Who gets to visit Mars?
A brief introduction:
When I read this fantastic Hub by Ixxy called "When Humanity Unites" here, first I just wanted to write a small comment about it. This then turned out to be too long for the comments section so I thought why not making it even longer and write a whole Hub about it?
If you haven‘t read the above Hub yet, I strongly recommend you to read it first and then come back for this Hub, but if you don‘t have the time to do it or want to finish reading this Hub first, I‘ll give you a super-small abstract: it deals with the survival of humanity and at one point mentions the three types of civilizations the famous physicist Michio Kaku once described to exist. These are (quoted from Ixxy‘s Hub - thank‘s for this great roundup by the way)
- Type One: Planetary civilization that harvests it's energy from it's own planet. (We're not even doing that, just utilizing dead plant material.) This civilization has worked towards mastering it's environment planet wide, and now controls much of the process' its planet goes through.
- Type Two: Stellar civilization. This civilization is in some respects, "immortal." They've harvested stars. They can control, predict, and react to these energy sources, and get out of the way if a star is too unwieldy.
- Type Three: Galactic. Galactic civilization wouldn't necessarily be us flying around, exploring strange new worlds--no, most efficiently, we would send out mechanical "feelers" to moons and await for a type 0 civilization to become type 1. (Thus explains Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey")
Who gets to visit Mars ?
Unfortunately newest predictions (and some calculations done) show that we may not reach Kaku's Stage 1 in time before Earth actually becomes uninhabitable (there are hundreds of potential dangers for our planet, some of them are only hypothetical, others not really explored yet and of course the probability of mankind starting an all-destructive third world war is increasing annually).
There are mainly 2 factors why this is said to happen:
a) The intelligence of humanity is dropping rapidly at the moment - Einstein (correct me if I'm wrong) once described it that way: "The average intelligence of humanity isn't falling - no in fact it's pretty constant BUT the number of humans is increasing rapidly " other scientists (very famous ones - not just pessimists seeking attention) even speak of an "inverted Flynn effect" - meaning that the average intelligence is in fact already decreasing since the beginning of the 21. century.
There are a number of factors to blame for this development, while some neurologists and psychologists blame the internet, mobile phones, drugs and the laziness of our society (the usual suspects for all sorts of problems) others blame how society encourages people to start working/earning money while they're young. This and a number of other factors then lead to the fact that most people end up doing their 9 to 5 jobs, living a peaceful live without any motivation to study 6 years at an university in the first place which of course demands high sacrifices since the 6 years are without income, furthermore a good university is in fact very expensive (here of course a controversial argument states that this is made to be barrier for certain members of a society (now that could be considered a crazy argument ;)), others simply see it as a the only way the US Army can recruit more soldiers by offering them money for their future studies after the military service (quite harsh words)).
I cannot support any of those theories yet unfortunately I also cannot explain why the intelligence really is decreasing, but who really can explain it?
Also is e.g. an IQ tests and all the different variations that exist of it really the way to measure a persons intelligence? WHAT IS intelligence after all? That's why I don't even want to spend more time with reason a) and continue with reason b)
b) Mankind is a primitive species. That's why we spent TRILLIONS (yeah you heard it! A "one" continued by 12 zeros! (or 18 zeros if you're living in a "long scale" country (talking about united Humanity xD)) of dollars just to fight deadly wars because of small misunderstandings, borders, mineral resources and so on. While we cannot invest even the estimated 500 million dollars that would be necessary to start a mission to colonize Mars (which is crucial for our survival in the Universe. More and more famous physicists and scientists in general start to emphasize that we really better start this program as soon as possible).
Since many governments, when asked to participate in such a program, answer that humanity is not yet ready for such a mission because we have to solve all the problems we have on this tiny planet before expanding into the vast space - how fussy is that?
Also a great number of people have to stay on the planet anyway, so why paying for a few high-intellectual people to leave earth and (presumably) never come back?
Not to mention the possible riots when it would be made public that only 500-1000 humans can survive while the rest of them is left behind on the planet (How could one even determine the "value" of a human being when it comes to such a hard decision? Since intelligence is hard to measure not to mention the fact that intelligence alone does not necessarily mean power - or lets put it that way: maybe the most athletic humans would have a better chance to survive on such a mission instead of a bunch of intellectuals)
Therefore we seek for other - more efficient ways to colonize space (like manipulating humans to live longer and under more extreme conditions which would facilitate sending more of us into space since the most expensive part of this mission is still protecting the fragile human body and supplying it with food/air etc. which requires expensive technology and takes up a lot of space in a potential spacecraft - but also the power of religion plays a role in hindering our development in the genetics field (questions like: should we really "play god"? immediately arise), not to mention the animal rights activists who don't even agree on rats to be used in animal tests for curing diseases, so why would they agree on a lot more animals being used for genetic research. (It's an ironic and controversially discussed topic that animal tests and tests on humans (mostly with prisoners (of war) e.g as done by the Nazis or Japanese during WWII or even in ancient rome) are responsible for many major milestones medical science has achieved so far). How could someone really hold such a view in public ? And even if - wouldn't it lay the foundation for a terrible Dystopia to arise when suddenly some genetically mutated humans, as described by Friedrich Nietzsche in his visions of a strong, egoistic individual Uebermensch , would start to control our planet?
"If it bleeds we can kill it" or why science fiction is important
Luckily all the discussed matters are more considered to be science-fiction so far but isn't that terrible in a way? Because if we look at how many movies dealing with the future of our species actually describe it to be a horrible Dystopia where mankind has no more individual freedoms and is exposed to constant violence and warfare? Well of course there are other ways earth's future is often portrayed - but I think we all agree that:
- being enslaved by a brutal alien-race
- having destroyed earth ourselves because we're no better than the most primitive animals after all
- fighting against aliens who outweigh us not only in their large number but also in their intelligence and weapons because our governments didn't tell us they existed or because we're simply just an arrogant tiny planet in the universe thinking "a god" created us to be the only species in a unbelievable huge universe with a million of a million times more solar systems like our tiny 8 ½ solar system where we cannot even reach the nearest planet to ours (in galactic relations only a stone‘s throw from our mini-planet away)
are all not very good options either ;).
What sacrifices have to be made ?
You see all those issues are very controversial since they all eventually border into a fascistic Utopia/Dystopia where only a tiny fraction of humanity has a chance to survive (this is also called "the tragedy of Utopia").
Steven Hawking once commented on this by saying that a Utopia can never be reached by us humans because the requirements would be to high since a lot of sacrifices would have to be made. (One can only guess what falls into the category of "sacrifices" when it comes to survival in the universe).
Another reason why discussions of this topic are postponed or at least only held with the public excluded is that they are considered to cause disturbance. And that's really true, if you think about it, there's really no way of saving our whole planet and all it's inhabitants. Or at least not yet! One of the main reasons why science fiction is that popular amongst us humans - nobody knows how the future looks, there are an endless number of possible scenarios and hey - some of them really make a good movie ;).
After all we really do know nothing! But isn't that the driving force that's responsible for our development so far ? and isn't it this uncertainty that keeps us humans seeking the answers to all the questions we have?
Well I'd like to close this Hub with a very nice quote from Isaac Asimov!
"Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not. "
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