Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has always wanted to improve their lifestyle, increase efficiency, get the job done quickly, so we can enjoy our lives more. Fire meant food gets cooked faster, wheels meant transportation increases. Microprocessors meant that monotonous tasks could be done in the blink of an eye. And during the technological breakthroughs of the late 17th and early 18th century, wasn’t every visionary dreaming of the perfect society? The perfect world? And even beyond that, all of this in space?
A century later and all of our technological breakthroughs are coming in the form of improving our social lives. Actually, most of it’s done so that money can be made. Electrical cars, quad-core smartphones, LED televisions, faster internet, tablet computers, “revolutionary” ways for people to connect with each other via social networking. None of these things help us improve our lifestyles, just make us happy because we have more frivolous things to play with. What’s the next generation of consoles going to bring? When will I get a flexible OLED screen so I don’t have to carry around tablets and smartphones? When can I get holographic TVs? What did that famous celebrity who doesn’t even know I exist said on Twitter so I can gossip about it on Facebook? Whatever happened to the dream of reaching for the stars?
Unless there's WW III by 2040, we're all good to go.
Have we totally lost hope about such “scifi” ventures that we’re content with them remaining in movies and books? There are 7 billion people on this planet, how long before we’re double this figure? Well, we went from under 2 billion in 1900 to 6 billion in 2000. And at this growth rate we’re going to double ourselves in another 100 years. Our governments cannot handle their own people, let alone immigrants from other countries as it is right now. Imagine what will happen when we’re at 14 billion. However, the point of this blog isn’t to look at the social habitat of the world, but lamenting where our technological advances are (or aren’t) taking us.
Were the moon landings 40 years ago just a “who’s is bigger” competition between the US and Russia? Since then, we have launched hundreds of satellites into space, but nothing more than connecting the world via TV, internet and phones has been achieved. I’m not undermining these colossal achievements and how they have changed our lives, but why don’t we go beyond just trying to invent technology to monetize it? When will humanity move to something beyond? We’re still treating space travel like an amusement park ride that only the few “privileged” ones can go to.
We're getting there!
I understand the colonizing planets isn’t exactly like moving your troops to the neighboring country, invading them and taking their resources. But can we move beyond rock collection and and analysis of stars and planets millions of light-years away? How about launching a huge spaceship, able to house hundreds, if not thousands of people, and send the expedition out to discover habitable planets? Maybe I’ve been watching too much scifi, or maybe that’s how things will go down. Imagine the opportunity that third world countries and their billions of citizens will have. New jobs, and complete ecological systems able to sustain on their own through nuclear power (or maybe solar) and have everyone live responsibly on their ship, their home, their country!
We’ve built the ISS and many other satellites, isn’t it possible to replicate their tech on a large scale where a lot of humans can live? Of course, the ultimate question then becomes: why? Can money be made off such a venture? All it looks like is to progress humanity into another area of well being. How can a big corporates benefit from this? Well, you can turn this into the ultimate immigrations service: pay us some ridiculous amount of money and you can live in space! That’s a quick way to cash in, a longer, more productive way could be technological breakthroughs in space which are then patented. Then we’ll have lawsuits…in space!
Our great, great, great, great, grandchildren will be rolling in style.
Or maybe once Skynet takes over as everybody is launching nukes during the final days of World War IV while a giant asteroid is on course for Earth, will we see us finally getting our lazy asses to space.