Space Colonies Will Start Out Like the Wild West, Grow Family-Friendly

DATE: 30/12/2016

The initial stages of colonization would most likely be conducted by workers who would build the necessary support systems, the panelists said. This idea led to a vigorous discussion about who those workers might be. An audience member asked if the first colonists would be the wealthy elite, but the panelists quickly dismissed this, saying the group would more likely rely on blue-collar workers skilled at hands-on labor.


"Expect a working middle class for a while," Gannon said. "The wealthy will manipulate from safer, easier environments, and the poor are unlikely to have the necessary skill sets that warrant someone else paying a ticket for them."


Gannon named the biggest challenge facing a colony that aimed to grow independent from the people back home: the supply of volatiles, particularly oxygen and water. The first explorers would need to find a way for colonists to harvest those on the new world, Gannon said.


 "The colony would ask the question early on what it values," Davis said. At that point, the colonists may seek to become fully independent from Earth, much like many of England's colonies did from the home country, Davis said. Each colony might approach its negotiations for materials differently, he said. "They'll find that out [what they value], and play political judo."

An effort to become self-sustaining would most likely affect colonial education. Instead of focusing on traditional schoolhouse learning, education might be more likely to follow family or professional lines, the panelists said.

The panelists named another requirement for full independence that Earth's colonists never had to worry about: genetic diversity.


 "If humanity doesn't have the 'right' to exist, who sits in judgment?" Davis wondered. He pointed to the survival instinct that has brought humans to their current state, and the possibility of an event that could kill off the human population, such as an asteroid or comet impact.

But humans could do even more damage than depleting a world of natural resources and leaving behind a barren wasteland. People could inadvertently kill off an undetected life-form, which raises important moral issues, panelist said.


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