I spent the last 2 weeks travelling around India, and I came up with this line:

There’s a fine line that defines civilization.

Several beggars approached me on the street, and I didn’t give them anything. I suspect they would be surprised to learn that we have worse beggars in America. At least the people here didn’t look like they were crazy or on drugs.

Homelessness is a growing problem in America, and I think I have a solution everyone can be happy with. I’ll note that you were never given the social contract to sign, it was just implied. Not everyone wants to participate in society, and I think this is absolutely fine.

We should do more to accommodate those who would like to opt out.

I propose Wireheading City. The simplest way to imagine it is a scaled up version of Black Rock City. Black Rock City is 1.5 miles in diameter and houses 80,000 people. There’s 582,000 homeless in the US, and we’d like to have place for all of them with some room to grow. With a squared scaling law, a 5 mile diameter city should be able to house a million at similar density.

Northern Nevada is not a bad choice of location either. It is devoid of people, and livable outside all year round. We need more than just the 5 mile diameter city, we also need a 2 mile exclusion zone where trespassing is prohibited.

Wireheading City is the first city with UBI! Except, instead of money, we provide you with the basic necessities of life. The water is clean and all you can drink. For food: rice, beans, corn, potatoes, and sugary drinks. For shelter, a Walmart grade sleeping bag and tent, issued to you at the border.

In addition, we’d like you to be entertained. You have to check in your ID at the border, but along with your shelter, you receive a par government mobile phone and a pair of wired headphones. Hopefully we can partner with Netflix, Amazon, and HBO to provide no cost entertainment to the citizens of Wireheading City. It is a great public good I suspect they would want to be a part of.

We will need to do even more to entice potential citizens of Wireheading City.

  • Are you a drinker? Free beer, wine, vodka, tequila, and rum!
  • Free weed! Would you like an edible or a joint, sir?
  • A methhead? Free meth! Or (generic) Adderall if that’s your thing.
  • A junkie? Free heroin, oxy, fentanyl or whatever your opiate of choice is!
  • For practical reasons, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and birth control are also available for free.

The free drugs are a major draw of Wireheading City.

You may consume as many drugs as you would like. However, export of these drugs is strictly prohibited, and you will be aggressively searched on your way through the exit path of the exclusion zone.

Violent and property crime are illegal in Wireheading City, and no guns, knives, or weapons of any kind are permitted in through the border. It is a pedestrian only city, you can’t drive there, the only way in and out is the winding and walled 10 mile path through the exclusion zone.

For all goods other than what is provided free, the economy functions. Imports of pricy food, electronics, upgraded shelters, and other trinkets are welcome. Citizens have unfettered free internet access, and some will certainly find entrepreneurial ways to make money. Prostitution is legal.

This is a major step towards solving the current homelessness crisis, in addition to the coming AI created unemployment crisis. Wireheading City is not for everyone, only for those over 21 who choose it (no children are permitted). If you do choose it, there’s a free one way bus from every major metropolitan area that takes you right to the gate. It is not a prison, and you are free to leave at any time with just a 10 mile walk out.

This is a government program I would get behind.

Update: I’ve received several replies suggesting this “diminishes human dignity” or something. I’ll remind you, the US has a prison population of over 2 million, which is way more destructive to human dignity than this. This is entirely opt in (we’ll even have a consent form).

I’ll note that I expect prison populations to drop after Wireheading City opens, so much so that the savings will offset the state’s operating cost (prisoners cost $45k/yr!). Currently, prison is the only way to easily get free food and shelter in the US, and many people misbehave inside because they don’t want to be there. Here, if you misbehave, you are sent to prison, where the drugs are not free and there’s no 10 mile path to walk out.

Also, I don’t expect everyone there to be residents. Some adventurous society folk will visit for the weekend, and I expect some parts of the City to cater to them. While the “unemployment” rate will likely be in the 80s or 90s, there’s some who will rake in cash from tourists.

Re: if a child is conceived in the City. Unlike prison, you get a chance to leave (or take RU-486) before you carry to term. If you remain and have the child, they are placed in the care of an outside family member or the state. As they would be in any unfit environment for a child.

I could spell out details all day, I don’t think they are too hard to fill in. The real question is why are we not building this? We just need permission from the state to form this “special economic zone”, it could probably even be privately funded.