Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space

There are lots of reasons why colonizing space seems compelling. The popular astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that it would stimulate the economy and inspire the next generation of scientists. Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX, argues that “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.”  The former administrator of NASA, Michael Griffin, frames it as a matter of the “survival of the species.” And the late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has conjectured that if humanity fails to colonize space within 100 years, we could face extinction.

Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech

To be sure, humanity will eventually need to escape Earth to survive, since the sun will make the planet uninhabitable in about 1 billion years. But for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something utopia. For example, the astrobiologist Milan Cirkovic some 10 people per century could come into existence if we were to colonize our Local Supercluster, Virgo. This leads Nick Bostrom to failing to colonize space would be tragic because it would mean

Vous lisez un aperçu, inscrivez-vous pour en lire plus.

Plus de Nautilus

Nautilus14 min de lecturePhysics
The Charmed Life of Frank Wilczek: A novelist gets a physicist to explain his scientific breakthroughs.
Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek’s new book, Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, is both a way of thinking about the abundance that characterizes our exterior and interior worlds, and a kind of alternative to traditional religion, a way of being “born aga
Nautilus12 min de lectureBody, Mind, & Spirit
Life Beyond Human Has to Play by the Rules: A zoologist explains why complex life anywhere depends on natural selection.
There are many ways to think about alien, extraterrestrial life forms. Science-fiction writers do it all the time. Scientists, more interested in nonfiction, think about how to receive signals that real aliens might send, as well as what sort of sign
Nautilus6 min de lecturePsychology
Do We Have Free Will? Maybe It Doesn't Matter
Belief is a special kind of human power. Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame, eloquently claims as much in his recent book Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being. It’s the “most prominent, promising, and d