The world’s first floating city is one step closer to becoming reality after French Polynesia struck a deal with US developers.
The memorandum of understanding outlines the objectives the Seasteading Institute must meet to get the go-ahead for the utopian state.
The institute’s directors have ambitious plans for a number of floating utopias dotted around the world. But first they will need to convince French Polynesia officials – and potentially France itself – that the floating city will benefit the local economy and avoid damaging the environment.
In an interview with the BBC, Seasteading Institute’s executive director Randolph Hencken conceded the project wouldn’t be “terribly radical at first”.
But he added he was hopeful the authorities would grant them “leeway” to govern themselves in a special economic sea zone. Some locals fear such a provision would make the islands a tax haven for the super rich.
The concept of a floating utopia in the middle of the ocean was first proposed by billionaire venture capitalist and Trump transition team member Peter Thiel.
But even Thiel, who’s invested $1.7 million in the Seasteading Institute, has recently expressed doubts about the practicality of the designs.
In an interview with the New York Times last week, Thiel said the islands were still “very far from the future”, adding: “They’re not quite feasible from an engineering perspective.”
So what exactly is the Seasteading Institute proposing?
To begin with, the new city would consist of two or three platforms that house a 30 people each, and cover the size of a football field.
If it’s a success, more platforms would then be added. But exactly what they will look like is still to be decided.
Speaking to the BBC, Hencken said: “A lot of these things, while they’ve been discussed over camp fires, haven’t yet been selected,” he says. “Our ultimate goal is to create space for any experiments... not exclusively libertarianism.”