Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And the cyborgs shall lead...

We got to go.  
Hawking thinks so.  Davies thinks so.  And so forth.
If we don't, something will eventually wipe us out.  A comet strike, a new virus, or us just being stupid with war, overpopulation, and exhausted resources.  When a duck or a swan finds its pond to be contaminated, it picks up and flies off to a new pond.  Thus, we must as well.
If you have or are planning to have grandchildren, they may very well need to live somewhere other than Earth.  For humanity to survive, it will have to move out into space.  Start with a colony on the Moon, perhaps, or even on an asteroid.  Bacteria brought from Earth could be introduced into the dusty surface and turn it into soil (microbes have been found to live as long as 553 days unprotected in the harshness of space.)  From there we could springboard on to Mars.

But this plan is fraught with problems and I'm not talking about technology.  Human beings are soft, squishy things that are not especially suited to prolonged space travel.  Our bones tend to lose density due to the lower gravity.  We need food, breathable air, and a moment or two (or three) a day to eliminate waste.  Therefore, humans will need to find new ways to make themselves a bit less squishy, or at the very least not as needy and particular when it comes to survival requirements.  That's where the cyborgs come in.
Think about it: a new generation of astronaut that is human but with technological implants or electromechanical parts.  It's not so far fetched.  If you or anyone you know has any kind of medical implant, a pacemaker, hernia repair mesh, cochlea ear devices, et. al., then you know a cyborg.  These devices allow people to lead fuller, more productive lives than they otherwise could.  
This same transhuman means could be applied to those who would live in space colonies.  Imagine cybernetic implants that inject regular doses of vitamins and nutrients, along with safe stimulants that reduce the need for sleep.  Perhaps new drugs could be kept pumping through the circulatory system that would lessen the damage done by solar radiation or gamma rays.  This is all highly speculative, but it stands to reason.  It will be far easier in the beginning to cybernetically enhance an astronaut to suit an environment than it will be to change the environment to suit human needs.
Whatever the mechanism, it needs to be done.  And soon.  Time is running out.

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