Off-Earth mining and an ethics of interstellar flourishing?

6950499078_b0f06d9256_kOver the last few weeks I’ve knuckled down and finally made a proper start on an exciting new research project. Matthew Kearnes and I are beginning some collaborative work on the ethics and politics of “off-Earth mining” (that is, proposals to mine near Earth asteroids and perhaps even the moon). Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in this possibility from a range of private companies, as well as research by NASA and other government organisations on the feasibility of things like “asteroid retrieval” that might readily have off-Earth mining applicability. In this context, we’re looking for ethical resources in strange places – from poetry and theology to scifi – to help us to explore the consequences of this kind of mining activity, as well as the larger race to get “off world” that it is a central component of.

Our first paper on this topic is in process. More news soon.

In honour of the recent 25th birthday of the Hubble space telescope, the attached feature image for this post is of the Tarantula Nebula, taken by the Hubble (Courtesy of NASA).

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