PayPal Billionaire Continues Work Towards Making Bioshock's Rapture A Reality

We haven't heard anything on this since 2008, but The Daily Mail reports that Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, is continuing his work towards making a Rapture-esque "Start-Up Country" off the coast of San Francisco.

The floating sovereign nations that Thiel imagines would be built on oil-rig-like platforms anchored in areas free of regulation, laws, and moral conventions.

The Seasteading Institute says it will 'give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get.'

The venture capitalist who famously helped Facebook expand beyond the Harvard campus, Mr Thiel called seasteading an 'open a frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government.'

After making his first investment in the project in 2008, Mr Thiel said: 'Decades from now, those looking back at the start of the century will understand that Seasteading was an obvious step towards encouraging the development of more efficient, practical public sector models around the world.

Of course, this sounds eerily familiar to any who have played Bioshock or its sequels — in those games, billionaire industrialist Andrew Ryan followed similar dreams to the bottom of the ocean, creating the Ayn Rand-inspired objectivist utopia Rapture. In the game's fiction, everything was peachy until...well, until it wasn't. And everyone pretty much died.

Thiel plans to have "tens of millions" of residents by 2050, linking together a huge number of floating structures, each of which can hold 270 individuals, into a vast nautical super-structure.

"There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible," Thiel tells the Daily Mail. "That's a good thing. We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late."

In a more in-depth profile in Details Magazine, Thiel elaborates on his plans to build these "Seasteads," a program on which he has reportedly already spent $US1.25 million.

"When you start a company, true freedom is at the beginning of things," he says and slides the thought over to the topic of nations. "The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?"

Questions abound. Will Thiel's floating city have a dramatic, evocative name? Given that it will be "free of regulation, laws, and moral conventions," will he perhaps institute some sort of ADAM-based genetic engineering? Is he a big golfer? Does this plan eventually involve relocation to the bottom of the ocean or to the skies above?

I for one am glad Thiel is still at it. Hopefully soon it'll be time to grab my wrench, my diving suit, and some potato chips and go sign a new lease.

The Billionaire King of Techtopia [Details]

Silicon Valley billionaire reveals plan to launch floating 'start up country' off San Francisco [Daily Mail]


Comments

    As much as I LOVE this, part of me thinks it's just going to be the new flying car.

    Do people not know what 'dystopia' means?

    This all sounds like a troll to me.

    Let's all go out to sea and sit on a gussied up oil rig and talk about governments! Whale-of-a-time!

      let's also do it with a bunch of billionaire rich kids who spend more time on their computers than anything else, what a dream.

      So what happens in this utopia when the people don't want to do things the Peter Thiel way?
      Forget Bioshock I feel a Game of thrones type scenario would eventuate :)

    ..."Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get.’"

    Umm... Isn't that democracy?!

    Guessing these islands will be packed with americans who bitch and moan about their government, but rarely get off their asses to vote themselves (stating it's their constitutional right not to).

      That's democracy in theory but in practice it's always a lot less simple.

        yes, unfortunately its just the 'best' system because it feels the fairest to the most number of people - certainly not the most effective system!

    Whose yer Big Daddy!

    Okay, lets get some things clear here:

    Thiel himself is indeed a classical liberal/libertarian. However, Seasteading isn't an exclusively libertarian political project.

    As the actual Seasteading Institute says, the point is to provide a way people can experiment with different models of government and see what works best. This means that yes, some people can indeed go off and set up an exclusively Socialist seastead!

    And that article by the Daily Mail clearly distorts Thiel's beliefs. Libertarians don't want a world DEVOID of "laws, regulation and moral conventions." What they want is a world where said laws and regulations are confined to prohibiting any individual from STARTING the use of violence, fraud, or threats thereof, against any other individual. Laws against murder, theft, rape etc. and regulations which demand market entities act in an honest manner are clearly proper under libertarianism.

    Disagreeing with Thiel's beliefs is fine! Distorting them, however, isn't.

    As for Bioshock, the game made it quite clear that Ryan was a hypocrite rather than a consistent Objectivist, and Bioshock is quite clearly a sympathetic criticism of Objectivism; Levine himself described the fall of Rapture as a tragedy (i.e. the failure of something noble), is himself a libertarian and quite sympathetic to Objectivism (I corresponded with him; unlike many people that criticize Objectivism he clearly understands the philosophy in very impressive detail), and Frank Fontaine is pretty much the best Randian villain since Ellsworth Toohey (Fontaine uses charities/altruism as a rhetorical weapon to get people on his side in order to overthrow Ryan... i.e. his altruism is just a mask for his power lust; this is a classic Randian theme).

    Now, if we're going to discuss politics, fine. But lets do so in a levelheaded manner that refrains from distorting anyone's arguments. Thanks.

    Let's hope these little nations don't run afowl of the bigger nations they will inevitably have to buy their energy, food and other supplies from.

    "And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late."

    Totally needs to be the country's motto.

    "We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”

    Wow. Bond-villian much?

    Just from the experience of someone who has worked in the oil rig industry. No platform at sea, no matter how well designed or expensively built, is ever completely safe. During cyclone season it's pretty common for these things to be evacuated and even some of the biggest, bestest rigs in the world, like the Thunderhorse, can be sunk by mother nature. The goal these days is to create rigs that are largely unmanned, or staffed by temporary day crews.

    Anyone who claims to be able to build a sustainable community on 'oil rig type platforms' is at best a moron, and at worst a dangerous lunatic.

Join the discussion!