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Old 01-04-2006, 09:10 PM   #1
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Space and Freedom

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As we look to 2006, it's hard to be optimistic about the future of freedom. But over the course of the 21st century, there's reason for hope - if we think boldly enough.

In the short term, the threat to liberty is obvious enough: People overseas want to kill us, and so the government must protect us - although sometimes governments misuse their might, focusing on internal dissidents, forgetting about external enemies.

But the continuing advance of technology has brought a new dilemma: Increasingly, any single individual or small group can wield great destructive power. If one were to draw a line over the course of history, from the first tomahawk, through the invention of gunpowder, all the way to the A-bomb, one would see a steeply upsloping curve.

Searching for ways of better expressing this phenomenon, one is reminded of "PyrE," the universe-destroying substance described by Alfred Bester in his 1956 sci-fi classic, "The Stars My Destination." So we have the "PyrE Curve," which rises up from the first killing device in prehistory to the last killing device at the end of history.

Thanks to computers, that upslope is likely to stay steep for a long time to come, as artificial brain power doubles and redoubles. Techno-progress will be spread out across the full spectrum of human activity, but if history is any guide, then much "progress" will come in the form of more lethal weapons, including nano-weapons. Thus, the "suitcase nuke" that we fear today could be superseded by future mass-killers that fit inside a thimble - or a single strand of DNA.

If we reach this techno-threshold, all past assumptions about human freedom will have to be reassessed in light of the dark danger posed by perverted science. If today's sniper and amateur bomb-maker becomes tomorrow's weapon-of-mass-destruction-fabricator, then tomorrow's assumptions about civil liberties will change. The police might be slow to scrutinize every computer and every chemistry set, but if the secrets of city-destroying are to be found inside each home tech-kit, then the cops will eventually come knocking - or no-knocking.

We can sum up the situation this way: the PyrE Curve keeps rising, and yet the physical size of the Earth remains static. More destruction relative to the same creation: Something has to give.

And what will "give," almost certainly, is freedom. After a sufficient number of tragedies and catastrophes, the survival instinct will assert itself, and the source of the problem will be eliminated, or we will die trying. There's plenty of precedent for such coercive danger-pre-emption: the banning of machine guns, for example, and "cop killer" bullets. Similarly, when home computers have 100 times the power of today's supercomputers - well, then, such futurecomputers won't be allowed in the home.

Thus, the human prospect here on Earth: an all-knowing and all-powerful government. Not much room for dissent there.

So is that the end of the story? Human freedom snuffed out by the human capacity for evil and destruction? That's the bleak future here on Earth but not necessarily in the heavens, as distinct from heaven. Some will argue that true liberation is found only in the metaphysical hereafter, but those who seek to guarantee their liberty in corporeal terms will have to make their escape to other heavenly - make that celestial - bodies.

That's the plotline of Robert Heinlein's 1966 novel, "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress." In that far-seeing libertarian-utopian volume, humankind finds its political freedom in space, far from the surly bondage of Earth.

But aren't we a million miles, politically as well as technologically, from space emigration? Unfortunately, cursed by shallow, short-term thinking, we are nowhere close to fulfilling our potential destiny: living freely, spread out across the universe.

Which is why the near term looks so bleak. Between the rising PyrE Curve and the rising power of the state, the hope for life and liberty here on Earth is sinking below the horizon.
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I don't disagree, humanity should start getting off this rock ASAP, maybe look into forms of suspended animation and ways to get around the energy restrictions of space travel.
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Old 01-04-2006, 09:18 PM   #2
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Eh, don't buy it.

I think our bondage is greed not the space we live in.
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Old 01-04-2006, 09:45 PM   #3
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I've come to the conclusion that people truly do not care about their future.....look around at the world's excess...........the turmoil...........the earth is crumbling all around them.................the wise are scorned as prophets of doom.....like disaster planning {is there a plan??}......I could go on and on and on.

They think the world will keep spinning forever.........perhaps it will but mankind will be lost someone in the outer reaches of space.......................



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Old 01-05-2006, 01:53 AM   #4
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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.

- Native American saying
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:23 AM   #5
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Re: Space and Freedom

Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
link

I don't disagree, humanity should start getting off this rock ASAP, maybe look into forms of suspended animation and ways to get around the energy restrictions of space travel.

I'll second this movement.


Our future lies in space, one way or another.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:37 AM   #6
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^

So you're basically saying all this greed has fucked us. Let's ignore it and go to space.

Why because somehow space has a vacuum on greed and abuse and it won't exist there?

Bullshit.







Some people have watched way too many sci-fi movies.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:41 AM   #7
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Um I think the point is that the flipside of technology is the potential to kill everybody at once. If we have colonies on the moon or even other planets then such a disaster would not obliterate humanity.

It is not fatalist to want to see humanity move beyond the cradel and beyond the threats that are bound to it.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
^

So you're basically saying all this greed has fucked us. Let's ignore it and go to space.

Why because somehow space has a vacuum on greed and abuse and it won't exist there?

Bullshit.







Some people have watched way too many sci-fi movies.
No, I said this:

Quote:
Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
link

I don't disagree, humanity should start getting off this rock ASAP, maybe look into forms of suspended animation and ways to get around the energy restrictions of space travel.



I'll second this movement.


Our future lies in space, one way or another.

Perhaps my error was relating my statement to the article too much. Regardless of what that article says, I believe "Our future lies in space, one way or another".

My point comes from my belief that we cannot (all?) live on earth forever, at least/especially in the way we are doing now.

I do not intend to imply to "run away" from any problems, or "escape" into sapce, no. I just don't see the human race staying on earth forever, if we are to continue living in the way we commonly refer to 'living'.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Um I think the point is that the flipside of technology is the potential to kill everybody at once. If we have colonies on the moon or even other planets then such a disaster would not obliterate humanity.
Well once we establish the technology and governments to move humanity to other planets, we will have the technology to wage wars with other planets. This is the sad fact of humanity.
Humanity will not allow colonization without being able to keep it in check.

The arms race is a perfect example of that.
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:00 AM   #10
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Originally posted by For Honor

My point comes from my belief that we cannot (all?) live on earth forever, at least/especially in the way we are doing now.

I do not intend to imply to "run away" from any problems, or "escape" into sapce, no. I just don't see the human race staying on earth forever, if we are to continue living in the way we commonly refer to 'living'.
Well then I guess it comes down to the point of what you mean by "the way we are living now"?
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:00 AM   #11
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Well even if this were desirable, where is the energy and material and money to make it happen? And where would we go? The nearest star is four light years, which is like, a long way and stuff.
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:02 AM   #12
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Originally posted by Kieran McConville
which is like, a long way and stuff.
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Well then I guess it comes down to the point of what you mean by "the way we are living now"?
The status quo.

I am not implying anything by that.
Just as things are, in general.

I mean, to give one specific example.... I don't think the earth can sustain mankinds growing poplulation.

We can stay on earth and try to work things out, but I think that would be ... not living up to our full potential. WHo knows.

I am abitof a visionary
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:23 AM   #14
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Originally posted by For Honor


We can stay on earth and try to work things out, but I think that would be ... not living up to our full potential. WHo knows.

Ok now we're getting down to the marrow of the subject(at least for me).

If we focus the next say 20 years(this is just a number) on advancing ourselves to other planets, then by human nature we are going to ignore the problems we have here even more than we are now.

Basically we're going to create a vicious cycle. We're going to move to another planet and ignore the issues at hand. We'll just create a planetary war, rather than a earthly one.
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:35 AM   #15
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But BVS the point of the article is that our means of destruction will reach a point where freedom becomes too dangerous and potentially self destructive and we would surrender it for continued existence. Expanding that little bit furthur out is protection.

I do not think that a vicious cycle of planetary war would be the case, investing in colonisation anywhere is a costly venture and the distances involved mean that any attempt to have interplanetary wars would just not be worth it. I think interstellar travel is an entirely different issue that would go far beyond any chance of conflict, the energy costs are obscenely large.

Think of it as an issue of not putting all of humanities eggs in one basket. With a sufficiently decent asteroid or spurt of volcanic activity humanity could be wiped from the Earths surface. There is nothing wrong with humans expanding furthur still, just as our ancestors explanded around the Earth.

Private enterprise and exploitation of other worlds is a desireable endevour and will reap rewards. I don't think that human nature will change because of this, but it is still a worthy goal.
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