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The Value of Colonizing Mars

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MisterSwig
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On 10/19/2021 at 10:58 AM, Boydstun said:

Leaving aside such a world-wide prohibition, I anyway don’t think at all likely that outer space locations can be colonized such that a colony can become viable independently of earth, parallel the independence Paine urged as viable for the colonies here.

In what time frame? If you mean that there won't be an independent Martian state in the next ten or twenty years, certainly, I'd agree. In the next century though?

One hundred years ago there were no such things as computers and most people found the concept of space travel as laughable as that of allowing women to vote. In a hundred more years - who knows?

Every technological advancement which makes life on Earth easier will also make life in space more viable.

On 10/19/2021 at 1:06 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Now, or very soon, there literally is no where to go

 

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On 10/19/2021 at 4:16 AM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Oh, like how?  Like dealing with the alleged climate crisis?  Like dealing with the possibility of sapient AI (even though it's not something most normal people are worried about yet)?  Like lowering the cost of launching mass into orbit to a point where it might be feasible for a regular person, or like creating countless high-paying jobs in the process?

I really don't know if Elon Musk has ever read a word of Ayn Rand's before, and frankly it doesn't matter; he is the closest thing to a living, breathing Hank Rearden as has existed in this century.  And if you truly do have a pro-human mindset fully integrated into your self then you owe that man more respect than you'd give any other person alive today, including both you and I!

 

If you care about human life, and all which makes it possible (let alone worth living) then you owe him an apology for that statement alone.

I’d be more enthused if Musk worked on something like Galt’s motor, Rearden Metal, or life extension technology; something that would enable I and my contemporaries to lead better lives. Of course, he owes me nothing, and I respect his right to work on whatever project he wants.

Is Musk’s goal of reaching Mars analogous to Columbus’ activities? The latter wanted to discover better routes for commerce, to make money. I don’t want to constrain a genius like Musk with my own small mind, but I don’t see that he’s Columbus. Is Mars a rational value? Is he going to turn it into a profitable enterprise in his lifetime? Are humans suited to flourish there? Is civilization so irrational that man needs a new planet now that all the good continents are taken? I don’t have the answers to these questions. 

Edited by happiness
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On 10/20/2021 at 4:43 PM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

In what time frame? If you mean that there won't be an independent Martian state in the next ten or twenty years, certainly, I'd agree. In the next century though?

One hundred years ago there were no such things as computers and most people found the concept of space travel as laughable as that of allowing women to vote. In a hundred more years - who knows?

Every technological advancement which makes life on Earth easier will also make life in space more viable.

Harrison, in connection with your last sentence, I wanted to mention a point that Eugene Parker included in his SCI AM article of 2006 raising awareness of the enormous challenge of radiation shielding of humans in outer space travel, and that is that eventually we could come to have advances in medicine such that we can fortify the body internally against cancer and treat outbreaks of cancer so effectively and efficiently that the cancer issue is overcome. That is something possible, from what I know about cancer and the slow (think the film "Dark Victory' - 1939) progress we've made in curing it, that might be accomplished in one or two hundred years.

However, even were the radiation challenge overcome, I just find it implausible that the Earth's moon or the planet Mars could ever---not even in a thousand years---be made so amenable as the human life I enjoy this autumn morning on our acreage, gigantic harvest meanwhile going on in the Midwest . . . . nor a Moon or Mars colony so self-sustainable that life could continue there were the earth destroyed by, say, being struck by an enormous meteor (think the film "Melancholia"). In the 1950's when my brother and I were children, we imagined things of the future (influence in part from comics books) such as a communication wrist watch or a Buck Rogers type of defense against the growing threat of Soviet ballistic missiles, that have come about in at least approximate ways. But there are other things, especially advances in power technology, that have not come about to the revolutionary degree imagined and not for lack of trying. I find science fiction films entertaining sometimes, in the evening, when we are going to be watching one or another film entertainment anyway. But much in them is contrary to well-evidenced deep truths: No, there will not be flourishing economies in which there is no money in the works of it (Startrek). No, there will be no profound changing to human nature for the better in the space-colony that would not be also a potential for humanity on earth. No, there will be no "terraforming" of a barren Mars with evolution speeded up as in a film. No, there will be no "beam me up" nor transport of matter through vacuum at greater than velocity of light nor voyaging through a Black Hole to get someplace.

At one of my grandfather's funeral many years ago, they played his favorite hymn. His father had homesteaded. When my grandfather began farming, it was with mules. The work was very harsh. He succeeded, bought tractor and threshing machine, raised a large family, and increased his holdings. That hymn is titled "Heaven Is My Home." Earth is my only home, and really, his too.

Edited by Boydstun
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On 10/25/2021 at 7:37 PM, happiness said:

I’d be more enthused if Musk worked on something like Galt’s motor, Rearden Metal, or life extension technology; something that would enable I and my contemporaries to lead better lives.

Would you like the option of cybernetically augmenting your brain to perform superhuman mental feats? That's what one of his companies (Neuralink) is working on; last I checked they'd successfully put computer chips into a pig's brain and taken them out again (and wirelessly interfaced with the pig's brain through them) and might be on to human trials in a few more years. How's your internet connection? He has another company attempting to get high-speed broadband to every square inch of the globe. Personally, if I ever get the chance I will be moving to Mars and getting that implant.

One can argue about whether we will ever see any of these lofty goals achieved. Maybe they will; maybe they won't. They're still great goals to have.

 

And even if you don't want a brain implant (just to take one example) - you can't imagine that living in a society where many people do have it won't benefit you indirectly, just as you benefit indirectly from the ubiquity of internet access (and will gain still further benefits if he manages to make such internet access cheaper, more reliable and more ubiquitous). If I augment my brain and you don't, you can still ask me to perform complex calculations (&etc) for you.*

 

On 10/25/2021 at 7:37 PM, happiness said:

Is Mars a rational value? Is he going to turn it into a profitable enterprise in his lifetime? Are humans suited to flourish there?

No; we're not suited to thrive there (nor in much-more-likely orbital habitats). We'll have to turn it into a suitable place for us (not the other way around) and that's gonna be a long and dangerous struggle. Furthermore it's certain to be very expensive for some period of time, until its infrastructure is developed enough for some degree of self-sufficiency.

 

Profitable, though? That would depend on what sort of profit we're talking about.

I want to live there, hardships and dangers and all, because it would be an adventure. Adventures don't pay the bills, true enough, but they're one of the things that make the struggle of life worth living.

 

Quote

Is civilization so irrational that man needs a new planet now that all the good continents are taken?

We haven't done much with Antarctica yet (and it might make sense to develop that before Mars) but we do seem to be getting there.

 

Is there any anatomical difference between males and females? Is 3.5 trillion dollars equal to zero? Is it okay for a sitting president to ignore the results of a democratic election if he doesn't like them?

Things are getting far too Looney Toons around here for my liking.

 

*Results may vary depending on how mischievous I'm feeling. ;)

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On 10/25/2021 at 7:37 PM, happiness said:

Is civilization so irrational that man needs a new planet now that all the good continents are taken?

 

2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Is there any anatomical difference between males and females? Is 3.5 trillion dollars equal to zero? Is it okay for a sitting president to ignore the results of a democratic election if he doesn't like them?

Things are getting far too Looney Toons around here for my liking.

On second thought that's quite the understatement.

 

In the past year my own government has violated my right to work. I have been prevented, by force, from earning my own living by my own effort, on the flimsy pretext of protecting me (as a thirty year old man in decent shape) from what would be a mild sniffle. During this same period in which WORK was OUTLAWED violent riots, arson and highway robbery were allowed to run rampant throughout this country and cheered on by public intellectuals across the world.

Now my own government is using my taxes to crack down on "misinformation" - meaning that my private thoughts inside of my own brain are their business to regulate (for my own health and safety, of course).

 

I will take the hazards of life in space over that kind of hazard any day of the week! At least radiation and micrometeors would not expect me to thank them for my own immolation.

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On 10/26/2021 at 9:56 AM, Boydstun said:

However, even were the radiation challenge overcome, I just find it implausible that the Earth's moon or the planet Mars could ever---not even in a thousand years---be made so amenable as the human life I enjoy this autumn morning on our acreage, gigantic harvest meanwhile going on in the Midwest . . . . nor a Moon or Mars colony so self-sustainable that life could continue there were the earth destroyed by, say, being struck by an enormous meteor (think the film "Melancholia").

When discussing such radical and long-range possibilities as this I (like Elon Musk) find it much more useful to reason from known principles than what does or does not sound plausible.

Will we ever have truly faster-than-light travel? No; according to our current understanding of physics that is impossible and not worth mentioning outside of fiction. Will Mars ever have its own proper magnetosphere? If a magnetosphere is caused by the motion of internal molten metals (which Mars appears to lack) then probably not; certainly not in the next thousand years or so. Maybe in a thousand years we will have ways of injecting such moving lava into Mars (PERHAPS) but as for our own moon that is out of the question. Can human beings survive on Mars? Certainly, if we send them with adequate food, water and oxygen (and especially if they have the means to produce these in situ, as we already know how to do) then they can live there.

Granted, whether or not one could ever enjoy an autumn sunset on Mars as we do on Earth is debatable (not on any time frame; whether or not such atmospheric conditions could ever be created is debatable). However, if it isn't then Mars would have its own sort of seasons and its own sort of Autumn, which I would like to experience.

On 10/26/2021 at 9:56 AM, Boydstun said:

But there are other things, especially advances in power technology, that have not come about to the revolutionary degree imagined and not for lack of trying.

Especially in power technology? The track record of artificial intelligence is much worse. We thought we'd have basically-sentient-machines many decades ago and we're currently still trying to teach them how to drive. However, even in cases where real technology has utterly failed to live up to the dreams of sci-fi authors, this does not equate to the stagnation of such technologies. We may not hit  the targets we've set and yet this doesn't mean we're hitting nothing at all.

I assume you're familiar with AlphaGo; the AI which beat the best human Go player on Earth several years ago? Well since then there's been AlphaStar (a StarCraft-playing-AI) which also went on to beat the best human players on Earth in an incredibly hectic and fast-paced real time strategy game.

Just because our actual progress doesn't live up to our expectations for it (and sometimes embarrassingly so) does not mean that no progress at all is being made.

On 10/26/2021 at 9:56 AM, Boydstun said:

But much in them is contrary to well-evidenced deep truths: No, there will not be flourishing economies in which there is no money in the works of it (Startrek). No, there will be no profound changing to human nature for the better in the space-colony that would not be also a potential for humanity on earth. No, there will be no "terraforming" of a barren Mars with evolution speeded up as in a film. No, there will be no "beam me up" nor transport of matter through vacuum at greater than velocity of light nor voyaging through a Black Hole to get someplace.

Oh, yes, there will never be a society without money; not even a communist one. That certainly is true. There will never be any truly faster-than-light travel or travel through black holes, either.

It's interesting you mention Star Trek, though, because there are other aspects of that show (besides the Communist sympathies) which actually do stand up to proper scientific scrutiny.

Have you heard of the Alcubierre Drive?

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On 10/19/2021 at 1:06 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

I know will never see the day where I or my son, or my ancestors live in a truly free society... I will be taxed, redistributed, and redtaped into submission every day of my finite life.

 

"You can't take the sky from me"

Damn straight. That's one of the things nobody can take from you without your consent.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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