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Comment: Re:Funding (Score 1) 167 167

All the chemical elements are available in space. Imagine a Drexler-style nanofab that can build anything atom by atom, given the right atoms. There's no compelling need to develop such a thing on Earth, but if we had it (because we needed it for space) the economic impact would be profound.

The enormity of the advances in technology that would be required to colonise space would inevitably transform life on Earth. And the amount of resources required need not be that great. There is no deadline, no hurry. We have plenty of spare capacity, 25% unemployment in some countries. The aim would be to bootstrap an autonomous colony building machine that lived off the land, not keep flinging megatons of stuff off the planet.

The main reason to choose Mars is PR. The Moon is old hat. The stars are a thousand years away. Mars is a clear step forward that people might get to see in their lifetime. Any large public project needs to have public support. Would a reality TV company contemplate funding a robotic mission to sniff a pebble near Uranus? How many people would tune in to watch the birth of the first Martian?

Comment: Re:Funding (Score 1) 167 167

We can do this be sending robots.

True, but there would be less impetus (hah!).

That can be done on the moon for a much lower cost. It might also be economical to return to Earth the things we find on the Moon.


Not quite as it would only be relevant to Mars and a few moons.

I meant 'and everything else' not 'that would be everything'.

Sorry but unless we can create a completely self sufficient colony any outpost will be reliant on re-supply from Earth. Creating a completely self-sufficient colony on Mars would bankrupt any countries that tried it. There will always be some critical material or item that is available only on Earth.

Self-sufficiency is something we'll have to learn how to do. As for bankruptcy, no. Provided things are arranged to give value for money on Earth there is no end to money. Tricky, I grant. Running out of resources could happen.

Mars is not a lifeboat. Until we can get to another star system where we can live on an Earth-like planet long term survival of humans is not ensured.

Yup, but we'll not get there in one bounding leap. It may take generation ships, and if you can do that why do you need a planet?

We need waypoints. Mars may not be optimal or necessary but it is on the way and people can see it in the sky and get excited about it.

Sure, there are more urgent local concerns. The ones you list are good. But if we have the resources there is no need to be constrained by money, we can do a bit of everything. In fact a space colonisation program could yield technological benefits for Earth in all the areas you mention.

Comment: Re:Funding (Score 1) 167 167

Just strapping a few Saturn 5s together and dumping a half-dead astronaut on the surface of Mars, never to return, would be completely pointless I agree. But if by trying we learnt how to travel more quickly through space, how to survive the radiation, how to maintain a habitat with nothing but sunlight and regolith, everything required to colonise the Solar System then we will have secured both enormous wealth and long term survival of the species. We have to get out there eventually whether the immediate goal is Mars or not.

Wealth, I would suggest, is anything you feel better off having than not having. It doesn't have to be useful or be capable of creating more wealth. Most of the things we spend our money on aren't.

Comment: Re:Funding (Score 1) 167 167

I don't have a strong view on the whether a Mars mission will be worth it or not. It depends on how much we learn and how much reusable infrastructure is built in the process. Basic science overall has had a massive effect on our ability to create wealth. In fact the knowledge it brings is itself a form of wealth.

Comment: Re:Funding (Score 1) 167 167

Well, now you're talking economics. Creating money has effects of course, as does its destruction. Those effects are the real constraints on government spending/taxing decisions, not hand-wringing like 'money is scarce' or 'how will we pay for it?'.

If a government creates a trillion dollars, and the private sector creates a trillion dollars worth of wealth in exchange for it, then the world is a trillion dollars wealthier. Prices will be unaffected and so will the credibility of the dollar. So the question boils down to "will a man on mars program be worth what it costs?".

Comment: Re:Funding (Score 1) 167 167

The private sector does not create money. ... Other that devaluing all money by printing it governments do not create money.

Where does money come from then--God?

Scarcity of money is a fact of life.

Money is artificial and requires virtually no resources to create. It's scarcity is also, therefore, artificial.

Comment: Re: Whats wrong with US society (Score 1) 609 609

our founding values, which are the values that created the middle class

To my British mind Jefferson and most of his chums would count as upper class. They may not have had the titles but they had the land (and the slaves). Washington died with a net worth of half a billion dollars (2015 equivalent) and 300 slaves.

Comment: Re:Blocking access (Score 1) 253 253

Solution? A nice, soothing, show trial, followed by satisfied preening.

In practice it is increasingly difficult to get a successful prosecution for (non-kiddy) porn in the UK, especially if there is a jury involved. Even possessors of 'extreme' gay porn will be acquitted if they plead not-guilty.

Comment: Re:The trick... (Score 1) 246 246

Just make sure the organization's objectives are aligned with the interests of the leader.

Most organisations (I spell UK) have some sort of collective purpose otherwise they wouldn't be organisations. Inherently opposed to the selfish objectives of the psychopath.

CEOs get their bonus by raising the stock price.

Often temporarily, only for it to tank right after they deploy their golden parachute. Or even before, they design it to work either way. This bonus idea was invented in the 70s. Even some business professors have started to notice it hasn't always worked out.

why do they keep voting for them?

Successful psychopaths are charming and good liars. People want to believe it will be different this time. Only psychopaths get to stand. Psychopaths know to tell people what they want to hear. Most people, it seems, cannot easily spot a psychopath. If they realised their candidate was a psycho they (mostly) wouldn't vote for them. I hope.

As of next Thursday, UNIX will be flushed in favor of TOPS-10. Please update your programs.