What Will It Take to Colonize Outer Space?

Esther Dyson does business as EDventure Holdings, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004. In the last few years, she has turned her sights towards IT and health care. She dedicated two issues of her newsletter, Release 1.0, to the topic (Health and Identity: No Patient Left Behind? in January 2005 and Personal Health Information: Data Comes Alive! in September 2005).  Also in September 2005, she ran the Personal Health Information workshop that laid out many of the challenges still perplexing the health-care community.

Currently, she is on the board of directors of 23andMe and is one of the initial ten subjects of George Church's Personal Genome Project. Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary), Eventful.com, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, and WPP Group and Yandex (Russia).

Some of her past direct IT investments include Flickr, Del.icio.us, BrightMail, Medstory and Orbitz. Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90's. In 1997, she wrote Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, which appeared in paperback a year later as Release 2.1. In 1994, she wrote a seminal essay on intellectual property for Wired magazine.

  • Transcript


Question: Are we going to colonize outer space?

Esther Dyson: I think it is sort of like going to America back in the 1400s its totally crazy but I think it will happen and if you recall those first trips to America where commercial voyages, people are looking for golden Indian stuff like golden spices perhaps one of the big commercial drivers is going to be all the minerals in the asteroids and whether its Christopher Columbus where the internet all these things they are driven commercially and then have a huge impact way beyond with that original commercial enter this was.

Question: Do you see us living in outer space?

Esther Dyson: All I think will turn outer space into inner space, but yeah we are probably going to well there is a reasonable argument that we are going to create a clean useful life supporting atmosphere on mars, soon at them we will honors because a mars we have no politics and we have no incumbent establishment, so its easier to experiment they are in get it right on earth, the moment you start changing things around you ran into people who like it better the way it was what have you.

Question: What is the timeline for that? What would it take to get it started? 

Esther Dyson: Probably this century we will take 30 or 40 years to telephone wires. Get a couple of doing in here is fund it because a government one and then its going to end up being more biology then it we are not going to put giant air blowers on mars, what we need to do is genetically engineered plans of various kinds that will take the minerals on mars and take the oxygen out of the compounds the oxidized compounds and stick it in the atmosphere and figure out what level of different kinds of gases you need to make it breathable to humans and to have the right light sensitivity that you will capture the right amount of solar energy to make that temperature habitable and so forth.

Recorded on: 03/21/2008