Making a living at sea has been possible for millenia | oceanic business alliance

(Wilfried Ellmer) #1

• Making a living at sea has been possible for millenia. (@Matias Matias Volco)

This postulate made by @Matias on the cruise ship thread (ref.76) certainly deseves a own thread. | what can these examples teach us | what needs to be done DIFFERENT to develop permanent floating cities | Venice | Monaco | subdue to nobody | transition capacity to powerfull sea cities | state free society - emergent law | Extrastatecraft | liquid real estate | evolution to seasteads |


• Moken | • Uru | • Khmer | • Polynesians | • Josua Slocum | • floating Neutrinos | • Richi Sowa | • Yachting | • Marine industry | • Svanen |


You’re really good at stealing and failing to give due credit. I brought the Moken angle into the conversation, and you are constantly disparaging my ideas for an achievable goal of a yacht-sized, family-scale Seastead.

adjective: disparaging

expressing the opinion that something is of little worth; derogatory

That said…

The Moken are important examples of how it CAN be and HAS been done.

Even Robert Ballard says that attempting to build cities first, is the wrong approach…

c/o @groggygroggy

“Listen to his criticism of SeaSteaders at 5:50 - The problem with SeaSteaders is they are building the Cities first, they should be building the farms (farmers) first.”

(Wilfried Ellmer) #3

It is not really about the (Moken, Uru,…etc ) their model of “underdog, low scale, improvised raft seasteading” is failing for 1200 years by now to create a powerfull sea city…their importance is just in showing even to the “slowest fox in the forrest” that this is a “pointless aproach after all (ref 954)”. A failed experiment which is “definitly not necessary to repeate” in the context of seasteading.

It is about transition capacity - to grow from small scale to a powerfull sea city type VENICE by solving the seasteading technology bottleneck…and allow the gradual growth approach @Matias is talking about for several years. | It is about the evolutionary line to seasteading |

If there will be a “farming development” associated to seasteads it will obviously look like this ( oceanic aquaculture )…

(Larry G) #4

Making a living at sea and becoming a powerful state don’t have much to do with each other. I’ll take “widely distributed” over “large scale” any day.

First, what is the assumption behind the idea of powerful sea city? Economically, politically, militarily are the three main dimensions typically considered “powerful” on the state level. Power, in this case means the ability to influence others, as opposed to the typical engineering definition of “ability to do work”.

The three dimensions are inextricably inter-related, but the political and military angles have some other baggage that go along with them. Personally, the only power to influence others I would care about and actively work for, is to influence them to leave my city alone, other than voluntary trade. So I’m not very interested in creating “powerful” sea cities.

But leave that aside for a moment. How do cities become powerful? Politically and militarily, it comes through large population base. Economic power can multiply the military effectiveness of a state, but it military effectiveness still requires a dedicated population of military professionals that train and dedicate time to military pursuits, or a societal class or caste that spends a considerable amount of time in training for war. Either way, it is lots of manpower that is diverted from productive pursuit.

Economically, modern states become powerful through trade and value-add activities. Primary production or raw assets is rarely enough any more to become “powerful” because most of human wealth is created, not found.

However, a base of productivity is required too, if only for diversification of resources as a hedge against change. The whole point of the discussion about making a living is that not all locations are equal. Proximity to markets drastically, directly affects the value of real estate. Modern technological mobility has brought distant markets economically closer, and sometimes the distance is less important than the mode of transportation, depending on relative costs of the mode.

There are a number of clearly defined and well-accepted means of making a living at sea. The one that is closest to a seastead (where people stay in more or less one spot, working at production rather than simply transporting) so far is primary production aboard an oil platform. Many cities in N. America started out as logging camps (especially in my area of the Pacific NW), which had a very similar culture to modern oil platforms. Rougneck single men (mostly) who rotated through accepting minimal accommodations in return for a boom camp amount of compensation, eventually adding support functions: laundry, better food, bathing facilities, then bars, restaurants, eventually general stores, barbers, and all the myriad other conveniences of civilization, until the timber industry passed by and the town was left dependent upon it’s other businesses and enough local population to continue a cycle of supply and demand. Some succeeded, many failed.

Oil production however, has a lot higher start-up cost and many of the problems of such a model for starting a city-state are obvious from history. Company stores locking employees into debt peonage, arbitrary strong-arm enforcement of company standards rather than equitable law, etc. Anything that starts out with one, un-diversified industry has a large risk of not jumping the gap into sustainable community- this is also obvious from “company town” histories.

Thus the need for “farmers”. Only instead of farmers, just say local producers. Yes, there is ALWAYS a market for fresh local food. But there’s also a market for affordable fuel (whether that is the traditional woodcutter/charcoal maker, bio-diesel from algae, or methane from the poo-tank.) There’s a market for locally produced luxury items (even in the face of higher-quality or fancier, more impressive luxury imports)- soaps, furnishings, decorations. Emergency repair capacity- not just spare parts, but replacement parts mfg capability for the unexpected things that break: brackets, shrouds, hinges, not just oil filters, fan belts, and FRU sub-assemblies.

Venice didn’t get built with the intention of becoming a great city. A few people found a convenient location to conduct their business and the city grew around that over centuries. Nobody came up with a killer app that justified a city and then built it to spec.

The real practical way a sea city will have to grow, is when a number of people who live mostly on the ocean, empirically determine that gathering in proximity to conduct industry is mutually advantageous. A village of such is far more likely and manageable than a city, and the benefit of the sea o be realized (mobile real estate, political arbitrage), it is much more easily achieved at the village level.

Cities in the jungle didn’t exist until there were enough dispersed there to need a city. Cities didn’t exist in the mountains until enough people existed living dispersed in the mountains to need a city. For that critical mass of people to exist in the first place and discover this utility in gathering, there needs to be a sustainable (economically, technically) means for large numbers of people to experiment with living on the ocean as a complete lifestyle, not just a visit or for transportation.


Not necessarily. There are multiple problems with the use of cage-culture fish farming, and chief among them is the total dependence on commercial land-based grain and land-based hatcheries, followed by pollution and processing.

By necessity, that model needs to change. Environmental destruction will not be a good thing, where as, an integrated semi-closed food chain that provides feed for the commercial products, and adds other products makes more sense, given the way eco-laws, even at U.N. level, are being framed and implemented.

While you seem to be a scoff-law, Navies and Coast Guards have the power to end anything they feel interferes with their activities and purposes. Laws should be formed around the need to protect the innocent, and the overall health of the planet. What damages one area, impacts the rest. If land pollution is already an oceanic problem, as noted by the hew-and cry over the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, then activities that can lead to further degradation of the oceans will be shut down.

I.M.T.A. (Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture) has the potential to not only provide food for Seasteading, but a historically proven means of human expansion. As people have expanded across the planet, first were the scouts and explorers reported what was out there. That has been solved, given the current state of satellite mapping. Next came the rebellious few, followed by agriculture. Once agriculture was established, and trade opened up, with a food-supply in place, colonization happened rapidly.

(Matias Volco) #6

this topics comes from cruise ships for a good reason. Never in history has been possible to make a living aboard for so many people in so many walks of life. Even more telling are the distributed version of cruise ships, large yachts, which employ even more crew per passenger than cruise ships in more varied activities that could hardly be replaced by robots. These are very desireable albeit demanding jobs. Perhaps the biggest complaint I hear is the perpetual crampedness of the crew cabins, an issue that could easily be solved by large drifter pods, instead of fast stramlined toys.


It is in fact the traditional seafaring activities such as travel and trade that are under risk (aircraft and now remote operation of container ships)

(Larry G) #7

This is a good point. Airline pilot jobs are under a similar threat.

(Matias Volco) #8

A robot driver doesn’t need to be 100% safe, only safer than the average human driver

I wonder if the ongoing cost of retrofitting current cities beats the cost of creating new ones. If nothing else because of regulation and cooperation. Again the water offers interference free area and the possibility of testing zones.

People at sea might work the same jobs as people in a city.

(Larry G) #9

Social resistance to change is often harder to overcome than financial reasons. there’s a certain critical mass to people accepting new things. Like a herd of sheep being chased around a pen until the first few break out the open gate you wanted them to go through and the rest suddenly can’t get through that gate fast enough.

In a rational world… unfortunately, some will insist that a robot must be completely 100% reliable all the time before it can replace the 50% reliable human.

As I type this, I am on a conference call with federal regulators talking about IT security for the utility industry. Most of my efforts are being expended trying to make people realize that they are lulled by a false sense of security currently, and their resistance to using new technology (because the standards aren’t prescriptive enough for their comfort) is irrational based upon a professional assessment that the problems they perceive in the new tech already exist in the old tech, and without acknowledging that, they run the serious risk of closing better, more secure, more affordable ways off while leaving the old ways unsecure as ever.

We’re also in the absurd position of talking about security controls for low-impact systems (virtually nothing required at this point) and all of the proposals for increasing security would leap-frog them into more stringent requirements than the medium-impact systems.

(Matias Volco) #10

On one side I think we’re in a time where herd behaviour is possible to be redefined towards a worthwile goal (Planet Stewardship) and in the process the sheep are looser than ever before in history since the Agricultural Revolution.

On the other side your remarks remind me of Peter Thiel’s advice to churn out dozens and hundreds of small seastead in a zerg rush to impose a new reality instead of negotiate its permission.

(Matias Volco) #11

Security is a very powerful illusion, but so is the entire human experience. My example of self driving cars being only safer than the human average is by now historical not speculative!
bring that fact to attention

(Larry G) #12

I’m not big on asking permission to do things that don’t impose on other people directly.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #13

…That is one of the of the beautyful angles of seasteading. As a seastead is “subdue to nobody by default” it has to ask “no master for permission” either - by default.

(Larry G) #14

Not scientific, but just as a talking point, the US Employment ratio is only about 67% and rarely gets above 70%

This unfairly discounts useful and necessary in-the-home occupations such as raising children, cooking, cleaning, and everything else that goes along with maintaining a household. These tasks should be considered on economic par with minimum wage jobs outside the home. This would be a very fair comparison, because most of the persons hired for domestic assistance in someone else’s home are low-paid, but it’s still a considerable economic factor in the economy.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #15

• To not repeate the erroneous hypothesis “nothing has been built yet” over and over again…

It is important to understand what is out there already (ref. 65) | seasteading is not starting from cero | there has been developments evolving slowly into seasteading for millenia… just to mention a few: | Venice | Moken | Tanka | Yachties | Khalifa | marine structures | marine business |

Seasteading as defined by TSI ( permanent floating city states with political autonomy) is just the “obvious endpoint” of this evolutionary line. ( transform what is here today in what we envision for tomorrow - ref 953 )

Big concrete floating platform in (honeycomb shell) for industrial use floating out…