Viewpoint: Space colonization could be a really bad idea for humanity

mars biosphere
Biosphere 2 project, an attempt to simulate Mars-like conditions on Earth. Image credit: Science Photo Library
[W]ould colonization of space lead to a dystopia? In a recent article in Futures, which was inspired by political scientist Daniel Deudney’s forthcoming book Dark Skies, I decided to take a closer look at this question. My conclusion is that in a colonized universe the probability of the annihilation of the human race could actually rise rather than fall.

Consider what is likely to happen as humanity hops from Earth to Mars, and from Mars to relatively nearby, potentially habitable exoplanets.

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Space-hopping populations will create their own cultures, languages, governments, political institutions, religions, technologies, rituals, norms, worldviews, and so on. As a result, different species will find it increasingly difficult over time to understand each other’s motivations, intentions, behaviors, decisions, and so on.

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[P]onder the sorts of weapons that could become available to future spacefaring civilizations. Redirected asteroids (a.k.a., “planetoid bombs”), “rods from God,” sun gunslaser weapons, and no doubt an array of exceptionally powerful super-weapons that we can’t currently imagine.

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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.

Read full, original post: Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space

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