What if our cities and even our countries operated more like startups, constantly innovating and doing their best to serve the wants and needs of those who reside within it? As advanced as our world might seem today, our institutions have remained relatively stagnant when compared to the constant innovation that happens in the entrepreneurial and tech worlds. And, for the most part, our current nation-state model doesn’t offer a whole lot of room for growth and real progress. But what if our cities advanced at the same rate as our smartphones and computers? And if, like startups, they each offered something unique to prospective residents?
Last spring, Future Frontiers hosted the Future Cities Forum, gathering together the most dynamic individuals in this space who are paving the way for the communities of tomorrow. By developing new systems and designing new spaces to inhabit, these pioneers are creating the next paradigm of community and creating more options for us to select from.
What Will Cities of the Future Look Like?
Imagine if we chose the institutions we lived under like we selected where we ate. If the service is bad or the food is not to your liking at one restaurant, you can choose not to return. Instead, you might read reviews and ask friends where they like to dine and begin exploring other options that are better suited to your preferences.
When we look for a place to live, we rarely “shop” around and research the different perks local governments have to offer because, in many regards, they are all very much the same. They have been around so long, they haven’t bothered to change and advance with the culture. But these models are now blatantly outdated and leave much to be desired. And just like with our technology and restaurants, people want innovation and options. And the future is all about having options.
Presenting at the Future Cities Forum was Joe Quirk, from Blue Frontiers, making a compelling case for seasteading. Seasteads are permanent floating dwellings designed to be environmentally responsible and self-sufficient. Since seasteads do not belong to any particular nation, they have a level of autonomy that is truly unique.
Seasteading is pushing the boundaries of what is possible by moving cities off the coastal land and into international waters where they are free to live their lives as they so choose. And this isn’t something that only exists in theory or in the distant future, it’s already happening now. In fact, the very first seastead was just purchased and is now floating in international waters.
If living out in the middle of the ocean isn’t your style, there are also special economic zones, or designated areas within a nation that are privately operated and where residents and business owners are permitted to follow unique and less restrictive trade and legal codes. This encourages and promotes commerce and rapid economic growth and more individual autonomy. Special economic zones aren’t something we have to wait for, they are already in existence and are continually popping up all around the globe, offering people more options for residency and more opportunities for economic end entrepreneurial prosperity.
In addition to providing alternatives to outdated institutions, the concept of future cities is also helping create solutions to the growing refugee crisis. For the 28,000 people who are displaced from their homelands each day and are trying to rebuild their lives in a foreign land, blockchain technology is helping to ease this transition.
Also presenting at the Future Cities Forum was James Song, was the founder and CEO of
ExsulCoin, a blockchain technology startup focused on solving the global refugee crisis. ExsulCoin helps displaced individual keep their health and personal documents secure and accessible by keeping this information encrypted on the blockchain. Song’s project also helps connect donors with refugees in need of financial assistance while also helping provide them with relevant training and education they will need to integrate into their new communities.
Free to Exit
Before the Future Cities Forum came to an end, attendees were asked to participate in an interactive seasteading game. Participants split into groups and created their own communities complete with unique laws, values, and economic systems. After each group had presented their community and made a sales pitch, attendees were then free to leave their communities of origin in search of one that better suited their needs and desires.
Through this exercise, attendees saw firsthand the importance of being able to exit one community and voluntarily join another that offers them something unique and better suited to their preferences. And by incorporating seasteading and blockchain technology and innovating on outdated nation-state models, participants had no shortage of options to choose from.
The freedom to exit seems like such a simple idea, and yet it’s one we are mostly unfamiliar with today. But in order to prepare ourselves for tomorrow, we need to rethink our current community models. And the pioneers of tomorrow aren’t waiting for future cities to get here, they are creating them today.