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Cyborgs and Space (1960) [pdf] (mit.edu)
79 points by Hooke 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments



Recall reading a 70s novel called Man Plus, which was mainly about making a cyborg capable of surviving Mars surface as part of a space program, also from the perspective of said man.


I read this paper in undergrad in a course entitled "Science Fiction and Galactic Capital", which was honestly probably my favorite course in all of college. We would read Das Capital and then compare it with sections of Dune, Red Mars, and Schismatrix to tease apart how capitalism manifests in space. How are the fundamental rules of economics different in space?

Could (or should) society function differently?

This paper paired really nicely with the commonplace ideologies of Ian Bank's Culture series, or Peter F Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga. Drugs are readily available and can be secreted by your own brain. Why not use this power to secrete chemicals that help you gain more control over yourself?

Thanks for posting this! Haven't seen it in a while~


> How are the fundamental rules of economics different in space?

Charles Stross explores interstellar economics in [0] and discusses his thinking in [1]. One key idea is 'slow money' - "a digital currency backed by debt—the debt incurred by constructing a new interstellar colony". Transactions are slow (measured in years and decades) because the verification process involves laser comms between the participating star systems.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neptune%27s_Brood

[1] http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/09/crib-she...


> Why not use this power to secrete chemicals that help you gain more control over yourself?

If you haven't tried it yet, you might be a fan of Nancy Kress' Beggars in Spain. Instead of adult use of nootropics, it deals with prenatal gene editing taken to the extreme: the first generation of the "Sleepless", children who don't need to sleep and can function 24/7 at peak of their (genetically enhanced) intellect and mood.

And so of course the questions become economic and social: what place will the world have for 'Sleepers'? What do the Sleepless, who didn't choose their condition, owe to those without their advantages? And what are the ethics of choosing to have a child with or without those benefits, since the choice can't ever be made with their consent?

(David Brin's Kiln People is perhaps less society-focused, but also fascinating. That one centers on the ability to create and recover memories from short-lived 'clones' - how do you build an economy when the world's best heart surgeon can operate on every patient?)


> What do the Sleepless, who didn't choose their condition, owe to those without their advantages?

I think this is where a lot of discussions about injustices in the world get wrapped up, people feel like because they have/had no choice on the creation of the state of things they're blameless and therefore any adjustments to correct things are unjust. I've come around to the position that it doesn't particular how someone got there what matters is that things are imbalanced and not addressing it will just entrench and prolong the issue.

> And what are the ethics of choosing to have a child with or without those benefits, since the choice can't ever be made with their consent?

That's the thorny ethical issue at the heart of any kind of generic manipulation along with the immediate have/have-not split it sets up.


"How are the fundamental rules of economics different in space?"

Reminds me of this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinewood_Derby_(South_Park)



Sounds like an interesting course. I love Ian Banks and Peter F Hamilton books. I'll throw Alaister Reynold's Revelation Space series into the mix, though he has few if any future utopian elements.


>Although some of the pro- posed solutions may appear fanciful, it should be noted that there are references in the Soviet technical literature to research in many of these same areas.

We can't let the soviets get crazier than we are!


This!




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