Silicon Valley Artificial Island Nears Government Backing

Seasteading Institute

A plan to develop a floating city backed by Silicon Valley came one step closer on Wednesday, when it was revealed that the Seasteading Institute was in talks with an island government to grant support for the project. Randolph Hencken, executive director, envisions three platforms that house around 30 people, expanding if a proven success.

The institute has told Business Insider that it is nearing an agreement with French Polynesia to develop a special economic zone with a degree of political autonomy. All that’s left is for the president to sign off on the plans, which Hencken says is likely.

Island residents would visit French Polynesia to shop for food, but residents that get tired of island life will be free to unhitch their houses and float away. Construction is expected to start at around $30 million, with ground breaking expected in 2017 for an opening targeted for 2020.

The institute was initially backed by Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur putting his name behind science projects like gene splicing and increasing human lifespans. Thiel envisioned the island as a libertarian paradise, free from government interference, but he left the board five years ago and stopped giving the group backing in 2014.

Artificial cities, much like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, have a long history in science fiction. BioShock touched close to the institute’s goals, exploring the idea of a libertarian underwater city that goes awry after gene splicing addiction spreads throughout the population. Hencken’s island likely won’t suffer the same fate, but they can’t say they weren’t warned.

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