And what are people in space thinking about?
If they were closer to Mars, for example (dug into Phobos?), they'd be able to make real time control decisions for the martian roving vehicles, vastly improving their utilization. Speed of light is horrible for efficient operation of such devices. Some progressive Martian mission designs anticipate this scenario.
How many people have a legitimate use for a laser that can maintain a pencil-sized beam at a couple of miles?
Fortunately, thanks to the laws of physics, such a laser would have to have an aperture of at least 10 to 20 cm, but probably much more, and thus would be very conspicuous.
Almost anything that can be done in space is better done by robots.
Except for thinking...
I sincerely doubt that Space X would create science only missions - like sending probes to Mars or the outer reaches of the Solar System.
No, but they could enable them with their cheap technology. Think of how cheaper the MSL rover could be if if were launched by a Falcon Heavy. All that weight-shedding typical for aerospace can't possibly be cheap. But we won't have any chance to substantially get rid of it until we get cheaper launches. (New Horizons probably could have been much more heavyweight, too, if FH had been available at that time.)
to engineer, v.: 2.b fig. To arrange, contrive, plan, superintend. Also (U.S.), to guide or carry through a measure or enterprise; to manuvre, (occas.) to ‘shepherd’.
The "knowledge economy" is dud before it got off the ground.
I would have thought that full automation is a demonstration that the exact opposite is true?