Burning Man meets Silicon Valley meets the water

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

Part Burning Man, part startup incubator, Patri Friedman says he has a vision to create a floating libertarian nation 12 miles off the coast of California.

Friedman describes the floating nation constructed from barges and water platforms as "Burning Man meets Silicon Valley meets the water."

The flotilla, located in sight of San Francisco, would have everything one needs to live, including schools and hospitals as well as aqua farms for food. 

Skeptical?

Well, before you jump to conclusions, Friedman has already secured more than $2 million in venture capital funding for the "nation," which is designed to create a free-market society where members can form their own governing structures.

"We can't experiment here because all the land is claimed - the only place left is the ocean," explains Friedman, 35, a former Google engineer now fully devoting to the "seasteading" project.

He plans to begin construction of floating offices in 2012 and estimates there could be as many as tens of millions of residents by the time it's completed in 2040.

Not everyone is supportive of the rather ambitious plan, though.

"The whole thing is so far from any kind of conventional urban planning," says UC Berkeley Professor of Architecture Margaret Crawford. "The physical premises are just ridiculous."

Despite naysayers, Friedman and his cohorts remain unfazed, buoyed by PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel and his VC funding.

Friedman envisions a political vacuum in which people can experiment with startup governments that are "consumer-oriented, constantly competing for citizens."

"Two hundred years ago, we could have gone out West," says Jon Cain, president of the PayPal founder's Thiel Foundation.

"Now, we have to go further. The ocean is the next frontier."

In San Francisco, "taxes are so high, and there's no room for competition, and government uses the threat of violence to impose rules," he adds.

(Via SF Gate)