I Want to Live Forever
The situation on Alyssa Vance’s couch would have been best described as a cuddle puddle—a tangle of hair-petting and belly-stroking and neck-nuzzling, seven people deep. It was Friday night in late June in the living room of her one-bedroom apartment at The Caroline, a “white-glove service” building in Chelsea. Ms. Vance, a transgender former Google intern with the lips of a Renaissance statue, sat somewhere near the middle next to her girlfriend, Alice. Snuggling up on either end were a neuroscience Ph.D. from Columbia, a Yale grad student in applied mathematics, and a redhead in from Berkeley who “sells drugs on the Internet.” Across the room, a row of white chairs laid out expressly for Ms. Vance’s 21st birthday party stood abandoned in favor of the handsy human octopus.
The Observer hovered near the drinks table. Next to us, a ponytailed programmer from Morgan Stanley nibbled on a family-sized Trader Joe’s chocolate bar as we both stole glances at the pile-on.
We’re not sure how closely you follow the fascinating world of college dropout fans Peter Thiel & Pals, but the writers at Betabeat have had more than one animated conversation about Thiel-funded libertarian utopias and life longevity experiments. One of the PayPal cofounder’s buddies is Patri Friedman, the San Francisco-based grandson of economist Milton Friedman, who shares some of Mr. Thiel’s notions of libertarian politics: mainly, that establishing floating cities in international zones will “give people the opportunity to peacefully test new ideas about how to live together.”
Mr. Thiel has funneled millions into the Seasteading Institute, the primary initiative working to construct these floating cities, which is the brainchild of Mr. Friedman. But recently, Mr. Friedman stepped down as the institute’s executive officer to become chairman of the board, a move that had some wondering whether Mr. Thiel and Mr. Friedman had had a falling out.