I'm too busy trying to beat the Hong Kong stock market, create AGI and understand human aging to actually build such a seastead, so I'm hoping that one of you readers will take up the idea -- and then invite me to build a cabana on the outskirts of the psychedelic sea village ;-) ...
A bit of a prelude...
I've been chatting online recently with various folks about relatively inexpensive ways to make seasteads -- offshore living/working facilities, in international waters, beyond the rules of any national government.
For instance, Steve Rolland pointed out to me that there are many places in the world where, just a few dozen miles offshore, the ocean is only 20-30 feet deep. In a place like that, it wouldn't be such a big trick to put some platforms on the ocean floor and build atop them. I started thinking about the potential for concrete monolithic domes in this sort of setting, and found some cool musings online about floating concrete spheres. Then I found that Shaun Waterford has a fully fleshed out design for a fully undersea concrete dome home, which he would like to build as part of an undersea tourist attraction for divers, and use to beat the world record for number of consecutive days spent undersea.
So on the train from Hong Kong to Shenzhen last night, I was musing on the following question: Barring the advent of some suitably-enthusiastic rich person, how might one get $$ to build such a seastead? What might be a reasonable business model corresponding to such an endeavor?
The idea of a novelty dive park, or a mid-sea resort, makes lots of sense. Yet it's a lot cheaper to do that stuff right offshore, and it's not clear how much benefit one gets from putting that sort of thing further out in the ocean. So maybe an underwater dome as part of a dive park is a good idea, but not necessarily as part of a seasteading venture.
The idea of doing out-there medical and biological research on a seastead, away from the laws of any nation, seems cost of appealing. Yet the cost of doing research mid-sea instead of on land seems potentially high -- and again, for almost any weird research you want to do, there's probably some country that will allow it....
So I scratched my head for a while... and then inspiration hit!
A Psychedelic Resort/Lab Seastead
OK, so imagine this:
- An offshore village of concrete dome homes, on platforms interconnected by walkways, a dozen miles off the coast of Mexico (where the ocean's only 20-30 feet deep) ...
- Some of the domes are private residences, some are cabanas for visitors; some are labs for brewing psychedelics like LSD and DMT, some are mushroom farms; a couple are psychopharmacology research labs; one holds some sensory deprivation tanks
- No psychedelics are sold for use outside the village (to avoid conflict with governments of conventional land-bound countries)
- The first-phase business model is psychedelic tourism: Folks will pay to come hang out in the resort, soak up the sun, swim in the beautiful ocean, and take the locally-created psychedelics in a safe & lovely environment. This "psychedelic tourism" will generate enough revenue to keep the village operating
- The second-phase business model is patenting of novel psychedelic psychotherapies -- that have been found in the village's research labs to have therapeutic value. Note that research on psychedelics has basically halted worldwide, due to legal issues. So there is a huge amount of research into psychedelic-related psychotherapeutic substances, that is begging to be done but remains unexplored for legal reasons. Getting the patents ensuing from this research properly tested and approved for use in major nations will take some time, but once the approval comes, this could be a multibillion dollar moneymaker, as well as a beautiful thing for humanity.
Beautiful, right? Clearly this would be for the good of the world! It sounds incredibly wacky, yet the business model actually makes sense. And different countries have all sorts of different drug laws, so I don't think any of the conventional nations is really going to worry too much about a few freaks out in the ocean brewing psychedelics for consumption on their own premises.
The only catch I can think of is, piracy might be an issue -- so you'd probably need a few thugs in gunboats out there alongside all the psychedelic freaks and psychopharmacologists...
How much would it cost? Based on a bit of preliminary investigation, I'd roughly estimate the cost of putting a 750 square foot dome home on a platform in shallow ocean water, at roughly US$500K (assuming many are being built at once). So for an initial village of, say, 30 domes, we'd be looking at US$15M total. That's a lot more money than I currently have, yet I also know a number of individuals who could spare that amount without missing it at all.
And, hey -- if nobody actually does it, maybe I'll use it as a premise for a novel one day, if I ever get time for fiction writing again!