Another of the awesome prospects of transhumanism, and one which is primordial to science-fiction, is space colonization. From pitching a tent on the moon, to settling on distant planets and seeding them with our flora, fauna and ideas, space colonization has been a dream of mankind ever since we gazed upon the stars and realized we’re not standing on the only grain of sand there is.
Why would we want to colonize space, exactly?
We’re still pretty comfy and safe down here, well shielded by our planet’s electromagnetic coat, sitting in privileged seats around the sun, enjoying our cocktails and cakes and wasting time worrying about how private our Facebook privacy status really is. Everything’s fine, no? Well, not really. There’s a whole bunch of reasons why we ought to invest more into space colonization:
- Overpopulation — We’re gonna run all over this planet and trample it into the ground like a herd of hungry cattle, and there’s no morally creditable way to get that under control. Limit procreation by law, and regulate one of the most basic human rights? Or start more wars, and commit mass murder? How about creating a retrovirus that renders people infertile and the go to war with that? No? Thought so. Let’s build spaceships!
- The degradation of natural resources — And I mean degradation, not exhaustion, we can’t really exhaust natural resources because where one resource ends, another is soon found to replace it, but this cycle of matter to energy to matter will inevitably render mother nature unusable over long periods of time. She needs much longer to heal than we can wait, and we can’t help her without turning more beneficial matter to energy and then to harmful matter. We bad little monkeys.
- Human nature — We’re nothing if not curious beings, who strive to understand ourselves and the world we live in, and by extension the universe we inhabit and how it is reflected within our souls. We cannot sit still and content on our own asses when there’s a genuine possibility that we’re not alone out here. And apart from being natural explorers, we’re also conquerors. The prospect of new resources, new land, new power? Irresistible.
But how could we get there?
How do we stab a flag into Tau Ceti’s pristine planets, or carve our faces into an asteroid around Sirius?
Building the right starship is only half the problem. The other half that’s holding us back from flinging ourselves at our neighboring star systems, is the fact that homo sapiens is not adapted to life in outer space. Radiation, deteriorating muscle mass, brittle bones and ravaged digestion system, insomnia, inability to focus and even psychosis are just the tips of the ice berg. Not to mention flatulence and bad hair day every day. Our bodies and minds are just too damn frail to make it, so we’d have to come up with feasible ways to travel from point A to point B without wrecking ourselves.
And here, transhumanism comes with plenty of possibilities. From cryogenics to genetic enhancements, from robotic augmentations that turn astronauts into awesome cyborgs, to androids carrying human brains in their transhumanist skulls like fearsome and able receptacles for our mushy gray matter. And when it comes to the ships, we’d have to consider options ranging from O’Neil cylinders and embryo seed ships, to generation ships the size of which would require generations to build and generations to sponsor. Maybe that’s why they’re called generation ships… Anyway.
We could even come up with ways to prolong human life to the extent that a manned interstellar spaceship would not even require several generations to cross the vast expanse of space. And hell, I’m not even gonna nibble at the subject of propulsion systems, where possibility and impossibility intertwine like two slippery eels doing the tango in a jacuzzi filled with relativistic vanilla pudding.
However we cut it, the biggest issue with space colonization isn’t finding a suitable exoplanet (since there are billions of them out there in the universe, AND YOU KNOW IT), but getting there in one piece. It’s not about terraforming the cosmos, but cosmoforming ourselves. We have to embrace the idea—and the reality—that we must accelerate and augment our own evolution if we want to outgrow our own back yard in the solar system and play with the big kids on the block. That’s why transhumanism is a must, not an option.
Okay, it’s an option if the other option is a stupidly benevolent alien race descending upon us, begging us to take their superior technology in exchange for our women. Where do I sign up?