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Thread: If Humanity Colonized Mars, and...?

  1. #1

    Default If Humanity Colonized Mars, and...?

    I'm putting this in Debate and Discussion for two reasons. First, its framed as a debate/ discussion, so it fits. Second, this forum is woefully dry of interesting things (mostly Trump and Lewk the Troll response, dumbass Brexit notwithstanding).

    So I read this article where the author argues that a space-faring humanity would *reduce* our odds of avoiding extinction. Yes, that's right, reduce. The core of his argument is that colonization (without FTL capability) would lead to speciation, and that level of diversity would guarantee total wars of extinction.

    http://nautil.us/blog/-why-we-should...SS_Syndication

    To repeat and complete the thread title teaser, If Humanity Colonized Mars, and Various Asteroids and Moons, and spread into the Oort cloud, and outward, eventually to exo-planets, -moons, -asteroids, other objects... If Humanity became an Interstellar Species, would it be a Net Good or a Net Bad for all involved?

    I'm going to come down firmly on the Net Good side. Assuming no FTL, then yes, speciation would occur with time and distance (and technology!). Yes, our descendants would become truly alien to each other in every sense, except that of origin. And maybe there would be war (certainly *some* war), even war of annihilation, between some of these subspecies. Bummer for sure.

    But I think the distances that allow speciation would also make warfare both less likely to *appear* needed, more costly to pursue, and *relatively* localized. And assuming colonization proceeds in every direction, and encompasses every sort of world, or world-let, (thinking of colonies literally wherever clever sub-humans can find a source of energy and requisite matter), there would be SO MANY colonies, largely SO separated by distance and time, that no way could a war threaten the survival of *all*, or even a significant portion of, our descendants.

    Long term survival of life and intelligence would be virtually guaranteed and the scope of biological diversification (and engineering!) would be a Wonder beyond Imagining.

    Right?
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  2. #2
    Without FTL, there is going to be very little in the way of interstellar trade and communication, which also means not much in the way of interstellar war. And consequently no real chance that humanity or its offshoots are more likely to go extinct.
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  3. #3
    I don't think you can write it off that easily. The distance would mean fewer reasons for conflict, sure, but the lack of communication also means less chance to talk-out differences, and more time for fear and hatred to fester without challenge. You don't need to have a real reason for conflict, just a perceived reason. It also means the declaration of war is likely to be written on the nose of a relativistic kill vehicle, because that's the safest way to start a war if you can make one. I think the distances involved might make war less likely, but also more devastating if it happens.

    Where I can't get on board with the article is the assertion that an expansionist policy would make human extinction more likely. It's possible it might make conflicts with massive casualty numbers more likely, but extinction? Once we've gone interstellar, just finding all the places you need to explode would be a neat trick, and then there's the problem that every target you add makes it more likely somebody will see what you're up to and counter it. Extinction through violent means just doesn't seem feasible.

    Speaking of interstellar trade, "A Deepness in the Sky," is about a conflict arising from the meeting of two slower-than-light interstellar trade cartels. Greg Egan also wrote a bunch of stories in a universe where a single galaxy-spanning civilization (The Amalgam) holds itself together without FTL.

  4. #4
    Just skimmed through it because it's late, so I'll have to read through it properly later, but I was struck by the casual hand-wavey take on speciation. They say, for example:

    Each of these planets has its own unique environments that will drive Darwinian evolution, resulting in the emergence of novel species over time, just as species that migrate to a new island will evolve different traits than their parent species
    But what kind of time-scales are we really talking about, here? Consider that hominid populations ostensibly separated from each other for hundreds of thousands of years were still, judging from current evidence, so closely related that interbreeding was possible and surprisingly common. At those time-scales, provided colonization of our solar system is possible, space-faring humanity has a decent shot at establishing multiple reasonably resilient populations. I'm not as concerned about speciation as I am about extreme ideological and cultural divergence/schisms or other more mundane causes for war, of the variety so familiar to us from our recent history.

    I take some comfort in the belief that we won't succeed in colonizing the solar system at a level where interplanetary war would be a plausible scenario until we reach a point where we can work together in a way that makes war much less likely--ie. a much more secure global order and a great deal more experience with maintaining peace. Moreover, I'm inclined to accept the premise of the Expanse novels that Earth will continue to be extremely important to our colonies Out There.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    I don't think you can write it off that easily. The distance would mean fewer reasons for conflict, sure, but the lack of communication also means less chance to talk-out differences, and more time for fear and hatred to fester without challenge. You don't need to have a real reason for conflict, just a perceived reason. It also means the declaration of war is likely to be written on the nose of a relativistic kill vehicle, because that's the safest way to start a war if you can make one. I think the distances involved might make war less likely, but also more devastating if it happens.
    It's just about the only way to wage an sublight interstellar war at all (excluding one-way invasion migrations, abandoning a prior planet due to disaster, depletion, quest for Zion, etc) and I just don't see the impulse for it with any kind of real frequency in the first place. The fear/hatred of the Other is all well and good but to reach the point of expending resources to do something about it almost always requires some type of competition in some way first, otherwise it mostly just leads to isolationism. And it's damn hard to effectively compete over things with round-trips running it at a minimum of 10 years.
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    But what kind of time-scales are we really talking about, here?
    The article mentioned colonizing the local cluster - meaning ours and the however many local galaxies. So, time in the millions of years at least -- plenty of time for speciation. And don't forget that technology will be playing an increasingly large role in evolution via genetic manipulation and cyborg type enhancement.

    I take some comfort in the belief that we won't succeed in colonizing the solar system at a level where interplanetary war would be a plausible scenario until we reach a point where we can work together in a way that makes war much less likely--ie. a much more secure global order and a great deal more experience with maintaining peace.
    Optimism is refreshing.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    It's just about the only way to wage an sublight interstellar war at all (excluding one-way invasion migrations, abandoning a prior planet due to disaster, depletion, quest for Zion, etc) and I just don't see the impulse for it with any kind of real frequency in the first place. The fear/hatred of the Other is all well and good but to reach the point of expending resources to do something about it almost always requires some type of competition in some way first, otherwise it mostly just leads to isolationism. And it's damn hard to effectively compete over things with round-trips running it at a minimum of 10 years.
    I could imagine big trade vessels going from star to star at relativistic speeds, or fleets of big trade vessels, resulting in a migratory/ nomadic species that, maybe, begins to prey on smaller settlements and maybe extort resources from larger, occasionally having to fight it out. There's always the psycho xenophobes dedicated to exterminating the other for whatever reason, too. I would think war within systems would be pretty common - whenever one establishment runs short on some resource that another has in abundance, but doesn't want to easily share/ trade, always comes with the temptation to take it.
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  8. #8
    I agree with Fuzzy that, sans-FTL, interstellar warfare is extremely unlikely. Racial animus requires actual contact between two peoples, a history, grievances, etc. No one's going to start flinging rocks at Keplar 44b because... I don't know, their planet orbits retrograde or whatever? Their last message was kind of arsey? We just don't like them?
    Sing in grief, a requiem, the curse of our millennium, these souls keep whispering from the river beds
    An end to all these violent means, alive in these red water dreams, their haunted burdens stirring in my head on streets still running red
    Most went in the flood, a few were martyred by the flames, yet those who unleashed the waters are still guilty all the same
    When the ignorance of puppets serves the masters larger game, they let it rain, they let it rain
    When I get the chance to rise I'll find the light in their cold eyes or lose myself and carry out revenge
    The righteous hunt has just begun, the dimming of the bleeding sun will let these waters run clear once again



  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I could imagine big trade vessels going from star to star at relativistic speeds, or fleets of big trade vessels, resulting in a migratory/ nomadic species that, maybe, begins to prey on smaller settlements and maybe extort resources from larger, occasionally having to fight it out.
    The thing is, a system has a LOT of resources to exploit. I can see that kind of thing happening sometimes (I mentioned it as one of the exceptions to just using relativistic kill-vehicles) but there's so much to exploit that it seems like it would be slow enough to not count as common on our time-scale.

    I would think war within systems would be pretty common - whenever one establishment runs short on some resource that another has in abundance, but doesn't want to easily share/ trade, always comes with the temptation to take it.
    Now, do note I said absolutely nothing but interplanetary conflict, just sublight interstellar. The timescales and distances involved within systems are far less problematic for warfare. But since the premise here is interstellar or even intergalactic expansion, conflict within systems means basically nada when it comes to the survival of species (or its descendants).
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    I agree with Fuzzy that, sans-FTL, interstellar warfare is extremely unlikely. Racial animus requires actual contact between two peoples, a history, grievances, etc. No one's going to start flinging rocks at Keplar 44b because... I don't know, their planet orbits retrograde or whatever? Their last message was kind of arsey? We just don't like them?
    I dunno, I think that conclusion (that there would be no interstellar warfare without FTL) might be coming from a failure of imagination.

    I'm *not* saying I think there would be rampant, extinction level warfare across the length and breadth colonized space, but I can think of plausible scenarios where neighbors, or whole groups of neighbors, might get into the business of exterminating each other, or at least roughing each other up some, despite the long time and high cost associated with doing so.

    Come on, look around you. Human tribal groups are always doing violent, resource intensive things to the Other for no good, or at least no *rational*, reason. Put another way, as a species, we're fucking crazy in all too many ways. Scale humanity up to galactic proportions, and I fully expect to see some galactic scale crazy going on here and there. Hell, it may be the only thing that's keeping us from going to Alpha Centauri and *protecting* ourselves from whatever's living there is that we *don't know about/ don't believe* anything's living there. But if we knew people were living everywhere around us and, for instance, if we had solar system scale telescopic arrays and we could clearly see exactly what's going on in the neighborhood, we might decide we need some kind of proactive protection from the more *otherly* Others.
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  11. #11
    The length of time is the problem. "Yeah let's use resources to go after these people, we'll all be long dead by the time our robot attack army hits them but... wait why are we doing this again?"

  12. #12
    Why are we setting our sights on Mars, when we haven't fully explored Earth?

    If humanity colonized the oceans.....

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    The length of time is the problem. "Yeah let's use resources to go after these people, we'll all be long dead by the time our robot attack army hits them but... wait why are we doing this again?"
    I'd think significant life span extension would be commonplace. And anyone traveling in spacecraft at relativistic speeds would experience time dilation...
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Why are we setting our sights on Mars, when we haven't fully explored Earth?

    If humanity colonized the oceans.....
    The thread is about the article. The article is an argument that humanity should not colonize beyond Earth because it would reduce the odds of long term survival.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I dunno, I think that conclusion (that there would be no interstellar warfare without FTL) might be coming from a failure of imagination.

    I'm *not* saying I think there would be rampant, extinction level warfare across the length and breadth colonized space, but I can think of plausible scenarios where neighbors, or whole groups of neighbors, might get into the business of exterminating each other, or at least roughing each other up some, despite the long time and high cost associated with doing so.

    Come on, look around you. Human tribal groups are always doing violent, resource intensive things to the Other for no good, or at least no *rational*, reason.
    But those ARE always an Other that is either in "local" reach or has something that can clearly be taken and exploited by the attackers in a reasonable time-frame. I didn't suggest there'd be no interstellar war but I can't see it being common from our perspectives.

    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I'd think significant life span extension would be commonplace. And anyone traveling in spacecraft at relativistic speeds would experience time dilation...
    There are corollaries to life-span extension. Having the life-span to do something also means they can take more time generally. Which means that their activities still wouldn't necessarily be coming often enough to be considered common from our perspective. And relativistic time-dilation effects only apply to that which actually gets sent to another system, not to anyone left behind in the originating system. You know, the people investing resources to send them off in the first place. That helps enable the nomadic/semi-nomadic invasive migration type warfare I mentioned as a caveat in my first post but it's not necessary for that either so. . .
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  16. #16
    Invasion over interstellar distances seems like a bad idea given that you've got no way of knowing the strength or capabilities of the defenders, and the fact that they may be hundreds of years ahead of your technologically by the time you get there.

    Imagine the British trying to invade the US during the war of 1812, only it takes 100 years to cross the Atlantic; the British age of sail ships of the line are going to be facing World War 1 era dreadnoughts.

    Also, if they catch sight of your drive plumes they're going to know exactly what you're up to and have a good idea about what they're going to be faced with, so not only are they going to be ahead of you scientifically they may have had decades or centuries to build up their military to repulse the invasion.
    Sing in grief, a requiem, the curse of our millennium, these souls keep whispering from the river beds
    An end to all these violent means, alive in these red water dreams, their haunted burdens stirring in my head on streets still running red
    Most went in the flood, a few were martyred by the flames, yet those who unleashed the waters are still guilty all the same
    When the ignorance of puppets serves the masters larger game, they let it rain, they let it rain
    When I get the chance to rise I'll find the light in their cold eyes or lose myself and carry out revenge
    The righteous hunt has just begun, the dimming of the bleeding sun will let these waters run clear once again



  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    But those ARE always an Other that is either in "local" reach or has something that can clearly be taken and exploited by the attackers in a reasonable time-frame. I didn't suggest there'd be no interstellar war but I can't see it being common from our perspectives.



    There are corollaries to life-span extension. Having the life-span to do something also means they can take more time generally. Which means that their activities still wouldn't necessarily be coming often enough to be considered common from our perspective. And relativistic time-dilation effects only apply to that which actually gets sent to another system, not to anyone left behind in the originating system. You know, the people investing resources to send them off in the first place. That helps enable the nomadic/semi-nomadic invasive migration type warfare I mentioned as a caveat in my first post but it's not necessary for that either so. . .
    I think we're agreeing more than we think we are.

    I've wondered about what having an extended lifespan would actually mean for people's perspective. Would people suddenly be more concerned about climate change, for example? Population control? Doubtful... Would they contribute less to their 401ks? Probably... Making a species designed for short term thinking into a long-lived species, without changing anything else, probably won't affect the typical individual's behavior much. But I digress.

    The more I think about that article, the more I think the premise is stupidly wrong -- *unless* some super-xenophobic subspecies creates Von Neumann Berskerers and turns them loose. That would be a problem. But it wouldn't be any more risk to our long term existence than staying put here on Earth, I don't think. Some day, sooner than later probably, somebody's going to invent a horribly deadly *thing* and let it loose to kill us all.
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    Invasion over interstellar distances seems like a bad idea given that you've got no way of knowing the strength or capabilities of the defenders, and the fact that they may be hundreds of years ahead of your technologically by the time you get there.

    Imagine the British trying to invade the US during the war of 1812, only it takes 100 years to cross the Atlantic; the British age of sail ships of the line are going to be facing World War 1 era dreadnoughts.
    This gets to another interesting question. Will technological advancement level off at some point? It's been accelerating all my life, for sure, but is this a long term state? In 10,000 years will every generation still be finding itself born to one set of technology and dying in a world dominated by far more advanced tech? How can that be? It implies technological advancement is infinite.

    Also, if they catch sight of your drive plumes they're going to know exactly what you're up to and have a good idea about what they're going to be faced with, so not only are they going to be ahead of you scientifically they may have had decades or centuries to build up their military to repulse the invasion.
    Yeah, how do you pull off an interstellar Pearl Harbor? Not without some kind of reactionless drive. Or the relativistic kill vehicle. I think I'd start with a few waves of kill vehicles out in front of the decelerating invasion force, to soften up the bad guys by surprise, and then it would be just a mop up operation.
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    This gets to another interesting question. Will technological advancement level off at some point? It's been accelerating all my life, for sure, but is this a long term state? In 10,000 years will every generation still be finding itself born to one set of technology and dying in a world dominated by far more advanced tech? How can that be? It implies technological advancement is infinite.
    Well, we don't know what the future pace of technological advancement will be, or when it will level of, if ever. We also don't know at what point in this unknown future timeline this scenario takes place in. One would think that if we're in a state of having completely conquered, you know, nature, mounting invasions of distant star systems wouldn't be very high on the agenda.

    In any case it scarcely matters - even if technology stayed the same, the British fleet of 1812 would be setting out to fight a regional power at best - but the time they get there, they'd be facing a nation on the cusp of becoming the world's dominant naval power.

    Flinging a fleet into the unknown to do god knows what to god knows who several generations down the line doesn't seem like very sensible thing to do.

    Yeah, how do you pull off an interstellar Pearl Harbor? Not without some kind of reactionless drive. Or the relativistic kill vehicle. I think I'd start with a few waves of kill vehicles out in front of the decelerating invasion force, to soften up the bad guys by surprise, and then it would be just a mop up operation.
    I'm sorry buddy but if you relativistic kill vehicle my planet 'to soften me up' (if, by 'soften up', you mean 'cause mass extinction') then I'm going to relativistic kill vehicle you right back. It's not like I don't know where you live, or that I'm short of rocks. And you don't even get to feel put out by this because, honestly, you're the asshole in this scenario.
    Sing in grief, a requiem, the curse of our millennium, these souls keep whispering from the river beds
    An end to all these violent means, alive in these red water dreams, their haunted burdens stirring in my head on streets still running red
    Most went in the flood, a few were martyred by the flames, yet those who unleashed the waters are still guilty all the same
    When the ignorance of puppets serves the masters larger game, they let it rain, they let it rain
    When I get the chance to rise I'll find the light in their cold eyes or lose myself and carry out revenge
    The righteous hunt has just begun, the dimming of the bleeding sun will let these waters run clear once again



  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    Yeah, how do you pull off an interstellar Pearl Harbor? Not without some kind of reactionless drive. Or the relativistic kill vehicle. I think I'd start with a few waves of kill vehicles out in front of the decelerating invasion force, to soften up the bad guys by surprise, and then it would be just a mop up operation.
    Depending on your goals (particularly about the collateral damage), biological warfare might be the best bet. Smuggle in a bio-agent with a reasonably predictable spread/kill rate, embargo the target system for the necessary time, and carry on with your everyday activities as soon as you feel safe.

    Overall, though, even interplanetary warfare within a given stellar system seems unlikely, much less anything on a larger scale. Compare the costs of intercontinental travel with those of intercontinental military action. Scaling that up to account for a planet-to-planet conflict, while keeping in mind that whatever resources might be found on any given planet, their total amount is still limited (which humans will surely recognize as universal fact at some point, probably shortly before fucking up Earth beyond all repair) shows that it would be utter lunacy to even attempt such an action. I mean, should we, as species, ever colonize another planet/system/galaxy, it will most likely be out of necessity, and at great cost. Unless we ever forget something as simple as a cost/benefits analysis, warfare on cosmic scale will never be feasible. No matter how much you hate your neighbor, you would never cut off your own leg to kill him with a spear crafted from your own femur, even in absence of any other materials.
    It would be nice if we could get to a place where our community didn’t need a constant stream of fresh corpses to remind it how to behave.

    "Science and faith are fundamentally incompatible, and for precisely the same reason that irrationality and rationality are incompatible. They are different forms of inquiry, with only one, science, equipped to find real truth. And while they may have a dialogue, it's not a constructive one. Science helps religion only by disproving its claims, while religion has nothing to add to science." - J.A.Coyne

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I'd think significant life span extension would be commonplace. And anyone traveling in spacecraft at relativistic speeds would experience time dilation...
    I see this as science fiction that likely will never become science fact. The longer we live the more cancer filled our bodies become. We also won't come anywhere close to large space craft moving close to light speeds.

    Obviously if some zany new technology we haven't imagined even being possible comes along I could be wrong but given what we know about physics now we are going to hit some hard stops.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    I'm sorry buddy but if you relativistic kill vehicle my planet 'to soften me up' (if, by 'soften up', you mean 'cause mass extinction') then I'm going to relativistic kill vehicle you right back. It's not like I don't know where you live, or that I'm short of rocks. And you don't even get to feel put out by this because, honestly, you're the asshole in this scenario.
    LOL, I think you might have just supported the article's point!
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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by BalticSailor View Post
    Overall, though, even interplanetary warfare within a given stellar system seems unlikely, much less anything on a larger scale. Compare the costs of intercontinental travel with those of intercontinental military action. Scaling that up to account for a planet-to-planet conflict, while keeping in mind that whatever resources might be found on any given planet, their total amount is still limited (which humans will surely recognize as universal fact at some point, probably shortly before fucking up Earth beyond all repair) shows that it would be utter lunacy to even attempt such an action. I mean, should we, as species, ever colonize another planet/system/galaxy, it will most likely be out of necessity, and at great cost. Unless we ever forget something as simple as a cost/benefits analysis, warfare on cosmic scale will never be feasible. No matter how much you hate your neighbor, you would never cut off your own leg to kill him with a spear crafted from your own femur, even in absence of any other materials.
    Assuming the low/ zero gravity and radiation biological issues are solved, its probably much better to live on small worlds/ world-lets than higher gravity worlds. Everything you do from Earth has that gravity well energy cost baked in, but living on asteroids and moons, you get free access to space. Far future expansion across the galaxy might see people avoiding biggish planets altogether.

    And taking possession of the settlement at the neighboring Oort cloud object from your Oort cloud object would be a lot easier than taking possession of terraformed Venus from Earth. Not just the scale of planetary invasion, but the gravity wells massively increase the energy costs, going both ways.

    As for lunacy, the military conflicts, and preparation for conflict, we've seen throughout human history, but *especially* in the last century or so, is just that. The things we use our resources to do (military *and* non) must constantly mystify (and terrify) the aliens observing us day to day. Human civilization is fucked up.
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    I see this as science fiction that likely will never become science fact. The longer we live the more cancer filled our bodies become. We also won't come anywhere close to large space craft moving close to light speeds.

    Obviously if some zany new technology we haven't imagined even being possible comes along I could be wrong but given what we know about physics now we are going to hit some hard stops.
    You may be right, but the premise of the article that spurred this conversation starts with humanity successfully colonizing anywhere and everywhere there is matter and energy available, and that the resulting speciation would see the human offshoots murdering each other at galactic extinction level scales. Starting from there, it seems likely that in the next two or three hundred thousand years of humanity moving from star to star, colonizing everything in sight, that someone might figure out a way to slow down aging and speed up sub-light travel.
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  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    LOL, I think you might have just supported the article's point!
    Except that there's still no actual motive for these conflicts in the first place.
    Sing in grief, a requiem, the curse of our millennium, these souls keep whispering from the river beds
    An end to all these violent means, alive in these red water dreams, their haunted burdens stirring in my head on streets still running red
    Most went in the flood, a few were martyred by the flames, yet those who unleashed the waters are still guilty all the same
    When the ignorance of puppets serves the masters larger game, they let it rain, they let it rain
    When I get the chance to rise I'll find the light in their cold eyes or lose myself and carry out revenge
    The righteous hunt has just begun, the dimming of the bleeding sun will let these waters run clear once again



  26. #26
    The ideas from IR wrt eg. the security dilemma seem to be based on lessons from progressively more hostile interactions between parties that are not separated from each other by vast distances & extraordinarily long travel/communication times. They do not appear to be applicable to what we believe may be the realities of future interstellar relations. They may however be applicable to interplanetary politics eg. Earth-Mars-Belt as we have seen described in books like the Expanse novels.

    A potential existential threat may be a seemingly plausible justification for trying to annihilate a "neighbour", but, from a species perspective even on the scale of hundreds of millennia, the most effective way to diminish the potential impact of such existential threats is to just create more colonies. Again, this is wrt extrasolar colonization--in our system, I can see how colonization could lead to increased risk, perhaps even of mutual annihilation.

    While the article primarily focuses on hypothetical interactions between planetary populations, I think a more interesting approach may be to consider interactions between--and within--large colonization fleets composed of generation ships, and between such fleets and planetary populations either at their point of origin or at a future destination. The interactions he describes could for example lead to humanity's only colonization ships destroying each other, result in their annihilation at the hands of a population that regards them as an existential threat, or lead them to annihilate another population in response to the existential threat of not being able to settle a target planet/system (provided they'd even want to do so).

    If I may indulge in a bit of cynicism, I think it's a fair bet that an interstellar human diaspora will increase the risk of disaster, because every single population in that diaspora will be likely to destroy itself
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  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    While the article primarily focuses on hypothetical interactions between planetary populations, I think a more interesting approach may be to consider interactions between--and within--large colonization fleets composed of generation ships, and between such fleets and planetary populations either at their point of origin or at a future destination. The interactions he describes could for example lead to humanity's only colonization ships destroying each other, result in their annihilation at the hands of a population that regards them as an existential threat, or lead them to annihilate another population in response to the existential threat of not being able to settle a target planet/system (provided they'd even want to do so).
    Wow. You do have a negative view of humanity... already fighting before they even get to the destination!

    Edit: on a side note, my thoughts on the interstellar diaspora would not involve big colony ships going from star to star, but smaller scope colonization from Earth, through Sol's planetary systems, out to the Sol Oort cloud, from little world to little world, until the (relatively) short hop from Sol's gravitational influence to that of the Centauri system, then spreading throughout that Oort cloud, into the inner systems, and so on from star to star. There (*usually*) wouldn't be a giant, resource gobbling, generation ship loaded up with thousands of colonists for a Grand Journey to a New World...

    If I may indulge in a bit of cynicism, I think it's a fair bet that an interstellar human diaspora will increase the risk of disaster, because every single population in that diaspora will be likely to destroy itself
    Even if your assessment is correct, how can near certainty of self-destruction for multiple colonies create *greater* risk than the current near certainty of self-destruction for Earth-bound humanity? Wouldn't it be the same odds, overall, or just a tiny smidgen lesser odds of destruction, because you never know, one of the colonies might just not destroy itself?
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  28. #28
    EK, I appreciate you starting this topic. It's always fun to speculate about this. To echo what others have said here, I think it's wildly unlikely that we'd ever get significant interstellar trade or warfare at sublight speeds. Colonization I can certainly see happening - it's a one-way trip, and there's lots of resources outside of our solar system to exploit (not to mention that you'd get people who'd want to do it just because they could). But the distances and energies involved mean that there's rarely any point in engaging substantially with colonies once they are established. It's hard to imagine a resource or technology so valuable by mass that it will ever make sense to ship it from one starsystem to another rather than just source it locally. Information is obviously the most valuable of all, but it's almost certainly cheaper and faster to send it by a future lightspeed communication system rather than box it up and send it at relativistic speeds.

    I loved reading A Deepness In The Sky, but the fundamental conceit was that there would be something worth trading over those kinds of distances and timescales; the Qeng Ho don't really make any sense in real life.

    IMO the same applies to war. Sure, you can imagine someone being ideologically worked up enough to go on a crusade of either extermination or colonization. But absent a crazy ideology, I don't think traditional game theory works when the local resources are effectively limitless, the cost of waging war is absurdly high, and the benefits of 'winning' are a bunch of useless resources light years away that you'll never use.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

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