An illustration provided by the Seasteading Institute shows the organization's vision for a "floating city" off the coast of French Polynesia. The Seasteading Institute
Randolph Hencken spends most of his day on Skype and Slack, talking with business partners around the globe who share his vision of an isolated, "floating city" — a literal island unto itself.
When that idea becomes reality, Hencken, executive director of the Seasteading Institute , says not much will change. He will still be stuck behind a desk.
"The difference would be, I would probably start my day going kite-surfing," Hencken says over the phone, adding that he would eat a lot more fish and breadfruit.
Those kite-surfing dreams could one day come true. The Seasteading Institute tells Business Insider it has found a partner, French Polynesia, to help build a floating city in the South Pacific. A formal agreement, which is likely to be passed according to Hencken, now awaits the signature of President Édouard Fritch.
L-R: Patri Friedman and Peter Thiel, cofounders of the Seasteading Institute. Wikimedia Commons; Tristan Fewings/Getty
If things go as planned, the group may break ground on a seastead off the coast of the French-owned island chain as early as 2017. The new city could consist of two or three platforms that each cover half a football field and house 30 people. Should the pilot program prove successful, more platforms will be added.
The Seasteading Institute, cofounded by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Google software engineer Patri Friedman (grandson of economist Milton Friedman) sent waves through Silicon Valley when it was created in 2008. The group set out to develop a floating city that would serve as a permanent, politically autonomous settlement.
Thiel, who has invested some $1.7 million in the project to date, envisioned a sort of libertarian utopia.
"The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?" Thiel, who resigned from the group's board in 2011 and continued to give financial support through 2014, told Details Magazine in 2011.
The group's ambitions are thought by some Silicon Valley influencers to be too wild, financially burdensome, and elitist to generate real results. But the new relationship with French Polynesia shows there's hope yet.