Paul Romer: He's Kind of a Big Deal
I suspect that the majority of readers of the DR are also interested in seasteading and related matters, so this is probably old news to most of the people here. But I think it's important enough to warrant at least a passing mention.
Stanford's Paul Romer recently launched a project very related to seasteading that he's calling Charter Cities. The basic idea is that governments in Third World countries should contract with other countries to manage parts of their territory. Think Hong Kong being run by the British but staffed by the Chinese. True, governments are still involved, so it wouldn't satisfy the ancaps here. But it has the advantage of (maybe) being more acceptable to governments and more likely to take off, and (definitely) easier from an engineering perspective.
(Which is easy for me to say I suppose. Although I'm quite enthusiastic about seasteading, I'm probably not nearly as radical in my beliefs as the average interested person. Singapore + drug legalization/end of conscription is probably good enough for me.)
Now, I'm not sure what Paul Romer thinks of seasteading, although I see that he's speaking at the Seasteading Institute conference this fall. But Charter Cities would be a major step in the direction of "intentional government", and strikes me as one of the most hopeful methods for helping the global poor that I've heard in a long time. I'll probably have more to say about that in some later posts. That alone bodes well for seasteading.
But here's my elitist reason for why I view this as such an incredibly positive development for the seasteading movement. As I see it, seasteading suffers from the view that it's about rich people evading taxes or smoking dope. But even more than that, it suffers from a overall weirdness factor that's difficult to overcome.
But Paul Romer is not some random grad student blogger like yours truly. He's not some kook railing about the evils of fractional reserve banking in 10000 word screeds. He's one of the more important economists alive today, a man who fundamentally reshaped how we think about economic growth. He's mainstream, and he's certain to win a Nobel Prize, probably in the near future.
The engineering challenges of seasteading are high, but perhaps more difficult is developing the idea that the government you live under should be a competitive choice. To the extent that mainstream, respected people promote this view, seasteading becomes more probable. Having people on your side like Paul Romer is a major step in that direction.