Billionaires are well known for purchasing nuclear bunkers and remote properties in the hope of surviving an imminent collapse, but some have set their sights on the open sea as a new home.
Wealthy investors, including Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, have planned to launch “floating cities” where they will be exempt from the laws that govern the world’s nations and potentially safe from the disasters that strike the earth’s inhabitants.
The Seasteading Institute, initially backed by an investment from Thiel, has spent 15 years researching the idea of permanent floating communities living in international waters, free of regulation.
In 2022, the company Ocean Builders, backed by Bitcoin trader Chad Elwartowski, unveiled ‘the Seapod’, a floating building with 733 square feet of living space, which sits on a pole two meters above the water.
SeaPods will offer floating homes for the rich (Ocean Builders)
The Seasteading Institute planned a floating city off Polynesia (Seasteading Institute)
Ambitious designs would create utopian floating cities and towns in international waters (Seasteading Institute)
Other planned floating cities include Oceanix Busan.
But the first Ocean Pod collapsed when it was introduced in September 2022, with its makers blaming a “bilge pump malfunction.”
Elwartowski also built a fiberglass houseboat off the coast of Thailand in 2019 for himself and his wife, Nadia Thepdet.
However, the couple was forced to flee. before a police raid after the couple posted videos of themselves drinking champagne in Seastead.
The couple faced a possible death penalty after the Thai government said their actions challenged the country’s “independence.”
French Polynesia withdrew from a proposed deal for a cryptocurrency-funded floating city in 2017, and the Seasteading Institute blamed false information spread during an election campaign.
Thiel has cooled on the Seasteading Institute in recent years, but the nonprofit continues to thrive.
Joe Quirk, president of the Institute, said in a YouTube video this year: ‘The technology for emerging floating governments is within reach and we are eager to make it a reality as soon as possible.
Ocean Builders has ambitious plans for the SeaPod (Ocean Builders)
Plans for ‘SeaZone’ floating city were ambitious (Seasteading Institute)
A SeaPod prototype was presented in 2022 (AP)
‘I came here from the opposite of a floating city, which is San Francisco, California. Many people are not satisfied with the way (San Francisco) is governed.
“But imagine if we could divide San Francisco into many small pieces and people could move around and choose the neighbors they wanted.” We would have variation depending on governance providers and selection by citizens.
“Let a class of people try many ideas, then we will discover the best solutions for how to live.”
The Seasteading Institute hopes floating cities will have “significant political autonomy.”
The Institute says: ‘Nearly half of the world’s surface is unclaimed by any nation-state, and many coastal nations are able to legislate sea control in their territorial waters.
A ‘seastead’ raided by Thai police in 2019 after Bitcoin entrepreneur Chad Elwartowski established the seastead in international waters (EPA)
Bitcoin entrepreneur Chad Elwartowski set up a farm in international waters, but was threatened with the death penalty (EPA).
“We promote the creation of floating ocean cities as a revolutionary solution to some of the world’s most pressing problems: sea level rise, overpopulation, poor governance and more.”
The idea of living on the high seas has a long history, as L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, created the ship-based ‘Sea Organization’ or Sea Org in the 1960s.
And the dream lives on all over the world.
Florida company Arktide plans to build “affordable ocean real estate” in the next decade, while SeaPod plans constructions in Asia and Europe.
SeaPod proclaims: “The dawn of the aquatic age has begun!”
Meanwhile, the UN-backed Oceanix project in Korea has unveiled its own vision for a floating city to help coastal communities cope with rising sea levels.
Oceanix says: “Busan aims to provide innovative technology for coastal cities facing severe land shortages compounded by climate threats.”