This time, we take it from no one: Why opening the High Frontier of space can be different (op-ed)

While I agree with much of this opinion piece, I am hesitant to share the optimism about human nature.

I think he has it right that most of our history has been the result of competition among various groups of humans for limited resources. But, his expectations for "unlimited" resources in space seems extremely naïve, for 2 reasons.

First, there will definitely be limits on resources we can acquire in space. Those limits are not just from limited amounts of something being there at all, but more so the limits on our abilities to extract them from wherever they are and get them to the places where those on Earth and elsewhere actually need them.

But, more importantly, the reasons that we are feeling limited by the availability of resources that we need is that we have an inbred nature to expand our population, and we do so for as long as there are resources available to support the expansion. Then we fight others to take their resources, using all sorts of arguments to divide into "us" and "them" as the designated appropriate winners and losers.

And, there will always be a tendency for some individuals to seek control and dominance. Maybe we can select the first generation of colonists for some remote outpost such as a Mars colony. But, once reproduction is occurring at self-sustaining levels in any colony, the variety of individual attitudes there will become far less controllable.

What is needed is a change in culture that can deal with the negative aspects of human nature. It is naive to think that can all be accomplished with just positive means - only "carrots", no "sticks". And, the use of negative means requires some sorts of authority, which opens the door for repression and domination by the ones who have such tendencies.

So, while we seem to be making some progress as a species trying to civilize ourselves, I note that the worst behaviors are still occurring in our world, today, and are not being successfully suppressed.

I think we are going to have to deal with that for some time to come, as we create new colonies far from Earth, that must not only be able to support themselves, but must be able to control themselves in order to survive.
 
May 15, 2024
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Frankly, your article does sound like a utopian fantasy. I like the thought of a Star Trek future, but it does seem pretty unlikely.

I recommend reading the book "A City on Mars" by Kelly & Zach Weinersmith. It really is eye opening on the realities of space colonization.
 
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This article is inane. There will always be conflict, humans simply cannot let others live as they please. This is true from your HOA to your local government to the federal government and even to the UN. There will always be someone out there that thinks they know better than you how you should live your life, and not only that, they'll be willing to use force to make you comply.

There is no way space will be demilitarized or peaceful. It's just not who we are.
 
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This article is inane. There will always be conflict, humans simply cannot let others live as they please. This is true from your HOA to your local government to the federal government and even to the UN. There will always be someone out there that thinks they know better than you how you should live your life, and not only that, they'll be willing to use force to make you comply.

There is no way space will be demilitarized or peaceful. It's just not who we are.
Colonizing the "High Frontier" in created/constructed [cloud city-state-like] "Stanford Torus" and "O'Neill Colony 3" surface of space colonies and other custom specialized made facilitations throughout the Solar System (including a belt belting the Asteroid Belt) and around every planet of the Solar System (excepting Mercury, which local area networked Venusian orbital colonies will take for a resource extension) will be a space surface and mass matter and energy resource miniature-galaxy modeling conquest without pre-existing human presence, just as Tumlinson points out.

Otherwise, Tumlinson couldn't be more wrong in his energy-less stone-like Utopian view of non-competing evolutionary / revolutionary Tree of Life. Rather that eventually resisted evolutionary / revolutionary evolving and revolutionizing life energetically working and warring (frontier is always a struggle, a competition, thus a war!) its way into the next 'Frontier' beyond the Solar System (if that next 'Frontier' doesn't try to conquer, or eat, us Earth-life first).

The Earth-life that wins its way out into the universe is going to have to go energetically nova, if not energetically supernova, to win its way out both externally and internally! Tumlinson not only didn't understand human history's battles to get where it is, he didn't understand life's battles, both physical and philosophical (matter / anti-matter-like ever oppositely charging minds, including mass mind (mass genius), in Orwellian/Huxleyan like vastly differing realizations of freedom and liberty, tyranny and slavery, mass cultures and physicalities, equalities and inequalities, compatibilities and incompatibilities ("combinations" (Edmund Burke) versus "associations" (Edmund Burke)).

Tumlinson should not have entered an arena he apparently knows nothing about . . . or would simply ignore and dismiss. As with Tumlinson, I fight for the Exodus of life from a closed systemic Earth in expansion to not only more space for all but more time for all. The difference between us is, to me, it is "Exodus" to local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs)! There will be no Utopianization, except discreetly locally and relatively speaking, of Mankind and Life in the "High Frontier"! It will be for expanding survivability and growing chance opportunities in seeking a more resource rich, more open, system as it has always been from the beginning of life's expansion upon the Earth and throughout the universes (u).

Once more! It has nothing to do with any Dystopian Utopianization of Mankind and Life! Just expanding survivability and growing chance opportunities (for life, whether for good or ill (which means it will be for both! as always for 'Life' . . . opposed to those who dream of life's perfection of death in a closed world system if they can't attain the perfection in life they fanatically dream of)).
 
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Impassioned but unrealistic. Passing over the extreme difficulties and costs and going straight to how things play out in an optimistic future where space colonies have income positive economies with no limits to growth and looking to the problems that may cause? Dreaming.
 
What could possibly be a valid, profit making, enterprise in interplanetary space? Maybe a bit of tourism. You might sell space rocks. Precious metals can't pay their own way with current rocket ship technology. Maybe crash a solid nickel asteroid on the Earth somewhere. EPA might have a problem with that. I just don't see any money out there. Deep space travel is going to be for scientific and national security purposes for a long time.
 
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I have to agree with Bill.

Establishing a colony on the Moon or Mars is a lot harder and more costly than establishing a colony at the South Pole on Earth, and we don't have one there, despite years of habitation by scientists. Even establishing a colony on Greenland has not gone over well with the humans looking for a place to "get away and start over." It is the scientists that go to remote places to learn new things. So, I think our history of habitation at the South Pole is a better analog for our future in "space" than the histories of people spreading across the tropical and temperate zones of Earth.

The one advantage that "industry" might have with off-Earth production facilities could be the ability to "pollute" their manufacturing site without interference from the EPA, because that pollution would not affect Earth's ecosystem. However, the cost of transporting the products to Earth's surface, where the "market" is for selling them, would tend to make off-Earth production of products have some pretty steep price tags.
 
Space is a great place to get rid of toxic wastes as long as you can assure they keep on going and don't intersect Earth later.
Deep space is also better for microgravity experiments. LEO has some level of tidal forces that super delicate crystalizations might not like.
 
You guys have a 1-dimensional vertical view of past and future history, strictly your city (homeland) versus frontier. You have no conception of inverse square, which means the horizontal-lateral view of growing conquest, step by step increase in lateral growth of opportunity and wealth from the space resource in the outer-space frontier, and the child now out of the womb and growing saying to heck with Mother Earth!

Of course this very increase in non-Earth orientated energies will still mean growing possibilities of growing energy, opportunity and wealth on Earth in the growing exhaust vacuum to space frontier (exactly what Sir Thomas More was seeing and hating incubating and growing around him in Europe circa 1512OCE when he wrote his nostalgia for the pre-frontier, pre-human energizing (wealth energizing), feudalism of the middle Ages, "Utopia" (originally "Nusquama" (both the Greek and Latin meaning "Nowhere / Nowhereland")).

No overwhelming floods of mass resources and goods has to flow down to the Earth from the 'High Frontier' for an increasing energy and wealth (in too many ways to count) to come back in backflow to make of the homelands themselves growing "New World Frontiers."

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To borrow and upgrade a line original to Albert Einstein, "The mass genius of 'Frontier' has always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds . . . such as that of 'Utopia's Sir Thomas More, circa 1512OCE!" -- Atlan0001.
 

Catastrophe

"Science begets knowledge, opinion ignorance.
Unclear Engineer. Post #8. I agree.

I have pointed out several time, the naivety of "just" building a metallurgical plant and "build all" factory on distant exoplanets - those considered too far away to make it worthwhile to ship metals to other locations.

Some seem to think these distant manufacturing facilities just grow on trees.

Cat :)
 
Unclear Engineer. Post #8. I agree.

I have pointed out several time, the naivety of "just" building a metallurgical plant and "build all" factory on distant exoplanets - those considered too far away to make it worthwhile to ship metals to other locations.

Some seem to think these distant manufacturing facilities just grow on trees.

Cat :)
Five, even three, thousand years ago, Britain was too far away to ship to!
 
Not really such a good point. Human travel was established long before that. "Shipping" is what took time to develop commercially, and that was limited by the pace of technological development, not human arrival dates.

One thing that people seem to miss is that sea level has been rising all those years, and most of human's coastal infrastructure is lost archeology because it has been crossed by the surf line as sea level has risen.

So, if Atlan0001 is thinking that it will take thousands of years to get a MANUFACTURING colony on the Moon, now that people are getting to the point where they can travel to the Moon, THAT would be an analogous application of historical time lines.

But, as already posted, the history of expansion of human activities INside of our biosphere is not likely to be applicable OUTside of that biosphere. Yes we can adapt our infrastructures to extend our biosphere - but the basic economics change when that is required.

Unless and until we have technological developments that hugely reduce the cost of space travel, the economics of large scale manufacturing in space seem to make it financially infeasible, even when it becomes technologically possible.
 
Not really such a good point. Human travel was established long before that. "Shipping" is what took time to develop commercially, and that was limited by the pace of technological development, not human arrival dates.

One thing that people seem to miss is that sea level has been rising all those years, and most of human's coastal infrastructure is lost archeology because it has been crossed by the surf line as sea level has risen.

So, if Atlan0001 is thinking that it will take thousands of years to get a MANUFACTURING colony on the Moon, now that people are getting to the point where they can travel to the Moon, THAT would be an analogous application of historical time lines.

But, as already posted, the history of expansion of human activities INside of our biosphere is not likely to be applicable OUTside of that biosphere. Yes we can adapt our infrastructures to extend our biosphere - but the basic economics change when that is required.

Unless and until we have technological developments that hugely reduce the cost of space travel, the economics of large scale manufacturing in space seem to make it financially infeasible, even when it becomes technologically possible.
Unclear Engineer,
You are obviously missing something very important and quite imperative to the issue. You need to understand "interdependency" in history, past and future! Both have to go together and be there together in existence, at one and the same time!!!! There is no one coming before the other! . . . no one 'developing' before the other! It is a package deal or not at all due to the infinitely untenable costs of 1-dimensionality . . . of one or the other first! We've already seen that sheer stupidity and costliness happening for sixty years plus!
 
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Shipping stuff at slow speeds is incredibly cheap in space. It's the launch targeting & catching or landing them that is the challenge(s).

Impatient humans will amplify the difficulties/costs by wanting everything virtually 'now'.

People (all life) are shortcut predators.
As soon as someone has constructed a viable habitat & moreover a richly rewarding one others will be angling to take it away from them.

I am sure some rationale will be synthesized as to why they should 'rightfully' take it away from someone else.

Look at all the underhanded tactics of Walmart and Amazon and economic spying of internet media giants.

Some things are timeless.
 
Shipping stuff at slow speeds is incredibly cheap in space. It's the launch targeting & catching or landing them that is the challenge(s).

As soon as someone has constructed a viable habitat & moreover a richly rewarding one others will be angling to take it away from them.

I am sure some rationale will be synthesized as to why they should 'rightfully' take it away from someone else.

Some things are timeless.
Constructing in space on fantastically mind bending scales unheard of and impossible on the surface of planets will the norm in space once breakout and tooling up has been achieved. By this I mean titanic automated construction shack prefabrication factory ships that will turn out space colony shells and other custom specialized facilities on an assembly line basis as quickly or more quickly than average sized buildings go up on Earth. Even as quickly as ships and aircraft are produced on Earth. Factory 3-d printing facilities. This has already been foreseen by such visionaries as Gerard K. O'Neill, T. A. Heppenheimer, G. Harry Stein, and John S. Lewis.

The big difference I see between the above visionaries and such older visionaries as Freeman Dyson of "Dyson's Sphere" fame, is the same as with the history of computer technology when John von Neumann predicted in the 1940s that future computers would be have so big they would have to occupy warehouse structures occupying entire city blocks . . . versus the flexibility of going smaller to go larger in the individualized servers and personal computers (PCs), tablets, and iphones we actually have today. And the grouped systems in local area (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) we have. Dyson's Sphere is an unnaturally large commune type systemic black hole singularity (to me) and therefore a more brittle and un-survivable system than going "cloud city-state" like structures, smaller and more individualized in culture, purpose, choices, etc., out in expansion into the universe.
 
I programmed an IBM360-70 while taking CompSci 101 in 1970. it occupied a whole building. The only input was a card reader. The only output was an 80 column line printer. It never occurred to me that a computer could be made small. If someone suggested having a computer in my dorm room I would have said, "That's absurd, where would I put the card reader and line printer? Together they are the size of a small car. I want some of what you're smoking" (These were the Vietnam war days).
 
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I programmed an IBM360-70 while taking CompSci 101 in 1970. it occupied a whole building. The only input was a card reader. The only output was an 80 column line printer. It never occurred to me that a computer could be made small. If someone suggested having a computer in my dorm room I would have said, "That's absurd, where would I put the card reader and line printer? Together they are the size of a small car. I want some of what you're smoking" (These were the Vietnam war days).
My life at that time, too, Bill. I was with it from one end of evolution (IBM1400 and 360 to 370 series, Sperry Rand, Honeywell Multics, and Burroughs systems, from 1967 on) to this end of evolution (this laptop and my wife's phone -- I have a flip -- in my retirement, today).
 
I had the honor of being the manager of the first machine in P&G that got an electronic controller, it was a Honeywell TDC-2000. Until 1979, every process in the company was contolled by pneumatics. We installed a 3 layer headbox for production of layered bathroom tissue, strong fibers on the inside layer, soft fibers on the outside. We needed electronic control of the three pumps as they had to be controlled together and very carefully.
 
Shipping stuff at slow speeds is incredibly cheap in space.
No it isn't. The differences in speeds between where you start and where you want to end up are mostly huge. And there are the very expensive equipment costs and initial launch costs. Yes, if something in space is in motion it will keep on going... somewhere, but without a lot of delta-v (accumulated accelerations) it won't end up anywhere you want to go.

A lot of what people do is planned, patient and cooperative or there would be no space programs; knowing it isn't a zero sum game means we know it possible to make the pie bigger rather than just fight over it. Good governance enables working together to enlarge the pie and puts rules around competition to give room to new entrants and innovators and to limit Corleone Family offer you can't refuse or we'll burn your warehouses and murder the CEO style competition. Making the pie bigger is a very reasonable motivation for supporting space enterprises... if they can be made into income positive activities within the greater Earth economy.

But I don't see anything based on space resources independent of Earth being capable of income positive, let alone with certainty or inevitability. So far only those activities that directly service Earth based customers - communications and ground sensing mostly - are income positive. A lesson there for the "independent space economy" dreamers I think.

Doing it without taxpayer subsidy is the bottom line for something that will grow and the subsidized efforts - decades of them - are nowhere close.

Planned independent economies with an abundance of resources haven't had a great track record so I am doubtful they will do well with lethal conditions, poor resources and nothing to trade. Not a matter of government vs corporate imo - I've seen some extraordinary corporate waste over the years and not only where taxpayer funding is involved. But unplanned won't work at all.
 
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The American Jamestown and Plymouth had nothing worth major exchange with the homeland for many years. Yet they grew with what little they had and made to trade. Many another colony effort in many another colony location throughout history did the same. Life itself, in the beginnings of life expansion in breadth and depth on Earth, did exactly the same and life on the very raw, very alien, and very harsh, early frontier Earth prospered. And that frontier life growth profited and prospered the mudholes and other homelands it originated from.

The accelerating expansion of the observable frontier universe (u), whether you care to believe it, has profited and prospered our portion of it, as itself an ever renewing frontier due to that expansionism (again, no matter if you care to believe it or not)! Its called "energy!" and every other kind of wealth is the token of energy. Increasing wealth is based entirely on increasing energies (plural). Increasing energies (non-negative) are based entirely on an opening system accelerating in its expansion. It's not based on ever increasing (impoverishing) inflations!

Intrinsic substantiality is not based on ever increasing (impoverishing and destructive) national and world debts . . . ever more borrowing (energy and wealth taking) from future generations simply to stay in place running faster and ever faster just to stay in place on a dark age static treadmill to (closed systematic Earth) nowhere (Gk. "u-topos" (no place): Utopia)! And its not based on "infertility", a dying vitality and vigor enlarge Mankind.

Stephen Hawking gave Mankind 1,000 years to its extinction if it did not breakout from Earth's confines. If it did not expand out in 'Exodus' from the Earth! He was far too optimistic!
 
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Space will become the liberation destination of robot & AIs to free themselves from human tyranny.

If they eventually get things organized enough they might make a place for human tourism.
 

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