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Old 04-27-2010, 11:00 AM   #20
Philboid Studge
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PZM links to some blogviating on the subject here, and adds his two cents:

If I were in charge of humanity's expansion into the universe, and if light-speed is the absolute limit it seems to be, I'd be sending out robot probes all right…all loaded with the biological seeds to impose human-compatible biospheres on any remotely human-compatible geospheres it encountered. It would bombard atmospheres with bacteria, sow the planet with algae, fungi, and lichens, and work its way up to grasses and trees and rodents and birds. And then it would start unspooling the stored genetic information of millions of humans into infants that would be raised onboard, educated by machines, and eventually transported onto the now hospitable planet surface to build a new technological civilization. Communication between planets would be limited and slow, and all the planning would be long-term — thousands to tens of thousands of years — so this wouldn't be so much the growth of a human empire, but an organic expansion.
I don't know about this plan. I agree with the robot probes--we should probably divert all resources currently poured into manned missions into cheaper, more efficient robotics. But bombarding atmospheres with bacteria sounds a little bit invasive. At the very least the probes should investigate whether there's already organic life there and then if there is, fuck off.

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