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Old 03-10-2008, 10:17 AM   #1
Jürgen Hubert
 
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Default Long-term strategy for the Solar System

The leaders of the Great Powers of Earth aren't stupid - and they have some very smart SAI advisers as well. So they have likely dedicated a lot of resources and computing hours to figuring out the long-term trends that affect the colonization of the solar system - and how to make sure that their own interests are best served.

So, what do they think the solar system will look like in 10, 20, or 50 years? And what plans are they pursuing to shape it to their liking?

Here are some of my thoughts:

- China: They will likely continue to make sure that they remain the dominant power on Mars. However, the upcoming completion of the Olympus beanstalk means that emigrating to Mars will become a lot more affordable even without a government sponsor, resulting in a population boom. China will have to increase its own incentives for loyal Chinese citizens to go there before the non-Chinese population becomes the majority - and start patrolling more and more territory outside of the American colony to remind everyone who is boss around here.

They will also redouble their own efforts to gain better access to He-3, since they can't afford to be boycotted a second time.

- USA: The USA always had a problem with long-term plans throughout the 21st century, and this might continue into the 22nd as well. They will continue to build up their Titan colony, but it's hard to predict what else they will do. They might support pro-independence movements on Mars just to annoy the Chinese - and this might draw the two of them into an armed conflict.

- EU: I think the Venus project is mostly a straw man - something to distract the rest of the world from the real plans of the EU for the solar system. The EU isn't really interested in building up colonies of its own. However, they probably assume that sooner or later many colonies will become independent, and once that happens they want to make sure that these colonies are sympathetic to their values. That's why the EU sponsors all those immigrants on Mars, which otherwise wouldn't make sense - why pay a lot of money so that your best and brightest move to another planet?

One these new nations come into their own, they might even join the EU or something similar - an interplanetary alliance of nations arising from the EU. But even if that happens, those European expatriates are in a perfect position to help shape events in the colonies - and pave the way for the next wave that will arrive once the Olympus Project is complete.

- TSA: Right now, they can't do much except sending lone operatives up there - but they need their own space presence in the long run or they will keep on slipping behind the rest of the world. Their own asteroid mining, their own source of He-3...

Malaysia and Indonesia have good locations for a beanstalk elevator of their own. At the moment, this project would be too expensive for the TSA, both politically and economically. But after the completion of the Olympus beanstalk, the price for such a mega-engineering project will drop...


Your thoughts?
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Long-term strategy for the Solar System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
The leaders of the Great Powers of Earth aren't stupid - and they have some very smart SAI advisers as well.
Seriously I would consider that "because" rather than "and". It's also hard to see what will stop the SAIs, the Eloi and the upgrades from becoming the de-facto leaders, if not actually in name.

Quote:
So they have likely dedicated a lot of resources and computing hours to figuring out the long-term trends that affect the colonization of the solar system - and how to make sure that their own interests are best served.
With the best and the brightest factioning and splitting off into clades, that will be a tough balancing act.

There might be several best ways that can all be followed by different groups. Of course if any of those ways compete for resources...

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So, what do they think the solar system will look like in 10, 20, or 50 years? And what plans are they pursuing to shape it to their liking?
Well there is the degenerate possibility that large numbers will dump the meat and go the computronium route. Even if not quickly the ever increasing numbers of SAIs and very rich Ghosts blur national boundaries significantly.

Quote:
- China: They will likely continue to make sure that they remain the dominant power on Mars. However, the upcoming completion of the Olympus beanstalk means that emigrating to Mars will become a lot more affordable even without a government sponsor, resulting in a population boom.
Good point. The journey out of Earth's gravity well costs significantly more than the interplanetary journey to Mars.

Quote:
China will have to increase its own incentives for loyal Chinese citizens to go there before the non-Chinese population becomes the majority - and start patrolling more and more territory outside of the American colony to remind everyone who is boss around here.

- USA: … They might support pro-independence movements on Mars just to annoy the Chinese - and this might draw the two of them into an armed conflict.
Given that most of the Mars citizens are the brightest and best, their home nations may have difficulty getting them to follow parochial interests.

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The EU
I can’t help thinking that the interconnectedness of the world of 2100 makes all the fifth wave powers and some fourth wave much closer than individual EU states are now. It’s ripe for big change with this being one possible path.

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Malaysia and Indonesia have good locations for a beanstalk elevator of their own. At the moment, this project would be too expensive for the TSA, both politically and economically. But after the completion of the Olympus beanstalk, the price for such a mega-engineering project will drop...
And the threat of building a second beanstalk would get them almost as much leverage as building one.
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Long-term strategy for the Solar System

Interesting topic. Here are some of my thoughts about it:




Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
The leaders of the Great Powers of Earth aren't stupid - and they have some very smart SAI advisers as well. So they have likely dedicated a lot of resources and computing hours to figuring out the long-term trends that affect the colonization of the solar system - and how to make sure that their own interests are best served.
For a the sake of plausibility it should be kept in mind that things are usually not quite that easy. Politicians may not be stupid and they will have AI advisors, true, but they may be more occupied with winning the next election or handling an inner political crisis than implementing any long-term strategy. The result is that the strategy of the country or power they are ruling can be completely stupid, or even that no recognizable strategy exists in the first place. Single, smart persons may actually notice this, develop a sensible strategy for their nation or power, write a book about what should be done and then have to watch helplessly and in horror how their ideas are completely ignored and everything is going down the drains. Common sense seems to dictate that this should hardly be possible, considering the ressources and experts the rulers of state have access to, but that is how things usually have been in the past. In 2100 it is quite possible that this is one of the things that has not changed.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
- EU: I think the Venus project is mostly a straw man - something to distract the rest of the world from the real plans of the EU for the solar system. The EU isn't really interested in building up colonies of its own. However, they probably assume that sooner or later many colonies will become independent, and once that happens they want to make sure that these colonies are sympathetic to their values. That's why the EU sponsors all those immigrants on Mars, which otherwise wouldn't make sense - why pay a lot of money so that your best and brightest move to another planet?

One these new nations come into their own, they might even join the EU or something similar - an interplanetary alliance of nations arising from the EU. But even if that happens, those European expatriates are in a perfect position to help shape events in the colonies - and pave the way for the next wave that will arrive once the Olympus Project is complete.
I do not quite agree with this assessment. If the Europeans are not interested in colonies, why are they then interested in influencing them or having them even join the European Union? Besides, the latter would be the best way to become quite unpopular with China and America at the same time - nobody likes it if something you have built up gets snatched away by somebody else. It wouldn't be very smart to alienated those powers, especially over something that Europe isn't interested in in the first place. But it is of course possible that the Europeans are interested in colonies - after all, they have built the hyperexpensive Islandia worldlet - so why not continue to found further ones in that case? How about aerostat habitats on Venus? It is possible that this has already happened, see the thread "The Gardens of Aphrodite". But even if not, why not start with this in 2105? As far as the Eos Initiative is concerned, that seems to make not much sense, even as a strawman. A project that will last for hundreds of years without any noticeable outcome, with everyone knowing that this will be so, is not such a great distraction, isn't it? Perhaps the stupidity of powers I mentioned above is a much better explanation - that does however not mean that there aren't some people who will at least try to scrap the Venus terraforming project, so that something more interesting can be done on Venus.



However, it is true that neither the colony on Mars nor a hypothetical one on Venus are very important in the grander scheme of things. 2,5 million people live on the red planet - that is almost nothing compared to the 11,500 million people on Earth. Nor does Mars, or Venus, or Islandia make any of the powers backing them much more powerful. Or much less powerful. Perhaps in a more distant future Mars and Venus may have hundreds of millions of inhabitants and are Great Powers in their own right, complete with mighty space fleets or something (in which case they are likely to secede, and their mother states still don't gain power and may even find that they have created new rivals) but for the time being the strategic main show is taking place with regards to the situation on Earth.

Which does not mean that space is unimportant. There is one strategic issue in outer space that is extremely important for the situation on the homeworld and that is of course the control of He3. I would suspect that this could be the most important conflict of all and the main actors of this drama are likely to be China and the USA.

Over the course of the 21st century, China has become the world's foremost power but not everything has gone well for the people's republic. Instead of coming to dominate Japan or even only Korea, these two powers have started their own alliance, the PRA. But the real debacle is Indochina. This region should have been destined to become China's frontyard, since its states are teeming with ethnical Chinese who are mostly in charge of the respective economies of Southeastern Asia. Instead, they formed the TSA and became China's most bitter enemy. Imagine what it would mean for the USA if the nations of Middle America would form an alliance against the States! As a result, China is encircled on all sides by nations who are not too friendly to it, or such who are even outright enemies. Another great blow came during the Pacific War, when America started an He3 embargo against the war parties, including China. The meaning of this and the enormous loss of face that resulted for the PRC cannot be underestated. While Beijing might have tried everything to limit the damage - including to play the importance of the matter down as much as it could - it is indeed likely to assume that China will do everything to prevent this from happening again. It is even possible that they want to turn the tables entirely: while no one must be able to start an embargo against China, why should China, as the number one power, not be able to do it to others? America may find that it has awakened a dragon.

This may be the very much the situation: in the first decade of the 22nd century, China starts to develop its own He3 mining operations on Uranus - and possibly on Saturn as well, the planet doesn't belong to America, after all. But on top of it, they start an enormous fleet building program and this may be no empty threat. Assume, for example, that the EU would customary spend 2.5% of its GDP for military purposes, while the USA spends 3.5% and the PRC 4.5%. With China's economy being one and a half times as large as the one of the second largest power, their defense budget would be larger than those of America and Europe together and almost double as large as the US budget alone. Considering that the American Angel class SDVs are extremely expensive, it may come to it that, before the year 2110, an US fleet of around 35 SDVs sees itself confronted with a Chinese fleet of around 120 (less expensive) SDVs. The numerical superiority with regards to SCVs could be similiar. Worse: China would be able to sustain this fleet as much as the US can theirs and, being an dictatorship, might also able to raise military spending as much as America can, so arming the Chinese to death is likely to be impossible.

It is interesting to consider what might happen then. If the Us do not give in, the result might be a veritable "Cold War in Space". It is even possible that something otherwise surprising comes to pass: the US and the TSA might start to develop closer ties, despite their obvious differences in ideology. (After all, in earlier times the US was also part time ally of the Sovietunion under Stalin and long time economic ally of Saudi Arabia). In a conflict against China, these powers may find that they are natural allies.
This situation also contains the recipe for a hot war. Simply assume that on one occasion China tries to assert its dominance over He3 and expects the US to back down - by attempting to implement a short term embargo. But the Americans do not back down and shooting starts, somewhere in the Outer System. The conflict spirals out of control and reaches Mars - while everyone on Earth jumps into foxholes and hopes the worst can still be prevented.
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: Long-term strategy for the Solar System

I guess it depends on when the Singularity hits ;).
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Long-term strategy for the Solar System

Quote:
Originally Posted by thtraveller
Seriously I would consider that "because" rather than "and". It's also hard to see what will stop the SAIs, the Eloi and the upgrades from becoming the de-facto leaders, if not actually in name.
The SAIs in the USA and China are very likely programmed to be loyal to their leaders. The SAIs in the European Union already wield quite a lot of behind-the-scenes influence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
For a the sake of plausibility it should be kept in mind that things are usually not quite that easy. Politicians may not be stupid and they will have AI advisors, true, but they may be more occupied with winning the next election or handling an inner political crisis than implementing any long-term strategy. The result is that the strategy of the country or power they are ruling can be completely stupid, or even that no recognizable strategy exists in the first place. Single, smart persons may actually notice this, develop a sensible strategy for their nation or power, write a book about what should be done and then have to watch helplessly and in horror how their ideas are completely ignored and everything is going down the drains. Common sense seems to dictate that this should hardly be possible, considering the ressources and experts the rulers of state have access to, but that is how things usually have been in the past. In 2100 it is quite possible that this is one of the things that has not changed.
I see this mostly as a problem of the USA (and India, to a lesser degree). China has likely a gerontocracy, with the same old faces running the country for decades - which will encourage long-term political planning. And the EU has that whole cyberdemocracy thing going on - and the SAIs who act as the advisers of these part-time politicians will likely steer them in the direction of long-term plans as well.

Quote:
I do not quite agree with this assessment. If the Europeans are not interested in colonies, why are they then interested in influencing them or having them even join the European Union?
Ultimately, it's a war for memetic supremacy. The European Union is quite interested in making sure that other nations share their own values - and they likely have figured out that instead of creating their own colonial ventures out of whole cloth, it is far easier to influence the memetic makeup of other colonies by sending their own folks up there.

If they were to create their own official colonies on Mars or anywhere else in the outer solar system, both China and the USA would stop seeing them as partners and start seeing them as rivals - and that's a race that the EU cannot win. But this way they have their own people in key positions in both colonies, and they will be able to influence how the eventual independence plays out. After all, a true independent Mars will only work if both colonies are able to work together. And which group is in position to mediate between the two halves? The Europeans...

EU membership for off-world nations is obviously a very long-term goal - it won't happen until Martian independence is truly well-established and grudgingly accepted by both China and the USA. And even then, it might not happen after all - but at the very least, it might be more sympathetic to Europe than to either of its "mother countries". If those plans work out, that is.
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Old 03-11-2008, 09:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Long-term strategy for the Solar System

Quote:
Originally Posted by "Jürgen Hubert
If they were to create their own official colonies on Mars or anywhere else in the outer solar system, both China and the USA would stop seeing them as partners and start seeing them as rivals - and that's a race that the EU cannot win. But this way they have their own people in key positions in both colonies, and they will be able to influence how the eventual independence plays out. After all, a true independent Mars will only work if both colonies are able to work together. And which group is in position to mediate between the two halves? The Europeans...
That is what I would see exactly the other way round. Why should China and America see a European colony project on Venus as a rival and a threat to what they are doing on Mars? It isn't a rival, actually it doesn't affect the red planet at all. On the other hand, any sneaky attempt to gain memetic supremacy on Mars is a direct challenge - and a threat that is likely to be seen as aggression by both China and the USA.

So, you might want to keep that European policy of yours a secret. Which would leave the question who in Europe might be behind it, if it is a secret, it can't be part of the open democratic process, after all. It would boil down to some influential people meeting secretly or something. But the one question still left unanswered is why anyone rich and powerful in Europe should be interested in these underhand influences in Mars in the first place. Colonies are nice and well, they give people a chance of a new start somewhere else and provide societies as a whole with a feeling of progress, so let's start one of our own. But, as said, for the time being, for a long time being, they are not really important for the bulk of humanity.

As I see it, it might be difficult to formulate and implement a grand strategy for Europe - this entity is a lose confederation and it can't be expected to simply say "hop" and everyone jumps. (Not that the USA or China won't have similiar problems but in the end the PRC may have the least diffculties here). A long term idea, many Europeans could identify with, might be to further the idea of an "Earth without borders". There is nothing wrong with trying to further the memetic ideals the European Union has been built upon, but it has to happen slowly and without any underhandedness. A more concrete concept to implement this is to work on the expansion of the European Union by convincing other nations to join in.

The next obvious candidat for this might be Russia. This nation could be considered European itself, but it has always stayed out of the loop, often even being a threat for its western neighbours. While this is not the case anymore, to build a "common European house" is a dream still unrealized in 2100. But it may come finally true in the 2120ts if the EU works on it and Russia agrees.

After that, a really big step could be considered. If the European Union should really mean the idea of "being a template for eventual world government" it might be attempted to bring a union of EU and PRA about, in the time after Russia has joined. Naturally, it cannot be expected that this Alliance will simply join the European Union, there would be need for compromises on the European side as well. It might work in the case that it is possible to convince the PRA to accept the idea that SAIs have the right to be full fledged citizens while the Europeans reduce their level or preservationism - and isn't it only through this way, through compromising, that a global commonwealth could be build eventually? The resulting entity would not be "European" or "Pacific Rim" anymore but an confederation of nations that almost spans the globe. It might be called "International Alliance" (INA) and would be the living proof that a unified world is possible. This could be true by 2150, if things go well.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kitsune
That is what I would see exactly the other way round. Why should China and America see a European colony project on Venus as a rival and a threat to what they are doing on Mars? It isn't a rival, actually it doesn't affect the red planet at all. On the other hand, any sneaky attempt to gain memetic supremacy on Mars is a direct challenge - and a threat that is likely to be seen as aggression by both China and the USA.
This assumes that they need to work actively towards Martian independence. But with this plan, they don't actually have to. They have likely figured out that the pressures for an independent Mars will become very strong sooner or later, no matter what the Chinese government does. So all they do now is sending ordinary European citizens up there so that they are in the right positions. These folks aren't told anything like "make sure Martian independence goes our way!" - they just get the kind of support they need to get a prosperous life on Mars.

And thanks to that approach, European expatriates can be found in both colonies, and are thus in a prime position to network and mediate in some pan-Martian crisis (like a struggle for independence). No other group will have as many connections across the whole of Mars - and that can't help but be useful down the road.

Of course, some analysts in both China and the USA will likely suspect what is going on. But will enough people listen to them? After all, that's a threat that will only materialize decades down the road, and most leaders on both sides will be more worried with the military forces of the other colony - why worry about a bunch of European engineers and their families when the Americans/Chinese are a much more visible threat to their own ambitions, both on Mars and beyond? Besides, all those corporations find the expertise of those European immigrants and their skills really useful, and will likely pressure their governments to continue let them in.

The trick with political conspiracies in the Transhuman Space era - as it is the case now - is not to keep them secret. That's almost impossible anyway. No, the trick is to keep a low enough profile so that others worry about larger and more immediate issues.

Quote:
So, you might want to keep that European policy of yours a secret. Which would leave the question who in Europe might be behind it, if it is a secret, it can't be part of the open democratic process, after all. It would boil down to some influential people meeting secretly or something.
Nah. Just a few published papers in European policy think tanks that suggest long-term strategies for the outer solar system for the next few decades should be sufficient, as long as they are read by the right people (such as those advisory SAIs). Even if someone tries to "expose" all this, the policy guys would just say: "Of course it's in our best interest if we have friends on Mars and elsewhere mediating between us and the locals" and leave it at that. Then the media focuses on more interesting things, such as what kind of stuff those dastardly Infosocialists have stolen lately.

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But the one question still left unanswered is why anyone rich and powerful in Europe should be interested in these underhand influences in Mars in the first place.
Ideally, you want all other nations to be friends and allies of your own nation. And the rest of the solar system is one of the prime spots where new nations are likely to appear over the next few decades, starting with Mars.

And what's "underhanded" about it? European intelligence agencies need never try to further the cause of Martian independence - those actually living on Mars will do that all by themselves. But it certainly won't hurt if some of the people writing the Martian Constitution were products of the European education system...

Quote:
Colonies are nice and well, they give people a chance of a new start somewhere else and provide societies as a whole with a feeling of progress, so let's start one of our own. But, as said, for the time being, for a long time being, they are not really important for the bulk of humanity.
The rest of the solar system is one of the biggest growth areas, and only likely to become more so once the Olympus Project is complete. Humanity will spread further out - but influencing the dynamics in those early stages of space colonization will have huge repercussions down the road, so it makes sense that the right people with the right values are out there.

Quote:
As I see it, it might be difficult to formulate and implement a grand strategy for Europe - this entity is a lose confederation and it can't be expected to simply say "hop" and everyone jumps. (Not that the USA or China won't have similiar problems but in the end the PRC may have the least diffculties here). A long term idea, many Europeans could identify with, might be to further the idea of an "Earth without borders". There is nothing wrong with trying to further the memetic ideals the European Union has been built upon, but it has to happen slowly and without any underhandedness.
The plan I outlined is slow and only has a minimum of underhandedness.

Quote:
A more concrete concept to implement this is to work on the expansion of the European Union by convincing other nations to join in.
Ultimately, space will become more and more important as a new home for humanity. So if the EU wants to transcend borders, it will have to make sure that the same is true of space as well. Here, too, those expatriates will be useful - since they are active in both Martian colonies, they are likely to see the border between them more as an annoyance than something good.

Quote:
After that, a really big step could be considered. If the European Union should really mean the idea of "being a template for eventual world government" it might be attempted to bring a union of EU and PRA about, in the time after Russia has joined. Naturally, it cannot be expected that this Alliance will simply join the European Union, there would be need for compromises on the European side as well. It might work in the case that it is possible to convince the PRA to accept the idea that SAIs have the right to be full fledged citizens while the Europeans reduce their level or preservationism - and isn't it only through this way, through compromising, that a global commonwealth could be build eventually? The resulting entity would not be "European" or "Pacific Rim" anymore but an confederation of nations that almost spans the globe. It might be called "International Alliance" (INA) and would be the living proof that a unified world is possible. This could be true by 2150, if things go well.
Trying to vastly increase the number of member nations like this would upset the delicate balance of the Great Powers of Earth, and cause the other blocks to ally against the EU. The EU will probably have more luck with trying to foster other power blocks with similar values - the South African Coalition is a good example of this.

And Mars might be next.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:32 AM   #8
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Default Re: Long-term strategy for the Solar System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
The leaders of the Great Powers of Earth aren't stupid - and they have some very smart SAI advisers as well. So they have likely dedicated a lot of resources and computing hours to figuring out the long-term trends that affect the colonization of the solar system - and how to make sure that their own interests are best served.
I know this view rather conflicts with what makes for the coolest gaming, but I think that even in TS, space colonization is a sideshow. It's a prestige project, something you spend surplus wealth on for display purposes, rather than something that you do for the expected returns.

Need for new land is obviously a non-issue, for people living in the part of the world with enough resources to afford space colonies there is existing land reverting to wilderness from lack of demand you can walk too faster than a spacecraft can get you to Mars. Even for poorer states, the classic SF trope of exporting people for population reasons is ridiculous in a setting where they end up living in sealed artificial habitats anyway. Nobody has a shortage of deserts or bare rock or otherwise useless ground where you can build exactly the same sealed habitats much more cheaply.

Spaceborn primary resources do not need many settlers to extract, and once they are extracted are going to be on the global market anyway. The truth is embargos really don't work, not short of the full dress blockade that would cut off your supplies whether the asteroid mines were yours or not. You'll note it has been a while since anybody felt they needed to settle people in Africa to secure African resources.

For that matter, they aren't really even that valuable - the cost of industrial and post industrial goods are so many multiples of the cost of the included primary resources most of them are almost negligible. The only possible TS exception He-3, but even this is exaggerated - remember this is a second generation fusion technology valuable mostly because it reduces the radiation shielding needed in spacecraft reactors - groundside energy production is, or at least ought to be, largely unaffected by He-3 supply.

Microgravity manufacture actually might be economically significant, but that works just fine in Earth orbit. The critical stuff to spend resources on is probably in order cis-lunar infrastructure investment, enough military presence outward of that to prevent the face loss of somebody else forcing your people out, and a little bit thrown into basic exploration and research just in case something turns up. Anything beyond that its pure prestige spending, something to compete with say hosting the Olympics or building the Grandiose Monument to the Glorious Leader's Ego for a share of the budget.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd
I know this view rather conflicts with what makes for the coolest gaming, but I think that even in TS, space colonization is a sideshow. It's a prestige project, something you spend surplus wealth on for display purposes, rather than something that you do for the expected returns.
I think it's more than just a "prestige project" - the value of space colonies as memetic multipliers shouldn't be underestimated. While only few people live in space, they get far more attention than any comparable society back on Earth. Thus, the memes that end up dominating an entire world such as Mars will have a profound impact back on Earth.

Consider the USA. For much of its history, this nation was only a sideshow to European politics in the grand scheme of the world. Yet its mere existence - the fact that there was a nation out there where anyone could be free and pursue his own destiny independently of kings and aristocrats - had a significant impact on European social movements despite the USA being a continent away.

Mars has the potential to become another such beacon, depending on what it becomes after independence. It could achieve a true planetary government, and it will certainly be the first major off-world nation. At one point, humans back on Earth will look out into the night sky and see: "Those people chose to forge their own path and create their own nations on different worlds." Even that realization will change things.

Which is why all the major groups involved want to make sure that the end result is something to their own liking...
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
I think it's more than just a "prestige project" - the value of space colonies as memetic multipliers shouldn't be underestimated. While only few people live in space, they get far more attention than any comparable society back on Earth. Thus, the memes that end up dominating an entire world such as Mars will have a profound impact back on Earth.

Consider the USA. For much of its history, this nation was only a sideshow to European politics in the grand scheme of the world. Yet its mere existence - the fact that there was a nation out there where anyone could be free and pursue his own destiny independently of kings and aristocrats - had a significant impact on European social movements despite the USA being a continent away.
Could be. Though I'd note that when the USA went independent its population was comparable to that of Prussia or Bohemia or the not at that moment United Netherlands. And 2 or 3 times that of 2100 Mars. Nor was it the first state to kick out its king. I suppose if an independent Mars did turn itself into a successful nanosocialist state, or Buddhist theocracy or something, it might matter, though I suspect its memetic power would be fairly diluted by attitudes like "Oh, lunatics are always immigrating to space and putting together weird societies, look at Seventh Heaven, or the Womyns Collective." Still, maybe its worth a small investment to keep Mars disunited.
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