Many entrepreneurs elsewhere in the world dream of moving to Silicon Valley. And for a long time most Silicon Valley-ites were smugly happy to say they’d rather live here than anywhere else in the world too.
But lately there’s been a surprising case of “grass is greener” syndrome creeping into the Valley, as millionaires and billionaires are openly daydreaming of living elsewhere.
And that elsewhere isn’t, say, Seattle or Beijing. No, in true Valley fashion the schemes are outrageous. They involve breaking the rules. Not content to hack, say, huge industries and corporate culture in America, a handful of entrepreneurs are trying to hack…. well, the basics of life as we know it.
I’ve heard Mark Pincus and others float the idea of group-buying an island and coming up with entrepreneur friendly regulations — like no limits on H-1B visas. Uber-liberatarian Peter Thiel has expressed an interest in sea-steading, which is similarly freeing from government restrictions. Elon Musk famously wants to retire on Mars — a plan that he now believes is possible, as he discussed at PandoMonthly last week.
Today we get an even new more radical view of alternative living, that’s getting a lot of people excited. This one comes from Brian Lam on Gizmodo who gives a first hand account of his one-hour experience “living” at the bottom of the ocean.
He’s spending a week reporting from the world’s last remaining undersea habitat, the Aquarius Reef Base. Go read it if you love this kind of stuff like we do. It’s fascinating. I found myself breathing deeply as if I were the one underwater without a mask.
“The room is amazing. It looks like a lower room in the hull of a great ship that sits below the water line. Everything is still, save for the dripping. Looking down, fish have reformed their school in the water by the time I hang up my dive gear, strip off my neoprene top, kick off my booties and stow my camera in a bucket of water so its seal won’t be broken by the pressure.
Before I put on a dry shirt, I rinse off the salt water in a shower that faces a viewport filled with more fish and a wall of air supply valves. The fresh water is hot, piped in every 3 days into a 300 gallon tank by the same support boat and divers that escorted me below.
There’s an airlock that is sealed during the exit decompression session. And a working space with emergency air masks. Each door is controlled by a pneumatic system with handles nearly rusted through.
Inside the main cabin, I meet the Aquanauts.”
Aquanauts! This is the coolest thing I’ve heard since Musk’s description of the “HyperLoop” – his idea for a fifth mode of transportation that could whisk you from San Francisco to LA in 30 minutes, which he has pledged to open source for anyone to develop.
I love that we live in an era where people who grew up with the same science-fiction that I did have billions of dollars and a willingness to change everything through cash, hard work, and a belief that there’s no such thing as gravity. The latter is usually a metaphor for how entrepreneurs work. If these Titans have their way, it may soon become more literal.
Sadly Lam writes, “If Aquarius closes, there’s no other habitat like this in the world which can allow for embedded observation over long periods of time.” The government tried to discontinue space exploration, and private entrepreneurs stepped in. Sounds like undersea living needs its own Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or Jeff Bezos.
Check back regularly for Lam’s weeklong missives in the Aquarius Reef Base. There are few other reporters I can imagine bringing us stories like this. I thought it was badass that I spent 40 weeks in emerging markets. Lam definitely has me beat here.