Elon Musk has got me thinking, “How cool would an internet on Mars be?!”
The internet on Mars
The radio time delay between Earth and Mars is 4 minutes at it’s minimum and 24 minutes at it’s zenith, depending on their proximity due to their orbits. In my mind, an internet on Mars might look like massive solar/battery powered supercomputers caching everything coming and going from an Earth IP address, Petabytes of data at a time.
Companies with the money to spend could have a Mars server and an Earth server, and sync data in the background. It’d only be slightly annoying. You might not get an “Earth-like” on your witty Facebook status update for 24 whole minutes, but a “Mars-like” would be near instantaneous. It’s the exact same way the internet works today, except you don’t notice the delay when the server is only a few hundred or thousand miles away from you. Push that server all the way to Mars, and you begin to notice.
Land grab on Mars
With the right technology at private disposal, and at the right price, people could realistically homestead on Mars. What a way for political dissidents, or cults, or whomever else to start a new life?
What new nations would form on Mars, and what would be their political ideologies? I’d like to see both minarchist and anarchist Libertarianism given a shot. As it stands now, all the sovereign land on Earth is taken, unless you’re willing to spill blood for it.
Nation states haven’t innovated in centuries, they are cartels that sell each other the means to perpetually remain in power, with a monopoly on force.
What jurisdiction does the United States have over a citizen like Elon Musk that decides he wants to build a colony on Mars? What Mars colonies would secede from their founding nations on earth?
Would Earth governments begin to build IPBMs (Inter-planetary ballistic missiles) that could hit Mars? At their closest points in orbit, it would take 6 months for an IPBM to hit Mars, that’s a lot of time to simply pack up and move to another location if you could detect the launch. So maybe what you do is send a nuclear launch platform and place it in orbit around Mars from the get-go. What Martian would actually be ok with that though? Ok, so you do it in secret…
Will China and India be ok with the USA claiming land on Mars? Will the UN? Will the USA be ok with China claiming it’s own section? Will there be troops and armies on mars? Who will police the first Mars colony? What will be legal or illegal on a Mars colony, and will it depend on the country that sends them there?
What will the first war to be fought on Mars (or over Mars) be about? Land, resources, secession?
Space X has the technology to build ICBMs already, and by virtue of being on Mars, their engineers would definitely be able to build an IPBM. All that’s needed is a motivational push. What if Elon Musk gets to Mars and gets a team of engineers to building the first crop of IPBM pointed at Earth as a movement toward secession. People already joke about him being a most excellent Bond Villain…
What pre-emptive steps will governments take to ensure Martians stay within the bounds of Earth-side control? Will the NSA setup a station to monitor all signals to and from Mars, will it be in the same building as the internet caching supercomputer?
Say they send a squad of US Marines to an American colony on Mars. What’s to stop the commander from defecting and siding with the Martians. Who’s going to court-martial him?
Will people on Mars have to pay taxes? “No taxation without representation” as the old adage goes? Will there be Mars banks, or will the Martian colonists deal in Earth money. Will money be entirely electronic on Mars? Will the man who owns a Mars greenhouse really think he’s getting value for his vegetables by some Earth “credits” you give him? I understand that banks and governments give people guarantees with regards to units of trade and commerce, but how trustworthy is that guarantee if that bank is an average of 225 million kilometers away?
Religion on Mars
I tend to pride myself on being a reasonable man, but I still have my superstitions. Ok maybe it’s not quite a superstition but more of an irrational emotion, but I’m not quite sure I’d be ok with being buried on Mars. I’d like to be buried in my native land.
What happens if you don’t even make it to Mars, and your ship is destroyed – which is entirely possible, even approaching probable with nascent technology – and your body is just floating around in space forever? I’m even less cool with that.
In fact, I’m at total peace with the idea of my death, but the idea that my body would be forever inaccessible to my loved ones is hard to stomach. Even if you’re a soldier and you’re MIA, you’re at least still on the Earth somewhere, from dust to dust…
I have no spiritual or even biblical reasons for this irrational fear. I’m not worried about the resurrection. I’m pretty sure my God can find my body in his universe, or re-materialize it if it’s been vaporized in a nuclear blast like say… Hiroshima. It makes no sense at all, but it bothers me for my deceased body to be any place else but Earth.
What if a radical Islamist group like ISIL decides to let bygones be bygones and they immigrate to their own Mars colony so long as they are left alone?
What if atheists immigrate and move off to create their own utopia where their President’s don’t need to proclaim a faux faith in God to be elected?
Heck, what if the Mormons immigrate to Mars?
How would their varying approaches to science and technology either cause them to prosper, or doom them to extinction? Will the settlements on verge of collapse threaten and extort the settlements that are prosperous, kind of like a North Korea situation? After all, the prosperous settlements have more to lose.
At .38 g, everyone on Mars would be physically weaker than on Earth, though materials would also be .38 their weight on earth, so it wouldn’t affect the human labor ability. For an Earthling to visit Mars would be easy, but for a Martian – especially a native Martian – to visit Earth, could pose health risks. A native Martian would probably have a smaller heart among other adaptive physiological changes.
Would you be willing to have a baby on Mars, knowing that it may grow up to have a difficult time adapting if you wanted to visit Earth?
The 21st century is going to be really interesting, and we haven’t even begun talking about AI yet!