Meet Generation I – The Interplanetary Generation

Valles Marineris Hemisphere Enhanced – Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Those of you who follow my Twitter stream will remember a while back that I published a few comments about Generation I.

It seems particularly topical to expand on the idea with the news today that the Mars One project has announced its shortlist of 100 candidates for the program. This is one of the final steps remaining before they announce the final 24 participants. Despite the many technical challenges that still remain to be overcome for the endeavor to succeed, this is exciting news indeed.

The Telegraph also reports that one of the participants is looking forward to having a baby on Mars. This raises a number of deep questions in the light of a situation that has not taken place in a very long time: humans will set foot on a new land, not in the service of a national interest, but rather as part of a private commercial venture.

I’ll save discussing those questions for a later time.

Instead, I want to turn my attention to the importance that this moment could represent for humankind. The possibility that a member of the human lays his or her roots down on a different planet during our lifetimes is very real. Indeed, this could make our children, those born between the year 2000 and today, prime candidates for the early participants in the flow of colonists to this new world. This marks the first time in the history of our species that our kind would span worlds. We would become an interplanetary life form.

This new generation should thus be rightfully called Generation I, or Generation: Interplanetary. Quite appropriately, it could also be read as “Generation One” as the first generation to set sail away from the cradle of humanity.

There are few parallels in history that carry as much significance. Our ancestors venturing out of Africa, the exploration and settlement of the Pacific, the discovery of North America, are some notable comparables. Certainly, each of these were fraught with danger, and none were guaranteed success. Yet, they led to great things. The same could be said of plans to colonize Mars.*

The Rosetta probe – Image credit ESA

When taken in conjunction with the heightened efforts being placed on unmanned research projects like the Rosetta probe, one could believe that we are entering a new golden era of space exploration. Ventures like setting up permanent settlements on the Moon and Mars would certainly frame well in such a situation.

Someone asked me whether I would be supportive of my child wanting to immigrate to another planet. I answered unequivocally “yes.” I would certainly miss my child, and I imagine Skype conversations are a little tough to get around with the asynchronous communications resulting from the time it takes to beam a message to and from such vast distances. And yet, as we stand on the verge of a new era, it seems slightly selfish (although completely understandable) to want to hold on tight to the precious gift that we send out into the void.

Here’s to Generation I. May great things await.

*Note: There is much room for an expanded role in unmanned exploration, and it should not be relegated to a backburner with the advent of manned exploration.

Why is the future transparent?

Everyone has seen it by now. The artistic conception of the future involves transparent electronics. Clear glass gizmos ooze sexiness and shout high technology. Anyone who watched Avatar was probably wowed by scientists whisking data from a transparent screen onto a transparent mobile device and reading it on the move. Very cool, eh?

The future is here.

(Note: for some reason, I don’t seem to be able to embed these videos today, so I’ll have to make do with a simple link until I figure out a fix. http://youtu.be/Xi4VBmxZlLY)

Transparent USB keys sound pretty neat. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy looking at flashing lights that seems to hover in mid air an inch away from their computer?

Microsoft posits a very inspirational vision of a transparent and highly mobile future.

(Youtube link: http://youtu.be/bwj2s_5e12U)

These are all outstanding ideas, but there are a couple concerns that I cannot keep from hammering away at the back of my mind:

1.  We have a hard enough time keeping track of fiddly little thumb drives as they slip into the bottom of our trouser pockets or in a small pouch in our laptop cases. Now we want to make them invisible? This may be a ploy to keep us buying a continuous stream of storage devices. A moment of absent-mindedness may carry a greater risk of leaving a cell phone on the restaurant table, too.

2. I hope oleophobic coatings are greatly improved by 2019. The sleek clear displays and memory sticks probably loose a little bit of their sexiness once they become smudged with fingerprints and oil from that delicious balsamic vinaigrette salad you had a lunch.

Regardless, I’ll have to start saving up some funds to get my hands on some of these. And to pay to replace the phone I lose forever in the house the first time I put it down.

And this is why Will Wright is one of the rulers of Game Design

Will Wright,one of the godfathers of computer game design, provides a rich analysis of the issues and possibilities which are being opened up by the  rapidly-growing capabilities of modern technology. This video should be of interest to anyone with an eye on game design.