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The following is a rough-form exposition, our initial thoughts.

To live in space, on the moon, on mars is to live off-world. However, each environment - from space stations, to the moon, to Mars, poses its own set of predictable challenges.


Among the many established challenges, there are: how do we bring or produce sufficient food? How do we bring or produce sufficient water? What kind of built environment is needed to survive in that environment? How will we communicate back with Earth? And others. 


In short, what is necessary for securing the continued well-being of astronauts in off-world living environments?


The predictability of these questions yields a clear and easy source for scientific advancement. A goal which has been institutionalised in the form of challenge-prizes issued by Space Agencies, like NASA and ESA, and Prize Foundations, such as X-Prize and Schmidt Futures.


While Space Agencies and Foundations have paid attention to the physical and psychological requirements of small population astronaut communities, such agencies have paid comparatively less attention to the social, psychological, political, and economic implications of growing and sustaining these communities.


That work has been the realm of the social sciences. The fountain of many science fiction stories is the evolution of large scale off-world communities. But increasingly, agencies have the responsibility of pushing from science fiction to funded research. To think not only of the first generation which can survive, but the long-term consequences of the choices we make now in design and technology selection for how communities can evolve on Mars.


If all the resource, health, and psychological safety questions can be addressed, what should these communities do? How should they be governed and organised? What kinds of Earth problems can be left on Earth?

The Case

Simply because a topic has been given comparatively less attention does not justify the funding a large scale program. So, let's consider the justification for a social, economic, and political futures program. But first let's take a step back to ground what we mean by such a program.


Let’s say we want to understand what kind of informal decision approaches might exist in off-world communities. Within the US and the UK, at the least, a common informal approach is to turn towards flipping a coin or rock-paper-scissors. The ‘turning towards’ such mechanisms is an effort to introduce an element of randomness and therefore fairness, by deferring choice to the winner.


Informal decision mechanisms have existed across human history, and for good reason - they exist to avoid sending decisions to a more formal deciding body, which in the most obvious of ways is often unnecessary, too negatively bureaucratic, or over-formalised all social engagements. It seems ‘obvious’ why we get to decide things through rock-paper-scissors on Earth.


Is that the same in off-world living? If there is a smaller community, where decisions have high impact, should people get to autonomously decide what is and is not shared with the group? Are there limits on what we can use rock-paper-scissors to solve?


But let's consider another side - how about the impact of a built environment on human living. For instance, in a future built environment on Mars, should people have individual rooms and if so, should they be the same size? For instance, speculative designs for 3d printed moon and mars environments, generated from NASA’s habitat challenge, have a vertical orientation with lab, kitchen, recreation, and living spaces. Size of living space is often a proxy for economic wealth on Earth, and having a similar dynamic could code-in beliefs on spatial inequality. Whoever has the largest room has the power or the wealth, or is deserving of it. Is that the best way to organise the distribution of space as settlements grow?


Or how about the inevitable social-emotional issues that can emerge in team dynamics. If people are stuck together in a closed environment for years at a time, what kinds of practices/institutions could best resolve these tensions? Is anonymous submission of complaints even feasible or desirable? Such questions have been more addressed in space station environments. But in a settled community, the distribution of tasks which need human attention and therefore labour will likely be challenged, how much autonomy should the leader have in allocating labour, and what mechanisms for labour arbitration will be needed?


How about the answers to each of these ‘social, institutional, and governance challenges’ when the community has increasing diversity of beliefs, ages, and histories?


An institution is a repeated set of practices within a group organised around addressing specific problems. Whether intended or not, all designed environments are biassed towards enabling some kinds of institutional practices. If you want to have a group activity, and there is no room which can fit all members of that group, then the space is biassed towards sub-group dynamics and individuation. 


All models of off-world living will, whether intentionally or unintentionally, have institutional and governance implications. These implications will exist around how people are allocated tasks and time, how people are allocated privacy and space, how different kinds of community practices can emerge around eating and socialising. Earth living demonstrates an exceptional variety of human institutions and social models of organisation. What kind of diversity will off-world living actually accommodate? In the NASA deep space food challenge there were further constraints - such as acceptability criteria in the food production process, given a reasonable amount of time, daily basis, small kitchen environment, and end of high intensity work days.


Across each of the above cases, and the plentitude of related cases of social, economic, and political organisation, is a need to advance the state of the art. This is not simply to create new knowledge, but to leverage the exceptionally large amount of existing knowledge to understand the consequences of designing off-world living.


Given what humans know now, what kinds of problems could humans successfully avoid on Mars?


Now this “avoidism” question is not an argument to say that all problems can be avoided, nor that picking a model that is a perfect fit for some kind of governance approach we decide on now is best, because that might limit the flexibility of community adaptation to challenges we have too little understanding of now. Instead, the avoidism question is to begin with the understanding that all our designs are implicitly avoidist, the question is what they are intended to avoid and what unintended consequences can emerge. Because a basic reality exists across time for unintended consequences, simply put: unintended does not mean unanticipated.


Naturally, this extends to some of the deepest and most entrenched ideological questions. There will likely be no one answer that is universally agreed upon. So, what will likely emerge is a number of standards created by different agencies and actors to support team dynamics, community wellbeing, decision frameworks, and governance frameworks. But the multitude of potential ‘standards’ and frameworks only reinforces the governance challenge. For instance, In the need to understand how different priorities and practices among these standards can interact, and what problems in their interaction we could avoid.


Building the technical capabilities for off-world living without the social, institutional, political, and economic capabilities is to create only half of a successful sustained off-world living strategy.

Towards a Potential Challenge Model

Of the many ways of funding research, the challenge-prize model has become well established for its ability to draw a large amount of inputs and drive public awareness. But naturally this yields a basic question: Is the use of a challenge-prize the best way to drive more research for the social institutional program?

The Deep Space Healthcare Challenge frames its approach simply.

If humans are to go to Mars in the 2050s, we need to find thoughtful solutions that enable them to stay healthy without external support.

Similar challenges have been pursued for food, living environment, water, and related areas of off-world living and travel. These challenges relate to the core questions around long-term human survival in off-world environments. The aim of any good challenge program is to improve the robust definition of the problem, to avoid skipping towards solutionizing.

However, such a challenge immediately needs to clarify:

1)    What problem / features of the problem can the challenge help address

2)    What outputs are needed to advance our understanding of that problem

3)    What submissions to the challenge are needed to build that output

4)    How can those submission be evaluated

5)    How can the outputs be tested

Given the diversity of social science research traditions, this creates a large potential issue - as the diversity of schools of thought means some arguments and frameworks are incommensurable, they not only disagree on the problem they disagree on what would count as a good approach or solution to that problem. This diversity will be an essential issue to address within the solicitation.

So, to begin, what will be needed is to clarify what social science research is expected to respond to - and to that end, we have two preliminary proposals.

1)    The first is to clarify the existing claims and assumptions within a given model of off-world living - being the expectations on how a given set of prototypes will be used. Quite simply, this is to get all the information and assumptions down and make them explicit. Were the prototypes designed for people of a specific body type? Were they designed with a specific metabolic range? Were they designed for people of a specific neurotyptical spectrum? Etc, etc. However, given the piecemeal nature of off-world living development, ending up with a clear and ‘total’ model is not only infeasible but potentially undesirable, given the rate of changes.

2)    The second is to surface the claims among many distinct social science traditions on the potential challenges that can emerge from a given “off-world living model” and existing ‘approaches/solutions’ that have been tested in similar and dissimilar environments on Earth.

For instance, it is known that off-world living will have a different biome, particularly around the (hopeful) lack of parasites and related biological stressors. The lack of such stressors may create further unintended bio-physiological issues for human communities. How will the biological adjustment to these lack of stressors impact the social and psychological dynamics of the community?

Or even further, let's suppose that human beliefs on in-group and out-group preferences are resilient and hard to change. These can extend to divisions around preferred sports teams to more sustained issues of -isms, such as sexism and racism. What kinds of institutions and practices are needed to avoid the emergence of racist and sexist institutions in future off-world communities?

As a community grows, its resource and task management will likewise need to either change or be scale consistent.

To that end, a challenge model would solicit from a diverse number of communities the arguments around what kinds of ‘problems’ can emerge from existing prototypes for off-world living - everything from the sleeping equipment, communication systems, toilets, cooking equipment, and on.

The challenge of such a research program is that it must figure out

1)    What is the most useful output from a social institutional review for design?

2)    What are its own limits (e.g. what are the limits of current social science knowing for improving our understanding of the design of future communities?)

3)    Given its limits, what it can contribute to existing design programs

4)    Who would fund this programs given the disparate social incentives and wide diversity of potential social and institutional frameworks? (e.g. this program running in the UAE would likely not yield the same solutions as in the USA, which creates productive diversity).

Proposing a Hypothetical Program

If multiple groups are going to create sustained communities on the Moon and Mars in the 2050s, we need thoughtful solutions that allow them to resolve complex and changing social, ethical, economic, and political questions.

We can push for problem elicitation and identification, to proactively identify issues that will be common across different societies. Among the first thematic questions, we could imagine:

What kinds of social and group mechanisms are best suited to intercultural or interreligious dispute resolution in isolated, off-world communities?

What kinds of social inequalities can be created through the off-world built environment? How can they be understood, addressed, and mitigated?

How might social and economic inequalities manifest differently on the Moon and Mars as opposed to Earth?  How can they be understood, addressed, and mitigated?

What kinds of early constraints will be experienced as early communities grow on the Moon or Mars?

We can push to the more imaginative and speculative.

If Humans are going to create sustained communities on the Moon and Mars in the 2050s that actively communicate with Earth, we need thoughtful solutions that allow them to maintain online social relationships among each other and members of Earth. What kinds of alternative “social media” can be designed for inclusive, responsible, inter-planetary futures.

If Humans are going to create sustained communities on the Moon and Mars in the 2050s that actively communicate with Earth, we need thoughtful solutions that allow them to sustain and educate new generations. What will the first education program look like for the first generation to be born or raised on the Moon or Mars? 





Myles Harris is the founder and CEO of Space Health Research, the provider of a unique service: off-world living analogues as a service. Myles has specialized in disaster risk and space health research, creating a unique niche to build their career from UCL.

You can find their recent work here:


Source: Landing Page, Space Health Research


What are you working on currently?


Okay, so maybe I'll do an introduction to begin with. So, I'm an Associate Lecturer teaching in risk disasters and humanitarianism. So, I teach on an undergraduate course, in that's a BSc in Global Humanitarian studies. And then various master's courses that are sort of different risk and disaster science risk and disaster management. And there's a Master of Research in this Disaster Reduction as well. In terms of space, that's my area of research. So, my professional background is on nursing. And most of my clinical practice, though, wasn't in the hospital. It was in remote environments, namely, during mountaineering expeditions. As my PhD, I looked at something called prolonged field care, which is providing health care in very remote environments. And space was one of those contexts that I looked at. So, as part of my fieldwork, I designed something called an analogue mission, which simulated the human exploration of another planet. And we did a programmed of research and one including mine, which is very exciting. So, it was a first in the UK. That project went very well. So, the other sort of activity that I do outside of UCL that's related to space is I have a company that provides analogue missions for research, but then also public outreach and engagement in space.


Yeah. In terms of prolonged field care, how did that research end up getting used in the context of a Mars analogue? What was the intersection like?


Yeah. So, for the field work was I was meant to be doing a mountaineering expedition. But this was during COVID. And, of course, throughout the window. So stuck in London, I decided that space was quite an interesting theme that kept coming up in the early days of my PhD. So, I put together a research group that looked at the risks to health in space, to try and learn from that and to benefit life back on it. And to cut a long story short, a lot of the challenges that we face, providing healthcare in space are very similar to life on Earth. Namely, the resources are really limited, communications unreliable. And it certainly takes a long time to get people back. So, we have delayed evacuation as well. So, the intersection of analogue missions and space research or looking at risks to health. Through to very social science. So, we looked at we used medical anthropology to explore what it means to have normal health on another planet. That kind of research that I'm really enjoying.


Interesting. Did you engage a lot with space agencies and private space actors for this research?


for the pilot mission? We didn't engage with the space agencies, but we certainly inform them, so they knew what was going on. So, we had a UK space agency asked for Kepler data about projects, which is quite exciting. And there's a member of ESA, European Space Agency, that was part of the steering group, who equally was really interested with a company which is currently called Space health research. We're just about to change our name to a Space Exploration Agency. So, we just had a project recently, maybe three weeks ago, as we had a full-length analogue mission two weeks back to took place on a remote and uninhabited island on the west coast of Scotland. So, it's the same island be used for the pilot was very short. And because it was a full Like analogue medicine and European space agency wants to do a study during the analogue mission. So, we had that study, which was providing a baseline set of data about using ultrasound of during spaceflight, as well as other research from various universities around the UK. So Morrison labs are really used to test very specific either applied technologies or socio psychological settings to see how well that given assumption would kind of fare. Is there, like a broader set of questions around if this habitat model or design is going to be set up and going to continue?


What are going to be the long-term consequences for that as in for extended periods of time past two to five years?


Or sort of going to Mars? Or do you mean during analogue missionaries?


in terms of the extrapolation of kind of the lessons from analogues for things like yeah, Mars, moon, and other off world living environments?


So, it's an interesting question, because it's something called the Global Exploration roadmap, you're probably familiar with it, which essentially is the national space agencies around the world develop this roadmap to get humankind surface of Mars by 2050. There's lots of debate about whether that's possible or not. But the premise is that there's a series of missions that builds on what's been learned before. So, the International Space Station has been used as an analogy of living on the moon. And then once we get to the moon, which hopefully be this decade


it's not really a problem, it's just fact is that analogues, whether they take place in space, or whether they take place on Earth, are never 100% accurate in what they're simulating. Because you can't have 100% accuracy, that's called being in space. So analogue, a good analogue, depending on the purpose of it, if it's for high quality research, it needs to definitively to define what it's simulating and what it's not. So, in terms of what analogues can contribute to the next 2025 years, it's, in my opinion, is very much research driven. So, the way that we provide analogue missions within space health research, or what will be a Space Exploration Agency in the next couple of months, is we don't just provide one type of analogue mission, we have a central analogue mission design that's then molded and shaped each time we do an analogue mission to suit the research needs that are needed out of time. That's quite different in comparison to let's say, European Space Agency's Concordia in Antarctica, where it's a brilliant analogue, high fidelity, highly realistic. But it provides isolation and confinement challenging conditions. So, it's great for that kind of thing. The downside of that analogue is it's incredibly exclusive. It's incredibly expensive. And therefore, it has its limitations. So, it's not a criticism. It's just a cable with a gap and what can we do about it? So, the analogue missions that we provide, but the one we did this summer, it was good example why we didn't label it as a Martian analogue. But as soon as you say it's a Martian analogue mission, people think they're going to see a lot of red dots, which the Austrian space form are brilliant at providing analogues that simulate Martian exploration, because they usually take place in the mining deserts or Israel. So, we weren't interested in making it look like another planet, we wanted it to feel like another planet. So, in the design of the analogue, we did lots of different things to make that happen. So, for example, we have so much salary. What we learned from the pilot mission was, we told the analogue astronauts at the time the mission would start when they reach the island. And that was a mistake. What we should have done is said the analogue starts as soon as you get on the rocket, the ship and you leave mainland UK, because they, they are then in the frame of mind that they are going to another place and that you have on this journey to an off-world environment. And when they get to this environment, they are then on their own. They must set up their Basecamp they have to get together the equipment they need for research, to feed themselves and to sleep, all this kind of stuff. So, there was a lot more rigorous pre deployment training for this mission that we did in the summer. Can I increase the fidelity a lot? So, in short, the options are endless. It just must be done within a clearly defined high fidelity analogue.


Interesting. Out of curiosity, what does this cost? What's involved?


You can see the, the island that we use for this animal, if you just Google space health research, our website comes up, and the first thing you'll see is some drone footage. So, you can see what it looks like. So okay, there's two things really, right. So, I'll go with the cost. First, the cost is expensive. Animals are always expensive, depending on the type of animal that you're doing. And that's what you're paying for is, is the sites that you're using the people, the new equipment, food subsidy, subsistence, that kind of stuff with this type of analogue, because the fidelity is increased, it's a higher fidelity. But one of the ways we've done that as we increase the risk, and the reason why it's the risk is increased is because this island is uninhabited, there is nothing there. So, if somebody falls over and twist their ankle, there is no health service that's going to come and help them. The other thing about being situated on the west coast of Scotland, I don't know if you spent any time there. It's not known for its sunny weather. It's quite a harsh environment for quite a lot of the time. And this island, particularly on the southwest corner, if you left the shoreline and kept heading west, you don't stop until you hit Canada. So, all the weather builds up on the Atlantic and throws itself this island. So, the challenge, the challenges of the condition are, can be quite extreme. And that increases the fidelity again. So, the second point is, what is high medium, low fidelity. And you must be in my opinion, you must be clear about what you're simulating to be able to answer the question about the fidelity. So, what you could say you could argue that the analogue that we did was, let's say a low fidelity, low fidelity Martian analogue because it didn't look like another planet. But remember, we didn't want it to look like another planet. We wanted it to feel like another planet. So, another design feature that we have in this type of analogue mission is when astronauts go to another planet, whether it's the Moon or Mars, the distance, the physical distance that they can do an EBA extra big, like killer act activity is two kilometers. How long is this island? It's two kilometers. So, they're analogue base camps on the north part of this island. And they have two kilometers to explore. So, it's increasing that fidelity of the human exploration of another planet. So, within the context of we're simulating the human exploration of a planet. It's a high-fidelity analogue mission. And that does cost money.


That's, that's so interesting. So, I have kind of like two orienting big questions in the project, one of which is somewhat personal philosophical from your experience. The other one is, is in the context of speculative fiction, to go through kind of the personal one, it's with your experience in long field care and health care. What would you like to see in the next generation of spaces, Space Agency research and exploration on health care? Going forward for March for instance? What are the problems that you think we could avoid? That we had kind of in current healthcare systems from your experience and to put it bluntly, do you feel like existing agencies are taking the lessons seriously enough that you think they should be paying attention to.


what I would like to see is that there is more funding for this kind of research. What I'm not advocating is that I think all of GDP should be spent on space. Because that's ridiculous. But I do think that the benefits of research in the space exploration are huge. And that requires investment, whether it's from government or the private sector. I think it there needs to be more than that. So, it'd be nice to read the UK of the misconception that you must go to America to be involved in space. America is doing some fantastic things. And that's because they've got an enormous budget. And I think the UK could be doing a lot more with that. So, one of those examples is, is about health and that my area of expertise, most about that. The way that the benefits of researching health in space, directly benefit the health of people now on the planet. And that's, for me is important. There is a counter argument to say, well, why are we spending so much money in space? Should we be, we should be spending less money? Because we've got a lot of problems here on Earth. But the answer is that we have solutions in space that we haven't discovered yet. That can benefit live Beckwourth. Whether that's drug manufacturing, whether that's redesigning health systems, remote health monitoring technology, there's an enormous amount. So, I would like to see more of that some more benefits of space impacting people on Earth right now, not just in the future. That's not to dismiss the benefits of space exploration for exploring space, because that's quiet, you mentioned philosophy, well, that's quite acumen dry drive is to explore for a lot of people. So, I'm not saying that's not important. I think that it is important. But it's also important to remember that there are lots of benefits from doing that. And then remind me of your second question. Yeah.


And it's, it's, to put it a little bit more in parallel. If you are going to tell all the space agencies, what you would like to see them pay attention to or to put it directly. If you're going to oversee redesigning future healthcare systems and software environments, what would you like to see them pay more attention to? Or? In other words, are there some problems that we see in our current healthcare systems that are that you've experienced, that you think that we could just avoid?


This is riddled with my own personal bias. So, you'd have to take this with a pinch of salt, nobody's perfect. But the first thing that comes to mind is, and this is where I'm focusing my research on is a holistic perspective of health, in space, but also on it. The dichotomy between physical health and mental health is a good example. They're separated. There's so my background is nursing. I specialized in adult nursing. And yeah, I did a little bit of mental health, but not very much. And that's because there's another specialty or mental health nursing. And it's very strange to me that there is such a dichotomy between physical health and mental health, because there are two sides of one coin. You know, if you if someone is very anxious, which is labelled as a mental health problem, and that's happening over a prolonged period, that's going to affect their cardiac health, their physical cardiac health, be that high blood pressure, risk of stroke, etc. So, and this is what I think is happening in space, medicine, and space health research, is it's very compartmentalized. It's looking at effects of ageing, and then another team of people are looking at psychological health in space, and it's all very compartmentalized. When really, we need to understand health, like truly understand health in another planet and how we can benefit life back on it. I personally think they need a more holistic perspective. So that's why I did my PhD and that's why I'm planning to continue doing my research as I go forward.


That's fascinating. And as a parallel to this in terms of lessons that you'd like to see for, for science fiction writers to get health care in off-world environments or even in analogues to get this right, or what do you think that they should understand or that they should pay attention to? Particularly the things that you think are just beneath kind of the common radar in terms of popular understanding,


I think the first thing that comes to mind is, is, is having a person-centered approach, I should say that I wrote a textbook about person centered care. So, again, take it with a pinch of salt. But obviously, quite motivated by that. And what that really means is that each individual experiences health, on a personal level, so whether they have diabetes, let's say it's one of the most prevalent diseases on the planet, everyone has a unique experience about having diabetes. So, it'd be great to see a strong, independent story, within science fiction about somebody's experience of health. What I'm really saying there is that it's impossible to tarnish a group of people in the same brush, you know, to say that everyone with diabetes experiences, these feelings, or these side effects of having insulin or whatever, when that's just not the case. But there has been huge movement in recent years about moving towards person centered care, but we're certainly not there yet. So, yeah, it'd be great to see that in science fiction.


To push on this a little bit further, is there anything that you'd recommend for people to be aware of to not get person centered care wrong? If they were going to, you know, get it get a little bit deeper into it? Or to try to write about that? Is there? Yeah. Are there other things that you think are truly beyond what you just said that, that people need to understand or attend to when they're thinking about, you know, investigating it for writing or research?


I think getting into wrong I think, probably not being authentic, would have been going to be quite bad, bad thing. For example, right. The dementia is another prevalent disease in the western world because areas of the world but it's not so prevalent for various reasons. And dementia is it possible to have a vision of what it means to have dementia? Now you can picture that. But quite a few people got less people can empathies what it's like to have somebody that's has dementia in your family. And one of the best books I've ever read about somebody soaring with having dementia, it's called Still Alice, I think it was film as well. And if you ever need to emphasize and empathize with somebody that has, has dementia, you really need to read that book. So, the story is that there's the harvest professor gets early onset dementia in 50s. And it tracks her story from getting the diagnosis all the way through to the end of the story. And that's an authentic raw story about somebody living with a health condition. So really person centered. And of course, every experience is different. Right? So, I'd say that that's kind of a NorthStar to be as authentic as possible.


Fantastic, as kind of a last thing, there's a big emphasis on trying to better align kind of, you know, current procurement and contracts with public benefits. So, making sure that everything ultimately that's going into space is feeding back into existing healthcare existing research. And I'm going to split this in two parts.

The first is, what do you think is important or needs to be improved about translating kind of the research that's an investment that's being given to the space sector back into kind of their related fields so for instance, into Uh, the research from Mars analogues into healthcare to how to integrate those lessons into the broader healthcare field. And then the second one to kind of tack it on there is, are there any questions that you'd like to see kind of emerging students consider or think about more, particularly when it comes to, to space health and, and broader in terms of kind of thinking about the future of space analogues.


So, with the first question, I would say what's needed is greater accessibility, which would lead to greater understanding. So analogue missions are only really known about by a small community in our space community. If I'm talking to a member the public eye, I got to spend at least five minutes explaining what an analogue mission is, how we do them, and why we do them most importantly, so greater awareness of analogue and insurance, and the benefits that they can reap will be fantastic.


Maybe an accessibility in a sort of participation in analogue source space or so that at least it's more relatable as well. So, it's not seen as this thing that other people do. And that never really impacts me. You know, space is closer than most people think. Sonic soft scientist and the UK National Risk Register was recently updated. And Space weather is on that risk register. However, there's very few businesses, communities, local authorities that are planned for a large space weather event. And you probably know that this the solar activity level is on an 11-year cycle. And we're approaching the 11th year when it's at its most active. So, you know, that's a good example about a lack of awareness about, about risks and about space and, and why it's relevant to people's everyday lives. And then what would I like to see students ask about space? Now? That's a big question. To be honest, probably in two parts. The first part, I would say, to keep pushing the boundaries, to keep asking questions. And, you know, to really, to really see it through would be fantastic. And the other part of that question is to the answer is, is to keep asking critical questions. And this is, forgive me for being a typical academic now.


I would really like to see students continue to ask critical questions. And what I mean by that is to have a having a robust, inquisitive mindset about the problems that we face, whether it's just space and health, or in one of the fields, to be getting down a bit of a rabbit hole, but to still have the ability to critically think about these really big problems, I think, is a skill set that's potentially going to be left by the wayside, potentially as a result of things like social media, and platforms such as Google, that are the most the epitome of confirmation bias. That's so dangerous. It's unreal, in my opinion. So being able to critically think about all those problems in a very objective and subjective way, I think is going to be fundamental to try and answer some of these enormous questions that we've got coming up. Kind of bringing it back to space and health, getting humankind to Mars by 2050. is now a very, very long way off. I just don't think we'd be able to do it at the current rate, because there's a lot of research questions that need answering this both medically as well as ethically. I'm not saying it's impossible, I think it is possible, but the only way to do that is to critically think have the right investment. Have the right awareness and participation in space, then we'll be able to do it.


It's okay. If I push you to ask, what would be like what will be an example of a good critical space question that you think should be asked in the next year? Otherwise, we can open it up and the like before 2050. What needs to be just hammered in what needs to be asked again and again and again, because there needs to be that that consistent point of critical reflection.


I'm going to risk sounding like I'm a broken record, please. But I think how this benefits all people on Earth right now, I think is a very important critical question to ask. Because as soon as we start doing things, for the sake of it, just because we can doesn't mean we should, which is a bit of a cliche. But I think it's true that, as I said earlier, that I think the benefits that space exploration can have for planet Earth are enormous. But that must be sort of almost a primary driver. And again, the North Star that we're all aiming towards, is to reap the benefits of life. I should probably say at this point, but I don't think getting to Mars is going to provide Earth 2.0 by Mars is not an easy place to live on. It's it will be in survival mode, not living on Mars, certainly by 2050 will be between 100. In science fiction, that you're not limited by those policy parameters, you can go maybe to the next 250 years, and we can talk about Terraforming Mars and what living on Mars can look like. But I think within this century, we won't be living on Mars will be surviving. Until we come back.


Thank you. This has been incredibly informative. And I deeply appreciate you being patient with my attempt to revise the questions and I was my realization that I had like long paragraph versions of these that I tried to just pull together. I need to revise those. So, this was a very good number of ways. I am going to be following Space Exploration Agency.


Assuming Octopi did not catch a ride on a meteor some 500 million years ago, the last common ancestor between humans and Octopi was likely a small flatworm.

In the succeeding few hundred million years, the vertebrates evolved complex brains. Unlike among the invertebrates, where only the octopus takes that claim.

Octopus brains “evolved completely independently from the mammalian brain.” An evolutionary path that offers a unique earth bound perspective into alternative ways of thinking. Dominic Sivitilli, speaking when still a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington notes, “The octopuses’ long, separate evolution toward cognitive complexity makes them a very appropriate model for what intelligence might look like if it evolves on a completely different planet.”

Octopi recognise individuals, throw things at their harassers, decorate their homes, develop defensive practices, play with fish, and contain a whole universe of other capacities which remain either unrecognised or unappreciated.

Octopi are people, in the moral and functional sense of the term. They have sufficient agency to exist as individuals, form complex social behaviour, experience pain - with the potential to evolve further complex and intelligent behaviour and social institutions over time.

Octopi’s distributed brain means a sense of autonomy and self-hood which likely fundamentally differs from ours. An old professor would ask their students each year to point towards where in their body they reside, where is their self and where is their soul, as differentiated from where our consciousness feels most physically “seated”. As surely most of us feel like little creatures seated in the head, controlling this body. Many point towards the head, but many too in the class pointed towards the stomach, the abdomen, as distinct from those who pointed towards the heart. Where would the Octopi point?

So what if Octopi joined humans on Mars.

Or on the extreme, what kind of settlement would emerge if Octopi and humans were cohabitating on Mars? Or indeed, what if Octopi were the technologically advanced species to settle on Mars, ahead of humans.

Surely at first, such co-habitation would mean an effective means of communication and collaboration. Otherwise, co-habitation would be either octopus as experiment or pet. But lets push towards assuming Octopi would be those going to Mars.

We have no evidence of architectural innovation per se, no constructed buildings, only repurposed environments. But we would assume the need for a fluid enclosed environment, highlighting the need for discovering water on Mars. Otherwise, to require a different means of exploration. And on and on the questions could emerge on the realities of such a species surviving the transit, the requirements of soft-body manipulation for construction and the need for an entirely different technology base. Would they expand out in more constricted tunnels? Would it be one singular undifferentiated and expanding environment, seen from space as a large enclosed disk expanding on the surface - within it hiding an artificial ocean. On and on, the questions can and should continue.

What we might ask further would be - would octopi replicate similar social, economic, and political challenges as we would. What would an Octopi civilisation look like anyways? Octopi are sometimes solitary creatures. Many species avoid grouping together, avoid interacting beyond mating. Other species of Octopi are wildly social. For instance, the story of “octlantis”, an “octopus city” discoverd in Jervis Bay, Australia around 2008. A wild description given the group dynamic numbered between 2 and 11, though such numbers serving as an indicator of how solitary these creatures have been seen as by humans. Though the story extends less into a burgeoning set of social cooperative behavior, and more a description of consistent semi-aggressive interactions.

Thomas nagel infamously asked in 1974, what is it like to be a bat, spurring the hard problem of consciousness - how to explain the fact that there are qualitative experiences. That such experiences are non-obviously reducible to physical descriptions of the universe. We do need reminders, both of the problem of consciousness along with the potential scope of different conscious experiences between different species.

What would it be like to be an Octopus building a civilisation on Mars?

SOME REFERENCES from 'foot'-,In terms of separation down the evolutionary timeline%2C the octopus,floor 750 million years ago.

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