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The coronavirus pandemic managed to resurrect one of the most famous legends - the myth of Atlantis. The idea of a fertile island with wise rulers and decent citizens got a second chance thanks to sistating. This is the name for living in autonomous floating cities, where their own laws apply. According to representatives of this movement, communities drifting on the high seas are almost the only chance to save the planet from death. A floating salvation from all troubles - in the material "kramola.info".
The self-isolation regime affected not only ordinary people, but also the rich, who were also forced to wait out the quarantine somewhere. Then realtors recorded an unprecedented demand for luxury real estate: luxury mansions, Scottish castles, uninhabited islands in the Caribbean and even bunkers. Interest in private jets and yachts has also grown: you still have to get to your property somehow.
Even inside the impregnable bomb shelters, the rich have provided for themselves huge swimming pools, gyms and cinemas. Most of these facilities are located in the United States or Europe on the site of abandoned military bases. However, the Silicon Valley billionaires chose New Zealand as their location - a quiet place away from all shocks and external threats.
“She's not an enemy to anyone. This is not a target for a nuclear strike. This is not a target for war. This is the place where people seek refuge,”explains director of the bunker manufacturer Gary Lynch. Former Prime Minister John Key also echoes him: "I know a lot of people who told me that they would like to have housing in New Zealand if the world was going to hell."
The founder of the PayPal payment system and the first investor of Facebook, Peter Thiel, has already acquired a bunker in the country. However, back in 2008, he invested in an organization called The Seasteading Institute, which is now the main company in the market promoting the concept of cities in the middle of the ocean.
Float away from problems
In general, the very idea of a floating island is not fundamentally new - it exists in nature and is found, for example, in the Rybinsk reservoir (Yaroslavl region). Very often, a strong wind pulls up coastal plants in a pond, cattail or reeds, knocks them together and "sends them on a journey." It happens that a large piece of peat floats to the surface of the bog. Sometimes such a moving part of the land can stop in place, overgrow and become a full-fledged island.
People often settled this land or used it in economic activities (growing rice or wheat). So, it is known about the tribe of the Uru Indians living on the shores of the South American Lake Titicaca. They hid on floating islands from their warlike neighbors, the Incas, who could make them slaves. On a piece of land where an entire village was easily located, the Uru tribe completely created all the infrastructure. The Indians even had a watchtower.
Subsequently, designers and architects have repeatedly played around with "house + water" solutions. Private residences were erected near the water, in the water, above the water on supports, they even simply floated someone's mansion down the river. However, all these findings are still integrated into the urban environment and have nothing to do with independence and the philosophy of sistadding. Thiel's partner, the American, Patri Friedman, became its ideologist.
He has a remarkable pedigree.The father is the libertarian economist David Friedman, the author of the original model of anarcho-capitalism, where everything, including the law, is created solely thanks to the free market. The grandfather is the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who received an award for research in the field of consumer economics. His theory was at the heart of the Federal Reserve System's (FRS) plan of action during the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.
Patri, an engineer and former Google employee, retired from the corporation on his birthday to devote his time to the development of systaging. The term comes from the English homesteading, which can be translated as "creating a home for yourself in new, uninhabited places." When you replace home with sea, it turns out that you need to look for housing somewhere in the vastness of the ocean. Experiments are the engine of progress, as the organization says: to find something better, you have to try something new.
Quarantine and telecommuting have shown that you don't have to be in the office to be effective. Just during the lockdown, it was reported that billionaires from Silicon Valley considered floating cities promising and wanted to book a place there. Systeaders think so too - they are convinced that independent communities on the high seas will become the housing of a new generation.
House on the waves
Autonomous communities are positioned as a way to solve many problems, and not only as a haven for the rich who wanted to hide from infection. Firstly, systeding tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The life of the island is based on the concept of sustainable development, which provides for the principle of zero waste ("zero waste"). With regard to energy consumption, at the initial stages of the project's development, when life is just getting better, sailors will receive a certain part of the resources from the country in whose territorial waters they are located.
In the future, it is planned to use biofuels, solar, wind energy and wave energy. Vertical farms will grow fresh produce and receive seafood from aquaculture. Surplus food and energy can be sold to the host country or even exported.
Another problem for which floating cities come in handy is the rise in sea levels due to global warming. Some island countries will be in need of solutions very soon, the Systading Institute says. They are already preparing a plan for the rescue of important infrastructure facilities of different states in the event of a threat of their flooding.
Also, according to the assurances of the creators of floating cities, they will help with the overpopulation of megacities, the safety of citizens and a poor management system in the country (people will independently manage what is happening around, and not through intermediary officials). The threat of a tsunami or the pirates of the Systaiders is not scared - the facilities will be built from reliable materials and in calm areas.
It would seem that becoming a resident of a floating city is like signing up for space tourists. However, there are no special requirements for future sailors. Nevertheless, it is important to be a responsible and sociable person - on the territory of the island, if it is in neutral waters, only those rules that the participants of the trip work out on their own apply. Systeders are still subject to international law, but the internal charter will carry weight.
“We expect early adopters to primarily attract adventurers, innovators and pioneers by nature. Oceanfront construction is neither easy nor cheap. Our first settlements in inland waters should be accessible to the middle class of developed countries, and we hope that new materials and technologies will help reduce prices, so that in the end everyone can become a sistader,”the authors of the project say.
The functioning of the first floating cities will be tested near the coast, and after all the checks, the community will go further into the sea. “Building for the open ocean is technically possible, but it is currently extremely expensive and difficult. Establishing partnerships with host countries solves both of these problems and allows us to quickly open the sea space to more people,”explains the Institute.
The life of a systeider, according to the plans, will not differ from the life of any developed country. The territory will have all the usual types of real estate: condominiums, apartments, offices. Homes can be rented, sold and bought. It will not do without schools, shops, restaurants and medical facilities. There are opportunities for work in the field of agriculture, aquaculture, as well as ecology, wave energy, nanotechnology and informatics. The inhabitants of the island do not pay taxes, but periodic fees for maintaining the infrastructure are possible (depending on the internal charter).
At the same time, the Systaders do not consider themselves crazy hermits and say that they are “interested in the peaceful exchange of ideas and trade with other countries at the local, regional and international levels. We want to be good neighbors for those around us. We value openness, choice and transparency as a blessing for everyone."
We will agree on the shore
Stories like these do sound promising, although in practice it is much more difficult to implement. But any projects of the "Institute of Systading" are carried out taking into account the "Eight Great Moral Imperatives" - the internal code of ethics. It goes like this: enrich the poor, heal the sick, feed the hungry, purify the air, restore the oceans, live in harmony with nature, restore stability to the world and stop fighting. This is exactly what the movement representatives are trying to achieve with the help of independent communities on the water.
The organization's first project, Ocean Builders, is deployed in Panama. It is a production of "ocean mushrooms" - two-seat modules in shallow water with all the amenities, called the SeaPod. Such housing impresses with its compactness, intimacy and gorgeous ocean views. However, this model is still being developed.
Ventive Floathouse (California, USA) specializes in modular capsule dwellings. Thanks to its special design, it can be either one float house or a whole community united in a “snowflake”. Several of these communities can be turned into a whole city. Property value information is disclosed upon request.
The Blue Frontiers company is currently negotiating the creation of a special economic zone for sistadding, but so far they have not led to any results. It was with this company that in 2017 was associated both a major success and, at the same time, a serious failure in the creation of floating islands. Then the government of French Polynesia (controlled by France, located in the south of the Pacific Ocean) gave the go-ahead for the project, but due to the tense political situation in the country, it had to be curtailed.
No less ambitious is the Blueseed cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco (California, USA). A business incubator was supposed to appear here. To take part in the project, aspiring entrepreneurs would not even have to apply for a work visa. It was planned that successful startups "go down" from the ship to the shore and are already being implemented directly in the nearby Silicon Valley. But in 2014, after repeated attempts to attract funding, the project had to be curtailed.
At the moment, not a single systeding project has been fully implemented. Basically, it all comes down to funding. It takes a significant investment to build even a single oceanfront module. Not every "representative of the middle class of a developed country" can pay such an amount.This whole story, despite convincing arguments and good goals, still remains a utopian and beautiful fairy tale.