Thursday, July 2, 2015
Seasteading as a Foundation for Space Law
There are several examples in history which can be used to avoid stumbling blocks in the current and coming space economy. Antarctica, America, etc. However, anything that has happened in history is now set in stone and cannot be experimented with only theorized upon. But space is an expensive place to go, experimentation, with technologies, and particularly law, in cheaper settings would be highly useful. Fortunately, there is a place that serves as a viable testing ground of space communities and how they will interact with Earth communities.
Over the last few years there has been a small movement for what is called seasteading. It it all predicated on the idea of creating what amounts to artificial floating cities or countries, on the earth's oceans. This movement is now lead, primarily, by the Seasteading Institute.
At the introduction of seasteading a book was written to outline challenges to seasteading, some technical others legal. Not surprisingly, many issues discussed in the book will be faced by space communities.
The seas are a legal fuzzy area. While after a certain distance there is technically no jurisdiction countries can still exercise authority for a number of reasons. There are dangers of pirates. Questions exist of whether a floating city can truly define its own laws and standards of conduct. How would an isolated community support itself financially or justify its construction? How does an artificial structure support the biological needs of its inhabitants. All of these issues, which apply to a community in the unclaimed, empty, shifting, blue void, also apply to a community in the unclaimed, empty, shifting black void.
While seasteading is an expensive and risky undertaking it is far less so than the creation of a space station. Movers in the space industry should consider this movement very seriously. Any world decisions made about free, privately-funded entities in international waters would likely be applied to free privately-funded entities in international space.
If such floating cities were created the space industry would be able to explore and even shape the political, social, and financial ramifications of space flight in as close a simulation as is possible. If technologies must be tested and proven so to should the sociological designs. Seasteading can provide this opportunity.
The creation of islands on earth can define how the islands in the sky will interact with the world they are leaving but still interacting with.
To read the book on seasteading visit The Seasteading Book