Bear with me here –
Elon Musk’s company SpaceX is building rockets to go to Mars – having recently announced we will get there as soon as 2018.
But Musk doesn’t want to just land on Mars and do some experiments there, or maybe take a few pictures. He wants to start a full blown human colony on the planet’s surface – a completely new Martian society.
And while this might seem far-fetched, it’s not so crazy when you look at Musk’s track record. He tends to do exactly what he says he will – maybe just not quite as quickly.
So let’s say we get to Mars in 2020 or 2025 rather than 2018 – no biggie.
The rockets from SpaceX land – fast forward a bit – and we begin the first human society on Mars.
What does that society look like? It’s an important question.
One way to build this new society would be to model it as closely as possible on the ones we already have on Earth. But it’s easy to see why doing it this way doesn’t really make sense –
The physical environment of Mars is wildly different from that of Earth. Mars has very different geography, climate and so on. This would already cause us to do things a little differently.
More importantly – even the best societies we have on Earth are far from perfect. No one can really disagree with that.
And the reason for this – the reason there are so many problems that are so hard to fix – is because we’re stuck in old ways of doing things.
We continue on with beliefs, institutions and systems of living that are hundreds or even thousands of years old – most of which doesn’t match up to our current level of technology or scientific understanding.
As technology continues to advance, the gap only gets wider.
So why recreate our imperfect, outdated Earth societies on Mars when instead we could – as Musk often says – start from first principles?
On Mars we have the perfect opportunity to build a whole new society from the ground up, without any of the baggage from thousands of years of humans living on Earth.
Let’s take energy as an example.
Elon Musk also happens to be involved in the solar energy industry, so this fits pretty well.
On Earth it probably won’t be long before we have the technology to be completely dependent on solar power. However, besides the purely technological aspect, there is also the need to overcome the entrenched interests of the oil and gas industry and all that comes with their 100+ year monopoly on energy.
But on Mars, we don’t have to deal with any of that. We can start from the first principle that solar energy is simply better than oil and gas and just go from there.
Imagine a whole society on Mars running on solar power. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Energy-wise, we can leave behind the old way of doing things in favour of better options we now have thanks to technology.
This principle doesn’t just extend to just energy or technology in general, but every aspect of society.
To help contextualize this better let’s just take a minute to consider the types of people who are going to make up this new Mars society:
Astronauts are all already pretty smart – they have to be. And likely both by necessity and by design some of our “best and brightest” will be the ones sent to colonize Mars.
So the new Mars society will initially be made up of a small number of highly intelligent, informed individuals whose interests align and whose survival depends on effective cooperation.
If you’re building a new society from the ground up, this seems like a pretty good place to start.
Going a little further:
Direct democracy on a large scale is already theoretically possible with technology – just imagine voting for officials or policy decisions directly with your smartphone (or some future version of a smartphone).
On Mars it would be even easier, because the population is much smaller and the people are – both because they have to be and because they want to be – highly engaged in the political process.
Education reform is equally within reach. Even the most developed countries on Earth have education systems that are quickly becoming outdated and are, at best, training students to be effective office cubicle workers. This is not a good fit for the modern world and it’s definitely not a good fit for the future.
On Mars, we can have whole new systems of education that reflect our current understanding of what is important to move forward.
Advances in technology are coinciding with a growing acceptance of psychedelic use in society. MDMA will be prescription medicine soon and psilocybin is soon to follow.
Research demonstrating the benefits of psychedelic use is abundant, yet progress is painfully slow. Why is this?
It’s the same reason that government or education reform is difficult (on Earth) – we’re dragging a whole lot of garbage from the past along with us.
But on Mars, we can again start from the first principle that psychedelics are an extraordinarily useful tool for human beings living together.
The intelligent, informed, politically engaged and scientifically minded citizens of the new Mars society will take psychedelics too. All our astronauts become psychonauts.
Maybe the new Mars society (NMS) will adopt some institutionalized and/or communal form of psychedelic use – maybe they discover or invent whole new ways that humans can benefit from psychedelic use in general.
This further strengthens the solidarity, social cohesion and desire to explore both the expanses of the universe and human consciousness among the citizens of NMS.
Following this scenario it does not seem inconceivable that war, prejudice, irrationality, ego-based status competition and so on would all the left by the wayside in favour of a focus on advancing the collective good.
And – following this scenario – it seems that NMS would quickly outstrip Earth in pretty much every way possible. And this would only be more so the case as generations passed.
The advanced citizens of NMS have advanced children, who are then raised with state-of-the-art education and systems designed to optimize human flourishing.
It is from Mars, then, and not Earth, that humanity begins to explore further out into the solar system and galaxy. NMS serves as mankind’s locus for expansion into the wider universe, and all societies that follow stem from this one.
The first modern humans (Homo sapien sapiens) lived around 50,000 years ago. In the overall timespan of our species’ existence, 50,000 years currently seems like a pretty long time.
But imagine a time frame where 50,000 years is just a small blip. On this time scale, comparing 2016 to 50,000 BCE is like comparing today to yesterday.
So imagine thousands or tens of thousands of years in the future. There are trillions and trillions of human beings living in societies spread across hundreds or thousands of planets, solar systems and galaxies in the universe, all thriving and flourishing together…
..and it all started with psychedelics on Mars. Just a thought.