Saturday 16 August 2008

Life on Mars- Part One

I'm going to apologise in advance for this series.
Because it is kind of my speculations on some of the more positive scenarios for our future.
And some of the implications.

This series, is a kind of a speculation on how human culture will develop.

To do this, I'm going to do things that may annoy you.

Firstly, I'm going to assume my own most optimistic hopes for the future changes I think are needed in our system, actually happen.

Secondly, I'm going to write the series in question from a fictional settings. So it can be done in the first person. For reasons that will come clear, I think that will work better.

I'm assuming this comes to pass.
I'm assuming the UN charter now contains this statement.

I'm assuming it's now 2200AD. I'm assuming that whilst the relationship of the eight states described here to the UN was that of the UK to the EU in 2100, now it is more that of Texas to the US. And by now there are ten states. Antarctica is a fully fledged developed and populated state of the human infrastructure, as are the 200 million human lives who live on the Moon. The Moon, home to all mankind's heavy and dangerous industry, home to its nuclear warheads, stationed in the Sea of Moscow, on the Far side pointing out to ward away the missiles of the heavens.

Now first, a little explanation at what sort of Earth culture we will see.

I'm guessing air travel will be the normal mode of travel. Smaller planes, possibly no loner needing wings at all, will mean that just popping into the plane, is the standard made of travel- the motor car as obsolete as the horse and cart. So, by extension, anywhere only two hours away by plane, is as near, relatively, as Birmingham now is to London.

So in relative terms, London and Rome are two CONVENIENT hours away. Popping to Rome for the day won't be a major mission for the twenty third century Brummie.

But nor will Sydney. Shuttle flight will be more normal. As soon as long distance (23 hour) shuttle flights have become regular enough to bring shuttle flight in to the normal human life pattern (which it will have done long before 2100 even, internal (as in, global) shuttle flights from London to Sydney will become the new form of air transport long distance. Catching the shuttle from London to Sydney, will be the twenty third century equivalent of flying London to Paris.

Nowhere on Earth will be strange. Nowhere will be far off. No one lives too far away for you to visit them.

And media will have changed. The internet will have become so much a part of life that it online communication is no longer seen- or even is- that much different from 3D communication. And we'll all be permanently connected to it. It will be mobile, on our phones, which will now probably be in wrist watch form on our arms.

No one on Earth can get lost or starve. The days when people on Earth could get lost and not be rescued within five minutes belong, in earth culture, to days of legend.

Nothing on Earth of significance does not hit the internet within seconds. And become known to the world instantaneously.

Human culture governs itself by being in perpetually in communication and consultation with itself.

And what sort of human culture will exist? Diverse? Or Monolithic?

Both. It is to the cities of the west today we must look. That much derided word, that's the key. Multiculturalism.

Because that will be the world of 2200. Because the ten states will be diverse cosmopolitan places. I don't think we'll all be one coffee coloured shade yet, but only historians will remember which of these many skin tones and types of hair originated in which location.

People will lead diverse lives I think, in some ways. Greater personal freedom plus the huge communication resources available will mean that personal beliefs and ideas flourish. With no MSM, merely a popular mode of disseminating information, the world will still have maybe as many Catholics, Muslims, Buddhist, Jedi knights, etc. And many more and diverse beliefs.

But they won't look so strange to eachother. Look to our cities now. It is here, not in the failures, not in the sink estates where frustration leads people to seize on the negative aspects of other faiths, but in your Muslim friends who you often forget are Muslim.

That will be Earth culture. Diverse in belief, monolithic in the system used. There will be a whole series of things which everyone thinks and accepts, because they are part of earth culture. Things that have evolved as being the way globalised earth does things.

Some of them will be things that developed as common ground between the blended cultures that have melted together. Others will just be unthinking assumptions you and I make today, which have just grown up. And we think them, because they work. Or they always have done, on Earth.

This post- or the rest of it- is supposed to be a blog post written- bit like Fusion is doing now- by someone visiting Mars in 2200. For something like this, blogging would be ideal.

Because Mars will still be far away. The nuclear rockets which leave the Moon to take travellers to Mars, will still take two weeks to get there. Radio and telephone conversation are not possible. The internet is, but still an eight minute time delay has to be taken into account between sending and receiving.

So ordinary dialogue isn't possible. But blogging is. An Earth Blogger and a Martian Blogger could get to know eachother as well as any of us do here via a-mail.

So this post is written by a Fusion of the future, up to visit a Martian blogger he's known for years, but just gone to meet.

Monday, Week Five, Quarter Three, 2208

Well, I'm at George's place.
On solid earth- No, must remember that- Solid Mars. And that in itself is funny.

It's easier to get used to in some ways than the Moon. But you certainly are lighter here.

It's good to not feel cramped any more. I can't really complain about the journey- it wasn't like those twenty first century accounts you hear of being packed like sardines eating food cubes and the smell of sweat and waste. These liners have all the mod cons. But facilities are still sparse and one gets bored of pool and computer games. Plus, any form of stimulants is forbidden in space transit for reasons of health and safety.

I guess as Mars starts to get closer and it really dominates the observation window, you're just impatient to land. Nothing prepares you for just how long it takes to actually slow down and dock. Or the elaborate procedures leaving the liner and walking out onto the surface, into the ordinary life of Mars entails. You are entering another World, and they make sure you know it.

Right from the start, you realise this is a new world. It's just starting. This isn't a world where life is guaranteed. The system is still finding its feet and they can't afford the luxuries we on Earth have grown to be accustomed to. The security services are armed and prominent. No risk will be allowed on Mars. Martians can't afford to think first and act later. They will not allow you through to their surface until they know you will not threaten the delicate balance that is humanity building a system capable of independently providing for its people without needing the sustenance provided by the Old World.

And yet many come, millions every year. The majority of my co-passengers, as I have said before, were coming here for good. To build new lives up here, to give their labours to the building of the New World. To live lives anew, lives away from where the entire history of humanity until a century or two ago, were lived.

And that's the feel Mars has. Everything, is built entirely to serve today. Mars has only the past it brought with it. It exists in human memory, but not in the landscape. And that's the difference. Human cities on Earth are still built in ways which show where once streets were thronged with motor cars. Down on ground level, some of those old streets buzz still with conveyors and throngs of revellers. And others yet, can be traced with human knowledge, in the arcades and other features that are based on a streetplan that existed when ground transport was the norm.

Not on Mars. No Martian city ever needed those features. Martian cities are built to serve air transport alone.

Martian cities are designed to serve the movements of human thought and energy in a New world. A World without millenia of slow infrastructural growth, but a world importing the knowledge of how to build one.

As I sit in George's apartment here I'm still taking in the first glimpses of this world that I've taken in.

But one thing I'm sure of.

Back on Earth we regard the Martians with mild interest. Children of Earth, we think. Our experiment in creating a New Earth.

But that's not any longer what it is. It's the Martian's experiment. The people there are Martians now. Not New Earthlings.

And we find it hard on Earth sometimes to understand when the Martians 'answer us back', as I've heard some people call it. Refuse point blank to do what UNESCO, or UNASA tell them must be done, but decide to do it their way.
We look at the demands of the Martian Security Council to be accepted by Earth as an equal partner and for the UN to relinquish its remaining articles of control over Mars, and we say 'We can't let that happen'.

But after a few hours here, I'm on the side of the Martians.

Martians are ready to pursue Martian solution to Martian problems.



Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

An interesting thought experiment.

Realistically speaking, if there was to a Martian colony, their culture would evolve differently to ours. Look at any other colonised state and you can see that each of them have made themselves individual in some way. You can even see the differences within different groups of people. It's all just a matter of who you identify with.

Anonymous said...

Great work! I too put a lot of speculative research into the future of humankind in terms of evolution both technological and mental/spiritual. I've got tons of hopefully unique stuff with which to put together a collection of short stories (working title: Destinations) that tracks the migration of human(oids) outward through the system via the moons of the gas giants as the sun overcooks in its dying centuries. I will probably marginalize and rename the (charred) Earth into something more fitting the mythological scheme and have the (now mobile) Mars and 'Martians' widely recognized as the origin of humankind. I would much love to sit and trade ideas over a Guinness or ten if I ever get over to England!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say at this point except, Crushed, you certainly have a good imagination :)

Anonymous said...

I'm with nunya here, you totally lost me. Martian blogging?

Well then again, why not. I have heard weirder theories :D

Anonymous said...

Mutley- I suppose a large part of my personal belief system is about believing in a future.

We've only just begun. :)

Bunny- It would certainly develop features specfic to itself.

Even though Earth and Mars culture would be within a relatively near distance, the fact is a two week journey would be a long way.

So second/third generation Martians would probably rarely if ever se earth. It would be an alien world to them.

So, to a Martian, 'natural', is 'unnatural'.
Every living thing is ultimately an import. The effect this would have on how they would see life, cannot be overestimated.

The Martian would see his environment- an artifically created one- in very different terms to how we see ours.
I think that the 3rd generation Martians would probably quite a Utilitarian lot in outlook and would probably see Earth culture as having 'let them eat cake' attitudes towards them.

Earth, the Old World, a world where no one starves, a cafe culture world, where the luxury of life means those affordable luxuries- morality, compassion, justice- can rule unhindered in the ease of 23rd century life.

Mars, the New World, a world where every bit of human labour counts, where nothing can be taken for granted, where if the system fails, its not just back to nature you need to worry about, its extinction, a brave new world, a hard world, a world of new ideas, of trying what will work, not just accepting what others who have never seen that world tell you.

FWG- This piece presupposes that by this time what I call the next phasal expansion of the human infrastructure has taken place, around 2100AD.

Its about energy. The energy to propel nuclear craft to Jupiter is a lot.
But the payback is huge. Once you've got craft going out thre regular, you can collect the payload. It's worth it- and that is using the Gas giants as pretty much inexhaustible supplies of energy (by our standards).

It will mean we can vastly incrase our energy usage. It dramatically increases what it possible to do and vastly reduces time estimates of how fat it would take to terraform our neighbours.

I'm assuming that by 2200AD, Mars pretty much an infrastructure in place to make its surface Earthlike. Though, it will be an Earth still in the early days of settlement. Venus, I'm guessing will still be a way behind, still needing to hold onto the apron strings of Mother Earth.

I must admit, the idea that in time the vibrancy of Martian culture could indeed mean that it became the most progressive of the inhabited worlds is something that I've pondered on.

As for us leaving this star, I think we will, and exactly what that might mean in terms of culture, is something I do want to look at later in this series.

Because I think we will leave this star long before we break the light barrier.

I think humanity will start to, for want of a better word 'pod itself'.

Nunyaa- I just quite enjoy trying to figure out realistically whats likely to happen and at what pace.

I think, to take futurology seriously, you have to be able to think laterally a bit. You have to look at actual underlying laws of nature and human history.

Classic case of people failing here- how many films made in the seventies and eighties show ships travelling fasrer than light, but using DOS systems?

Crashie- The point is, if it was 2300 and I was living on Mars, then via the internet, it wouldn't much matter. From an internet point of view, normal communication is possible. The only thing is, if you sent me an e-mail, I wouldn't receive it for at least eight minutes- sometimes three times that.

I'm sure it will happen one day :)

Anonymous said...

Pretty good. A whole new world, a new start. I can see this series growing big..... in fact, I can even picture it like a movie :-) Well written.

Anonymous said...

“We the people hereby disown distinctions of nationality, of race, of colour, of gender, of belief system or any other dividing factor and unite behind one over-riding loyalty, the loyalty of all to the species Homo Sapiens. We declare our determination to end distinctions based on a history of geographical separation and commit as a species to the full unification of mankind.”

What a demoralising manifesto, Crushed! It is not the future you have put on a pedestal but political correctness - the domination of ideology over pragmatism in the conquest of space(!?) - God help us all!

I am well aware, of course, that it is no longer fashionable to be an imperialist. Needless to say. Post-colonial reaction has been total and unmitigated. But frankly, without human rapacity, greed, envy and ambition, nothing of any consequence would ever have been started. Not by self-supporting pioneers, tough freebooters, or by the pious, the frugal and the brave....

“No one on Earth can get lost or starve. The days when people on Earth could get lost and not be rescued within five minutes belong, in earth culture, to days of legend.”

May the Lord frown upon me, if that doesn't sound like a Labour party manifesto! - or the vision of a future in which nothing worth preserving would survive...

Let there be pitfalls, brooding skies, rivers deep and mountains high - “Live Dangerously“, said Nietzsche, and I firmly believe in that!


Anonymous said...

Some of the technical advances seem plausible to me. But just as nothing has yet to replace hard copies, I don't see them actually replacing a lot of current ones (albeit in their updated forms). Looking backward, for example, we find that we still transport using carriges and coaches. It's just that now we don't rely on horses to supply our horsepower. We have motors for that.

How Mars would colonize would really depend on who came up there first. It would take on the characteristics of its founders (just as the puritan ethic of Europe took over the US in its early history). One characteristic of certain colonies is that they tend to be more culturally conservative than those in the old world.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've jumped back into your blog (to finally catch up) at a great point. And I'm humbled you used my style of blogging here...

I love your vesion Crushed. Many others have shared it, and hopefully MANY more will join it. I would love to get into space one day, and a trip to the moon or mars would be incrediable. Looking forward to more!

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea crushed.

Careful you don’t find yourself drifting into the trap of those old speculative fiction writers in the 30s and 40s. They had people working stuff out on slide rules and piloting rocket ships like WWII planes.. They mostly didn’t think in terms of miniaturisation, or computers.

They projected basically more of the same. Human nature seems to remain much the same but still..

I bet within not too many years we wear computers that connect us to the web like glasses or earphones or something less obtrusive, like contact lenses. They would double as iPods and phones. Maybe even be tattooed on.

Then there is the question of just how much of our daily experience would be half virtual with something like that with graphic overlays in the real world.

What about nanotechnology? Or the fact that so much of humanity are Han Chinese? Will we all be speaking Mandarin as a second language by then? Or does English have sufficient ‘momentum’ to make it as a universal permanent lingua franca.

Nanotech plastic surgery? Rewrite your genetic code on the fly?

How would all that affect our sense of aesthetics and what we define as beautiful. How we think. Social norms?

If people could get to Mars, would groups, especially religious ones be looking to set off on their own to found societies that suited their beliefs and prejudices?

Also you look like you have a touching, but horrifyingly innocent, faith in the UN. Sometimes your idea of a utopia looks more like what I worry would actually be dystopia in practice. You seem to assume theory is reality (is this predominantly a guy thing?). So often theory isn’t reality, you only have to look at the results of governments policies to see that.

Still definitely an interesting idea. You get bonus points...

Anonymous said...

Eve- I think that's the most beautiful thing about the idea, yes, it is a chance for a whole new start. I can't see the Martians taking sexism, racism and the like with them.

I suspect they'll react to the wide open spaces much as America did ; they'll think big.

I suspect their cities will just be a lot less cramped than ours seem by this time.

Selena- Well, in some ways I am quite politically correct. I'm actually one of those who is prepared to defend the PRINCIPLES behind PC, if not always the uses to which it is put.

Power will always be a motive. People will go to carve out a niche, knowing their chances of rising to the top in a newer more fluid world, are much easier than if they stay at home. It's a risk, but to many, it would be a risk worth taking. The chance to be part of something new, and be part of the founding stages of a world and maybe have a role in determining its future.

I'd go. For sure.

Well yes earth would by this point be very much the Old, staid world. Which is why so many would yearn for the untamed rock of the New Worlds. The urge to the frontier, is, in my view a crucial part of the human condition.

X-dell- I suspect ground transport may still remain for freight transportation purposes. But if its as easy to fly as to drive, people will fly. Even now, here in the dear old UK, internal flights are becoming more usual.

I actually suspect that in some ways, Mars WOULD be less liberal than Earth, certainly in its early years. Its possible it might take up quite a Spartan values system, with a strong work ethic.

And their attitude to resources would be very different.

And of course, anything we see as 'Green', would mean very little. Mother Mars is just a bit of rock. Martians wouldn't have any respect at all for Mother Nature, just themselves. I think their philosophies would be much more man-centred than we can really imagine.

Fusion- Well, its not that long ago, a hundred and seventy odd years ago, that most people were convinced that crossing what is now the continental US cost to cost, was pretty much impossible, due to the 'Great American Desert'.
And now, there's nothing odd about it at all.

Future Fusion is going somewhere about as far away as Australia was seen as being in the fifties, maybe. Far away, but no one alive can remember when people didn't live there.

Anyway, hope you fel rested after what turned out to be quite a trek!

Moggs- This is always one of the downsides of futurology, as I've said above.

There are so many aspects of technological development its hard to predict the pace of, because of unforseen breakthroughs.

Because they won't always be the ones our minds know think of.

TV- there's something no one predicted- visual transference of radio waves. And yet here we are looking at screens.

I agree with you on VR, I think it will be possible in 2200 for the 23rd century equivalent of a video conference to involve people actually located in diverse locations to actually feel present in the same room.

I think English will be the only language in 2300, yes.

I don't think racial differences will be that geographically based either. In fact, I think we'll all be varying shades still, but gradually getting closer to a universal coffee tone.

As for plastic surgery, yes I think it will be routine procedure. As wll genetic engineering.

I do think, yes New Worlds would likely be prone to new groups with new agendas seeking to take over.
Not, that I necessarily think that's a bad thing.

It took the Americas to convince the Europeans Kings weren't such a great idea, it could be some of these new ideas that flourish on Mars- ideas at first looked at in horror by sedate, dull, cafe culture Earth, eventually get exported back to the parent world.

I think it not impossible that eventually Mars could play Rome to Earth's Greece.

I wouldn't say FAITH in the UN, just that really, we have to face the fact that if human society does continue to develop, its too small a planet to be divided into armed camps pointing nukes at eachother.

Earth will certainly need Federal government by 2200.

But the good point is, if Earth government does go sour, by that time there would be alternative homes to try.

I'm not saying what I propose inn the two inked post will always stay sweet forever.
But hopefully, long enough to drive humanity as a whole on to its future.

Anonymous said...

Crushed. For me one of the big pluses of Mars, or space would be the ability to get away from other people telling me what it was ok to do or think, and trying to make it stick.

I really don’t like people doing that. Saying I should eat certain stuff prepared certain ways, who I can be friends with or be intimate with. What I am allowed to believe in or not allowed to believe, how I may or may not behave. What clothes I can wear. I like to make up my own mind about that stuff.

I really do worry that any sufficiently powerful body, like your UN/Government would pretty soon become an inescapable instrument of oppression.

PC maybe has what might be good impulses behind it, like communism may have had some good impulses underplaying it. But there is something fundamentally repressive and coercive about both in practice that seems to be built into them.

On your SciFi theme. One idea that intrigues me (I guess it would do wouldn’t it) is the possibility of uploading ourselves into really powerful computers. I often thought it might be great to go into Second Life and be able to pull the hole in after yourself. That would be doing just that, but couldn’t it be such fun?

On top of that maybe you could mount the computers on some sort of rocket propulsion system, together with tools you might need to make bodies to download into again, or build better ones, and build factories out of raw materials you might find. Maybe you could you use nanotechnology for that, like a sort of Swiss army knife tool.

You could split the processing/backups between several of them and send them off together, but still miles apart for safety in case you hit a planet or something.

Think of it! You could be young healthy and beautiful for ever (or as long as you wanted to anyway) with a never ending supply of new and interesting things to see and do. Wow!