Friday, August 28, 2009

Conversation Topic 01: Space Development

I am away from my blog for a couple of weeks. This is an experiment in posting some conversation topics while I am gone.

The two questions to answer relevant to the statement below is are:

• Is it true?

• Is it important?

(1) Insofar as people have reason to avoid the extinction of the human race, the most important project to support towards this end is getting humans scattered across the solar system and, eventually, across the stellar neighborhood.


madatheist said...

I think it would also be beneficial in terms of minerals for earth

mikespeir said...

Is it true?

Not quite. We probably can't live long-term anywhere else in the solar system. We'll have to venture elsewhere.

But first we have to survive here long enough to create the technology, which will probably take centuries.

Is it important?

Yes. But right now, not supremely important.

Kip said...

1) It's not precisely true. The most important is not killing ourselves in the near future, while we slowly work toward that next goal of populating the universe. Of course, the next goal after populating the universe will have to be finding to survive the eventual heat death of the universe (or whatever other eventual fate it might have).

2) It's important, but not as important as working toward surviving here in the meantime.

Doug S. said...

If it is true today, was it true in 1900? How about 1500?

I don't expect there to be self-sufficient space colonies for a long, long time.

Doug S. said...

If it is true today, was it true in 1900? How about 1500?

I don't expect there to be self-sufficient space colonies for a long, long time.

Luke said...

I haven't thought this through much, but am I the only one who wouldn't mind if the human race eventually went away, and was gradually phased out by an artificial species of beings that were designed from the ground up to be more moral than we are capable of being?

See here.

Given current desires, there are certainly many and strong reasons for action to preserve the human race, perhaps by space development. But are there reasons for action to change this desire, and encourage a desire to design moral machines to replace us? I dunno.

Also, would humans really enjoy life in space? Would that really fulfill desires? I suppose we could set things up to be as much like home as possible.

Luke said...

Also, of interest:

The Basics of Space Flight.

Baconsbud said...

mikespeir I think that with the technology we could live in select areas of the solar system. I doubt that we as a species will get there until we can actually get along here on this planet. I wouldn't want to have the hate on this world infect others areas of the universe.

Sabio Lantz said...

reason to avoid the extinction of the human race

Somehow this feels different from:

reason to preserve the human race

But I am probably wrong. Maybe the phrase "avoid the extinction", in this political correct world, just sounds too noble. Why should we avoid the extinction of any species except that it relates to our long term well being. There is nothing noble of preserving a species in and of itself. So, should we preserve all species by spreading them over the universe?

But I guess you meant: "Given that we should preserver humans, is the best means by space travel seeding?" But then the same question should be able to be answered by a less loaded question of "Given that we should preserve cockroaches, is the best means by space travel seeding?"

Eneasz said...

Luke - I dunno if "replacing" is entirely the best word. I doubt our descendants in the far future will look much like us. We could, hypothetically, engineer our children to be better suited for life in space, or transfer our consciousness to non-biological bodies, but I wouldn't call that an elimination of humans, just an evolution (in the layman's sense).

1. I think this is true. People are saying that it's important to fix up this planet first, but I disagree. Even ignoring extinction events we can't control (asteroids, super-volcanos, etc), it's a dang good idea to establish human life off this planet even if it's still warlike and exploitative. That way if we destroy our home planet via nuclear war or pollution or some other means there will still be a humanity somewhere else to continue on. And hopefully learn from our mistakes.

2. Is it important? Yes. It could actually help to releave a lot of the pressures on the earth right now. And for Doug, I think it was just as true (or almost as true) at any other point in history. It just wasn't possible back then.

Eneasz said...

Sabio - I see no good reason to ensure the continued existance of any other species via space seeding, aside from however it may benefit our species. Our species (and species descendant from us) are the only ones I *really* care about.

Altho it would be a bummer to live in a world without dogs. :(

James Koran said...

To some this may seem weird, but I'd like to dump the Monetary System all together. I think a resource based economy for the world is a better alternative to what we have now. If we have the resources to do it we can do it. Of course, managing resources could be a challenge. I like "The Venus Projects" proposal and their FAQ section. It sounds like an interesting alternative to speed up our commitment to technology.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

I'm back from my vacation and so I can now respond to the comments made on my discussion topics.


One of the benefits from space development is access to mineral wealth (and, even more important, energy) in a dead environment. Meaning that harvesting that wealth will not impact a living ecosystem.

Those who think we should make things perfect here on earth before we develop space

The development of space is one way in which we improve things here on earth. The harvest of resources in a dead environment without impacting the living earth, huge quantities of energy available for at least the next 7.5 billion years in our solar system, and trillions of years in some other systems. Enough building material to construct living surface area equal to hundreds of thousands of earths around our sun alone. Waiting to develop space until after we have solved the problems of earth is like waiting to go to the doctor until after one has recovered from an illness (or died from it).


I believe we can live anywhere in the solar system that has enough material to build a space station (with sufficient shielding against cosmic rays) and energy.


The point about space development is that it is the best option to pursue to avoid killing ourselves. Our biggest risk comes from having all of our eggs in one planetary basket. Spreading them out across the solar system will increase the chance of a percentage of them surviving any catastrophy.

Doug S.

I do not expect there to be self-sufficient space colonies for a long, long time either.


I actually expect that the development of space will co-incide with a gradual change of the human species. If humans survive long enough, we will continue to see a pattern where more and more of our biological functions are replaced by machine functions. How long would the brain live, if the body were replaced by machine (reducing the effects of cancers, heart attacks, pneumonia, malaria, and the like)?

As to your question, would humans really enjoy life in space? Would that really fulfill desires?

I suspect we would see the same in space as with many other parts of life. At first new ways of doing things must replicate old ways that people are familiar with. However, for each generation, "setting things up to be as much like home as possible" will refer to the space home they grew up in, not earth. Over time, they will acquire new desires coompatible with their new environment.

Also, other posts relevant to some comments:

The Human Virus (October 23, 2006)

Final Frontier 2: Cities in Space (May 11,2009)