Transhumanism Evolved


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Island Project


[Note: This page is from the "early days" (roughly '97) of the transtopia Project, when its primary aim was to create a Transhuman/pseudo-Libertarian island community; initially on an existing island in the Bahamas, and later on an artificial structure in international waters. The latter would be a truly autonomous micronation. Since then this group has realized, however, that a socio-technological Singularity --or at least a dramatic and potentially (very) dangerous acceleration of technological progress-- may be relatively imminent, and has adapted transtopia accordingly; see the Intro and Singularity Club pages for further details. The original Island Project, though no longer the primary focus of these pages, has not been terminated, however. It could be an interesting experience, after all, as well as a powerful catalyst for other plans and projects. The island -or Flotilla- is now simply one of several items on the transtopian wish list.]


Private Island - Original Plan

If & when we've raised enough money via online businesses, and/or other means, we'll buy a tropical island, probably in the Bahamas (a prime candidate was Cockroach Cay, an 80 acre, US $ 840,000 island located in the Berry Islands group, Bahamas -- see picture below), a couple of boats and auxiliary equipment. Estimated grand total: US $ 1,000,000, to be split among 50 - 100 people. Some basic rules & contracts would have to be made regarding the collective use of the island, dwellings, and auxiliaries, but basically group members could come and go as they please and do whatever they want, as long as they don't harm the others, damage property, wreck the environment, or somehow endanger the project.

Cockroach Cay in the Bahamas On the island, everyone can decide for himself how much he wants to interact with the other participants. A, say, 80 acre island is big enough to provide everyone who wants it with ample privacy. Even if 100 people participate in the project, it is very unlikely that more than 30 will ever occupy the island at the same time, save for some special occasions such as international Transhumanist / Libertarian gatherings etc. The core group of more or less permanent inhabitants would likely be made up of approx. 10 - 30 dedicated freedom lovers, with others dropping by whenever they feel like it or can afford it. To preserve the island's natural beauty, it would probably be best to build one or two small holiday-style appartment complexes for the permanent inhabitants and visitors, while leaving the rest of the island relatively untouched and park-like except for some parts with fruit trees, a vegetable garden etc. Another possibility would be using a floating habitat, moored alongside the island, to live in. There would have to be at least one (brick and concrete) building with a spacious cellar on the island however, to provide shelter in case of a hurricane or some other emergency.

Micronation

In a later phase we could consider founding a truly autonomous micronation, located on an artificial island somewhere outside the 200 mile Exclusive Economic (maritime) Zone of neighboring countries. Ideally, it would be contructed from floating ( Oceania & Seastead.org) or fixed (New Utopia) concrete structures moored/built atop some shallow spot like a sand bank, rock formation, or coral reef. Alternatively, one or several large, soil-filled "scrap" ships could be moored or ran aground in a suitable location, thus forming an instant "village" which could later be expanded with other vessels and structures. Artificial "electric" reefs could be used to gradually cement everything together until a "real" island is formed.

Needless to say, such a truly independent island state would offer some interesting legal and business opportunities, for example regarding abortion, euthanasia [combined with] cryonics or recreational/medicational drug use & sale, voluntary eugenics, human cloning, genetic engineering -- it's all possible in a place where reason is the law. Also noteworthy is the fact that such a remote, essentially self-supporting community might even (comfortably) survive a full-blown global nuclear, chemical, and/or biological conflict. It could turn what might otherwise have been the death blow to (Western) civilization in general, and Transhumanism in particular into a catalyst for unprecedented socio-political & technological change and progress; the genesis of a rational world order.

Freedom Flotilla

The Spanish Armada Another option would be to purchase "second hand" (but still seaworthy) ships, register them under carefully selected flags of convenience, and use them as a mobile base of sorts; a floating freetown that roams international waters and visits the more attractive uninhabited islands (and sometimes establishes semi-permanent settlements there). Stealth, mobility, obscurity, legal loopholes, and some good old firepower (against pirates and other scum) could result in a very decent level of practical autonomy. Moving from tropical island to tropical island, harvesting the often freely and abundantly available local resources, organizing hardcore raves and parties, staying in touch and doing business with the rest of the world via satellite internet, hanging out with fellow pioneers...well, there definitely are worse ways to make a living.

It is aboard one of such ships that, perhaps, the more "radical" transhuman technologies (advanced genetic engineering, bio-mechanical enhancements, neural interfaces, AI etc.) could best be developed and experimented with; maybe even more or less "legally" if you select the right flag(s) of convenience. Likewise, you could "legally" smoke pot, own guns, freeze dead people, or pay little or no taxes if your ship is registered with the right country, and if a country's laws no longer suit you, you can simply switch flags (or ships). If, however, the main flotilla remains firmly in international waters and well away from the main shipping lanes and dominant countries' patrol zones, and isn't used as a platform for high-profile political activism, terrorism, large-scale narcotics & arms smuggling and the like, the world's governments aren't likely to care, or indeed know, about it. Just a bunch of ships, registered by different, apparently unrelated individuals in various obscure countries, that happen to meet on the high seas. In other words, once you're on the high seas you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as the Golden Rule isn't violated. If you bring your own private craft, you can have all the privacy you want (while at the same time having easy, 24/7 access to communal facilities and services located in and provided by the motherships -- see also below), and join or leave the flotilla anytime.

Costs? Well, considering that very decent, used 50-100 meter seaworthy vessels can sometimes be bought for less than $300,000, $1 million, the same amount that would have been needed to get the original island project going, could go a long way. If the idea turns out to be viable, we could start out with just one or two larger, collective vessels ("motherships") and a few smaller, private ones ("satellites"). The flotilla could later be expanded whenever finances allow, and/or the need arises. It's a very flexible, modular design with virtually unlimited upgrading possibilities; a mobile, fully customized composite nation, in effect.

If you have questions, comments and general feedback regarding the project or this website, feel free to email us. If you want to get actively involved, the mailing list is the place to be. Here you can discuss both the practical and lighter sides of the project with kindred spirits.


General points

To make the project a success, these and other things must be considered:

  • Some general rules for interaction, a proto-constitution if you will. The basis of this document should be something like "do what you want as long as you don't harm or endanger the other members of the group" (aka the Golden Rule). Since harming "outsiders" could very well trigger retaliatory attacks from people with a lot more firepower than yourself, this should generally be avoided as well (unless they attack first, in which case a firm ass-whopping is more than appropriate). The "constitution" (social contract) should further be kept as simple and minimalistic as possible; after all, excessive bureaucracy and restrictive government policies are among the prime reasons why people want to start their own country / offshore community in the first place!

  • Research into law of the sea. Keeping a low profile beats any law when it comes to avoiding conflicts with governments, by the way, but this may not be always possible. After all, you'll have to make a living, and some of the most lucrative businesses (like dope sale and gambling) are also a sure way to attract unwanted attention from governments and criminals alike. The risk can be spread, however, by having a remote home base, and operating special "hedonism ships" (with gambling facilities etc.) just outside the 12 (>24? See: Part II Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, Section 4, Article 33) nautical mile government jurisdiction zone, or, if you want to play it safer still, outside the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone. See also the article The Last Free Place on Earth by T.O. Morrow for some legal issues regarding autonomous artificial islands on the high seas. Also, it helps a lot if you stay away from the real badasses (i.e. large, dominant countries -- the USA, UK, France etc.), and primarily "target" the weaker, politically insignificant/isolated ones.


Extract Law of the Sea regarding EEZs and artificial islands

Article 60
Artificial islands, installations and structures in the
exclusive economic zone

1. In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have the exclusive right to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation and use of: (a) artificial islands; (b) installations and structures for the purposes provided for in article 56 and other economic purposes; (c) installations and structures which may interfere with the exercise of the rights of the coastal State in the zone.

2. The coastal State shall have exclusive jurisdiction over such artificial islands installations and structures, including jurisdiction with regard to customs fiscal health, safety and immigration laws and regulations.

3. Due notice must be given of the construction of such artificial islands, installations or structures, and permanent means for giving warning of their presence must be maintained. Any installations or structures which are abandoned or disused shall be removed to ensure safety of navigation, taking into account any generally accepted international standards established in this regard by the competent international organization. Such removal shall also have due regard to fishing, the protection of the marine environment and the rights and duties of other States. Appropriate publicity shall be given to the depth, position and dimensions of any installations or structures not entirely removed.

4. The coastal State may, where necessary, establish reasonable safety zones around such artificial islands, installations and structures in which it may take appropriate measures to ensure the safety both of navigation and of the artificial islands, installations and structures.

5. The breadth of the safety zones shall be determined by the coastal State, taking into account applicable international standards. Such zones shall be designed to ensure that they are reasonably related to the nature and function of the artificial islands, installations or structures, and shall not exceed a distance of 500 metres around them, measured from each point of their outer edge, except as authorized by generally accepted international standards or as recommended by the competent international organization. Due notice shall be given of the extent of safety zones.

6. All ships must respect these safety zones and shall comply with generally accepted international standards regarding navigation in the vicinity of artificial islands, installations, structures and safety zones.

7. Artificial islands, installations and structures and the safety zones around them may not be established where interference may be caused to the use of recognized sea lanes essential to international navigation.

8. Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.

End excerpt

For a copy of the Law of the High Seas, click here. More info about the Law of the Sea and related matters can be found here


  • Onother major point is the configuration of your ocean-based habitat. Will it for example be a concrete island, and if so will it be fixed to the ocean floor (on pillars), floating (with heavy, fixed anchors to keep it in place) or a combination of the two? Other possibilities include underwater habitats, living on a large(r) ship, which could either be some used hotel barge, a modified container ship, tanker or trawler, or, ideally, a small/medium-sized cruise ship.


Advantages and disadvantages per habitat

The Principality of New Utopia

I. Fixed (to the ocean floor) concrete platforms

Pro: A fixed platform offers great stability, you won't get sea sick like on a ship or other free-floating structure, it has more of a real "island" feel to it, can support heavier structures, and won't sink so easily.

Con: Shallow places are practically always part of someone else's territory, or at least within their 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Within this zone all "produce" of the sea and sea floor can be claimed by the country it belongs to, so you wouldn't be able to (legally) fish or mine minerals etc. near your island, and worse, the "owner" of the EEZ could exercise his legal power over your posessions, see also the legal excerpt above. Living with undoubtedly harsh taxes, plenty of government regulations, and the constant threat of confiscation and eviction is of course hardly an acceptable option for the freedom-minded.

Even if your shallow spot is well within international territory, there's still the geological problem: it's probably the top of an underwater vulcano, or at least situated in a place where the continental shelves collide, forming an underwater mountain range. Certainly for Transhumanists, who take life-extension quite seriously, living on top of an old volcano of otherwise seismically unstable area isn't exactly appealing (at least, that's what one would expect; oddly enough, there's a large concentration of Transhumanists, and specifically Extropians, in the L.A. region, of all places).

Some other problems inherent to fixed platforms are of course lack of mobility (but this could at least partially be fixed by having a couple of ships to do business, get supplies etc.) and the possibility that a rigid platform could be more vulnerable to bad weather than a flexible one, though this is far from certain and depends on the specific design. A final problem could be the supposed rising of the sea level (due to global warming), but, assuming that such predictions are accurate at all, this generally isn't expected to become a serious problem for at least several decades, and by then it will be a whole new ballgame (so don't worry, be happy, and carp some diem). If, however, you want to be on the safe side you can simply add a couple of extra meters to the base level of the structure.

It must be said however, that if the abovementioned problems can be overcome, a fixed (concrete) platform is greatly preferable as a place to live to the floating configuration or ships because it's the closest thing to a real island. The proposed Libertarian-Futurist Principality of New Utopia (see also picture above) is a good example of a fixed platform setup.

Oceania - The Atlantis Project

II. Floating concrete platforms

Pro: Mobility (depends on the size though), one can choose from a much wider variety of locations then with a fixed platform, and move around if necessary. The stability of a concrete island would probably be much better than that of a ship, although the action of the waves could still be felt. You could relatively easily add on new structures, both horizontally and vertically; the island could really grow.

Con: A floating platform could at least theoretically sink if damaged badly enough during a storm, attack, or as a result of fundamental design flaws / structural weaknesses. Also it could carry less superstructure, soil etc., and the wave action could cause discomfort to some inhabitants, as well as displacement of any non-attached objects, such as furniture, during rough seas. For more information about floating platforms, visit Seastead.org.

Ghost Ship

III. Ships

Pro: Good to excellent mobility, depending on the model of your ship. Best price-product ratio: for approx. the price of one bare concrete platform you can buy a fairly large used ship that only needs some minor repairs & refitting, but is otherwise ready to be sailed and inhabited. Because even the biggest ship might get a bit cramped after a while at sea, one could practice "island hopping", sailing to an uninhabited island of choice (and there are many), and staying there for weeks, months or even years. The government that owns the place probably doesn't mind, and in any case it it's very unlikely that anyone will even bother to patrol these remote areas. And should someone come and cause trouble, you can always leave at a moment's notice (or shoot them, if they're pirates). Ideally you'd have two (or more) ships, one as a home base and one for business/supplies, but even with just one (big) ship this should be a feasible lifestyle. If you make enough money, concrete platforms or bigger ships can be bought as you go along, so that you can "settle down" if you feel the need. It might be somewhat difficult to get a ship recognized as a "nation" (but presumable not more so than a concrete platform), but a making clever use of flags of convenience combined with the ship's mobility and relative obscurity could provide a lot of "practical" autonomy; probably more so than any other realistic, near-future solution.

Con: Ships can sink more easily than (large) platforms, and need constant maintenance to stay operational. Also you'd have considerable fuel costs (sails are much too cumbersome), and at least some group members would have to learn how to navigate, maintain, and operate a ship. Concrete platforms on the other hand are pretty straightforward, though they too will have to be checked & repaired every now and then. Also, there's the matter (for some) of seasickness, but this could be somewhat alleviated by avoiding rough seas as much as possible, using a well-stabilized boat (for example a twin-hulled model) and "camping" on islands as often as possible. Also there are various anti-seasickness drugs & gadgets on the market, some of which are quite effective. Maritime has a list of affordable used ships.

Olympia hotel barge

IV. Barges

Pro: Much easier to maintain than a ship because there are no engines and related equipment, just a steel hull with some kind of (possibly prefabricated) superstructure to live in. In this configuration, it's basically a house boat on steroids. By linking several barges together you can have a small town, complete with greenhouses for growing fruits, "herbs" & vegetables, a small park, a swimming pool etc. If you want to move around you can hire a tug, or (preferably) use your own.

Con: Unlike concrete islands, barges rust and will need a paint job and general repairs every now and then, but this doesn't have to be a major problem. Also, a barge isn't as seaworthy as a normal ship, so you'll want to moor it in a relatively quiet spot out of the way of tornadoes and such -- in a circular atoll's lagoon, for example. Mobility-wise a barge ranks somewhere between a ship and a floating concrete structure. It could be useful as a base, but having at least one medium-sized, seaworthy ship for supply, transportation, and emergency evacuation is more or less essential. See Intership Limited for some pictures and descriptions of barges and related vessels.

Leaf Cay in the Bahamas

V. Natural islands

Pro: Best stability one can get -- unless your island is in a geologically unstable area like Hawaii, of course. Islands provide a ready platform to build on. Also they're generally better looking than a block of concrete.

Con: All (known) islands fall under some government's jurisdiction, which means that true autonomy is out of the question. However, due to their relative isolation, at least some tropical islands may offer reasonably undisturbed surroundings without most of the hassles of (sub)urban life. Add to this a pleasant climate and beautiful scenery, and you have a very reasonable (temporary) compromise; natural islands could be used as an intermediate step towards "full" autonomy on the high seas. Needless to say, the local government, weather, and the island itself must be checked out thoroughly before any deal is made. Also, you'll need at least one sturdy boat for transportation, supply & security. A seaplane or chopper could also be very useful, especially in case of (medical) emergencies, and should be acquired (along with a dedicated pilot, obviously) as soon as one's budget allows.

Underwater scene

VI. Underwater habitats

Pro: Even at relatively moderate depths there is no or hardly any influence from the weather above; an underwater habitat remains stable trough just about any storm. Also you wouldn't have to worry too much about unwanted visitors, because an underwater structure is hard to detect, certainly for ordinary pirates and such.

Con: As in a submarine, a leak could quickly have disastrous consequences, though this could be countered by compartmentalization, double hulls, emergency breathing gear in all major quarters etc. Such measures are rather expensive though, and the whole setup would be very cramped, much more so than a ship or platform. Above-water structures such as a sun deck or garden could make this kind of living more bearable, but would also at least partially compromise the secrecy and stability of the setup. Nonetheless, underwater structures migh be a useful addition to floating platforms or roaming ships as emergency shelters and for recreational purposes etc.


Recommended reading

Though somewhat dated, these books provide many useful tips for the beginning pioneer, and get you into the mood for adventure.

  • Blueprint for Paradise -- How to Live on a Tropic Island
    Author: Ross Norgrove, published by Moon Publications Inc., (C) 1989

  • The Last Frontiers on Earth -- Strange Places Where You Can Live Free
    Author: Jon Fisher, published by Loompanics Unlimited (C) 1980, 1985.

  • Uninhabited Ocean Islands
    Author: Jon Fisher, published by Loompanics Unlimited (C) 1991.

  • How To Start Your Own Country
    Author: Erwin Strauss, published by Loompanics Unlimited (C) 1984, (2nd edition).

    The above titles can (or at least could) all be purchased online from Loompanics Unlimited.


Links

Private Islands For Sale A collection of various atolls, islands, islets, cays and specks that are for sale on the Web. Locations include New Zealand, the Caribbean, Honduras, British Columbia & the Mediterranean.

U.S. Submarines, Inc. Manufacturers of luxury subs, tourist subs, submersibles and searoom habitats.

Sub-Find Commercial submarines, submersibles, habitats, and remote operated vehicles.

Silvercrest Submarines Offers a range of Rovs, submarines, submersibles, and support services, to individuals, dive operators, and organisations.

Marlin Submarines "Our speciality is the building of autonomous Diesel-electric submarines for both commercial and tourist use. However, in addition to the submarine projects detailed here, we have been involved in the design and implementation of a wide range of underwater and industrial projects, both as prime- and sub-contractors."

Maritime Sales, Inc. Has a large listing of (used) ships for sale. Some are relatively affordable.

Electric Reefs When an electric current (provided by an array of solar cells) is passed through a metal frame, it triggers a chemical reaction in seawater that coats the metal with a form of limestone that corals can't resist. Eventually the metal structure should disappear beneath a multicolored forest of coral. Apart from creating or regenerating coral reefs, it should also be possible to grow, consolidate, and/or expand artificial islands with this kind of tech.

Sea Sickness and how to prevent it! Some useful tips if you want to go sailing.

Medical Papers: Seasickness "Find out what the scientific community has researched and reported about seasickness and how effective treatments may be. Draw your own conclusions!"

The Islands Of The Bahamas The Official Homepage of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

Bahamanet "We have hundreds and hundreds of links, growing everyday, and all of them are related to The Bahamas. No one has more links than us. No one has a more accurate organization of links so you can find what you want quickly."

The Survival & Self-Reliance Studies Institute "SSRsi seeks to provide the most comprehensive database of survival, self-reliance, and emergency preparedness information on the internet."

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Various gun, self-defense, and freedom-related links.

Buildfreedom.com "This site is for anyone interested in creative, innovative, and powerful ways to enjoy more freedom and to turn their freedom expertise into advantages in all areas of life."

The Offshore Entrepreneur -- Making Money Offshore Here are a number of different roads to the creation and protection of wealth in foreign countries prepared by Adam Starchild.

The Last Free Place on Earth An article by Extropian T.O. Morrow on creating a sovereign territory on the high seas.

Law Research -- Law of the Sea A very large collection of (links to) legal texts on this subject.

Flags of Convenience S.A.. "FoC was incorporated in 1998 to provide services for clients, shipowners, yacht owners, shipbrokers, builders, legal advisers wishing to register commercial ships, pleasure boats and commercial aircraft under various Flags. Our company offers a tremendous roster of various Offshore & Onshore Jurisdictions worldwide where business-savvy parties can set-up Corporations, Trusts, Foundations, Banks and Insurance Companies. Consultations are available."

Global Policy Forum: Flags of Convenience Has some good basic info on the phenomenon and lists various news articles pertaining to changes and developments in foc-related policies.

"Flags of convenience" give owners a paper refuge A '96 article from the Houston Chronicle describing the many advantages of registering a ship under a flag of convenience.

Flags of Convenience Wikipedia entry. Includes a list of FoC countries.

Micronations.net "Your source for everything micronational."

The Micronations Homepage Gives an alphabetical listing of microstates with historical outlines and legitimacy ratings (1 through 5).

Institut Français de Micropatrologie -- French Micropatrological Institute Has various interesting links to micronations and related topics, as well as some French texts.

Micronational Links A comprehensive guide to micronation activity on the web, courtesy of the Holy Empire of Réunion.

Micronations @ Yahoo! Directory

Free State Project -- Liberty in Our Lifetime. "The Free State Project is a plan in which 20,000 or more liberty-oriented people will move to a single state of the U.S. -- New Hampshire, where they may work within the political system to reduce the size and scope of government. The success of the Free State Project would likely entail reductions in burdensome taxation and regulation, reforms in state and local law, an end to federal mandates, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world."

Free State New Hampshire "Freestatenh.com is here to bring you a clearinghouse of information about the state of New Hampshire, for Free State Project members moving here. On October 1st, New Hampshire was announced as the state of choice for members of the Free State Project. We will work to fill this site with real estate, employment, small business, school and other information for Free State Project members moving to New Hampshire."

The Creekside Preserve A lodge with guest cabins situated in Arizona, USA. This is the first phase of a project to create the world's first cryonics / immortalist village -- Ventureville (named after the Society For Venturism, a non-profit organization which "advocates and promotes the worldwide conquest of death and the continuation and enhancement of life through technological means, including cryonic suspension ...." Creekside Preserve's "main man", Dave Pizer, is a Venturist).

Seastead.org "This is the home of the Seasteading Project, which aims to build sovereign, self-sufficient floating platforms, thus creating new territory on the oceans. Our fundamental principle is to approach this ambitious vision in a realistic manner. This includes using conventional technologies whenever possible, coming up with profitable business models, and progressing by bootstrapping through a reasonable series of steps."

New Utopia A (defunct?) project aimed at creating a futurist-libertarian state on an artificial island in the Caribbean.

Oceania -- The Atlantis Project A somewhat similar libertarian project, now defunct (but the homepage is still operational and has some interesting info for pioneers).

Freedom Ship A proposed autonomous community based on a huge, custom-designed ship that's to cruise around the world.

The Living Universe Foundation A project to "colonize the galaxy", starting with ocean habitats.

The Lifeboat Foundation "A nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, dedicated to providing solutions that will safeguard humanity from the growing threat of terrorism and technological cataclysm. This humanitarian organization is pursuing all possible options, including self-sustaining technologies using AI and nanotechnology, with an emphasis on self-contained space arks."

The Artemis Project A private venture to establish a permanent, self-supporting community on the Moon.

Island One Society An affiliate of the Artemis Project, which is intended as a meeting place for future space colonists and business people of a libertarian or at least live and let live bent.

League of the New Worlds An organization that seeks to establish a permanent presence in the oceans and space.

P.E.R.M.A.N.E.N.T. -- Projects to Employ Resources of the Moon and Asteroids Near Earth in the Near Term A very informative site about the possibilities of space colonization.


Free State Project



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