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Saturday, June 2, 2012

SEASTEADING CONFERENCE: Day 2

Patri Friedman introduced Mike Gibson (left) of the Thiel Foundation, who talked about Let a Thousand Nations Bloom, a blog site,  Joe Quirk (right) is writing a book with Patri on Seasteading:  How Ocean Cities Will Change the World.  Shenzhen is a Chinese city that started with a dream, from 20,000 people in 1979 to perhaps a population approaching 15 million today.  People are searching for a place to test their dream. The ocean is this hope of a Cambrian explosion for progress.



Then followed the Blueseed Panel:  Dario Mutabdzija (President, left) and Max Marty (CE0), right).  Business without borders.  Success can only come from usefulness.  Risk-taking is essential.  It's okay to fail.  That above (well, the first one will be a used cruise ship, actually, for a brand new version, as shown, will probably cost $100 million) Blueseed ship, estimated launch as early as 2013, could well be the headquarters for 1000 startup incubator occupants, a Googleplex of the Sea, moored twelve miles off Half Moon Bay, California.  Benefits:  no visas or immigration restrictions, lower regulatory costs, international staff, less living stress, perpetual hackathon atmosmosphere.  Total cost as low as $1200/month each for four people, including office space, place to sleep and meals, but there will need to be shared equity.  More than 700 entrepreneurs in more than 200 startups from 52 countries have expressed interest, a quarter from the U.S.  The long term vision would be a wide array of Blueseed ships throught the world.  To quote Steve Jobs, "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Alex Wissner-Gross focused on Liquidity at Sea:  finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing in toto is a business sector actually larger than any current other American investment, such as mining, etc.  Touched on neutrino communications.

There were three talks on medical (including dental) tourism: Marc Joffe (Public Sector Credit Solutions), Peter Wei (medical student at Duke University) and Nishant Bagadia (Health Travel Technologies and PhD candidate at the University of California at Berkeley).  Medstead is a potential area of interest, utilizing, perhaps, doctors from Cuba, who will work for far less money.  There is a wide-range of medications cheaper than the U.S. pharmaceutical cost structure and beyond FDA limits available if the treatment occurs 12 miles off the coastline.  Gaming (gambling) will probably be provided.  Sealand off the UK coast might also be utilized:

(Wei/Bagadia/Joffe)  There are around 10 million physicians in the world, 90% outside the U.S.  648,000 Americans went offshore for medical treatment in 2009, and the numbers are escalating.  Even Blue Cross will pay for these cheaper options because of affordability.  If Medstead works, red tape would be cut, further dropping costs.  In the long term, if the ocean can successfully compete, then, perhaps, the price of conventional medical care could drop.   

For lunch we had a taste of Italy.


In the afternoon, there were three "mariculture" presentations, beginning with Ocean Algae for Seastead Integrated Solutions (OASIS Project), with Ryan Larsen, Baojuang Zhai, and Charlie Deist of the Seasteading Institute.  SunEco is the largest ocean algae firm in the world.  NASA Omega system shown to grow algae for biofuel in the open ocean.

Sea Farming by Ricardo Radulovich of the University of Costa Rica.  Funded by Gates Foundation.  99.8% of seaweed culture is in Asia.  Suggests growing fish at the lowest trophic level:  filter feeders and herbivores.  Crustaceans and sardines can of course be added to the system to handle the biowastes.  Some day there will be no cages, for there is promise for nutrient barriers instead of cages.  He also grew land vegetables at sea (but irrigated with freshwater) and found that there were no pest problems.  Tomatoes months after reaching maturity can still be consumed.  Marine biomass?  Dry and burn them.  Liquid and gaseous fuels are in the future.  He made a lot of sense.  I previously had a chance to chat with him and we share very similar opinions about the ultimate ocean ranch and the effort required to reach the stage of commercialization.  He claims to be both an expert and academic because he has made so many mistakes.  Sounds like me, too.  As he says, "who dares to take the plunge."  He ahs done real work.

The Velella Project from Neil Sims (introduced by Patri) of Kampachi Farms.  We need to move from hunting and gathering to cultivation. Today, the wild fish are basically gone, especially large fish.   Fish without footprints means to have the cages (Aquapod to the left)  unanchored.  They also serve as fish aggregating devices, so fisherman love their presence.  Also, on several occasions, WHALE SHARKS visited.  (My editorialization:  So, if there is any future interest in this specie as the bioproduct of choice, they pass through Hawaii, and Neil indicated that he has heard the flesh is tasty.)  These cages have no environmental consequences of significance, especially if they are allowed to move with the currents (and they should generally return to the same spot).  Kona Kampachi is looking at alternative feedstocks (from soybean) and expansion from Hawaii to locations closer to the marketplace, like Texas, Mexico and the Middle East.

John Chisholm (left, Seasteading  board) led a discussion on Presenting the Seasteading Concept to New Audiences.  A number of suggestions were provided, but nothing worth repeating.

Open Forum:  various questions and comments, but I thanked Seasteading for hosting this gathering and reinforcing my enthusiasm about the Blue Revolution.  Further, it is clear that this is a concept that people, organizations and countries will need to work together over time to maximize the chances for success.

Closing Remarks by Patri Friedman, Chris Williams and Randolph Hencken.

I never saw Peter Thiel during these sessions.  He was the original investor for Facebook and got Seasteading going.  However, his Foundation was visibly represented, all relatively young, eager and helpful individuals.  A couple of them showed high interest in the concept of the Blue Revolution and the Pacific International Ocean Station.

What's next?  The Seasteading Institute will be headquartered on the open sea soon and the Pacific International Ocean Station will sail in a few short years.  Patri ended with "Occupy Water....hmmmm"
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