Re: SPACE: Case for Mars

From: Rob Sweeney (
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 15:32:45 MST

Robert J. Bradbury writes:
> [...]
> Zubrin has clearly done his homework and clearly makes a valid case for
> being perhaps the first place we should go on a long term "occupation"
> However(!), he seems unaware of (or avoids) two key areas: AI and
> He mentions nanotechnology once in the book, classifying it with other
> "wishful" technologies such as Faster-than-Light travel (Oooppps...).
> AI is also avoided, so it isn't clear whether or not he has thought
> very seriously about Moore's Law. Since he discusses terraforming Mars
> over 100-1000 years, he doesn't seem to have much awareness of the
> singularity. Biotech is mentioned only in passing. Thats the bad news.

Coincidentally I just heard a talk by Zubrin on Sunday, and "The Case for
Mars" is in my bag for a scan on the redeye home tonight. A key theme of
Zubrin's is the need to talk about and promote the Mars mission effort as a
near-term vision - do-able with >available<, well-understood technology -
hence eliminating the need (though not the desire) for advanced but
currently nonexistant or infant technologies such as AI or (more so)

He presented Mars as a near-term need for two reasons that I caught. First,
political expediency: if government resources such as NASA are to be
involved, they need a deadline, and since they're politically driven the
deadline has to be one that's meaningful in the current political context -
in other words, one such that the current (at project start time)
administration will still be in power when the project bears fruit.

His other thesis was a bit more controversial and provocative: we need to go
to Mars now - or soon - as a challenge, as a response to those who've
claimed recently that, for example, we're living at the "end of history" or
the "end of science". We need a human presence on Mars to do real
exploration - not only of the Martian physical environment itself, but of
what will eventally form a new human culture - people living off the land
off of Earth, facing challenges that we haven't considered yet, and taking
the human civilization to the next step. The controversy that came up in
the question session afterward was whether or not we need to go to Mars,
specifically, to make that sort of advancement and combat stasis that way.

Looks to be an interesting read.

Rob Sweeney: Information Ecology.,
Time is a warning.

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