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Mr. Stolyarov Interviewed by Stephen Euin Cobb on The Future And You – Part 2

Mr. Stolyarov Interviewed by Stephen Euin Cobb on The Future And You – Part 2

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
April 9, 2014

Stephen Euin Cobb, host of The Future And You podcast, recently interviewed me about Death is Wrong, life extension, visions of the future, and related topics – including a brief discussion of my novel Eden against the Colossus (2003-2004) and my play Implied Consent (2004-2005).

The second half of our excellent conversation was just posted as this week’s episode of The Future And You. Find it here.

Here is the link to the MP3 file of our interview:

You can also listen to the first part of our interview, posted on April 2, 2014. Here is the MP3 file for Part 1:

Support the “Little Mouse” Crowdfunded Life-Extension Research Project! – Post by G. Stolyarov II

Support the “Little Mouse” Crowdfunded Life-Extension Research Project! – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
October 4, 2013

As part of my escalating efforts to advance the prospects of radical life extension through my individual actions, I have donated $50 to an ambitious new crowdfunding project to research longevity-enhancing treatments in mice.

This international project, undertaken by researchers at the Kiev Institute of Gerontology and supported by the Methuselah Foundation and the SENS Research Foundation, has an Indiegogo fundraising page, titled “I am a little mouse and I want to live longer!”, where contributions can be made.

I am proud to donate to this effort to support longevity research through crowdfunding. This project allows those of us who seek longer lifespans, and who wish to advance the science that will get us there, to contribute directly in a manner whereby each of us can make a sizable fraction of the difference for this research effort. I look forward to the great work that this project will accomplish. Achieving statistically significant mouse life extension in the near future could trigger massive public interest and the influx of major research funds to attain increasingly ambitious life-extension goals in higher-order mammals, culminating in us.

The project has already raised $8,673 and has 16 days remaining to reach its $15,000 goal. The Methuselah Foundation will match each $1,000 given with an equivalent donation – so it is possible to double one’s impact by contributing funds to this research effort.

A Rational Cosmology – Treatise by G. Stolyarov II – Third Edition

A Rational Cosmology – Treatise by G. Stolyarov II – Third Edition

A Rational Cosmology - Third Edition - by G. Stolyarov II

A Rational Cosmology – Third Edition – by G. Stolyarov II

Contemporary science does not make as much progress as it could, due the fallacy of empiricism-positivism – the idea that no knowledge is certain beyond refutation and that every claim is contingent on highly narrow, particular, and expensive experiments. A Rational Cosmology, however, provides a thorough refutation of prevalent empiricist-positivist fallacies, both in content and in method. It shatters some of the erroneous philosophical interpretations of theories such as Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Moreover, it refutes the ex nihilo origin of the universe – including its manifestation in popular views of the Big Bang and Big Crunch – the particle/wave view of light, and a host of other fallacious ideas, using the proper, axiomatic-deductive methodology of identifying those theories’ conceptual flaws and internal contradictions.

As constructive alternatives to these fallacies, A Rational Cosmology presents objective, absolute, rationally grounded views of terms such as universe, matter, volume, space, time, motion, sound, light, forces, fields, and even the higher-order concepts of life, consciousness, and volition. The result is a system verified by ubiquitous observation and common sense, the underpinnings of objective science which demonstrate a knowable, fathomable reality and set the stage for unfettered progress, confidence in reason, and full-scale logical investigation of just about everything existence has to offer.

The Third Edition of A Rational Cosmology has been enhanced and edited, with augmentations and revisions to several of the previous essays. There is a new, beautiful cover design by Wendy D. Stolyarov. Furthermore, there are two additional numbered essays and more recent writings within the Related Essays section.

For the first time, A Rational Cosmology is available for free download in the form of unified files. There are four options to choose from.

Download the PDF version.

Download the MOBI version.

Download the EPUB version.

Download the AZW3 version.

The Rational Argumentator welcomes your reviews of A Rational Cosmology. You can submit them to TRA by sending them to You are also encouraged to spread the word by reprinting the information on this page or your own comments concerning the book on other media outlets.

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov’s refutation of Stephen Hawking’s statement that “philosophy is dead.”

In his 2010 book The Grand Design, cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking writes that science has displaced philosophy in the enterprise of discovering truth. While I have great respect for Hawking both in his capacities as a physicist and in his personal qualities — his advocacy of technological progress and his determination and drive to achieve in spite of his debilitating illness — the assertion that the physical sciences can wholly replace philosophy is mistaken. Not only is philosophy able to address questions outside the scope of the physical sciences, but the coherence and validity of scientific approaches itself rests on a philosophical foundation that was not always taken for granted — and still is not in many circles.

– “Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “The Grand Design (book)” – Wikipedia
– “Stephen Hawking” – Wikipedia

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Philosophy Lives – Contra Stephen Hawking – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
January 1, 2013

In his 2010 book The Grand Design, cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking writes that science has displaced philosophy in the enterprise of discovering truth. While I have great respect for Hawking both in his capacities as a physicist and in his personal qualities – his advocacy of technological progress and his determination and drive to achieve in spite of his debilitating illness – the assertion that the physical sciences can wholly replace philosophy is mistaken. Not only is philosophy able to address questions outside the scope of the physical sciences, but the coherence and validity of scientific approaches itself rests on a philosophical foundation that was not always taken for granted – and still is not in many circles.

Hawking writes, “Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time. Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

I hesitate to speculate why Hawking considers philosophy to be “dead” – but perhaps this view partly arises from frustration at the non-reality-oriented teachings of many postmodernist philosophers who still prevail in many academic and journalistic circles. Surely, those who deny the comprehensibility of reality and allege that it is entirely a societal construction do not aid in the quest for discovery and understanding of what really exists. Likewise, our knowledge cannot be enhanced by those who deny that there exist systematic and specific methods that are graspable by human reason and that can be harnessed for the purposes of discovery. It is saddening indeed that prominent philosophical figures have embraced anti-realist positions in metaphysics and anti-rational, anti-empirical positions in epistemology. Physicists, in their everyday practice, necessarily rely on external observational evidence and on logical deductions from the empirical data. In this way, and to the extent that they provide valid explanations of natural phenomena, they are surely more reality-oriented than most postmodernist philosophers. Yet philosophy does not need to be this way – and, indeed, philosophical schools of thought throughout history and in the present day are not only compatible with the scientific approach to reality, but indispensable to it.

Contrary to the pronouncements of prominent postmodernists, a venerable strain of thought – dating back to at least Aristotle and extending all the way to today’s transhumanists, Objectivists, and natural-law thinkers – holds that an objective reality exists, that it can be understood through systematic observation and reason, and that its understanding should be pursued by all of us. This is the philosophical strain responsible for the accomplishments of Classical Antiquity and the progress made during the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Information Revolution. While such philosophy is not the same as the physical sciences, the physical sciences rely on it to the extent that they embrace the approach known as the scientific method, which itself rests on philosophical premises. These premises include the existence of an external reality independent of the wishes and imagination of any observer, the existence of a definite identity of any given entity at any given time, the reliance on identical conditions producing identical outcomes, the principles of causation and non-contradiction, and the ability of human beings to systematically alter outcomes in the physical world by understanding its workings and modifying physical systems accordingly. This latter principle – that, in Francis Bacon’s words, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” – was the starting point for the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century, which inaugurated subsequent massive advances in technology, standards of living, and human understanding of the universe.  Even those scientists who do not acknowledge or explicitly reject the importance of philosophy nonetheless implicitly rely on these premises in the very conduct of their scientific work – to the extent that such work accurately describes reality. These premises are not the only ones possible – but they are the only ones that are fully right. Alternatives – including reliance on alleged supernatural revelation, wishful thinking, and unconditional deference to authority – have been tried time and again, only to result in stagnation and mental traps that prevented substantive improvements to the human condition.

But there is more. Not only are the physical sciences without a foundation if philosophy is to be ignored, but the very reason for pursuing them remains unaddressed without the branch of philosophy that focuses on what we ought to do: ethics. Contrary to those who would posit an insurmountable “is-ought” gap, ethics can indeed be derived from the facts of reality, but not solely by the tools of physics, chemistry, biology, or any others of the “hard” physical sciences. An additional element is required: the fact that we ourselves exist as rational, conscious beings, who are capable of introspection and of analysis of external data. From the physical sciences we can derive ways to sustain and improve our material well-being – sometimes our very survival. But only ethics can tell us that we ought to pursue such survival – a conclusion we reach through introspection and logical reasoning. No experiment, no test is needed to tell us that we ought to keep living. This conclusion arises as antecedent to a consistent pursuit of any action at all; to achieve any goal, we must be alive. To pursue death, the opposite of life, contradicts the very notion of acting, which has life as a prerequisite.  Once we have accepted that premise, an entire system of logical deductions follows with regard to how we ought to approach the external world – the pursuit of knowledge, interactions with others, improvement of living conditions, protection against danger. The physical sciences can provide many of the empirical data and regularities needed to assess alternative ways of living and to develop optimal solutions to human challenges. But ethics is needed to keep the goals of scientific study in mind. The goals should ultimately relate to ways to enhance human well-being. If the pursuit of human well-being – consistent with the imperative of each individual to continue living – is abandoned, then the physical sciences alone cannot provide adequate guidance. Indeed, they can be utilized to produce horrors – as the development of nuclear weapons in the 20th century exemplified. Geopolitical considerations of coercive power and nationalism were permitted to overshadow humanistic considerations of life and peace, and hundreds of thousands of innocents perished due to a massive government-sponsored science project, while the fate of human civilization hung in the balance for over four decades.

The questions cited by Hawking are indeed philosophical questions, at least in part. Aspects of these questions, while they are broadly reliant on the existence of an objective reality, do not require specific experiments to answer. Rather, like many of the everyday questions of our existence, they rely only on the ubiquitous inputs of our day-to-day experience, generalized within our minds and formulated as starting premises for a logical deductive process. The question “How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? has different answers based on the realm of focus and endeavor. Are we looking to understand the function of a mechanism, or the origin of a star? Different tools are required for each, but systematic experimentation and observation would be required in each case. This is an opening for the physical sciences and the scientific method. There are, however, ubiquitous observations about our everyday world that can be used as inputs into our decision-making – a process we engage in regularly as we navigate a room, eat a meal, engage in conversation or deliberation, or transport any object whatsoever. Simply as a byproduct of routine living, these observations provide us with ample data for a series of logical deductions and inferences which do not strictly belong to any scientific branch, even though specific parts of our world could be better understood from closer scientific observation.

The questionHow does the universe behave?actually arises in part from a philosophical presupposition that “the universe” is a single entity with any sort of coordinated behavior whatsoever. An alternative view – which I hold – is that the word “universe” is simply convenient mental shorthand for describing the totality of every single entity that exists, in lieu of actually enumerating them all. Thus, while each entity has its own definite nature, “the universe” may not have a single nature or behavior. Perhaps a more accurate framing of that question would be, “What attributes or behaviors are common to all entities that exist?” To answer that question, a combination of ubiquitous observation and scientific experimentation is required. Ubiquitous observation tells us that all entities are material, but only scientific experimentation can tell us what the “building blocks” of matter are. Philosophy alone cannot recommend any model of the atom or of subatomic particles, among multiple competing non-contradictory models. Philosophy can, however, rightly serve to check the logical coherence of any particular model and to reject erroneous interpretations of data which produce internally contradictory answers. Such rejection does not mean that the data are inaccurate, or even that a particular scientific theory cannot predict the behavior of entities – but rather that any verbal understanding of the accurate data and predictive models should also be consistent with logic, causation, and everyday human experience. At the very least, if a coherent verbal understanding is beyond our best efforts at present, philosophy should be vigilant against the promulgation of incoherent verbal understandings. It is better to leave certain scientific models as systems of mathematical equations, uncommented on, than to posit evidently false interpretations that undermine laypeople’s view of the validity of our very existence and reasoning.

After all – to return to the ethical purpose of science – one major goal of scientific inquiry is to understand and explain the world we live in and experience on a daily basis. If any scientific model is said to result in the conclusion that our world does not ‘really’ exist or that our entire experience is illusory (rather than just occasional quirks in our biology, such as those which produce optical illusions, misleading us, in an avoidable manner, under specific unusual circumstances), then it is the philosophical articulation of that model that is flawed. The model itself may be retained in another form – such as mathematical notation – that can be used to predict and study phenomena which continue to defy verbal understanding, with the hope that someday a satisfactory verbal understanding will be attained. Without this philosophic vigilance, scientific breakthroughs may be abused by charlatans for the purpose of misleading people into ruining their lives. As a prominent example of this, multiple strains of mysticism have arisen out of bad philosophical interpretations of quantum mechanics – for instance, the belief, articulated in such pseudo-self-help books as The Secret, that people can mold reality with their thoughts alone and that, instead of working hard and thinking rationally, they can become immensely wealthy and cure themselves of cancer just by wanting it enough. Without a rigorous philosophical defense of reason and objective reality, either by scientists themselves or by their philosopher allies, this mystical nonsense will render scientific enterprises increasingly misunderstood by and isolated from large segments of the public, who will become increasingly superstitious, anti-intellectual, and reliant on wishful thinking.

The question “What is the nature of reality?” is a partly philosophical and partly scientific one. The philosophical dimension – metaphysics – is needed to posit that an objective, understandable reality exists at all. The scientific dimension comes into play in comprehending specific real entities, from stars to biological organisms – relying on the axioms and derivations of metaphysics for the experimental study of such entities to even make sense or promise to produce reliable results. Philosophy cannot tell you what the biological structure of a given organism is like, but it can tell you that there is one, and that praying or wishing really hard to understand it will not reveal its identity to you. Philosophy can also tell you that, in the absence of external conditions that would dramatically affect that biological structure, it will not magically change into a dramatically different structure.

The questions “Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator?” are scientific only to a point. When exploring the origin of a particular planet or star – or of life on Earth – they are perfectly amenable to experimentation and to extrapolation from historical evidence. Hence, the birth of the solar system, abiogenesis, and biological evolution are all appropriate subjects of study for the hard sciences. Moreover, scientific study can address the question of whether a particular object needed to have a creator and can, for instance, conclude that a mechanical watch needed to have a watchmaker, but no analogous maker needed to exist to bring about the structure of a complex biological organism. However, if the question arises as to whether existence itself had an origin or needed a creator, this is a matter for philosophy. Indeed, rational philosophy can point out the contradiction in the view that existence itself could ever not have existed, or that a creator outside of existence (and, by definition, non-existent at that time) could have brought existence into being.

Interestingly enough, Hawking comes to a similar conclusion – that cosmological history can be understood by a model that not include a sentient creator. I am glad that Hawking holds this view, but this specific conclusion does not require theoretical or experimental physics to validate; it simply requires a coherent understanding of terms such as “existence”, “universe”, and “creator”. Causation and non-contradiction both preclude the possibility of any ex nihilo creation. As for the question of whether there exist beings capable of vast cosmic manipulations and even the design of life forms – that is an empirical matter. Perhaps someday such beings will be discovered; perhaps someday humans will themselves become such beings through mastery of science and technology. The first steps have already been taken – for instance, with Craig Venter’s design of a synthetic living bacterium. Ethics suggests to me that this mastery of life is a worthwhile goal and that its proponents – transhumanists – should work to persuade those philosophers and laypeople who disagree.

More constructive dialogue between rational scientists and rational philosophers is in order, for the benefit of both disciplines. Philosophy can serve as a check on erroneous verbal interpretations of scientific discoveries, as well as an ethical guide for the beneficial application of those discoveries. Science can serve to provide observations and regularities which assist in the achievement of philosophically motivated goals. Furthermore, science can serve to disconfirm erroneous philosophical positions, in cases where philosophy ventures too far into specific empirical predictions which experimentation and targeted observation might falsify. To advance such fruitful interactions, it is certainly not productive to proclaim that one discipline or another is “dead”. I will be the first to admit that contemporary philosophy, especially of the kind that enjoys high academic prestige, is badly in need of reform. But such reform is only possible after widespread acknowledgment that philosophy does have a legitimate and significant role, and that it can do a much better job in fulfilling it.

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Seasteading has recently emerged as a promising alternative to political activism. Seasteads — a concept originated by Patri Friedman and Wayne Gramlich — are modular floating ocean platforms that can be combined and recombined to create autonomous cities on the oceans.

Mr. Stolyarov provides a general overview of the areas in which the concept of seasteading shows promise, as well as some of the significant challenges it will need to overcome.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational discourse on this issue.


– “Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

The Seasteading Institute

– “2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami” – Wikipedia

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 30, 2012

With many Western national governments, particularly in the English-speaking countries, increasingly approaching totalitarianism in their policies, the need for liberty-oriented reform has never been more urgent. This totalitarianism looms over us during a make-or-break time for human civilization. Depending on whether human beings will be allowed to innovate in peace, we can either achieve astonishing technological progress that will liberate us from age-old problems and bring about unprecedented prosperity – or we can descend into the barbaric abyss of interminable miseries that has characterized much of our species’ time on Earth.

Conventional political means are capable of rousing considerable passion – witness the Ron Paul movement in the United States. But, as the defection of Ron Paul’s son Rand to the Mitt Romney camp shows, such conventional means are vulnerable to the missteps of the liberty movements’ own leaders. Rand Paul’s endorsement of Romney fractured the Ron Paul movement and has created a widespread perception of mistrust among friends of liberty, many of whom will now go their own separate ways. Of course, it has historically been a considerable challenge to get libertarians to agree on a strategy for achieving beneficial change – and perhaps it is more reasonable not to expect agreement, but rather to develop an approach that would work in achieving greater liberty without the need for such agreement. It would also help if this approach did not need to be as cumbersome, top-down, and expensive as political activism.

Seasteading has recently emerged as a promising alternative to political activism. Seasteads – a concept originated by Patri Friedman and Wayne Gramlich – are modular floating ocean platforms that can be combined and recombined to create autonomous cities on the oceans. In 2008, Friedman founded The Seasteading Institute with the financial support of libertarian entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel. The idea has attracted respectable financing from Thiel and others, as well as input from legal and engineering scholars, and proposals for seastead designs and businesses. The Seasteading Institute makes available a large collection of research papers, project ideas, and public discussions, and it is not my intent here to probe into or scrutinize every detail of its ambitions. Rather, I hope to provide a general overview of the areas in which the concept of seasteading shows promise, as well as some of the significant challenges it will need to overcome.

As a friend of liberty, I wish the seasteading movement all the best. It is vital to explore every peaceful approach that has even a possibility of reversing the galloping totalitarianism of Western national governments and creating an incentive structure for accelerating human technological innovation.

In today’s countries, the land and most homes are fixed. One cannot move with ease if one finds the government’s policies oppressive; one is reluctant to lose one’s home, land, larger articles of personal property, and other location-specific amenities. Some governments, such as that of the United States, will even try to impose an exit tax or lay claim to income earned abroad. The physical detachability of seasteads solves this problem by enabling a person and his property to move inseparably to a variety of communities, or to remain as an autonomous unit. Patri Friedman’s goal is to create laboratories for political experimentation on seasteads. Much faster implementation of innovative political structures would be possible on a seastead, as compared to a traditional country, since each seastead community would be small and modular. Quick decision-making in a small group would enable beneficial innovations to be deployed, while harmful policies could result in much easier secession from the community – simply by detaching one’s seastead and setting course for a different community.

Seasteading would not directly change existing political structures. However, it may achieve greater individual liberation in a twofold manner: (1) by liberating those individuals who choose to live on seasteads instead of in traditional nation-states, and (2) by creating a virtuous cycle of political competition that motivates traditional governments to enact reforms in order to keep up with the prosperity and innovation occurring on the seasteads. It is extremely difficult to convince a majority of citizens of a multimillion-person nation to adopt a radical new policy or to radically abolish existing policies, even if the change promises to improve life dramatically. But many people – including some politicians – who are reluctant to pioneer an improvement will be willing to accept it if it has been tried and shown to work elsewhere.

A major advantage of seasteading is that it can begin as a sufficiently low-profile movement to avoid crackdowns by existing centers of political power. The seasteading movement does not threaten the sovereignty of any country; it does not propose to take away any nation’s territory or to challenge its government’s jurisdiction over that territory. Indeed, the infant stages of seasteading may, out of practical necessity, entail the creation of seasteads that explicitly submit to the jurisdiction of the United States, Canada, or a country in Europe or East Asia. The purpose of those early seasteads would not be the direct exercise of political autonomy, but rather experimentation with seasteading technologies and modes of living. The early seasteads would yield useful insights about how to construct floating modular platforms to be durable, cost-efficient, spacious, and comfortable. At this stage, the seasteading movement does not require the support or even the notice of most people – or even all liberty-oriented people. The people who are interested can advance the viability of seasteading by their direct work on improving seastead design and creating viable seastead-based businesses.

Yet the initial stage of the seasteading movement remains its most vulnerable. Seasteads must be built somewhere under the jurisdiction of an existing government. It is possible for the various requirements pertaining to building standards, licenses, permits, and zoning to hobble the construction and deployment of seasteads. In most parts of the United States, it is difficult enough to obtain permission to build a new house or small office building! If federal agencies, such as the US Coast Guard or the Environmental Protection Agency, become involved, the difficulties would be further compounded. The seasteading movement would be greatly benefited by capable legal representatives who understand what current laws permit and would be ready to defend the construction of a seastead if it is challenged. Furthermore, it is essential to choose relatively lax and business-friendly jurisdictions for the construction and deployment of the initial seasteads. I recommend the approach of full compliance with all laws that actually exist, combined with a thorough knowledge of such laws – to give the seasteading movement the ability to refute arbitrary compliance requests that are not based in law – as well as a choice of jurisdictions where the laws in question are not as onerous. The seasteading movement must particularly be vigilant for attempts to quash the concept of seasteading itself, under the guise of achieving some formalistic compliance, but in reality motivated by an ideological opposition from the powers in a particular jurisdiction.

Once seasteads become sufficiently cost-effective and tested to be appealing to broader segments of the general public, the deployment of truly autonomous ocean communities can begin. Such communities could begin to arise once seasteads reach areas outside the territorial waters of any nation – but even there a risk exists of boarding, expropriation, and arrest by representatives of traditional nation-states. This risk is particularly high if a seastead is perceived to be engaged in activity that threatens the nation-state – such as trading in weapons or currently illegal drugs. Even though many advocates of seasteading, myself included, support drug legalization, it may be advisable to abstain from permitting certain substances on seasteads out of prudential considerations.

True political independence for seasteads will likely come about through an evolutionary process – much like the “benign neglect” of the American Colonies for decades by the government of Great Britain created a political culture that resisted restrictions on liberty when the British government began to impose them. Perhaps benign neglect from the United States and other Western powers will be the best that the early seasteaders can hope for. The first quasi-autonomous seastead communities might make a demonstration of complying with restrictions that Western governments would be particularly interested in enforcing extraterritorially. If a culture of such compliance is established, the seasteads might otherwise be left alone and free from the petty micromanagement that extends far beyond such matters as prohibiting trade in certain substances. But once there are enough seastead communities – each with already flourishing internal economies and many technological innovations to their credit – they may begin to have the resources and internal strength to resist impositions from traditional nation-states. Hopefully, this resistance will be accomplished by a peaceful assertion of sovereignty, a declaration of good will toward all other political jurisdictions, and simple acquiescence by the nation-states. Perhaps the economies of the seasteads and the traditional countries will have become so inextricably intertwined by that time, that violence will be deemed out of the question by all parties – and the populations of the traditional countries would strongly object to the notion of attacking another peaceful, prosperous, civilized community with many common cultural and even personal ties to these countries.

But inanimate nature can pose dangers to seasteads that are as great as the dangers posed by man. The oceans are not known to have the most clement conditions. Aside from severe storms, which can probably be withstood with sufficiently durable construction, the risks of earthquakes and accompanying tsunamis are immense – as Japan’s experience in 2011 has demonstrated. The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and consequent meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant undermined confidence in nuclear power worldwide – despite the existence of more advanced nuclear technology that can avoid meltdowns. An earthquake and tsunami can wipe out even sturdy seastead communities. Furthermore, a large earthquake on the ocean during the early days of seasteading may greatly undermine interest in the movement. Therefore, it is particularly important to choose sites of low seismic activity to deploy at least some of the early seasteads. Deployment into more seismically active areas will be more viable once seasteading has reached such popularity that placing a seastead near an earthquake fault will be seen as no more unusual than building a house in California.

As a risk-averse person who prefers ample space, I would not be an early adopter of the seasteading lifestyle. However, I salute the pioneers who would be willing to live on the first seasteads, with their likely cramped conditions and limited amenities. They are paving (or, as the case may be, floating) the way for the rest of us. Ultimately, however, seasteads will need to be designed to accommodate the living standards to which people are accustomed on land. Persons with a strong desire to actualize a principle or with a particularly hardy disposition may be willing to accept some degree of privation; they would be a needed and much appreciated first wave of adopters. If the political situation on land becomes physically perilous to large numbers of people, a major exodus onto seasteads might be conceivable even before the seasteads become comfortable. In the absence of such an unfortunate development, however, I anticipate that seasteads would need to have the space and facilities typical of a small American house, or at least a large recreational vehicle (RV), before they become attractive to people without significant pioneering or ideological motivations.

The incremental evolution of seasteads toward viability, autonomy, and mass adoption seems the most likely practical course, but it is legitimate to ask whether it will be enough to stem the tide of encroachments on our freedoms today. Perhaps it will – combined with other forms of pro-liberty activity, including political activism in each country and continued technological and cultural innovation in areas where it remains possible. Seasteading may not be sufficiently mature to serve as a remedy to our current condition of servitude, but it may help us keep totalitarianism at bay in combination with other approaches. This is another avenue for friends of liberty to explore, and we need as many of those as we can get. Ultimately, the objective for libertarians and others who think similarly should be not to reach complete theoretical agreement on everything, but rather to enable each individual to arrive at a position where his or her direct efforts can effectively produce greater liberty, prosperity, and progress. Seasteading will hopefully serve to empower increasing numbers of people to make such lasting contributions.