[extropy-chat] Space colony behind the moon?

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Thu Oct 19 20:41:20 UTC 2006

At 12:31 AM 10/19/2006 +0100, Russell wrote:
>On 10/18/06, Robert Bradbury 
><<mailto:robert.bradbury at gmail.com>robert.bradbury at gmail.com> wrote:
>>You and/or the Lifeboat foundation should probably rethink this.  I've 
>>devoted a *lot* of thought over the years to external hazard function 
>>minimization -- I'm not sure putting anything in space is the way to go.
>The point being missed is that what we need isolation from isn't matter, 
>it's ideas.
>Giant rail guns, killer robots, swarms of flesh-eating nanites - they're 
>like Satan and Cthulhu, reifications of our fears, because it's in our 
>nature to put a visually imaginable face on things. They don't _literally_ 
>exist; they need to be taken on the correct level, as metaphors.
>The reason Earth isn't big enough is that it's not _psychologically 
>perceived_ as big enough, not now that we can span it in hours in person 
>and in milliseconds by proxy. Materially it could support everyone in 
>comfort and safety - considerably more than its current population if its 
>resources were used more efficiently - but that's not how our psychology 
>works. We need the _perception_ of an open frontier, so that our efforts 
>will start being turned outwards rather than inwards against each other:

I have spent a lot of effort on this subject recently.  What seems to 
actually be the case is we need the perception of an improving future to 
keep us out of war mode.  An open frontier will very often do that, but 
consider this counter example:  The US really had an open frontier in the 
1860.  The people of the South foresaw (correctly) economic hard times 
a-coming with the loss of slaves and went to war anyway.

If you want to keep people out of war mode, expanding the economy, 
particularly food production, faster than the population grows seems to be 
the ticket.  In practice that means low birth rates.

>I don't agree with the specifics of Zubrin's plans, but he's right about 
>one thing: opening the space frontier is the only way to go.

I agree with you about opening up space, but I don't think anyplace in the 
solar system will be safe.  Unfortunately the technology and wealth to go 
out on starships seems to lie on the other side of the singularity when 
(perhaps) most of the danger is past.

Keith Henson

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