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The White House Wants To Use Science Fiction To Settle The Solar System

29 February 2016

From Gizmodo:

Earlier this month, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology assembled a strange gathering: scientists, artists, engineers, and policy-makers, for a workshop designed to imagine how humanity could settle the solar system.

The workshop, held in early February, was titled Homesteading in Space – Inspiring the Nation through Science Fiction, with the express purpose of imagining how manned space efforts can take us to our neighboring planets, not just for a short visit, but for longer durations.

. . . .

Kalil and the Museum of Science Fiction realized that there’s considerable work to be done in order to make it a reality. Experts in science and engineering are important, but he understood that there “would be a value in bringing together artists and scientists to explore this challenge.”

Science fiction isn’t a proscriptive genre for the future, but what it can do is inspire. “As a society, we have to decide whether this is a challenge we want to embrace,” Kalil noted. “Not everyone will be persuaded by George Mallory’s rationale for wanting to climb Mt. Everest (“Because it’s there). Artists can explore different ideas about why we should do this.”

. . . .

“I believe that science fiction can provide a simulator for the societal risks and benefits of new technologies. This is useful in the same way that scenario planning helps organizations prepare for the future.”

Link to the rest at Gizmodo


21 Comments to “The White House Wants To Use Science Fiction To Settle The Solar System”

  1. Why should we do this?

    We can’t take care of our own planet. Instead of fixing the problem, let’s run away (and destroy other planets).

    Let’s twist this around- if another alien race came to our planet- what would we do? Greet them with kindness? Attack?

    If human beings can’t get along with each other, what makes our leaders think we will be able to exist peacefully with Extra Terrestrials? (I am also assuming that if a planet is capable of supporting life-namely like ours-then life will exist there and we will have to deal with those “aliens”).

    • I do think the requirements for Solar System colonization would help us learn environment control (so, sustainability).

      Take care

      • Why would colonization help us learn environmental control?

        I don’t follow your logic.

        As writers, we know that people don’t change until they are FORCED to. Running away doesn’t make people change.

        Colonizing another planet won’t make people say, “let’s get this right.”

    • Feel free to remain on Earth while the rest of us colonize the universe. But, in a hundred years, our descendants will either be living in space or in caves. It only takes one crazy with a bioengineered plague to wipe out pretty much all the humans on Earth, and they’ll do it, sooner or later.

      Oh, and the odds of running into any technologically-advanced aliens in this galaxy are pretty much zero. If they existed, we’d almost certainly know about them by now.

      • I’m female and a minority. I don’t think I would be allowed to go anyway. Cooties and all.

        And you wouldn’t be either. Space colonization isn’t going to happen in our lifetimes.

        And if One Crazy could wipe out the humans on Earth, why couldn’t they do it on the colony too?

        Do you really think by leaving Earth, people would somehow become peaceful and not power hungry? You think highly of the human race.

        I know I sound pessimistic, but I like to think I’m realistic. I don’t bother reading the news any more or I will become pessimistic.

        • Fifty-nine female astronauts have completed at least one spaceflight.

          Thirteen black astronauts have completed space flights. Among them are three black women. There are two additional black female astronauts who have not yet completed a mission.

          Not sure about all the other minority statuses.

        • You are so convinced that you would not be allowed to go

          The really big question is “who would stop you”? Being a female would probably enhance your chances of going, assuming you want to (females do not tend to be the big risk-takers)

          Initially it is going to be “people with money” who go (and in that category, I seriously doubt that being a minority would affect things), but there will also be a heavy helping of “people willing to take risks”, and that historically has been people who are not doing well economically (which has correlation to minorities in many cases)

        • And you wouldn’t be either. Space colonization isn’t going to happen in our lifetimes.

          Radical life extension will arrive before some people reading this thread die. Possibly not me, but any teenager today has a decent chance of living for centuries, if they can get off this planet.

          And if One Crazy could wipe out the humans on Earth, why couldn’t they do it on the colony too?

          Because it wouldn’t be the colony, it would be an ever-increasing number of individual colonies, as families and small groups built their own homes around the solar system. Head off into the Oort cloud, find yourself a dust ball, and build a place to live. Then stick nuclear engines on the back, and go exploring the galaxy.

    • Why? lots of reasons

      much easier access to many materials, avoiding the ‘all eggs in one basket’ problem for asteroid impact and similar.

      and don’t forget the simple ones, elbow room, freedom.

      • Eggs in one basket indeed — remember the Chelyabinsk event? The meteor that struck Russia three years ago? Stories about strikes (we get hit a lot more than most think) often compare the impact force to a nuclear bomb.

        Imagine something like that striking a more densely populated area — New York, Tokyo, or London (favorite alien invasion locations). I like how Glenn Reynolds supposes that the meteors are nature’s way of asking “How’s your space program coming?”

        If the government is going to spend money on something, I’d like it include “meteor detection and swatting” tech. Let’s throw in anti-Carrington Event hardening for good measure. And of course, let’s find another basket.

  2. “The White House Wants To Use Science Fiction To Settle The Solar System”

    Why not? They pretended to ‘fix’ out healthcare, why not this too?

    Though the last I’d heard they weren’t throwing any real money at space, which makes me wonder if the ‘fiction’ part of this blog is that they want to do anything with space at all.

  3. Your tax dollars at work. I don’t begrudge paying taxes for important public services, but I wish that elected officials would show some sense.

  4. Using SF to settle the solar system is sure to be much cheaper than using rockets.

    • Perhaps we might have some cool rockets soon, though: NASA testing a photon propulsion drive that can get robots to Mars in 3 days.

      It would take a month go get humans there. In the video at the link Lubin says, “There is no known reason we can’t do this.” In his paper he keeps writing in bold, “not fantasy! Not science fiction!” For the science nerds who are wondering: no, they haven’t figured out a way to slow down the rocket for landing, so they’d just do flybys at first.

      If it works we can send robots outside the system. Maybe we could get photos that let us know just how “earthlike” the Kepler worlds really are (or aren’t). Or see what’s over at Alpha Centauri …

      • A similar catcher system at Mars would let them throw almost infinite supplies to Mars. You’d just have to ship the system ahead of time normally.

        Just sending probes to other systems that don’t take most of a human lifespan to get there is cool enough by itself though.

      • Here’s my bet that Amazon will be the first to deliver to Mars.

  5. Andy Weir is having a bigger impact than he probably ever thought possible.

    In other news, NASA received over 18,000 applicants to the astronaut program this year, far surpassing the prior 1978 record of 8.000.

  6. Don’t worry. Now it’s time to make SF authors feel good.

    “…perhaps foremost, he [Obama[ wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”
    Director NASA
    July 6, 2010

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