I'm not even sure that "space wars" will be that common. War is expensive, even more so when you have to do it on top of space travel. I think that, without either some extreme commodification of space travel, or some insanely huge reward, space wars won't be a reasonable option in most cases.
Using the example from the article, if Earth considered "Gliese 581 d" Space Commies or something and sent an army NOW at c/4, we would get a message saying "We're here, will engage" in 2118. That's beyond the life expectancy of anything but a small percentage of people being born now.
Using xkcd logic, it was like WW1 Germans deciding "We will invade Russia", send his Pickelhaube corps and when they get to Moscow its 1998 and the Soviet Union has collapse already. They would be using Gewehr 98, they would be slaughtered by a single T-34 out of a museum. News of 1998 Moscow (and pictures of McDonald's on Red Square) would arrive to Angela Merkel.
100 years is a damn long time.
Industrially, building such a weapon for a spacefaring society is quite a bit cheaper than the equivalent terrestrial solution (nukes most of the time).
What ? Our "problems" are inherently human, they won't go away, they've been there from the beginning, they evolve like everything else. This question doesn't make sense. There is no "us" vs "our problems", our problems are us.
> And how can different species that spread throughout the cosmos maintain peace when sufficient mutual trust is unattainable and advanced weaponry could destroy entire civilizations?
Spreading, fighting and destroying civilisations is what makes us human (and what makes up life, for that matter). No matter at what scale you look the universe is creation and destruction.
> Some of these outcomes could have been avoided if only the decision-makers had deliberated a bit more about what could go wrong
Everything is easy to comprehend in hindsight. Chances are people will look at our generation and find everything we fought for as useless and non sensical.
It's nice to think that humanity will one day attain an utopia in which violence, hate and wars don't exists but that's highly unlikely. Life/death, love/hate, peace/violence, are not separate entities, they can only exists with their opposite. Just like you can't have valleys without mountains.
See: Luddites, those against exploring the New World, etc.
In contrast, what we know from facts about space travel: even real sea monsters might leave you alone once in a while, but space is actively trying to kill you at every moment. There are real problems to be solved, like rocket equation, radiation, having enough bandwidth once you get there to stream Netflix. The monsters out there are quite real and quite deadly.
Luddites were just worried about job security.
Did you know that the sea is still deadly? Not all of these are fatalities, but some are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shipwrecks_in_2018
As has been said before by others: I'll believe we're ready to colonize Mars or space after we've colonized the Sahara Desert, Antarctica, and the bottom of the ocean - all of which are vastly easier.
Even once people began to realize that it somehow really worked, the benefit was attributed to the acid somehow interacting with the disease and not to vitamin deficiency. It's interesting how we, now the benefit of hindsight, can take things that took hundreds of years and literally millions of deaths to discover as being practically self evident.
Yes, many of the real problems were solved by 1490 AD, but some were not. Longitude, for example, was insanely difficult.
Many, many people have died at sea. Well-trained, prepared and determined people.
Come to think, it's also odd to pose "not exploring the New World" as an existential threat to human progress, given that there were plenty of humans already there.
I see the opposite happening already. There was a comparison on instagram made, that concluded that the cafe places all around the world are converging to the same look. There are still tensions between countries, but the number of people killed in wars is exponentially decreasing compared to the number of people living.
One part of mutually assured destruction was that nuking the shit out of one country would cause a global nuclear winter which would / could kill 90% of the population - even without retaliation. That's not as much an issue if there's a healthy self-sustaining colony on e.g. Mars. Nowadays what keeps the world reasonably stable is mutual trade dependency, up to a point anyway.
"All of which is happening in the Solar System..."
"All of which is happening in the Milky Way..."
"All of which is happening in the Observable Universe..."
It's probably a cycle that will occur as we make advances in communication technology.
And a long time before now:
"We want to get as fast as possible from one place to another; to get rid of space and to get rid of time. And the result of this is, of course, that—as we get rid of space and time, as we make all places almost immediately accessible by jet aircraft—all places become the same place. So naturally, the tourist who is beguiled into taking a holiday in Honolulu asks, "Is Honolulu still a ‘somewhere else?’ Is it still a land of girls in hula skirts, and naked breasts, and palm trees, and luaus, and so on?" Well, they’ll make it like it is, vaguely. But, of course, it isn’t. Honolulu is the same place as Coney Island, Atlantic City. Tokyo is just the same, it is simply an extension of Los Angeles; one of our suburbs. Because the faster you can get from place to place, the more you have conquered the limitations of time and space, the more everywhere is the same place. So the differences between different cultures, the differences between people, the things that we want to see when we go to foreign places are increasingly unavailable, except as something provided in a phony way for the entertainment of tourists to deceive them into the idea that they really did get somewhere else."
- Alan Watts, sometime before his death in 1973, in "A True Materialist Society" - https://www.organism.earth/library/document/131 , and other talks.
I think the best way to understand this essay is like this: it's all received wisdom based on what we've experienced so far. That doesn't make it right or wrong. It just makes it highly speculative.
Like to see why? Dial back the calendar a few hundred years. Some bozo named Columbus just got back from a trip. He says there's tons of wealth awaiting us in some far-off, plentiful, perhaps-utopian paradise.
Now that we've rewound the clock, you can read through this essay in the same way, substituting the new world for space. It's all the same.
My fear for our species is that 1) we get exactly what we want, ie, we create AGI that caters to our every whim, thereby making our entire species superfluous, and 2) if we don't do that, we argue our way out of exploration and adventure and into introspection and conflict. Who knows, maybe we do both.
I wish this had been a better essay.
I'd agree it would not be a luxurious life. Luxuries and comforts will be scarce, work will be extensive, and there will almost certainly be extremely high mortality rates relative to Earth. And I am willing to pay an extremely large price to be one of the first to go!
Because in exchange for all of this you get to experience things nobody else has ever experienced, or ever will be able to experience in the same way. You get to play a part in creating a society that will likely exist for so long as humanity itself continues to exist. You will also get to challenge yourself in ways - physically, mentally, and psychologically - that you'd never imagined possible. Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that the selection bias is going to lead to one hell of an interesting group of people in this society. My wife is afflicted of the same apparent insanity as myself, so this sounds like a pretty great life from a different perspective.
I think mars will be similar to Luna: a few exploratory human missions and then silence for many decades, until terraforming technology has become commodity.
But the wills of the people and the wills of government often conflict. And government generally wins. As the military and soft power tasks had been effectively achieved, government interest in space rapidly waned. There were also extremely petty reasons. Nixon, in part, also did not want to drive what he felt was JFK's legacy, and instead aimed to create his own; something he certainly achieved. There's a great writeup on his views and decisions regarding space and NASA here . He is one of the biggest reasons that space died, though it must be said that any president following him (with a compatible congress) could have just as easily resuscitated it as he killed it. Trump reportedly was willing to offer NASA an 'unlimited' budget if they could get a human on Mars before the end of his first term. Something that's unfortunately almost certainly technically impossible given the state of our dilapidated space program (relative to where it could be today).
The point of this all is that the 21st century will be the first time the people go to space, let alone to another celestial body. And there's no reason to expect we'll turn back. The nice thing about a capitalist system is that so long as the money is there, things will happen. You can look at society as a venn diagram between money and desires for space. There's far more than enough of an overlap there to sustain space indefinitely even without the incredible wealth of certain players such as Bezos.
 - http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/jason-callahan/20...
- Freedom of expression without governmental control. At the time this was primarily related to religion, but expression was and is valuable in and of itself.
- The ability to potentially create new social and political systems. Many government systems are driven by inertia, not merit. New lands offers opportunity for improvement. This needn't mean colonization level, but even simple individual autonomy which gets into the next point.
- Simply seeking a plot of land for oneself. Throughout Europe feudal governments claimed all land and then nepotistically allocated it. Things such as hunting could face severe consequences if not state approved. Even farming generally required entailed you giving nearly all your production away to the state.
- Many were poor people looking to try to find some mixture of the above and more generally to start a new life. They generally made their way to the new land through contracts of indentured servitude. They'd work for 'x' years in exchange for their passage and eventual freedom.
And so on. The US constitution is a distinct reminders of the motivations of colonization. We were designed to be a country with a weak central government and strong, effectively independent, state governments. Think about the first five amendments of the constitution: You have free speech, you can gather and bear arms, you don't have to let soldiers into your home, the government can't search you without reason, the government can't force you to speak in court if you feel it is not in your interest. This amendments all speak very strongly to the nature and ethos of those that were coming to the new world.
And while the exact details are quite different, I expect we'll see a similar ethos driving people to new planets. Eventually people will come to take Mars' selfies, go on a tour group to Olympus Mons, and of course to have some 0.3g sex. But that time won't be for a very long time to come. The colonies won't be anywhere near ready for that for decades, and even the technology for such stuff is still far off. Planetary alignment means there is a very short window for transiting between the planets. With current and near future tech going to Mars is a 2 year trip minimum. Those seeking novelty will likely need to look elsewhere for quite some time. I think Moon tourism certainly has some potential for these sort of pursuits. Andy Weir already coined it our most latter appeal above -- 'Moon Poon'.
Surely the relevant governing authorities in this case would be local - each planet or station analogous to a country rather than a region? It wouldn't make sense to try to "govern" from light years away.
The last paragraph summarizes the intention of the article:
> The lesson of this argument is not to uncritically assume that venturing into the heavens will necessarily make us safer or more existentially secure. This is a point that organizations hoping to colonize Mars, such as SpaceX, NASA, and Mars One should seriously contemplate. How can humanity migrate to another planet without bringing our problems with us? And how can different species that spread throughout the cosmos maintain peace when sufficient mutual trust is unattainable and advanced weaponry could destroy entire civilizations?
> Human beings have made many catastrophically bad decisions in the past. Some of these outcomes could have been avoided if only the decision-makers had deliberated a bit more about what could go wrong—i.e., had done a “premortem” analysis. We are in that privileged position right now with respect to space colonization. Let’s not dive head-first into waters that turn out to be shallow.
We're thinking about it from times immemorial, and last century we think about it too, taking into account our latest understanding of possibilities and dangers. One would hopefully think our expansion is limited mostly by our abilities, not by our doubts?
But they literally just quoted the argument from Elon Musk where he says: “there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multiplanetary…to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen.”
This article is an interesting mix of philosophical essentialism (lives outside of a single, united planet would be meaningless and dystopian: "But would these trillions of lives actually be worthwhile? Or would colonization of space lead to a dystopia?" -- requiring that life having meaning before being considered worthy of existence) and fear-mongering (being close-ish to other settlers-diverging-to-species would result in asteroid throwers). It also presumes the outcomes of capitalism are necessarily negative.
Is this some iterated form of Luddite-ism?
Also, if it takes decades or centuries and a huge amount of resources to even travel from one system to another, what reason could there possibly be to send an invasion fleet? The idea is ludicrous. If you can't meaningfully control some other system, doesn't that remove the justification to go to war?
But he says right in the article that there's no meaningful way to actually control people in another system! So what would be the reason to go to war?