Posted at 02:23 PM ET, 08/17/2011

Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, invests $1.24 million to create floating micro-countries [PHOTOS]

This “Swimming City,” created by architectural graphic designer Andras Gyorfi, won the Seasteading Institute’s competition for 3-D designs of seasteads, floating platforms where people can permanently settle. See more of the winners below. (Image via Seasteading Institute - András Gyõrfi)
When Peter Thiel has an idea, people listen. Thiel founded Paypal, was the first to invest in Facebook, and now wants to build floating mini-countries in the far off, open ocean that would be free from the laws of any nation.

And he plans to do it through the Seasteading Institute, an organization founded in 2008 by Milton Friedman’s grandson Patri Friedman that facilitates the creation of sovereign, mobile communities in international waters.

The micro-countries Thiel proposes are diesel-powered, moveable, 2,000-ton structures built on oil rig-like platforms, with space for 270 residents to live.

Thiel believes these islands may be important in “experimenting with new ideas for government,”such as no welfare, no minimum wage, fewer weapons restrictions, and looser building codes.

The venture isn’t surprising from Thiel, a well-known Libertarian who once wanted to use a currency unaffiliated with any nation for Paypal.

Thiel has invested $1.24 million in the venture, the latest in a string of ventures he’s funded that seek to push humans into the unknown or unconvential, including DNA sequencing, commercial space travel, and a movement toward “unschooling.”

And the self-made billionaire has a timeline for his micro-countries: he plans to launch a flotilla office park off the coast of San Francisco next year, predicts full settlement of the first island in 2019, and aims to have 10 million floating residents by 2050.

To those who doubt him, Thiel told Details Magazine: “We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”


Below, see more of the winners of the Seasteading Institute’s 3-D Design Competition for seasteads, the floating platforms Thiel would like to built to allow people to permanently settle the ocean as they do land.

This “SESU Seastead” was the Aesthetics Winner. Creator Marko Jarvela said of his creation: “Passive solar design principles have been employed and vegetation is used extensively to control indoor climate and provide food for the inhabitants.” (Image via Seasteading Institute - Marko Järvela)

This “Oasis of the Sea” entry won Best Picture. Emerson Stepp, who designed it, said he wanted it to be “visually appealing yet at the same time able to withstand the harsh atmosphere that comes with maritime architecture. “ (Via the Seasteading Institute - Emerson Stepp)

“Rendering Freedom” won for Personality. Creator Anthony Ling said it is “my belief and desire to help the Seasteading Institute's ambition to create places where freedom can be entirely expressed.” (Via the Seasteading Institute - Anthony Ling)

This entry called “Refusion” was the Community Choice Winner. Creators Team 3DA said, “We believe our design is unique in that it challenges people to think beyond the modern-day practical implications of a seastead, but instead towards a visionary promise of the possibilities afforded by absolute independence.” (Via the Seasteading Institute - Team 3DA)

By  |  02:23 PM ET, 08/17/2011

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