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Guest: Dr. Erika Nesvold; Topics: Space ethics, commercial space development, space settlement, and advancing in a way that also benefits Earth and those on Earth.
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We welcomed Dr. Erika Nesvold to the program to discuss space ethics and space settlement in a way that advances space development for the benefit of humanity, Earth and of course those developing and living in space. Please visit Erika's website for additional information on the subjects of today's topics but also on additional related topics: www.erikanesvold.com. As with other recent Space Show programs, I have called your attention to the extensive list of Tags which are repeated below for your convenience. The Tags fairly summarize and for the most part in order all our discussion topics during our 69 minute program. In addition, we blended together both ethics and space settlement for a good part of the discussion. Note that as we started the discussion, our guest said there were lots of messy problems including the environment, labor rights and more. In talking about space settlement and living off Earth she referred to living without Earth and doing so ethically. Much of the rest of our discussion was centered around this early comment.
The topic of survival equaling sustainability was a big topic as was the need to foster the continuation of extensive trade with Earth once the settlement reached sustainability. As for as the ethics portion, she said ethics would depend on why we were making a particular space settlement. Our guest then proceeded to talk about private capital and profits that might lead to exploitation. She was concerned about the establishment of company towns similar to old mining towns on Earth given the focus on resource development on asteroids. Todd sent in an email asking for her perspective on benefit sharing. Later, Erika was asked if space was a commons. Don't miss what she said in response to these questions which included her concern for risk that space might become the Tragedy of the Commons.
Listener Marshall called to inquire if and when space inhabitants might evolve to something other than human or a hybrid human given how they might change in an environment so different from the Earth environment. Our guest responded by suggesting that changes in space would be short term and might be more cultural, especially at first. Marshall was followed with a note from Bobby in Phoenix suggesting that advancement would always go faster than the regulatory environment so the regulations would always be behind the 8 Ball so to speak. That is there would be a gap from present day to what the regs were attempting to regulate. While Erika agreed with that timeline gap, she also said that one does not give up trying.
Gravity John called to talk about Erika's upcoming ISDC talk in the Dr. Sherry Bell Living In Space track. He wanted to know what our guest had to say about needing to know the gravity RX for real space settlement. He talked about LEO and partial gravity, spinning experiments with rodents and possibly higher mammals, all to determine if reproduction was limited to 1 g or would be ok using partial gravity. Dr. Nesvold discussed all of this with John and then said don't forget the radiation issues which still need to be resolved. More was said by both on the profit motive.
On orbit servicing and LEO concerns were talked about in the context of profit oriented outfits wanting to engage in debris mitigation and space development. Our guest suggested this might be a tough question area with the drive for profits. Dr. Sherry Bell called to talk about genetic modification for people going to space. Our guest was concerned and said genetically modified folks might not get back to Earth. That posed ethical questions. As for her book that she authored and talked about on the program, she explained why genetic modification was not specifically in the book but the question of what might happen to people who cannot come back proved to be an interesting discussion. Erika did say that people will go to space and live there but the focus should be on their descendants living there and maybe wanting to return to Earth.
The naysayer question came up by Linda. Erika did talk about naysayers but said it was important to listen to them and not dismiss them. Don't miss all of what she said on the naysayer issues. Ajay called to mention a handful of topics not mentioned so far. One was space property rights. Another was the way space might change our culture. Our guest was asked about Musk and ethical issues with his is plans to develop Mars. As we were about to end, Daniel brought up the recent 1 g requirement discussed by our guests Morgan and Lee Irons. While Erika was not familiar with Morgan and Lee, she was familiar with the basics of their theory and did offer some observations on it before we closed the program.
Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Nesvold on our blog for this show. You can reach her through me or her website provided earlier in this summary. Erika has two books which you can find on her website and Amazon. On the show, mentioned "Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space." You can find it on Amazon through the large Amazon button in the middle of our home page. If you use that link, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to The Space Show.