Off-Earth Governance

post by edoarad · 2019-09-06T19:26:26.106Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW · 1 comments


  Counter Arguments
1 comment

[Epistemic Status: Unknowledgable, Curious, Doubtful]

It is reasonable to assume [EA · GW] that we will eventually colonise space. There are many organizations involved today in (very) early stage projects for space colonization. Their effort might shape how early off-earth civilizations are structured and governed. Far-future civilization may have governance structure (and value system) which may be influenced by these early attempts.

Assuming a longtermist perspective and that humanity will flourish, the value of early off-earth settlers is negligible compared to the enormous amount of valuable lives in the future. Therefore, we can consider the following claim as an important crux when considering whether to work on improving near-term off-earth institutions:

Claim: Future civilization is likely to converge on values and structure which is more influenced by near term space colonization efforts than existing institutions.

My intuition is that this is very unlikely, and that there are crucial-er considerations with respect to anything related to space or governance. Nevertheless, I'll make some preliminary arguments supporting and opposing this claim.


1. Governance structures tend to lock in to some equilibrium.

2. Space is a neutral environment, where more peaceful and more globally-minded values are more likely to persist.

3. If, say, a hundred years from now there will be a global benevolent government, it will likely result from a new government as opposed to existing ones. In which case, one coming from a dominating off-earth civilization is likely.

Counter Arguments

1. I find it highly unlikely that such an equilibria from the near future will persist for very long, considering the prospects of AGI and other advancements in the far future. This is very important from the point of view of steering the long term future - Can we expect to impact the governance structure of future civilizations?

2. Errrr, I doubt that space will remain neutral as humanity will be more capable to use off-earth assets, as exemplified in this documentary. In the far future there may be no reason to fight over resources, if they are abundant enough (see for example Paretotopial Goal Alignment), but in the near term I do not see a sufficient reason to view space as the best way to increase peace.

3. I find it more likely that a singleton governance will result out of unification of existing powers or out of some major economic achievement. I don't expect space colonies to have any real power. In fact, it seems more likely that innovations in the near future will still be earth-based, and thus they may not transfer to off-earth settlements. Thus, I'd expect a scenario that resembles the british colonization of the already colonized America - where the superior Earthlings will dominate the Off-Earthers.



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comment by reallyeli · 2019-10-11T21:35:40.362Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

A fictional treatment of these issues you might be interested in is the book by Kim Stanley Robinson. Spacefarers are genetically distinct from Earth-dwelling humans; each planet is its own political entity.

To me, determining what will happen in the future seems less and less possible the farther we go out, to the point where I think there are no arguments that would give me a high degree of confidence in a statement about the far future like the one you put up here. For any story that supports a particular outcome, it seems there is an equally compelling story that argues against it. :)