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Seasteading talk by patri friedman for general audience at idea city 2011

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Seasteading talk by patri friedman for general audience at idea city 2011

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This talk was given Patri Friedman at the IdeaCity conference in Toronto in the spring of 2011.

The Seasteading Institute believes that innovative political systems could serve humanity far better than our governments do today.

That's why we work to enable “seasteads”—floating cities—which will give people the opportunity to peacefully test new ideas about how to live together. The most successful will become thriving new societies—inspiring change around the world.

We’re creating this future because our governments profoundly affect every aspect of our lives, and improving them would unlock enormous human potential.

Learn more at www.seasteading,org

This talk was given Patri Friedman at the IdeaCity conference in Toronto in the spring of 2011.

The Seasteading Institute believes that innovative political systems could serve humanity far better than our governments do today.

That's why we work to enable “seasteads”—floating cities—which will give people the opportunity to peacefully test new ideas about how to live together. The most successful will become thriving new societies—inspiring change around the world.

We’re creating this future because our governments profoundly affect every aspect of our lives, and improving them would unlock enormous human potential.

Learn more at www.seasteading,org

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Seasteading talk by patri friedman for general audience at idea city 2011

  1. 1. Advancing Humanity with Startup Countries Patri Friedman
  2. 2. Where does progress come from?
  3. 3. Government Industry
  4. 4. Is It Big?
  5. 5. Global Spending (% GDP) 30.0 22.5 15.0 7.5 0 Govt Manufacturing Health Energy Largest Industry In The World!
  6. 6. 2010 Operating Income -$1,300,000,000,000
  7. 7. Korea
  8. 8. “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others which have been tried” Winston Churchill
  9. 9. Dynamic Democracy
  10. 10. Voice Doesn’t Scale
  11. 11. Solve the Government Industry Puzzle
  12. 12. Seasteading
  13. 13. Utopia * 1000
  14. 14. Positive Psychology
  15. 15. 501c3 non-profit Founded: April 15, 2008 2010 Budget: $750,000 Staff: About 10
  16. 16. Too Big For Them... ...Way Too Big For Us!
  17. 17. What’s missing? • Political Autonomy • Engineering • Business Models • Community
  18. 18. Autonomy: Legal & political research
  19. 19. Engineering
  20. 20. Business is key. • Business Models • Business Plan Contest • Entrepreneurs Network • Overview Papers
  21. 21. #1: Medical Tourism
  22. 22. Community • Residents • Entrepreneurs • Donors / Investors • Supporters
  23. 23. Press Coverage
  24. 24. Ephemerisle
  25. 25. 2030
  26. 26. seasteading.org

Editor's Notes

  • - Patri/passion, problem/picture, explore.\n\nHi, I’m Patri, and I’m excited about startup countries on the ocean. Let’s explore.\n
  • - Puzzle, consumers/innovation, ridiculous old tech\n\nWe’ll start with a puzzle. As consumers, we all benefit from constant innovation. Even the technology of just a few decades ago (looks ridiculously old-fashioned now.)\n
  • - boombox vs. ipod. ipod better. 2k years.\n\n(looks ridiculously old-fashioned now.) Compare this boombox to the iPod. And even the ipod has improved vastly over it’s 10 year lifespan. We’ve come a long way from the sound technology that was available two thousand years ago.\n
  • - 2k old govtech. Canada Con / US Con. Car 200...\n\nYet the governance technology we use here in the west, representative democracy, is two thousand years old, originating in ancient Athens. Canada’s constitution is relatively new, but the United States uses one that’s over two hundred years old.\n\n(If you drove a car from two hundred years ago...it would be a horse!)\n
  • (If you drove a car from even two hundred years ago...it would be a horse!)\n
  • So this is our starting puzzle: why do most technologies, like music & transportation, progress rapidly, while others, like governance are much slower?\n
  • [?, better/new, trial & error.]\n\nTo start, we need to understand progress. Progress means things are better, usually because we’ve found something “new”. And the way we discover these new, better things is (almost always through trial-and-error, through many decentralized experiments.)\n
  • (almost always through trial-and-error, through many decentralized experiments.) This is how we get progress in science.\n
  • [startups as expts, most fail but...]\n\nAnd it’s how we get progress in technology & business, mainly through the decentralized experiments known as startups. Most startups fail, but when one succeeds, (like my former employer...)\n
  • (like my former employer...), it changes the world.\n
  • [life itself! trial of genes. Idea not new/narrow - but applying it to governance is]\n\nSpeaking of the world, life itself came from a billion years of decentralized experiments - evolution. Every lifeform in history was a trial of its unique genetic makeup, and from these trials arose...humanity. The idea that progress is rooted in experiments is not new, and it’s not narrow. Our innovation is applying it to governance.\n
  • [gov industry, econ].\n\nWe’ll do this by putting our entrepreneur hats on and looking at government like an industry. We see that there’s a product called “governance” that’s delivered by retailers we call “countries” to consumers known as “citizens”. And we can analyze it with economics.\n\n(Now, this is not to deny the moral dimension)\n
  • (Now, this is not to deny the moral dimension of government, but just to set it aside for now.)\n
  • (I find that once I start talking about morality, it’s like I’ve pressed a big red button)\n
  • (I’ve pressed a big red button) that turns everyone into Bill O’ Reilly. Rational conversation is over. Let’s not go there.\n
  • [industry - size]\n\nLet’s just relax, and analyze an industry. First, we’ll look at it’s size. Maybe it has little innovation because it is a little industry\n
  • [big industry, big deal. performance?]\n\nOr perhaps not. It’s actually *the biggest industry in the world* - about 30% of global GDP. So it’s a really big deal whether this sector has good quality and rapid innovation.\n\nHopefully the world’s largest industry performs reasonably well.\n
  • [legendary poor perf even from top! worst kill]\n\nMmm...not so much. It's actually legendary for low customer satisfaction and failure to turn a profit - the largest firm lost *1.3 trillion dollars* last year. That’s a lot of red ink. Even you guys lost fifty billion. And those are top companies - (the worst kill...their own customers!)\n
  • (the worst kill...their own customers!)\n\n(So, quality is low and varies widely. What drives it?)\n
  • [varies by govtech. Korea: started same, diff govtech, results clear as light]\n\n(So, quality is low and varies widely. What drives it?) Economists used to think it was about resources and capital, but they’ve learned that it’s mostly based on intangibles - like governance technology. For example, consider the experiment called Korea, pictured here at night. By historical accident, it was split into two parts and forced to adopt two very different governance systems. With the same people and resources, they got very different results.\n
  • [today=best => failure of imagination. Surely we’ve unlocked. 2 ex:]\n\nOne explanation for lack of innovation in governance is that we’ve already reached the pinnacle. I call that a failure of the imagination. Surely the scientific and technological progress of recent centuries has unlocked new forms of government that our founders never dreamt of.\n\nThere two of the infinite possibilities for new, better forms of social organization.\n
  • [DynDem. Internet, continuous proxy, whoever whenever knows best]\n\nFirst is dynamic democracy, which takes representative democracy to the next level. Instead of having geographic representatives chosen every few years to represent us on everything, we could chose *whoever* we want, *whenever* we want. Most importantly, we could choose different representatives for different areas of law, based on what they know best. Before the internet, this would have been impossible, but with today’s technology, it’s easy.\n
  • [Apple Nation, jobs, shiny new govt. Rules in advance, yearly renewal]\n\nOr consider “Apple Nation”, which knows what you want better than you do! Steve Jobs, to occupy his retirement, furrows his brow, consults his genius designers, and creates a shiny new system of government to revolutionize yet another field. You consent to the rules in advance, and each year you either renew your Apple Nation service or decide to leave.\n
  • [strange voice, tribes, large no]\n\nSome people find this idea strange, because you’d have no voice in how the country was run. And our intuition is that voice is critical in politics, because we evolved in small tribes run by consensus. Unfortunately, in a large group, voice doesn’t work so well - literally or metaphorically.\n
  • [vastly larger modern: choice. variety of products/providers competing]\n\nIn our vastly larger modern societies, *choice* works better than voice. Choice between a wide variety of products & providers, competing to best meet our needs.\n
  • [no voice, serve well, b/c you have choice]\n\nAfter all, you don’t get a voice in how Tim Hortons runs their stores. But they serve you well anyway, because you have the choice to go elsewhere.\n
  • [dict bad, East Berlin, forced to stay. Choose to join/leave, no prob, “dictatorships” Apple/Hortons great!]\n\nWhereas when you don’t have the choice to exit, as in East Berlin, you get the bad service of a monopoly.\n
  • [pieces. huge, poor perf, varies widely, innovation possible yet missing]\n\nSo now we have all the pieces to answer the puzzle of this industry - why this huge industry isn’t producing innovative new systems like Dynamic Democracy & Apple Nation.\n
  • [why? trial & error. right now no way]\n\nWhy? Let’s remember the recipe for progress we discussed earlier - trial & error experimentation. This industry doesn’t have it. Because right now there's no way for an entrepreneur with a great idea for a startup country to make it happen.\n
  • Unlike the *software* industry, where you can get started with just a laptop, the barrier to enter the *government* industry is that you need a physical place which allows political innovation.\n
  • But there is no such place...every single piece of land in the world is claimed and defended by an existing country.  We can make small tweaks to our existing systems, but with no place for truly new ideas, there's no channel for peaceful innovation, and thus, little progress.\n
  • For humanity, this is a huge problem. But from my Silicon Valley perspective, I’ve just described an industry ripe for disruption by new competitors.\n
  • If we could create a startup sector for government, with a low barrier to entry for entrepreneurs, we would see a wide variety of innovative societies emerge and continuously evolve.\n
  • [Athens: city states, democracy, republic, defense confed, uniform money/measure. humanity benefit (metric)]\n\nIn fact, this happened in ancient Athens, where hundreds of small city-states created and copied and remixed governance innovations. This brief, fertile period of experimentation produced many of the ideas we use today, not only democracy but the democratic republic, defense confederations like NATO, and uniform systems of money and measurement. Humanity has benefited from the legacy of these experiments ever since, although those few backwards states that haven’t adopted the metric system are still a little behind.\n
  • [recreate startup: seasteading. New frontier: ocean, enable entrepreneurs. Unique ocean]\n\nWhich brings us to seasteading. By homesteading the high seas, we can recreate this startup sector. After all, an empty frontier is the natural place for political experiments. So by opening the ocean as a new frontier for human settlement, we’ll enable pioneering entrepreneurs to experiment with new political systems.\n\nAnd not only is the ocean the natural next frontier, but its unique physical nature makes it the perfect fundament for a dynamic startup sector.\n
  • [cruise/skyscraper. phys reconf. grow by acquiring territory/aquatory]\n\nA modern cruise ship is as big as a skyscraper, yet its constantly on the move. Which means that floating cities will be physically reconfigurable in a way that’s impossible on land. On the ocean a successful startup country can grow by acquiring real estate from other floating cities to add to its own territory! Or maybe we’ll call it “aquatory”.\n\n(Optional space quote depending on time)\n
  • [not 1 vision. Most excited to try, but...1000: 1000 instead of arguing theory, practice/shopping!)\n\nUnlike utopian movements, seasteading isn’t based on any one person’s vision for a better society. Sure, I have ideas, but I don’t know if they’ll work, and even if they do, they won’t appeal to everyone. Instead of arguing endlessly about what system is best in theory, I want to see a thousand people test a thousand proposed utopias. Then politics will be about shopping for a country, like we shop for a house and neighborhood today.\n
  • [happy perspective! No intense moral struggle. Ends & means. Means: experiment. Ends: not enemies, just lack of choice]\n\nThis perspective has made me much happier about politics. Debate no longer has the emotional intensity of a titanic moral struggle. Instead, the two main kinds of political disagreements - ends and means - are no big deal.\n\nIf we disagree about *political means*, about how a law will work in practice, then we have different theories about how the world works. And when adults have different theories, argument and anger are pointless when you have the potential to do an experiment and let reality decide the debate.\n\nSuppose instead we disagree about *political ends* - what kind of society we find appealing. If we have to share one country, this makes us enemies. But with the seasteading perspective, we’re all just frustrated consumers, not being served well by the market. We all benefit from seasteading, which can give each of us have a government that better reflects our values.\n
  • [big vision / more than vision, quick look epic journey]\n\nSo that’s the big vision. But it’s more than a vision - every day at The Seasteading Institute, we’re moving it closer to reality. Here’s a quick look at where we’ve been and where we’re headed on our epic journey.\n
  • [challenge: potentially includes all. Gates. limited resources, vast challenge, ruthless focus. Fortunately...]\n\nOne of the greatest challenges of working on seasteading is that creating new countries potentially relates to almost...everything. Even if we had the budget of the Gates Foundation (which we don’t), we couldn’t work on everything. Limited resources and a vast challenge requires ruthless focus.\n
  • [cruise ship, basics.]\n\nFortunately, most of the basics are solved. A cruise ship is a kind of floating city. It provides all the basics of life - power, water, food, security, even internet (barely). (So our work is focused on the few core challenges that make a seastead different from a cruise ship: Autonomy, Engineering, Business, and Community.)\n
  • (So our work is focused on the few core challenges that make a seastead different from a cruise ship: (list))\n
  • [deep understanding, vast/complex: initial autonomy / increase. Publishing]\n\nCruise ships have always benefited from some political autonomy, but it’s not central to their business like it will be to ours. We need to know how much autonomy we can get now, and craft strategies to increase it over time. This requires a deep understanding of international law, which is almost as vast & complex as the ocean itself.\n
  • [begin w/ ships, settlers, innovative eng needed: building->village->city]\n\nWhile we expect to begin seasteading with cruise ships, our goal is to be settlers, not nomads. So we need new engineering designs for modular floating cities that can start as a building, expand to a village and eventually a city.\n
  • [jobs: biz models, contest, network, papers]\n\nFor people to move to these floating cities, there will have to be jobs, which is why we’ve studied business models, run a business plan contest, created an entrepreneurs network, and are putting out a series of overview papers.\n
  • [med tourism, travel for $/waiting, 12nm]\n\nOur top business model is medical tourism, where people travel to distant countries to save money or waiting time on medical procedures. I did this myself last year, spending 7 weeks in India to save $80,000 on a procedure my insurance wouldn’t cover. Using the ocean, seasteading can offer patients these advantages just 12 miles from shore.\n
  • The final core challenge is to build our global community - the future residents who will move to seasteads, the entrepreneurs who will create jobs, the donors & investors whose contributions power our work, and even supporters who never plan to move, but who understand that a vibrant startup sector will lead to a more competitive government industry and improve their home countries.\n
  • To grow the community, we reach people through talks like this one, social media, news stories, and unusual events like\n
  • Ephemerisle, an annual floating festival in California where the seasteading community gathers on boats and self-built platforms. The 3rd Ephemerisle was just last weekend, in fact...I’m still recovering.\n
  • So, if we have the time, here’s our timeline...\n\n(Short / quick!)\n\nVillage - important milestone for me personally, (since that’s the stage when my wife will consider moving our family to a seastead).\n
  • (since that’s the stage when my wife will consider moving our family to a seastead).\n
  • Another decade after that, at least one village will have grown into a true floating city. Then, of course, (comes world domination.)\n
  • (Then, of course, comes world domination.)\n
  • [brief time, long haul, sign up, adventure]\n\nOur time together has been brief, but I’m in this for the long haul. If you found this inspiring, go to our website and sign up for updates. It’s going to be quite an adventure. Thank you.\n
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