Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates, or let us know in the comments! Until then, here’s this weeks topic:
We’ve had a big week for space exploration – Space X managed to land their reusable rocket on an ocean platform for the first time, and Stephen Hawking announced today that he was partnering with a billionaire to begin the process of sending a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri.
So here is your question this week: Space Travel. What is the future of it? When do you think we get humans on Mars? The Asteroid belt? How far are we capable of going, and when will we get there? Define your perfect space future – and how far you think we’ll actually get.
Malkontent Blizzard: I’m less excited about colonial ambition than I am the thought of asteroid mining and the impact of that influx of materials easing demand for blood minerals. Of course being a legal geek the debate over who gets to mine them makes me mentally salivate.
Nick Bailey Jr. : Within ten years it will be seen as more of a viable commercial operation and we will see a lot more space travel. The moon will still be under utilized.
Brian Patterson: Here’s what I think…most everything we have ‘fantasized’ about (aka predicted) in a lot of our Sci-Fi shows have come to fruition; what makes anyone think that space travel, colonization, etc. is impossible? I think the only thing that limits us are our own imaginations.
Jarys Maragopolous: Ok, so I believe that economics governs the basic timetable of space exploration. After all, Spaceflight is EXPENSIVE and it’s a smoother process all around when it can pay for itself (in material and fuel). And when that process brings back a little extra you can send to Terran markets? That is when the field of players will explode.
When it comes down to it, the Earth is at the bottom of its Gravity well, the moon on the top. When we colonize the moon, we will have access to the Belt, where a cornucopia of resources reside. My answer, then, is when an entity, either governmental or corporate, can make a quick access port on the moon, with a sustainable society, we will REALLY go to space.
So, in fifty years, mebbe? It depends on the economy.
Mike Fatum: I think we’ll get to Mars in my lifetime, unless I get hit by a car tomorrow. The energy for Space Exporation is building right now – too many people want it to happen. The demand to get there will eventually become political pressure, and we’ll likely get our hands on a young or young-minded enough president in the next thirty to fifty years that understands the value of heading to space instead of heading to war. And even if we don’t, there are private industries who are pushing for it right now, and if someone like Space X finds a way to make getting to Mars, if not profitable, at least worthy of major investment, we’ll see humans standing on the surface sooner than we think.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about even a benign private corporation like Space X getting to Mars before NASA, but it’s looking more and more likely by the day.
Chris Brecheen: We’re explorers. And we’re on a time bomb planet that could go tomorrow or five billion years from now. I think our nationalism is critically myopic, not just because we might need to leave Earth some day but because every time we explore anything, from “over there” to trade routes to India, to space exploration, we….evolve. We invent new technologies. We push ourselves. We discover things we never even knew we didn’t know. It’s ALWAYS a turning point in what it means to be human, and we become better for it.
Mary Anne Butler: I want it to happen. I want it to happen so bad. Humanity does its best things when possibility of a new worlds is within sight, and if the current speed of invention and success is anything to go on, it might happen in my lifetime.
Teresa Loesch: I think it really depends on when we meet other intelligent life, and the circumstances of that introduction.
Is there a galactic government out there? Some Federation or council we could join? We don’t seem the type to take well to being told what to do. If there already is a governing body, there could be trouble for us if we’re not at the top of this food chain.
Plus, imagine how angry people would be if humans were considered the ugliest species ever. Tangent, but still.
Plus, tech. If we’re even capable of using alien tech, we could see a fragmentation of our species as some groups take off for Parts Unknown and come back all interbred with computers or something.
The prospect of humans with more advanced technology, without having to understand the principles that control it and without any societal restraint or rules built up as the building blocks for that tech is discovered, is actually very worrying.
On the other hand, if we meet another species more like us: groping along in the dark, not sure if they were alone in the universe, etc, then I could see something more productive and less traumatic happening right off the bat.
Melissa Devlin: Well going with the Great Filter and the Kardashev Scale as the answers to the Fermi Paradox. We as a civilization must learn to utilize the power in our entire galaxy before we would be able to comprehend advanced aliens. Finding less advanced aliens would be very time consuming.
Does advancing our space technology lead to that? Probably. I don’t think we could know how. I think it would evolve, like the internet into something no one expected, and no one can predict how it will end up changing out entire world’s civilizations.
I’m just going to elaborate in case it’s wanted.
The Fermi Paradox is basically: “We know there are tonnes of planets out there that could hold life, why the fuck can’t we find aliens?” But it’s usually put a little more elegantly.
There are multiple theories as to why. And one is based on the idea of a great filter, something all life must get through in order to exist. We literally don’t know if we have crossed that or not. But another theory in line with that filter is the Kardashev Scale.
The Kardashev Scale measures technological advancement in terms of how energy is harnessed and used. Type one can use some energy of its closest star – that’s us. Type two can use all of the energy in its closest star. (Concepts like the Dyson Sphere fall here, we’re not there yet) Type three somehow makes the jump to utilizing the entire galaxy.
Many theorize that civilizations older than ours would have made it to stage three, and that the Kardashev scale then becomes the great filter. To a species as advanced as that, we would look like ants. Sure we’re interesting to study for a while, but we are predictable and probably can’t understand them.
Remember, brain evolution is fucking slow. It’s been happening, we all know I believe Millennials are the tipping point of a huge evolutionary leap. But imagine our kids who are being taught programming concepts before some of them can talk? Our brains are going to change with our technology and our future selves would find talking to us as awkward as if we tried to communicate with cavemen.
Raven Knighte: Exploration leads to discovery, which eventually leads to exploitation. I think that whatever we find “out there” will lead to great advancements for the human race, but will also lead to the same problems we have here on Earth: exploitation of resources – whatever they may end up being – for economic gain. As such, I am not that jazzed about the idea. I mean, yes, I am excited for the possibilities for good. But at the same time, I am disheartened by the probability that in spite of evolution things will essentially end up being all about the Benjamins.
Nick Bailey Jr.: Space junk.
Mark Foo: I have nothing to add that would top this.