Floating Cities for Latin America: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?


What The Big Bang Theory did for geeks and nerds, the new HBO half-hour comedy series Silicon Valley is doing for the new generation of socially conscious, overnight-millionaire tech entrepreneurs. It’s consolidating a positive cultural trend that is putting back businessmen and their virtues as social role models, not just in the United States but — thanks to globalization — to the rest of the world’s TV binge-watching youth.

But instead of Steve Jobs copycats and the theme of every startup with a phone app that will “make the world a better place,” imagine there is one whose project could really alter centuries of political status quo. It’s called the Seasteading Institute, and has been around for a few years. It’s not the typical tech startup, although it does involve disrupting technology and affecting social change via the market’s for-profit incentives: they want to build self-sustaining countries from scratch — on the sea.

Aptly called Let a Thousand Nations Bloom, the seasteading movement’s blog argues the case: “Like any technology, democracy was once a radical innovation, thought unlikely to work. Now, it is the industry standard. Our aim is to find, analyze, and debate the innovations in governance today that may become the standards of tomorrow, especially those that utilize the best technology for social organization ever developed — the market.”

If that sounds too abstract and utopian for you, then check out the Floating Cities Project‘s full report with detailed specs, released last month. They have found there is a market for such a new ecosystem of autonomous city-states and that there could be one in the Americas as early as 2020.

The plan is to set up shop within a host nation’s territorial waters and trade legal and political autonomy for the benefits of a coastal free trade zone. The most exciting news is that this could happen in Latin America.

While no country was found as ideal, the report yielded a consistent pattern that allowed for the selection of several Latin American countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Suriname, among a few other countries in other parts of the world.

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