In a few years humanity will have to enter space with industrial and permanent structures. There are several reasons to do so and I will touch on them briefly.
First a presence in space will allow us to develop an industrial presence for harvesting asteroids and the moon (as well as doing general research), and such a presence is profitable. Second, a presence of human infrastructure in space will allow us to win energy from converting sunlight in to beamed energy, which can be sent to Earth and further converted into useful electricity. This is again, quite profitable in the middle to long run (and mostly inescapable in the long run).
But most of all, (even if either arguments of either developing industrial infrastructure for development, mining or construction, respectively building energy harvesting infrastructure fail because they aren’t deemed “short term profitable” enough) there are more immediate arguments of security. Very soon private parties will be able to place ‘legally unaccountable’ satellites in orbit. Right now “hackers” plan to place a satellite in space with the intent purpose of freedom of communication, thereby bypassing terrestrial IP laws. If these private parties can afford to place objects in permanent orbits, then the security demands of allready clearly provitable investments in space dictate a quickly escalating investment in law enforcement investments in space, as well as the usual escalation of military investments.
This gets hairy very quickly after that point.
A kinetic kill weapon in an orbit around the Earth-Moon system signifies a weapon that can threaten every single state entity on the surface of the planet. In other words; if one day an unaccountable private agency, investor, state or corporation would place several dozen “kinetic kill weapons” in such an orbit, these devices would allow such parties to dictate terms to any nation on Earth (including the United States) without much counter-argument. A fast accelerated brick of stainless steel weighing less than a fridge would, if accelerated in to Earth on a very energetic high speed trajectory, impact a very specific (and small) target area with a burst comparable to a nuclear detonation.
Ten of those would end the United States as a modern country.
From this follows, incontrovertibly, that no Earth surface political entity can afford any other political entity to have potentially offensive (and unaccountable) space-based infrastructures. These are to easily hijacked in to “orbital kill weapons”. We can’t even let private parties decide to put a few dozen “surprise Chinese boxes” in an orbit, because any such party could pretend to be working for another unknown investor and make surface retalliation rather pointless. You can’t retaliate if you don’t know who your enemy is. In other words; a private foundation that says it is funded by chinese donations might be funded by enemies of the same Chinese. You can’t have “plausible retaliatory security” under those circumstances.
Imminent Space Investments.
The logical consequence is that very soon, in just a few years after this article, a rush in to investments in space infrastructure is inescapable. I mean – there are mountains of money sloshing around the terrestrial surface eager to find a proper target for investment, we might as well pick space, right?
Likewise treaties to enforce safety when someone places structures in space will be necessary – yet largely pointless. It will be inceasingly possible to create launch facilities in unaccountable countries and to do so in stealth. Payloads can be launched rather suddenly, say from North Korea, China, some south-American banana republic. The local leaders wouldn’t even be fully aware or able to understand what might be launched from their jurisdiction, or what the long term consequences of a few dozen large launches might be.
From this follows that very soon the United States, China, The European Union, Russia – and several other parties – will be looking to place security measures in space. They must.
The Amygdala in Space
The human brain is not a rational decissionmaking tool. Individual human judgement can no longer be fully trusted to make the right decissions. This has been long known; fear is a miserable councillor. I would add a large number of other emotions in to the mix as well, but by and large the root of many flawed decissions, including decissions made at the highest executive levels of government, was based on fear. This entire article itself is an argument to highlight the dangers of an escalatory cycle based on precisely such fear, and to argue for an alternative.
The best device to defend against fear is Peer Review. In other words – when someone of eminent power makes decissions, someone else (or several other people) must be able to look over the shoulder of the most eminent ‘decider in charge’, to make sure the person making the decissions makes somewhat sensible decissions, not overly swayed by primitive constituents in the human neurology. We cannot have people in charge consistently make the wrong decissions, wait too long in making decissions, or lie about the process. We can not have diagnosed sociopaths, or senile or apocalyptic extremist or amphetamine addicted leaders with the hands on the red button.
As we now know we had a few of all of these, in recent history, at the same time. Not very smart.
We have seen a tsunami of examples in recent history where flawed arrogant and conceited decision-making dumped in crisis after crisis and this must end. We need tools of “enhanced peer review” (a hyper-wikileaks if you will) to make sure we don’t end up with potentially horrific and irreversible results, especially when it comes to all of the above. Weaponization of space is based on Amygdala-derived irrationality. Everyone in their sound mind knows that a world where no assets are wasted on weapons would be a more productive world. Everyone with a good grasp of humam nature also must realize that this is not going to happen, since people are irrational decissionmaking agencies, and will remain such for the foreseeable future.
Enhanced Peer Review
I postulate the statement that under no circumstances can we afford an escalation of weaponization in space (even if cloaked in the soft ‘excuse silks’ of law enforcement or national security concerns). That basicly means that we can not allow people in power to decide that we need these weapons, so that later people of power might become locked in the horrific dilemma of having to use them.
Don’t give a box of razors to babies.
In other words – once someone has these weapons, everyone must have them. And once everyone has them, there will eventually a situation when their use is inescapable.
Under no circumstance can war with space-based weapons ever be acceptable. If you don’t allready see this, try and envision an automated factory creating a few thousand several ton ballistic kill projectiles (years after the creator of the factory has been killed by law enforcement) and these projectiles raining down at hyper-accelerated velocities on the Earth’s surface. This scenario is not merely thinkable – this is as statistical inescapable as it is utterly unacceptable. An ultra rich sociopath several decades from now can create an automated factory and enact the ultimate revenge on Humanity, and in the span of just a few years rain down a deluge of fast moving impactors on Earth that will eradicate all of humanity left on the planetary surface, as well as make the Earth mostly uninhabitable. Seed these impactors with highly active key isotopes and the act kill off most surface lifeforms. And realize that the total mass required for such an ultimate terror would probably fit in a decent sized hangar on the earth’s surface.
Such a scenario may be ‘exciting’ from a detached gamer perspective but in the real world it would be very tragic and unpleasant. Such would be the worst case plausible “moonraker” scenario. It is what will eventually happen, if we let it happen. And it only need happens once to usher in at the very least centuries of new planetary barbarism.
Proactive Peer Review is a principle where all are constantly concerned for all. I advocate this principle, insofar I can actually fully define it, since logically we don’t have an alternative. With space based technologies we are entering an era with tools incompatible with the function of the primate human Amygdala. This means that we must implement the most gentle tyranny of meddlesome care, to avoid coming in to a situation of “inescapable mutually assured extinction”.
The principle would be classified by any detractors as “space socialism on steroids” and that’s basicly what it is. The principles would entail –
All factional space industry and investment allows considerable accumulation of affluence. This growth in affluence may never lead to any group overextending to a point it is effectively forced to predation on other groups. In other words – any investment in space, or growth of populace in space can not implicitly lead to the populace or the descendants of the populace to be led in to a state of desperation. Anyone making decissions can not risk desperation in the long run, in his own descendants or in any of his strategic competitors.
Clearly I do not advocate premature retailliation against any other party making investments in space that “might” cause the heirs to go hungry one day. Instead I call on all to implement a consistent policy of mutual support to create absolute certainty –
– Your populace and it’s consumption needs will never be unsustainable, and as a consequences be led to do desperate things
– You will support anyone else to the best of your ability to make damn sure they don’t turn in desperate one day.
This is a very simple principle; know your limits, and have the decency to not exceed your limits so other people suffer the consequences of your short-sightedness.
It would be a nice principle on a planetary surface as well, but in space it should be regarded as critical.
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