The French Polynesian Government has approved a U.S. company’s plan to build the first ever floating city above its waters. The San Francisco-based Seasteading Institute has been researching on the potential of the project for quite some time now. It is confident it would begin construction by 2019, after a memorandum was signed by French Polynesia.
The goal of the organization is to conceptualize, build and maintain permanent floating communities across the globe. While getting a host nation with the Pacific borders to get onboard with the vision proved difficult in the beginning, that is no longer the issue. Besides, Seasteading Institute has already tried its hand at developing something close to a floating city before.
Floating Island, A Big Fail
Back in 2008, the institute, with the funding from Facebook Billionaire and co-founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel, constructed a number of floating islands. According to Cato Unbound, when Thiel was asked why he decided to throw support behind such an unusual endeavor, he stated, “From my vantage point, the technology involved is more tentative than the Internet, but much more realistic than space travel. We may have reached the stage at which it is economically feasible, or where it soon will be feasible. It is a realistic risk, and for this reason I eagerly support this initiative.”
However, despite promising potential, the project was a huge failure. Both Thiel and the institute discovered that building an island in the middle of the ocean, outside any territorial borders, would incur huge food, transportation, energy, communications costs. Hence, this time, they have decided to pair up with a host nation instead.
Reasons Behind Choosing Polynesia
There are a number of reasons why Seasteading Institute approached French Polynesia to test out the project. The area has an ideal weather pattern, which includes a lack of frequent cyclones. Factors like the Tahiti airport, located a stone’s throw away, and coastal facilities, also played a role behind their choice.
However, the dream of building a floating city is far from being turned into reality. There is still a ton of research that goes into assessing the economic and environmental impact of such a city. Randolph Hencken, executive director of Seasteading Institute, also does not harbor fantastical expectations from the project. “I don’t think it will be that dramatically radical in the first renditions. But I imagine it has the opportunity to have different ways of voting for how things are run off the island instead of using the same systems that our great great-grandparents have given us that seem to have failed in so many first-world nations,” he said, as reported by ABC.
— ABC News 24 (@ABCNews24) January 17, 2017