
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From:crasch
Date:October 24th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Asset forfeiture was not used as much when Vegas began. However, it all depends on how much risk that the investors in a $50 million seasteads are willing to take. Personally, I think that we could get away with prostitution and gambling, but not drugs.

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From:kimeidoplex
Date:October 24th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
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We could start a ranch like in "Heart of Gold" from firefly.
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From:crasch
Date:October 24th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
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I'm for it! :>
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From:kimeidoplex
Date:October 24th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
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we have to have boys to service us womenfolk ;-)
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From:perich
Date:October 24th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
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I don’t think the mafia will perceive seasteads to be much of a threat

The fear shouldn't be that the rackets will see seasteads as a threat, but rather as an opportunity. Very few rackets above the street-gang level take over a new area with brute force. They take it over by providing services outside of traditional institutions: street justice, high-risk loans, drugs, etc.

Of course, this danger can be solved through education, rather than guns (e.g., "don't take loans from Japanese guys with missing fingers").

It’s an interesting question, but not one I’m going to address yet.

Address it! That's the one I'm interested in!

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From:crasch
Date:October 24th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
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They take it over by providing services outside of traditional institutions: street justice, high-risk loans, drugs, etc.

Yeah, that's a risk. I'm not sure how to judge how big a risk it will be.

They take it over by providing services outside of traditional institutions: street justice, high-risk loans, drugs, etc.

I will!
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From:ernunnos
Date:October 24th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
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You're missing the biggest objection. "A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money." You're talking about an initial cost greater than notoriously expensive Bay Area real estate, and salt water depreciation? Unless the whole point is to run a drugs & prostitution haven, I don't see what value you get that couldn't be satisfied by getting a bunch of people to move to a commune in Idaho or Montana. You could get a lot more for your money.
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From:crasch
Date:October 24th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
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I don't see what value you get that couldn't be satisfied by getting a bunch of people to move to a commune in Idaho or Montana.

* You can hire anyone anywhere in the world, without dealing with immigration restrictions.
* You can buy food and supplies from anywhere in the world without paying tariffs or dealing with import restrictions.
* You're taxed at the rates of the country in which the ship is registered, which are all low tax/no tax jurisdictions. (For U.S. citizens, amounts above $80 K would be subject to tax.)
* You can build anything you want, with little or no regulation.
* You can move it anywhere you want. Want to live off the coast of France? Tow your seastead there. Don't like France? Tow it to the coast of Thailand.
* You can have any medical procedure or drug you want, regardless of whether it's FDA approved, or your doctor is licensed.

Lowering the cost of the "ocean tax" depends on advances in marine engineering; lowering the cost of the "goverment tax" depends on shifting the opinions of tens of millions of people. I think over time, the "ocean tax" will fall much faster than the "government tax".



Edited at 2008-10-24 09:48 pm (UTC)
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From:ernunnos
Date:October 24th, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Medical tourism would be a good source of income. It's pretty much the only thing keeping Cleveland afloat.

I'd be very, very careful about that ocean tax though. In my experience projects that rely on "technology will fix that" handwaving generally fail. The Moller Skycar has been on hold for what? 4 decades now? And that's just waiting for an engine with the appropriate power-to-weight. They actually spun off an engine company just to address that, which is in some ways more interesting. And more successful.

I think seasteading might be similar. The early pioneers will get murdered (perhaps literally!) because the underlying technologies don't exist. If it ever becomes truly economical, it'll happen naturally. Materials will cross a line 40, 50, 60 years from now, leading to cheaper, indestructible boats, people will start living on them...

If I were really into the idea, that would be the way to make it happen the fastest. Ignore the rest of it and focus on getting those necessary precursors created. Trust people to find ways to use the technology once it's available.
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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
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With the existing technology of cruise ships, the cost is already comparable to living on land. Cruise ships are optimized for travel, not space. Seasteads will be optimized for space. So seasteads won't need much new technology to work now, only a repurposing of existing technology.

Although seasteads aren't yet cost-effective enough to appeal to a wide spectrum of the population, I think they are cost effective enough to build a prototype seastead.
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From:ernunnos
Date:October 26th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
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You don't have to depend on tech development, only on economic growth.

Uh... Economic growth is tech development, or near enough. Human effort per capita is exactly 1, with a factor for IQ and work ethic. Education is a relatively constant scaling factor. Energy availability is a big factor, but that's actually working against growth at this point. Any general growth going forward has got to come from tech development.

What? Millions of people a year take vacations to live on the ocean - ie cruise ships. Many people (thousands? tens of thousands?) live on oil rigs.

Just as one issue, oil rigs get evacuated in bad weather. Cruise ships avoid it. A large scale, mostly immobile habitat is going to have approach that in some other way. I realize a cruise ship probably isn't optimal, but starting with one would solve a whole lot of problems using known technology and known costs. Make a good test bed for determining demand, and working out the other infrastructure, social, and political issues.

And if the whole thing doesn't work it's a decent asset.

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From:ernunnos
Date:October 26th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)
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40 miles + harbor fees + customs + whatever other barriers a city wants to impose once they realize that you're "reselling" access to their services, competing with their real estate, and not paying for it. A lot of cities are already itching to get their hands on suburban tax dollars, and they don't have a national border to justify it.

Of course, some cities might be more enlightened than that, but such an enlightened government probably provides good value for the tax dollar and isn't worth dodging by going offshore.

Catch-22.
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From:neoteny
Date:October 24th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
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In my opinion, the biggest threat is the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. asset forfeiture laws. The U.S. claims the right to enforce U.S. drug laws anywhere in the world, and can seize your ship even if you’ve not been convicted of a crime.

I have a suspicion that _any_ success in seasteading would be seen (or spun) as a potential threat/opportunity to the U.S.

While there might not be much incentive for piracy, has there been any consideration given to the threat of kidnapping of high net worth individuals, aka the early adopters?
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From:crasch
Date:October 24th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
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I have a suspicion that _any_ success in seasteading would be seen (or spun) as a potential threat/opportunity to the U.S.


That may be true. But one of the virtues of seasteads is that you don't have to stay near the U.S. If the U.S. becomes hostile, you just move it somewhere else.


has there been any consideration given to the threat of kidnapping of high net worth individuals, aka the early adopters


A lot of high net worth individuals boat or travel on cruise ships. I don't expect the risk of kidnapping on seasteads will differ much from the risk of kidnapping on cruise ships. As in avoiding crime on land, avoiding crime on the sea depends in large measure in avoiding high crime areas, such as sea off the coast of Somalia.
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From:kiwiserg
Date:October 26th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
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There is a risk of kidnapping by the US authorities. That's how they get control over the e-gold: they threaten Jackson with 20 years in prison and he've bowed to all their demands, like cancelling de-facto anonimity of e-gold or demanding customers'tax numbers.
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From:crasch
Date:October 26th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
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Yes, that's also a risk.
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From:danlyke
Date:October 24th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
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I need to think about this a bit more to be serious, but I see at least two additional costs:

1. Communications and transportation are big (big!) costs, and big liabilities. Any job which can be done from a seastead is going to need a fast internet link, and anything geosat has looong latencies. And I work from home and I still end up flying to another time zone at least once a month, and meeting with more local clients several times a week. For a seagoing platform, that implies a lot of helicopter time. Physical proximity still means a lot, and for those that it doesn't, virtual proximity does.

2. What's the premium between the demand for drugs and prostitution and the tax caused by their illegality? Here in Northern California, most drugs that anyone productive would use are essentially legal (marijuana arrests are basically another tool in dealing with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, heroin users aren't gonna pay your rent), and the actual number of busts on high end prostitution is extremely low (and SF's Measure K may even solve that). Sure, there are a lot of social ills in the lower economic classes that would be solved by legalization of both those "vices", but the folks getting in trouble because they're applying the mechanics of poverty to drugs and prostitution aren't going to be living in a $600/sq.ft. plus saltwater maintenance fees property anyway. And gambling as an enticement only works if you can send them home once you've sucked them dry.

In my experience in watching my friends, once you get above a certain income (probably about a quarter of a million bucks a year) taxes are a nuisance, but they're not particularly onerous. From $50k or so up to that quarter of a million, they're a pain in the ass, but those folks aren't quite well enough off to be your target market, as much as they'd like to be. Below that, people aren't paying appreciable taxes anyway, certainly not relative to services received.

Other than that, most of my issues with a government are more hypothetical than actual; I bemoan obscenity prosecutions but they're still pretty far from the things that turn me on, I think Texas's anti-vibrator laws are silly but I live in California, ditto Alabama's sodomy laws, drug arrests are something that happen to other people. So whatever that premium I'd pay to live on the uncertain territory of a ship off-shore is viewed in the light of a charitable contribution, my efforts towards fixing the world, and has to be weighed against what I'd get from sending those dollars to the ACLU, the EFF, and assorted other organizations.

Come to think of it, if you live elsewhere in the country and want to get away from the prudism and prohibition, you move to the West Coast (Seattle, Portland, or California). If you can't afford to move to the West Coast then you definitely can't afford to move to a seastead.

I'd also note that I occasionally get to other areas of the U.S., and I get to eat food imported from California. I'd much rather eat it locally.
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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
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I think it's important to distinguish what will be possible when seasteading developments are more advanced vs. what will be possible with the first seastead.

The first seastead will likely be about 12 miles off the coast of San Diego (due to the calmer waters there), and will probably be a combination of resort/hospital. (That's the business model most commonly bandied about at the moment -- none of this is set in stone.)

Assume an average ferry speed of 30 mph, plus 15 minutes on/off time. I think it will take about an hour to get to the seastead by boat. (Although I expect the first residents to be well-to-do, I don't expect most of them to be so well-to-do that daily helicopter flights would be economical.) Internet access could be provided at that range via 1) satellite 2) point to point wireless microwave (up to 40 miles) or 3) WIMAX (up to 30 miles).

Therefore, people who buy a unit on the first seastead will have to be willing to put up with 3 hour commute, but I think high speed, low latency internet will still be available.

Long term, I expect seasteads to grow like a crystal. New seasteads will be built attached to, or near existing seasteads. They will be able to share communication and transportation infrastructure. Once such clusters of seasteads become large enough, they could build airports of their own and tap into the transcontinental fiber optic lines. So I think that the costs of transportation and communication will be acceptable at first, and get better as the size of the population grows.

I think people would be willing to pay a premium to be able to be able to pursue their vices legally. Gambling ships are already a proven business model, and Vegas bloomed in a desert due to the income from gambling and prostitutes.

Medical tourism, NIMBY businesses (nuke plants, wind farms, airports), and fish farms would also make use of a seastead's comparative advantage. Once the cost falls enough, even prosaic "straight" businesses would be willing to locate to a seastead.

In my experience in watching my friends, once you get above a certain income (probably about a quarter of a million bucks a year) taxes are a nuisance, but they're not particularly onerous.

As you become wealthier, each marginal dollar becomes less valuable, it's true. However, I still wouldn't be happy to see 35% of my income going to pay for dead Iraqis, wiretaps, and bridges to nowhere.

From $50k or so up to that quarter of a million, they're a pain in the ass, but those folks aren't quite well enough off to be your target market, as much as they'd like to be.

If the cost is comparable to the cost of living in the S.F. Bay Area, why wouldn't they be in the target market?

So whatever that premium I'd pay to live on the uncertain territory of a ship off-shore is viewed in the light of a charitable contribution, my efforts towards fixing the world, and has to be weighed against what I'd get from sending those dollars to the ACLU, the EFF, and assorted other organizations.

Yep, one should consider the opportunity cost. Personally, I think "exit" (seasteading) is a more powerful tool than "voice" (ACLU, EFF). I think that the incentives for voters in democratic states are to remain ignorant and irrational (which our laws reflect), and I don't expect organizations like the ACLU and EFF to change that anytime soon.

I'd much rather have the option of simply taking myself and my money someplace where I can immediately enjoy the freedoms I want, and, as a bonus, starve the existing state apparatus of resources. Moreover, I hope to demonstrate by example that the fears of the land-lubbers are unfounded. I think that creating a large, healthy society where drugs, gambling, unlicensed medicine, and prostitutes are legal and accepted will provide a difficult to refute "proof by example".

Fortunately, we don't have to persuade a lot of people at once for the idea to be viable.

I'd much rather eat it locally.

And I'd much rather eat food from anywhere in the world, without paying for subsidies to ADM.


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From:phanatic
Date:October 24th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
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, until they’ve grown enough to have the power to successfully defend themselves against the predations of the mafia, both legal and illegal.

So that's a big "never," then.
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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
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Perhaps so. Defending against macro-parasites is a hard problem, and it may be impossible to eliminate them entirely.

However, I think seasteads have the potential to make large marginal improvements at reasonable cost, and therefore, it's worth doing the experiment(s).
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From:new_iconoclast
Date:October 25th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
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Won’t it be prohibitively expensive to live aboard a ship fulltime?

I had heard this statistic bandied about in the financial services industry for awhile - but it is true. It would actually be cheaper to spend the rest of your life on a cruise ship than to live in a nursing home or in most "senior supported living" places.
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From:mercyorbemoaned
Date:October 29th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
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My choice of "blow you out of the water" was unwise because I did not actually mean it in its literal sense, and since you are literally going to be the water, obviously that was unclear.

What I failed to get across in the thread for some reason is that there is an extremely low-resource way that non-state actors will be able to mess with you: they can threaten your families, onshore.

The fact that you all live in SF, use illegal drugs, and seem to have not noticed that this is a standard method for protecting turf makes me wonder if there are maybe some other things you're not thinking through.

Reading through this thread and mine, the basic disagreement seems to be that you all don't think anyone will care, or at least won't care until you're strong enough that it won't matter. Maybe you're right. I think you're definitely right to try, but I think you're wrong to believe that your greatest danger will come from states. The US government isn't going to threaten your mom because of your tax evasion.

I also wonder how you are going to handle divorce and child custody.
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From:viggorlijah
Date:October 29th, 2008 07:00 am (UTC)
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Also, if people are committing in financial transactions to a stake in seasteads on a set of agreed principles, then change their mind about these social principles (they bring hard drugs in, they convert to other beliefs that conflict with libertarian ideals etc), then you have a mess in the courts. Can they then sell it on to someone else like a country club membership? What about the value of their stake?

And the bit about the drugs and prostitution - anything illegal that's conveniently nearby, including gambling too. People will jump in a boat for a 3-5 hour trip to a seastead to get their stuff. People cross borders on drug runs readily enough. Even if they're just using only over on the seastead and not exporting back, that can be a crime (sex tourism etc) prosecutable back on land.

Also, what about water? The boat people I know living on barges, yachts, etc. constantly worry about potable clean water. It's expensive, either buying it in bulk from a city and carrying it like cruise ships do, or desalinating it.

Do the seasteaders talk to people actually living small scale versions of this? The boat crowd are pretty hardcore about the difficulties of it, as well as the pluses. And the oil-rigs are high paying jobs for a reason.
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From:crasch
Date:October 29th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
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Initially, legal disputes will be settled the same way that they're handled by boat owners now.

Long term, I expect that when you sign a contract to buy a residence on a seastead, you will also be required to agree to process for adjudicating disputes, distributing property if you leave, enforcement, etc.

Even if they're just using only over on the seastead and not exporting back, that can be a crime (sex tourism etc) prosecutable back on land.

Yep, this is a problem. The first seasteads may not allow drugs or sex tourism services.

However, gambling cruises are already profitable and tolerated, and I think sex services would be as well. Drugs are more dicey, since drug users might go back to the mainland and cause problems, and seasteads might be seen as a gateway for drugs to the mainland.

Also, what about water?

Initially, it would have to be shipped or generated via a watermaker.

Long term, I expect we'll use a desalination process like this:

http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/

Do the seasteaders talk to people actually living small scale versions of this?

Yes, we have talked to liveaboard boaters. The prototype is being designed by marine engineers who design platforms for the oil industry. And many of us will be getting more experience over the next year, as we get sailing lessons, and organize Ephemerisle ("Burning Man" at sea) next 4th of July.


Edited at 2008-10-29 07:39 am (UTC)
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From:crasch
Date:October 29th, 2008 07:40 am (UTC)
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P.S. If you haven't seen it already, check out the book:
http://seasteading.org/seastead.org/commented/paper/index.html

It addresses a lot of questions.
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From:crasch
Date:October 29th, 2008 07:17 am (UTC)
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The fact that you all live in SF, use illegal drugs, and seem to have not noticed that this is a standard method for protecting turf makes me wonder if there are maybe some other things you're not thinking through.

Perhaps it will be a bigger problem than we expect. However, I've not come across many newspaper articles about boats and cruise ship operators being threatened by the mob--I have come across lots of articles about boats being seized by the Coast Guard.

There are already gambling ships off the coast of New York, Florida, and elsewhere. Some of them may be part of the mob, or paying off the mob, but I doubt all of them are. If we have to pay them some mordita to be left alone, then so be it. But I think that distance will go a long way toward reducing the perceived threat.

The US government isn't going to threaten your mom because of your tax evasion.

No, but they might very well seize our $50 million seastead and put us in prison.

I also wonder how you are going to handle divorce and child custody.

Initially, the same way that divorce and child custody are handled by cruise ship passengers. Long term, I expect when you purchase a residence on a seastead, you will also be required to sign a contract specifying your responsibilities if you have a child. With respect to divorce, I personally think that's none of a seastead operator's business, and it will be up to the couple to decide what their marriage contract should be.


Edited at 2008-10-29 08:20 am (UTC)
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