Re: Space Colony Issues

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Fri Aug 10 2001 - 06:19:49 MDT

> The best potential counter I can immediately see is to simply be more
> effective at using what knowledge we gain than they are - the classic
> "small group turns on a dime, large group suffers from inertia".

Yes, it seems like a completely viable strategy. For instance, Singapore, just merely by choosing policy more wisely and implementing them faster than others, had managed to gain such an advantage over others that it dares to allow them to visit and study the system while knowing that it can still remain at the forefront of technology.

This assumes a worse case scenario that other societies change slower than us. For most issues, it would hold. However, for military issues, I think we will find no lack of motivation, creativity and funding.

[Of course, I don't think of Singapore as the ideal society, and its overemphasis on "benchmarking" had blinded it to fundamental revolutionary policy changes that can improve it far beyond its competitors. It also has irritating bureaucratic tendencies. Anyway, we may find it wise to learn from the example of Singapore.]

> If they depend on us for R&D, they won't be able to attack us - we'll
> be too valuable as is. And more to the point, our military would be
> structured around tech advantages, with the acknowledgement that we
> would be outspent by any enemy; 15 times or 16 times becomes less of an
> issue in that case.

Imagine that our enemy has more resources than us, then even with a lower tech level they can make it up with numerical superority. Don't think that China will really lose to the US, for even the Japanese during World War 2 could not control most of China.

Relying solely on a strategy of information superiority sounds highly unwise. We do not even know if we have enough resources (including time) to do all the R&D we need, let alone if we can superceed them.

> The best defense here in the early years is simply to open up
> a whole bunch of new fields of research and pursue them to the point of
> rapid payoffs...which would be part of the point of the colony anyway.

The first few years would prove most dangerous to us as we would most likely have almost complete vulnerability.

> > How do we know whom to attack in retaliation?
> Actually, refusing to retaliate will probably work wonders as far as
> convincing most of the world not to attack (or keep attacking) us.

You will set yourself open to attack, because unless you demonstrate your superiority, they will assume that your reluctance means you have weaknesses you do not want them to know. Merely not retaliating will simply encourage more attempts, unless you demostrate your relative superority (such as by defeating the enemy without taking a single life).

Unless you have a really high relative tech level that you can these threats, most likely you will have no choice but to retaliate. I say this even though I prefer peace over war. You might think rationally, but don't assume they do too.

We must also not assume that we will have any form of superiority over Earth, at least initially. We may have to undergo a long, hard struggle to even achieve independence. If you want to know how these problems can happen, read about the history of recent countries such as Singapore.

> Lots of money (mainly useful to buy what we don't wish to build
> ourselves from the kept rock pieces), and no worries about IP.

Don't assume that just because you don't bother about IP and you believe in free speech, that you will not face the same problems from them. At the very least, you can trade precious research data with them. If we give our data away, unless we agree with Earth for them to share certain or all technologies, we will never benefit from it.

We will have to use it to bargain with them. Who knows if they will try to start a war with us just because we "pirated" some proprietary research data or software in our free information flowing society? Of course, you can ask why don't we get the data ourselves, but why can't we save our time and effort if we help others save theirs'?

> <shrugs> What's to keep them from grabbing the space after we claimed
> it anyway? They will be less likely to if we only claim what we can
> defend. OTOH, claiming an unreasonably (to others) large slice will
> directly result in others being less likely to honor our claims.

Well, I still suggest a minimum of a sphere of 1AU of space. We can always cede territory away, but we can't conquer new ones (ethically).

> You seem to have slightly misunderstood my point here. In any
> society, there will be some societal conditioning (norms, commonly
> held beliefs that sometimes get coded into law, et cetera). I'm
> saying, shape those beliefs so that no one would want to go back.

I think no rational person would want to leave this colony and return to crazy Earth. However, we should always prepare for the unexpected.

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