One more proof that cyberspace does not exist? Great!


So we can solve REAL problems, instead.

One more proof that cyberspace does not exist? Great! /img/satoshi-ship.jpg

The Guardian just told the exhilarating story of the “disastrous voyage of Satoshi, the world’s first cryptocurrency cruise ship”. This post is a mix of [edited] quotes from there, and from a related Slashdot discussion, followed by my own explanation of why, exactly, this is so funny and great.

Like the Jetsons, just on water

The Satoshi is a converted cruise ship that was supposed to be the libertarian paradise, “homesteading the high seas” off the coast of Panama, free from rules and regulations and (most of all) taxes, with an economy run on cryptocurrency.

The bold idea came, some years ago, from the acute observation that it is hard to start new forms of government on land because, see, all the land on Earth was taken. What was needed to live free was a new frontier, and that frontier was the ocean. In small communities permanently based on platforms out at sea, politics could and therefore would be rewritten” “Like the Jetsons, just on water”.

They cruised reality, instead

It turns out that it wasn’t quite so simple, because in some ways the “borderless seas” are actually among the most tightly regulated locations on Earth. It turned out, for example, that:

  • forget autonomy: the only cooking facilities would be in the restaurant, because for safety reasons, no one was allowed to have a microwave in their rooms
  • the rules about pets on board gave “a bracing insight into the tension between the idea of freedom and the reality of hundreds of people closely cohabiting on a cruise ship”: no pets over 10 Kilograms, no pet noises for more than 10 minutes, etc. etc.
  • the main promoter of the whole adventure was, said the ship captain, “a likable, law-abiding man, [just] naive about how shipping worked and had an abhorrence of rules

Fact is, not even libertarian cryptocapitalist can get free from “rules”, that is plain facts of life, like, among many others:

  • Every ship requires certificates of seaworthiness that are complex and costly to maintain
  • Regardless of bureaucracy, it turned out that even merely keeping the ship floating and functioning costs a lot of money “Because, you know, [a cruise ship] is huge” (that is an actual quote)
  • They could NOT convince the Panamanian authorities to let the ship anchor permanently in its waters and de-register as a ship, becoming a floating residence instead, so as to avoid some of the more exacting requirements of maritime law
  • Even libertarians produce lots of sewage, that is an unescapable nightmare (for libertarians, at least) to deal with
  • For some unfathomable reason, no insurer wanted to insure a ship managed with such professionalism and solid grasp of reality

I’m laughing. Really

All the Guardian article is as fun to read as these quotes. Go read it, and remember what is good in this farce: there is no cyberspace. There is ONE world, that is made of both physical and digital “places”, but is only one. And since it’s one world and we are all in it together, we have to make it a better place together. Isolationist survivalism cannot work, not even on cryptosteroids like this. Finally…

More women, please

While reading the whole story, please pay to the proper attention to one very important reason why this crap could never work: “as with many stories about techno-libertarian fantasies, the tale of the Satoshi begins in an all-male, quasi-frat house in San Francisco in the late 90s…”

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