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DEBATE Forum - Why is Space Exploration Important to Transhumanists?

Posted: Wed, February 20, 2013 | By: DEBATE

In surveys of what transhumanists want, one of the top priorities listed is always the exploration and colonization of outer space.

Why is this? 

(I must admit it befuddles me a bit. I generally don’t even think about issues beyond planet Earth. I never thought about being an astronaut, or dreamed of space travel. I’m not excusing my behavior, but I’m curious about the infatuation that many transhumanists have for Galactic Exploration.)

My question is - what are the benefits of exploration beyond our planet? Persuade the readers here of its essential, transcendent importance.

Should Space Exploration be a top priority for transhumanists, or not? 

What percentage of a nation’s budget should be allocated to Space Missions? 

What are we hoping to find out there? How will we benefit from contacting other planets, stars, asteroids, etc.?

Please leave your Comments below, and rate your own interest in Space from 1-10.


graphene and similar nano materials should make space travel extremely cheap and safe in a decade or two- cheap robots and AI will do all the technical heavy lifting- so a diaspora into space by individuals and groups is probably inevitable- eventually we need to spread at least into the solar system-  just because you don’t put all your eggs in one basket- the meteors last week should serve to remind us that spreading out is a good idea

By Tim.Gross on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:31am

“just because you don’t put all your eggs in one basket- the meteors last week should serve to remind us that spreading out is a good idea”

Megadittos to the above.
Contingency planning is wise.

By Alan Brooks on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:21pm

What are the benefits of having more resources than can be gained from the skin of the birth world?  Resources that are needed if we want to bring true abundance to everyone. 

What are the benefits of not having all of humanity in one planetary basket easily subject to a variety of natural and manmade disasters? 

What are the benefits of opening vast new physical vistas and new sources of energy and resources with which humanity and other intelligences can grow and develop without measure?

Is it really a question at all for anyone that understands anything about enabling open-ended opportunity and potential which is at the very heart of Transhumanism?

By Samantha Atkins on Feb 21, 2013 at 2:47pm

My personal interest in space has been a 9/10 for most of my life, and futurological visions featuring humanity in space probably got me into transhumanism in the first place. I could write an article about how the history of transhumanism is tied in with space, and the importance of space to transhumanism (and probably will at some point).

One thing to note - there’s a big difference between space EXPLORATION and space DEVELOPMENT. With today’s budgets, we already get some great space telescope images telling us things about the cosmos and NASA’s Mars rovers are doing great science. Sure, it would be great to spend a bit more on these but they have to be weighed up against other big-ticket items like particle accelerators, big projects like a human connectome project, energy research, materials research, blue-sky research…we have to balance these. Now, space development (by which I mean getting industries in space, using space resources to boost what is available to humanity, having “people” (whether that’s humans or transhumans or posthumans) living up there) could make a huge difference to our species and to our economy, which is why I would advocate spending serious money on accelerating this.

By Tom Nowell on Feb 23, 2013 at 2:14pm

Whilst meteor impacts have been mentioned, it’s also true that in about a billion years the sun will render the earth uninhabitable. A few billion years after that, it will destroy a sizable chunk of the solar system.
As such, space travel is a prerequisite for our ongoing survival, whether as a species or as individuals.

To expand upon resources - asteroid mining not only offers resources a level of magnitude greater than is currently achievable on earth, it offers them without any disruption to the ecosystem. Asteroid mining can thus be considered a Bright-Green technology, as it’s development allows the cessation of pretty much all mining/resource gathering on earth.
It’s worth noting that this could even include farming, if orbital farms/meatsheet facilities prove to be feasible.

Even better, the cost to transport resources from orbit to anywhere on earth is roughly equal, and very cheap. It costs as little to drop 40k tonnes of rare earths to the US as 40k tonnes of pure ice to the Sahara.

Once it gets rolling, extraterrestrial resources have the potential to be a game-changer along the same lines as the discovery of Iron.

Exploration in and of itself is perhaps not of vital importance, beyond uncovering the infinite secrets and beauty of the universe, but the space “industry” which it supports has effects on every facet of our lives, regardless of our personal interests.
This is why I rate Space exploration and development as vitally important, and should be reflected as such by transhumanists.

By Harry Dishman on Feb 26, 2013 at 5:28am

If we do successfully transition to a new species through genetics and cybernetics we will require new goals to occupy our time. Initially of course those goals will be to repair the earth from thousands of years of human abuse and the creation of a world spanning civilization of sustainable peace and prosperity. But once we have learned the lessons of stewardship and cooperation it seems reasonable for us as a species to extend ourselves to other places in space. Rather than the outmoded aggressive model of conquest and exploitation we should see the exploration of space as a creative endeavor. An art project. Colonization and terraforming of other worlds would be done not to make carbon copies of the earth but to create unique biospheres on each world we occupy that preserve and extend the natural beauty we encounter. Even our bodies would be modified to live in harmony with these new worlds thereby extending the creative expression of life throughout the universe.

By Dan Palacios on Feb 28, 2013 at 7:57am

go into space for the same reason we left Africa millions of years ago: explore and satisfy our curiosity. It will also be a strong impetus for transhumanity.

By Walter Farah on Mar 02, 2013 at 11:31am

Reducing the number of Civilization-busting Doomsday scenarios is chief in my mind.

Outside existential risks posed by AI (Which could presumably overcome the distance problem fairly easily if it needed to), getting ourselves off Earth gets our eggs out of the basket and into a distributed network of nests grin

I think near-term space exploration and development (present-~2035) will give us huge advances in both transporting people off-planet and non-human exploration and development.

As we increase our capabilities in AI, robotics and mechatronics, increasingly independent robots, rovers and assemblers will begin to populate the Lunar and Martian surface - the two logical first steps of our exploration of our Solar System.

I think that it’s likely that developing technologies will give us increasing power to overcome the tyrranies of space travel - time, distance, and the hostility of the environment.

By Pip Foweraker on Mar 13, 2013 at 7:40pm

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