I rarely write about popular science stories although I do have quite an interest in them. The news today regarding the plans of a wealthy Billionaire’s club to mine Asteroids are certainly worthy of documentation. The news is being well documented and the club even includes the Hollywood film director James Cameron.
It is quite easy for me to think how technology has changed in my short lifetime. Smartphones, the internet, GPS, digital cameras, mp3 players and DVD were really the stuff of quite exciting science fiction in my childhood. Now their everyday uses are prosaic and these items have become imbricated into our everyday lives in ways that startle me at times. These bounds forward in technology are subsumed in the daily lives of people that often these new devices seem to seldom matter. It is easy to think that these technologies have elicited dramatic social change, however people still eat, drink, sleep, love and hate with much the same vigour one decade to the next.
The new company Planetary Resources is perhaps a landmark for real social change. For many years we have watched dystopian Science Fiction movies and read fantastic novels which highlight the evils of supra-global companies and their technological dominance. ‘Planetary Resources’ in an all too obvious irony, actually makes ‘Cyberdyne Systems’ or ‘Weyland-Yutani’ sound plausible. Unlike the ubiquitous i-Phone, a hallmark of our era, Planetary Resources has the potential to finance and pave the way to the human cohabitation and the colonisation of space.
The potential wealth that could be extracted from asteroids is dizzying, but more importantly the spirit of endeavour and adventure is palpable. Space as a frontier land starts to become realistic in this news. What that will ultimately mean for human societies, environmental degradation, and globalization is truly intriguing to ponder.