We Have a "Duty" to Explore Space, Says Elon Musk

Illustration for article titled We Have a Duty to Explore Space, Says Elon Musk

Does humanity deserve to survive, after all the harm we've done? This is one of the main issues tackled in a fascinating interview with Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. published today in Aeon magazine. Musk has a pretty eloquent answer.

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Image via SpaceX

Ross Anderson wrote about meeting Musk at his SpaceX offices. While discussing Musk's plans to put a million people on Mars, the billionaire space industrialist tells Anderson:

I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary, in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen, in which case being poor or having a disease would be irrelevant, because humanity would be extinct. It would be like, "Good news, the problems of poverty and disease have been solved, but the bad news is there aren't any humans left."

It's funny. Not everyone loves humanity. Either explicitly or implicitly, some people seem to think that humans are a blight on the Earth's surface. They say things like, "Nature is so wonderful; things are always better in the countryside where there are no people around." They imply that humanity and civilisation are less good than their absence. But I'm not in that school. I think we have a duty to maintain the light of consciousness, to make sure it continues into the future.

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Read the whole article at Aeon

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DISCUSSION

I'm torn. On the one hand - space travel! Woo! But then I think of all corporations who will drive future space exploration and the idea of those parasites out there gives me the heebie jeebies.

Humanity doesn't have a very good track record when it comes to discovering a new cache of resources and not plundering the shit out of it, either to extinction (e.g. the dodo) or depletion (e.g. moon cheese).

Still, we do need to get out there sooner rather than later, I just hope we are able to do it in a responsible fashion and not repeat the mistakes of the past.