Thursday, September 10, 2009

10 Q/As about interstellar space travel, from "el club de los astronautas"

El club de los astronautas (I always loved their name) is a space advocacy group of artists and musicians. its mission is to promote a manned, interstellar voyage. its approach is to find and debate strategies that might make stand out this idea beyond fiction, hopefully during our life-time! therefore a hypothetical spaceship is suggested: the mare nostrum spaceship (the mns). to realize a million-years interstellar voyage, assuming the auspicious premise to find some sexy aliens, the essential, first step is to overcome our biological limits and to transform into a new kind of (human) existence. They have asked 10 questions about interstellar space travel to several people, and published all answers on their website.

My answers:

Do you think the human being will realize an interstellar voyage?

Yes. They may not be "human beings 1.0" though, but rather augmented and radically enhanced post-humans, or "human beings 2.0".

Do you think it could happen during your lifetime?

Sadly, no. But then I am 52, and likely to miss the post-human train. It could happen during the lifetime of my daughter, or her children.

How do you think art could accelerate and promote this idea?

By trying to re-introduce in our life a bold sense of wonder and a radically imaginative spirit of adventure, which are mustly missing from our lives today. Artists, please, bring the spirit of the 60s back! Also, by promoting positive visions of a SF-like future.

What do you think will be the key-technology to realize an interstellar voyage?

Propulsion and standard engineering of course, but also sentient artificial intelligence and transfer of human consciousness ("mind uploading") to higher performance physical supports (called "computronium" in SF). As in Charlie Stross' Accelerando, the first interstellar spacecraft may be as small as a coca cola can, yet crewed by hundreds of human beings 2.0.

Do you think regenerative medicine will be the first step to prolong maximum life-span and allow humans to transform into new life-forms to overcome the time-space-barrier?

It will probably be the first step to prolong maximum life-span, but I don't think regenerative medicine per-se may allow humans to transform into new life-forms to overcome the time-space-barrier.

What do you think will be main breakthroughs in medicine in the next decade and beyond?

I see smooth progress in medicine rather than radical breakthroughs. I hope to see cancer gradually becoming a manageable, non-lethal chronic condition.

What kind of breakthroughs in brain-boosting technologies might be achieved during your lifetime? (smart-drugs, nootropics, neurogeneses, neuronal stem cells, etc.)

All that, plus high band 2-way Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI). I think the first generations of brain implants will be available toward the end of my natural lifetime.

Do you think you will join future brain-enhancement or even brain replacement technologies?

I would like to, without the slightest hesitation.

How do you think those technologies can be disadvantageous or dangerous?

All technologies can be used for good or for bad purposes, and everything in life can be dangerous. I prefer to focus on the bright side, there are (far too many) others who prefer to focus on the dark side and the risks

Are you interested to meet highly developed alien civilizations?

Yes, definitely.