Seasteading: Competitive Governments on the Ocean

18 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2012

See all articles by Patri Friedman

Patri Friedman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Brad Taylor

Australian National University (ANU)

Date Written: May 2012


We argue that those advocating the reform of current political systems in order to promote jurisdictional competition are in a catch‐22: jurisdictional competition has the potential to improve policy, but reforms to increase competition must be enacted by currently uncompetitive governments. If such governments could be relied upon to enact such reforms, they would likely not be necessary. Since existing governments are resistant to change, we argue that the only way to overcome the deep problem of reform is by focusing on the bare‐metal layer of society – the technological environment in which governments are embedded. Developing the technology to create settlements in international waters, which we refer to as seasteading, changes the technological environment rather than attempting to push against the incentives of existing political systems. As such, it sidesteps the problem of reform and is more likely than more conventional approaches to significantly alter the policy equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Patri and Taylor, Brad, Seasteading: Competitive Governments on the Ocean (May 2012). Kyklos, Vol. 65, Issue 2, pp. 218-235, 2012, Available at SSRN: or

Patri Friedman (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Brad Taylor

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

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