Patri Friedman (son of David and grandson of Milton) has just launched an interesting initiative; backed by Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, the Seasteading Institute has been founded to establish “permanent, autonomous open communities” based on private man-made structures or islands built in the ocean. The view being that such communities would allow political, legal and social competition as different groups, free from the strictures of government and nation, could experiment and innovate.
Currently, it is very difficult to experiment with alternative social, political, and legal systems on a small scale. Countries are so enormous that no individual can make much difference in how they work, and the existing entrenched power structures have tremendous inertia. Seasteaders believe that government shouldn’t be like the cellphone or operating system industry, with a tiny number of providers who offer few choices and make it hard to switch. Instead, they envision something more like web 2.0, where many small governments serve different niche markets, a dynamic system where small groups experiment, and everyone copies what works, discards what doesn’t, and remixes the remainder.
Patri expands further on this idea of competitive government in this essay and in Seasteading: A Practical Guide to Homesteading the High Seas.