Space Colony Issues

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 06:38:12 MDT

> > Unless absolutely sure of malevolence(and of winning the fight), we
> > must allow them to visit and inspect our facilities. And if we say
> > no, they attack. Permanent inspectors(human and machine) could be
> > left to continue monitoring.

I suspect that the UN of the near future may force us to require inspections or enforce an embargo on us. I don't think they will resort to war since Saddam Hussien's antics after the Gulf War seem to had gone unpunished except for a trade embargo and we, unlike aggressor countries, did not intend to invade any country or treaten the security interests of the Earth.

I suggest that our decision to comply or not will lie with our capability for self-sufficiency. If we have perfect self-sufficiency, we ought to always reject them (unless they seem rather serious on attacking). If we have zero self-sufficiency, then we better comply unconditionally.

Under game theory, sufficient space allows us to change the outcome via deception, however, the decision will greatly depend on the future members of the colony and the prevailing conditions at that time.

No, we should not allow permanent inspectors. This will allow outsiders to gain immense knowledge of our facilities and technology. If we use an open information topology like the Libertarian (LB) or Sociologisticial (SL) systems, then we would commit information suicide because others can steal our technology easily.

> Why? It's the same as trespassing. Our colony would be our territory
> (and quite possibly the space around it, either up to 3 miles citing
> "territorial waters", or up to whatever the airspace ceiling is at the
> time).

I suggest that, if the Earth colony orbits opposite the Planet Earth, that it assign at least a sphere of 1AU, or 93 million miles, the distance from the Earth to the sun. If the colony orbits further than the Earth (perhaps at the asteroid belt's orbit), then it should correspondingly increase its territorial space. We don't want anyone to block our path to the sun for any reason.

If space travel technology had undergone a huge improvement that it takes less than, say a week, to get from Earth to the Sun, then we ought to correspondingly increase our territorial space as a buffer against others attacking us. Remember: Space ships fly faster than airplanes.

We should err on the side of having too much territory than too little. Defining territorital space does not mean we will always defend it, but it will definitely warn us of hostile attacks.

> If we were independent, and not signatory to any treaty stating
> that no space property may be sovereign, then we would be fully within
> our rights to treat any visitors as guests of our state who may be
> expelled at our whim, much like diplomats.

Yes, the ability to expulse has great importance in creating a SL society. In the paper I wrote, I keep emphasising this condition.

<< (Spies disguised as immigrants would be another issue, but presumably we would have a legal regime that does not allow any few citizens to destroy the entire colony or otherwise halt our research, whether those citizens be foreign agents or merely the deluded crazies that such a colony would inevitably attract.) If they leave, only to turn around and attack ship-to-colony, we could handle that like any other such attack. >>

This could put a great dampener to having free flow of information. Even with a probation period, spies can still wait patiently until someone "activates" them. Of course, the free flow of information may provide a blessing since the potential spies will have very little places with privacy in the colony.

This will not prevent them from absconding with a major part of our precious database when conducting a space mission. Ideally, the potential spies will understand the crazy ways of the society that had employed him or her and feed misinformation back.

I cannot help but imagine a possible future where only our colony (and small groups of space travelers) would survive because a giant asteroid had plummeted planet Earth or some other devastating disaster had occurred. Then, we won't have problems with diplomacy, because we won't even have other humans. Maybe by then, the aliens will dare to contact us because the crazy societies had disappeared, replaced by a truly civilized one capable of using their technology wisely.

> If they try to board...well, as advanced as even the US military is, we
> could gain an advantage with some research into weapons and gear for
> dedicated space infantry (i.e., troops trained to fight only in a space
> station, not in jungles or cities or any environment inside a natural
> gravity well).

I don't think they will want to board, because they can easily destroy us with a volley of atomic bombs and dummies. This puts us in a very troublesome situation. In my paper, I proposed a multi-layered approach to defence, including fitting asteroids with rockets and using them to act as a shield or collide head on with the missiles. Unless they disire our "secret" technologies or they really want to capture some people alive badly enough, they won't bother.

When they try to board, we also control the airlocks, so they have to supply their own (or try to hack ours, though we won't dare to use M$ technology by then). After they board, they will most likely use non-lethal, low energy weapons to avoid punching holes in the facility that will cause air to escape. We will also have to use similiar weapons too, so we may want to focus our research on this. They can still send vehicles, such as robotic rocket scooters, despite space environments.

> > I only see a colony being developed if things really go bad here on
> > earth, and the tech to go off-planet is cheap and reliable. In a
> > mass exodus we would have a chance.

In my opinion, things had developed badly enough already. If I have the chance, even if I have to take risks and participate for free in space construction and research, I would gladly do so on condition that I can live in an SL colony.

> > I love the nation of my birth and hope its leaders will steer away
> > from the course they seem to be taking in regards to biotech. I
> > wonder what else they may lose nerve about down the road! :( When I
> > go into space one day, I want to do so as a proud American citizen.

In my opinion, I think loyalty has little relevance. The colony ought not to expect loyalty to itself per se, but in its way of life. That means, colonists don't defend their colony's flag (if it even has one), but their own ability to enjoy the life that the colony provides for them.

Similiarly, this applies to countries. If a country has no ideals that you can identify with, then why have loyalty to it? Doing so sounds like religious fanaticism and can make one do many irrational things in the name of one's countries. Of course, one should also consider ethics like the ill effects on the betrayal of trust and previous debts one owed to one's nations, but this post shall not expound on these.

> I hear you, and share your hope. But, just in case, I will try to
> develop that cheap, reliable off-planet access tech, and support others
> who are doing likewise. (Besides, such would be far from the only use
> of said tech.)

As I had emphasized, having a colony as a backup system of "Humanity" has great importance. It also pays to insure against serious global catastrophes that might doom Humanity or seriously set back civilisation.

> > This post brings back very fond memories of my time at the Extro! :)
> > I was privy to some great conversations there.

I wonder about what event did you refer to. Sorry, pardon my ignorance of the Extropian history.

<< When they detect that we are experimenting with strange matter, they may
attack for fear that we will destroy the universe. >>

Well, even if we did create strange matter of the dangerous variety, we just need to ensure that this strange matter remains isolated from the rest of the universe. We can make a special sphere on a course to the emptiness of space and conduct experiments on it and far away from the inhabited solar system. Of course, such a risk would definitely seem reckless to undertake, if it does really exist. So far, very powerful cosmic rays had shown us that destroying the universe via strange matter will take a lot of effort and energy.

The fear does not go both ways, in that the Colony has an incentive to destroy Earth (if it so threatens the colony) so that no one can attack it. Assuming that both Earth and the colony has the capability to destory each other, and we all have second strike capability, look back at what happened to US and Russia after the invention of the A-bomb and H-bomb.

After the invention of the A-bomb but before Russia developed it, some people actually took the idea of preempting Russia's "eventual attack" of the US by attacking them first. After the invention of the H-bomb but before Russia had too many A-bombs or invented H-bombs, the same thing happened. Eventually, both nations recognised the dangers of this attacking each other, and even during the tense Cuban missile crisis, they did not escalate the conflict to even conventional warfare.

Looking to the future, as long as we have second strike capability, we have nothing to fear. No one country would have such insanity as to destroy each other (unless some anti-extro fanatics had overran them). If we have a good UN, we might have nothing to fear. So, H-bombs, anyone?

<< I am not sure that distance will make strange new ideas any more palatable to earthlings. The fact that we are remote and hard to monitor or attack will make us seem even more alien and fearful to the native population. >>

Yes, this tactic may have mixed effects, but we have hardly any other viable choices. Living too close for comfort would sound unwise because someone can spy on us easily and launch a surprise attack. If one day we can develop interstellar travel long before Earth does, then only then might we have true freedom.

<< Which is why I think your idea might be a good thing, *if* done as an actual space colony rather than another micronation on the Earth. We can say anything we want; the proof is in what we do - thus, we will be believed a lot more if we are quite visibly doing space research by dint of living up there. >>

Yes, definitely living in an actual space colony surely beats an experimental one. However, we have practical concerns here about cost, technological development and risks of no prior experimentation on colony systems. If only we can go to space so easily, I would had left already.

<< If we do manage to scrape together the money and talent necessary to create a successful space colony, the world will know enough about us to keep a close eye on our activities. And so if they have any sense that we are approaching a classic "big blast" singularity, they will be putting in parking orbit around us the mid twenty-first century version of the sixth fleet! >>

We have to consider if they will develop space technology so fast unless they have space resources. Yes, this definitely sounds risky. We must develop space technology (and weaponry) first before them in order to ensure our success. How do you all suppose we do it? Talk only leads to useless speculations, so how do we do this in a practical and coordinated manner? I volunteer to help out for free or a low fee if you have any great ideas.

Please conside this very carefully: How can and will we achieve this breakthrough of research? I think we must come together and combine forces. We have to help each other develop skills and talents, and this seems easier said than done. Maybe the idea at ( will help.

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