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Mars: There and back again

October 29th, 2014 by

Will the technology that sends us to space put humans right back to the beginning?

Sometimes we yearn for a simpler time. Sometimes people actually make it happen.

As technology pounds forward at a rate of knots, others choose to shy away. Former manager Mark Boyle turned a social experiment of living without cash into a lifestyle, which spawned a community, which spawned a ‘Freeconomy’ movement. For some, the shackles of tech slavery prove too heavy to bear and so are cast off – since they so often go hand-in-hand with what some perceive to be the evils of modern living.

Personally, even for someone who lives (and mostly relishes) a life in the heart of London, sometimes it is a fleetingly tempting prospect.

Imagine: a life not dominated and dictated by the iPhone. Where the allure and thirst for money is obsolete.

But technology, whether amiable companion or arch nemesis, may be about to take us right back to the very beginning. How? By taking us to the final frontier.

A planned trip within the next decade, Mars One, will see the first human community settle on Mars, from which there will be, quite literally, ‘no return’.  The aim will be a permanent human settlement with an expanding colony, of which new crew members will be mars2added every two years.

Although it will obviously be thanks to the human technical innovation that the first people will populate the Red Planet, what is immediately fascinating is how that very same technology will initiate a forced regression of the human psyche.

As human beings we – like all animals – have instinctual survival skills. The search for food and the drive to reproduce are two of the most fundamentally primal. As a fledgling community which will be seeking to establish a permanent society on an entirely new world, under drastically different conditions to our own, will those instincts be re-awakened? Or is this mission doomed from the beginning?

Although technology will be essential to their survival, the mental attitudes of each member of the community will back pedal.

What do I mean?

What are your most important priorities, right now? Mentally list them at this moment in time.

Is it making a deadline? Getting a raise? Fulfilling your next quarter?

It’s probably not finding food or safe shelter. In our complacent attitudes, the majority of us take those things for granted, at least on a
day-to-day level. But in building a sustainable community on Mars, they will become the primary concerns of the first inhabitants. mars cityMainly, of course, as coming back to Earth will not be an option during the remainder of their lifetime.

Although they will be surrounded by complex robotics and will rely on technology for their very survival, it will be through the pursuit of a different, and far more basic, set of priorities that the future of humanity on Mars will be decided. The irony, of course, is they will initially be wholly dependent on the charity of Earth while a suitable base is established. Unless Mars contains a mass of hitherto untapped natural resources (unlikely), then the fight for survival will be one heavily supported by Earth’s technology. Although, admittedly, a fight for survival will still be very much what life on Mars is about.

It naturally throws up other questions about the human condition, when you revert back to a cashless society:

Will out-dated prejudices of race and sexuality carry over?

Will new religions and spiritual practises develop?

Do humans still have the drive and ability to focus on survival?

How will human relationships be pursued?

Will a new generation of children grow up on Mars – the first genuine Martians?

The answers to those questions may be waiting in some far-flung future decade, but whatever the results, it’s sure to be a fascinating journey.

But I think I’ll watch from Earth.

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Abstract scientific background – planets Earth and Mars in space: Copyright Igor Zh.
Planet Mars – A high res Full Shot rendering: Copyright: Tristan3D
Mars City: Copyright: Kirschner
The Surface of Mars – Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA: Copyright: Aphelleon

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