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Event Details

Panel Discussion 4 — Outerspace futurism


Thursday, November 3, 2022


3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. CET (UTC +1)


Marco Janssen, Arizona State University, USA


Brad Tabas, Ensta Bretagne, France
Alyson Decker, Jus Ad Astra
Marco Janssen, Arizona State University, USA
George Profitiliotis, National Technical University of Athens, Greece
Xiao-Shan Yap, Eawag, Switzerland; Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Kamil Muzyka, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland


The pre-recorded presentations mentioned below will be available ahead of the conference and need to be watched before the panel discussion takes place.

Pre-recorded Presentations
How to Bring the Social Sciences into the Post-Planetary Age

Brad Tabas, Ensta Bretagne, France

Abstract: This presentation will make two interrelated claims.
First, we will highlight the problems and the limits of traditional social science methodologies with respect to thinking about astroculture– the relationship between human beings and outer space. In particular, it will bring out the ways in which these methods are either of limited use, or are even actively stultifying, when studying the human relationship to objects and information that is derived from situations located outside of immediate embodied experience of human knowers (which is the prevailing epistemic condition with respect to the majority of our robotic activities in space).
Second, the presentation will suggest an alternate way forward towards thinking about social science in space, highlighting the importance of thinking about the intersections between the logics of information, classical, or terrestrial and embodied epistemologies, and logics of belief.
The aim of the presentation is thus to illustrate why existing methodologies are mostly inadequate for thinking about the relationship between society and the extra-terrestrial, and to gesture towards alternative approaches that offer better epistemic prospects for understanding our post-planetary condition.

Space Commoners: Workers of the Future Space Commons

Alyson Decker, Jus Ad Astra and Alyson Claire Law, Prof. Corp., USA and Julia Malette, The Space Court Foundation , USA

Abstract: We are at an extraterrestrial crossroads. The choices we make now will shape the future lives of everyone who will come to work in the space commons for generations to come. And our presentation will begin by discussing how the commons of space, while having the potential for many of the same tragedies, are different from our terrestrial commons. Be that the current limitations on access to space or the strong potential draw of space to all of humankind. We will also look at how the commoners, aka the people who work in these common spaces, come to shape their commons. And we will consider current regimes governing human capital in our terrestrial commons of the high seas and the Antarctic before exploring what the possible future for workers in the space commons might be. Will we see Libertarian styled “company towns” on Mars full of indentured servants as Elon Musk has eluded to? Will we see labor inequities, classism, and exploitation writ large as modeled in the Expanse or the Oxygen Episode of Doctor Who? Will we live in the moneyless socialist meritocracy utopia of Star Trek? Or will we end up working in an overly regulated space governed by a hodgepodge of old Earth based legal systems? Join us as we try to envision the future for the workers of the space commons and discuss how we can lay the legal and collective groundwork to ensure a future in space that we all would like to see.

Port of Mars: Governing the commons under extreme uncertainty

Marco Janssen, Raksha Balakrisna, Lance Gharavi, Yi-Chun Hong, Allen Lee, Michael Simeoni, Arizona State University

Abstract: Port of Mars is a 5-player online experiment about a first-generation habitat on mars where participants have to make decisions on how much to invest in the shared infrastructure to maintain system health and how much of their time to use to pursue personal goals. Participants also do surveys before and after the game to measure personality attributes and observations from the game. Initial results of a digital version of the game are discussed.
System health is affected by wear and tear and by events. The lower the system’s health the more events may happen. If system health drops to zero, it is game over. Players who earn the most points from pursuing personal goals in surviving groups will win the game. We find differences in personality attributes and communication strategy in how groups are able to succeed in this uncertain environment where they need to cooperate to survive and compete to win.
During the conference, participants can play the game.

Episodic future simulation of a discovery of microbial life on Mars

George Profitiliotis, National Technical University of Athens, Greece

Abstract: The discovery of extraterrestrial life would potentially be a crucial milestone in humanity’s common future in space. Nevertheless, the fact that alien life is still elusive and remains an imagined potentiality, both in the scientific and in the societal spheres, means that there is a fundamental future orientation in the overall endeavor of the search for life beyond Earth. The human ability to represent what might happen in the future is reflected in the broad concept of prospection that includes various modes of future-oriented thinking. Episodic future simulation, or, frequently, episodic future thinking, refers to the imaginary simulation of specific experiences that might occur in one’s personal future. Previously published research has shown that evoking episodic future simulation in human adults can be empirically approached. Based on that, this work describes an early attempt to utilize episodic future simulation in order to explicate imagined prospections of extraterrestrial microbial life. In particular, this work uses an imaginary episode of a future public announcement of the discovery of an extraterrestrial microorganism on Mars as a prompt for mental time travel. By applying the emerging method of participant-produced drawings integrated into qualitative interviews to a convenience sample of adult Greek volunteers, this work offers a new empirical approach towards the exploration of the prospections held by human adults regarding such a future event. The qualitative findings drawn from the generated verbal and pictorial material aim to ground novel research hypotheses to inform further research regarding the global governance of such a future discovery.

Sustainability in a multi-planetary context: An exploration of implications for earth system governance

Xiao-Shan Yap, Eawag (Switzerland); Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and Rakhyun
Kim, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Abstract: Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of space activities by private enterprises, driving what is dubbed the New Space revolution. SpaceX as a frontrunner is, for example, working towards the goal of ‘occupying’ Mars by 2050, with a view to transform humans into a multi-planetary species. The prospect of a multi-planetary society begins to have an impact on the discourse on planetary sustainability, where Mars and other celestial objects are increasingly framed as a solution to earth system transformation. There is an imminent shift in the paradigm from ‘planetary’ to ‘multi-planetary’, which will have far-reaching implications for earth system governance. This talk seeks to explore these implications, especially by focusing on the risk of increasing fragmentation of space governance through the proliferation of private actors and institutions in the space sector. We explicate how a few core assumptions of earth system governance may be impacted, and argue for an expansion of the scope of governance beyond the Earth System.

Metalaw and the roots of International space law

Kamil Muzyka, Institute for Law Studies – Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

Abstract: While the main body of international space law was created in the light of the Moon Race, the proto concepts reach far deeper in the past than what we might assume. Metalaw, a concept created by Andrew G Haley and developed further by Ernst Fasan, aims to create rules and frameworks for interplanetary relations between civilizations and species. However, while we have not found any human equivalents beyond Earth, metalaw might best serve as a basis for inter-station and interplanetary relations between members of the terragenic civilizations. The presentation will also take a critical look on why the farther in space one activity is set, the more colonialist the articles of the OST might become in practice. Given that according to Article VIII all space objects regardless of their size are de facto artificial footholds or islands in outer space or on celestial bodies, will the same laws apply to Martian Settlements? Could they deny one’s object permission to land on Mars due to safety concerns? Will Martian registered Space Objects be allowed to land on the Moon or will they be forced to abide by the rules set by the nations, to which registry the initial landers and bases belonged. This is why in the case of granting Mars, or any other selfsufficient settlement Authonomy, Metalaw should be viewed as the basic framework.