mikegarrison

Colonization Discussion Thread (split from SpaceX)

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53 minutes ago, tater said:

Read (or listen, I know I heard a podcast about people who live at the research base in Antartica--radiolab or TAL, maybe) about people in Antartica. They get a little kooky.

Well, if it's anything like Scandinavia, at least now we know the economic value of Mars: depressing crime novels, metal, ambient and vodka.

 

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On 9/30/2017 at 2:44 AM, Nibb31 said:

What's does Mars IP have that Earth IP hasn't ? How are 5000 engineers on Mars pour productive than 5000 engineers in Bangalore or Guangzhou ?

The whole point of IP is that it's immaterial, so it can be outsourced to the cheapest locations, not the most expensive.

When you sustain a group of engineers on Earth, you have to do so with local resources.  When you sustain a group of engineers on Mars, you do so with Martian resources.

Assuming a colony on Mars can become self-sustaining and (even if only slowly) self-expanding, eventually you gain MILLIONS of technically skilled people (or the equivalent cost in AI supercomputers) that you don't have to sustain from Earth once the entire planet is populated- all for the cost of a few hundred BFR missions that you never have to repeat.  In the long run, Mars BECOMES the cheapest way to get more engineers from an Earth perspective.

Sustaining a million engineers, even in India, can end up costing you TRILLIONS of dollars if you do it for 100 years.  For 100 Billion dollars you can colonize Mars and have a million engineers on Mars someday at no further cost *to Earth* (the Martian economy has to sustain them- but that doesn't necessarily cost Earth anything) for at least the next 5000 years.

 

On 9/30/2017 at 3:11 AM, tater said:

Not only is IP immaterial, the cost of IP is less on Earth than Mars. Mars for a vastly long time would require supplies from Earth at great expense.

See above.  Also, no it wouldn't.  Not if you send enough manpower and equipment there in the first 100 years (the more stuff you send early on, the quicker the Martian economy reaches self-sufficiency, as you have economies of scale, local economic specialization, and more brain s working on the scientific and engineering challenges of making the colony self-sustaining).

If you only established a colony of 1000 people, sure, you would need to send supplies for hundreds of years if not longer- but a colony that small wouldn't require VERY MANY supplies in the grand scheme of things.

Any colony on Mars would VERY QUICKLY figure out how to grow its own food and sustain its own life support- within a decade at most- and basic construction materials like concrete and metals would follow shortly thereafter.  Most of the supplies you'd send thereafter would be complex manufactured products like electronics and heavy machinery, that would take a long time for a *small* Mars colony to develop to the point of being able to produce on its own... (but if you sent a million people to Mars in the first 60 years, these industries would arise very quickly)

Edited by Northstar1989

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Chicken and egg.

100 years is a long time, though I think Mars would require stuff from Earth for much longer. The notion of quickly sending many, many people is fantasy. Sure, you might come up with hundreds per synod, but there would never be enough with $ to pay for 100s of vehicles. The "ticket cost" is just transit, they all need to have spent enough to the colony's supplier to have paid for construction and life support literally for the rest of their lives ahead of time. It's a bootstrapping issue. All this is predicated on Mars actually being compatible with humans, I'd bolo a couple B3300 habs together in LEO and have some people live a few years at 0.38 g first (and breed several generations of mice, perhaps) before deciding.

Any location for humans away from Earth is a 100% built environment. Sailors on Earth would get shipwrecked, build shelters, then cut down trees and build themselves entire new sailing ships---and sailing ships in the age of sail were the apex technology (line of battle ships, anyway). Literally a few hundred guys, and some axes, etc. Not the same as Mars.

There is no "Mars" for people until you build it. If you were given a 1-time teleporter that could move 1 million people to Mars in a day (then the wormhole closes forever), you'd have to build a city for 1 million people that is entirely self-sufficient WRT Earth, and is a place those million people would want to live out their lives first. Anything short of that, and those people better have the funds/income to order food supplies from Earth, replacement parts, etc. While I agree that additive manufacturing, and other tech will make this easier, the machines and stock (scaled to the population) needs to be there. The agriculture needs to mature fast enough to support everyone. A budget failure on Earth cannot consign them all to death.

I think a colonization thread might make more sense for this, even though it certainly overlaps with SpaceX, because I think it tends to derail threads, though. Tough when Musk stands up there and shows Mars cities, however :wink: .

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1 hour ago, Northstar1989 said:

When you sustain a group of engineers on Earth, you have to do so with local resources.  When you sustain a group of engineers on Mars, you do so with Martian resources.

Mars resources have a cost. Food, water, housing, on mars will cost much more to produce than the equivalents on Earth. Workers on Earth are motivated by the prospect of spending that money on luxuries, leisure, tourism, entertainment. Those will cost more on Mars or will be inexistent.

So that doesn't explain why Mars would produce more IP than Earth.

Quote

Assuming a colony on Mars can become self-sustaining and (even if only slowly) self-expanding, eventually you gain MILLIONS of technically skilled people (or the equivalent cost in AI supercomputers) that you don't have to sustain from Earth once the entire planet is populated- all for the cost of a few hundred BFR missions that you never have to repeat.  In the long run, Mars BECOMES the cheapest way to get more engineers from an Earth perspective.

That is a lot of assuming. We aren't capable of making a self sustaining city on Earth. What makes you think that it will be feasible on Mars ? Our entire technological civilization is based on exchange and specialization. Self sufficiency was thrown out the window as soon as our hunter-gatherer ancestors settled down and started bartering with each other. Having both high-technology and total self sufficiency at the same time is not practical, nor even feasible.

In the long run, once you have a million people living in a self sustaining Mars city, then everything works out. Sure. The only issue is that there is no practical way of going from zero to a million people living in a self sustaining Mars city.

Also, dumping people on Mars actually has more chance of making them dead than technically skilled.

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Sustaining a million engineers, even in India, can end up costing you TRILLIONS of dollars if you do it for 100 years.  For 100 Billion dollars you can colonize Mars and have a million engineers on Mars someday at no further cost *to Earth* (the Martian economy has to sustain them- but that doesn't necessarily cost Earth anything) for at least the next 5000 years.

Were are you getting those numbers from ? So where does the money to sustain the Martian economy come from ? Economies are not isolated systems. How exactly do you have an economy if everything is self sustaining ? What goes in, what goes out ?

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See above.  Also, no it wouldn't.  Not if you send enough manpower and equipment there in the first 100 years (the more stuff you send early on, the quicker the Martian economy reaches self-sufficiency, as you have economies of scale, local economic specialization, and more brain s working on the scientific and engineering challenges of making the colony self-sustaining).

Who is going to pay for a massive investment that will only start returning value after 100 years ? Especially for if that value is immaterial intellectual property.

The brain work is going to have to happen on Earth before you send people, otherwise you just end up with a lot of dead settlers.

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Any colony on Mars would VERY QUICKLY figure out how to grow its own food and sustain its own life support- within a decade at most- and basic construction materials like concrete and metals would follow shortly thereafter.  

And how does that happen ? They have to just "figure it out" or they die ? Guess which is more likely.

Edited by Nibb31

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47 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

Mars resources have a cost. Food, water, housing, on mars will cost much more to produce than the equivalents on Earth. Workers on Earth are motivated by the prospect of spending that money on luxuries, leisure, tourism, entertainment. Those will cost more on Mars or will be inexistent.

So that doesn't explain why Mars would produce more IP than Earth.

Mere survival is a powerful motivating factor to work.  Most people would rather work hard than die...

Mars will produce considerably *less* IP than Earth- it's a smaller planet and the ratio of IP to population will be far lower (as a MUCH larger fraction of the population must be dedicated to producing basic necessities).

However even a medium-sized country like Germany supports MILLIONS of scientists and engineers here on Earth.  If the entire PLANET of Mars can only support as many scientists and engineers as the mid-sized NATION of Germany once Mars is self-sufficiency and fully developed, it will still be a worthwhile investment for humanity to colonize Mars in terms of IP production...

Put another way, if you could spend 100-200 Billion USD to add another Germany sized nation to Earth, it would be a worthwhile investment, wouldn't it?

Also, if a much smaller proportion of the population get to be scientists and engineers, rather than manual laborers and mechanics, on Mars (with most people kept busy running all the sophisticated machinery necessary to keep the colony's industry and life support operational) then the average aptitude for science/math and intelligence of Martian engineers should be much higher than on Earth, as they will be a much more select group... (assuming a model of population demographics where intelligence and aptitude for science/math is randomly determined at birth...  Of course in reality, culture, education, and upbringing all play enormous roles- and any Mara colony will probably have to much more carefully and scientifically attend to the upbringi g of successive generations if it hopes to survive- stupid people won't survive long on Mars...)

Edited by Northstar1989

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13 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Mere survival is a powerful motivating factor to work.  Most people would rather work hard than die...

If that's the sort of life that you are offering to millions of settlers with their families, it doesn't sound too compelling.

Working hard isn't necessarily the key to survival. You can work as hard as possible, but that won't save you from dying if your crops get sick or you get a CO leak in the colony's air recycler.

Quote

Mars will produce considerably *less* IP than Earth- it's a smaller planet and the ratio of IP to population will be far lower (as a MUCH larger fraction of the population must be dedicated to producing basic necessities).

However even a medium-sized country like Germany supports MILLIONS of scientists and engineers here on Earth.  If the entire PLANET of Mars can only support as many scientists and engineers as the mid-sized NATION of Germany once Mars is self-sufficiency and fully developed, it will still be a worthwhile investment for humanity to colonize Mars in terms of IP production...

Put another way, if you could spend 100-200 Billion USD to add another Germany sized nation to Earth, it would be a worthwhile investment, wouldn't it?

Your pulling numbers out of thin air is getting ridiculous. You're are at least 2 orders of magnitude below what it would need to build an industrialized country from scratch. Also, it took Germany hundreds of years to become the country it is now. And it isn't self-sufficient.

You really can't speak in terms of investment when the return on investment is hundreds of years into the future. Nobody in a capitalist society operates at a loss over several generations in the expectation that their great grandchildren might profit one day. It would be great if it worked like that, but it simply doesn't.

If you have $200 billion to spare to make the world a better place, there are much more effective investments than a Mars colony.

 

Edited by Nibb31

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5 minutes ago, tater said:

Working hard doesn't matter even a little on Mars. You either brought what you needed to live at least until the next resupply (with dire needs expressed to Earth some months before the next window), or you die.

In New England in 1630, yeah, you just work hard. You can build houses, cut firewood, hunt for food, etc. On Mars, none of that happens. If habitats are 3d printed, then there is no "hard work," the printer builds it and you wait. 

Obviously you have to have equipment to work hard on.  Even on Earth a human is next-to-worthless without his tools.

But when we're talking about the capability of a *mature* colony to support scientists and engineers, it will already HAVE that equipment, and the capability to make more equipment right there on Mars out of local resources.  So re-supply from Earth doesn't even factor into the picture anymore at that point...

Edited by Northstar1989

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14 minutes ago, tater said:

No. You could spend far less money and educate people in areas that are already on Earth, and are not at all like Germany, and try to make them like Germany. Mars is a pipe dream, and any notion of it somehow having any reason aside from "because it's cool to have a multi-planet species" is not realistic, IMO. Musk's goal is fine, as long as there are people willing to go, and other people's money to throw at it, but I don't pretend that the economic math works out.

The parts of Earth that are amenable to economic development, and not too busy killing each other or trying to kill Westerners with the necessary capital to help bootstrap their economic development are already developing towards a Germany-like status.  Rapidly.  The parts of Earth that are resistant to modernization for cultural reasons (like Zimbabwe or North Korea) would require wars and security-forces costing TRILLIONS of dollars to economically develop right now, making them much more expensive than colonizing Mars...

The economic math *DOES* work out when you consider how much money a single war costs for a country like the United States right now, and how rarely those wars are even successful at meeting their goals.  For the cost of just ONE of its recent wars, the USA could have already colonized Mars via Elon's latest plan.

Sadly, it's far more expensive to drag a nation into the modern world, kicking and screaming, that doesn't want to modernize and educate its populace, than it is to colonize an entire new planet...

Edited by Northstar1989

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11 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Obviously you have to have equipment to work hard on.  Even on Earth a human is next-to-worthless without his tools.

But when we're talking about the capability of a *mature* colony to support scientists and engineers, it will already HAVE that equipment, and the capability to make more equipment right there on Mars out of local resources.  So re-supply from Earth doesn't even factor into the picture anymore at that point...

The key is getting from zero to a "mature colony" without thousands of settlers dying in the process.

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15 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

If that's the sort of life that you are offering to millions of settlers with their families, it doesn't sound too compelling.

Working hard isn't necessarily the key to survival. You can work as hard as possible, but that won't save you from dying if your crops get sick or you get a CO leak in the colony's air recycler.

Stuff happens.  Crop failures happen here on Earth too.  But if you work hard you can produce enough surplus value in your good years to buy food in your bad years from other farmers.

Nobody ever implied that just because a Mars colony as a whole needs to eventually become self-sufficiency, every individual family and farmer needs to become self-sufficient.  Obviously there will be trade and mutual interdependence between Martiasn colonists.  You know as well as I that individual autonomy on Mars (or Earth, for that matter) is impossible- which is why you're using it as a straw-man argument...

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It makes far more sense to build a mature colony---your bootstrapping really requires immediately building a country on another world, complete and self-sufficient---in space. Haul some raw materials to a parking orbit, and build O'Neill colonies. There is no difference from Mars, except that everything is easier. 100% built is 100% built, why not a huge torus instead of trying on Mars?

Home is close. Raw materials can be simply imported from space (asteroids, etc). People are certain to thrive at 1.0g instead of 0.38g. The product? IP, I guess. They can also mine rare earth elements, and they can sell them to Earth, since they're just in orbit, anyway. 

Mars has always been sort of silly to me as a place to live.

 

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35 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

Your pulling numbers out of thin air is getting ridiculous. You're are at least 2 orders of magnitude below what it would need to build an industrialized country from scratch. Also, it took Germany hundreds of years to become the country it is now. And it isn't self-sufficient.

You really can't speak in terms of investment when the return on investment is hundreds of years into the future. Nobody in a capitalist society operates at a loss over several generations in the expectation that their great grandchildren might profit one day. It would be great if it worked like that, but it simply doesn't.

If you have $200 billion to spare to make the world a better place, there are much more effective investments than a Mars colony.

 

I'm talking about the cost to seed a Martian colony and re-supply it until it can become self-sufficient and self-exoanding.  Obviously there's a massive gap in time from them until the rest of the planet is colonized, and the colonies are nearly as well-developed as say, Germany- but none if tgat requires any additional economic input from Earth.

Put another way, once Mars starts having its own industry, it will be incredibly valuable.  You can initially think of it in terms of the cost in supplies it will offset needing to be sent from Earth.

For instance, if a small factory produces enough value to offset $1 billion in imports from Earth each year (at $1000/kg that's only 1000 metric tons worth of production) then technically, that factory's contribution to Mars' annual GDP is $1 billion.

If you want to claim the "cost" of living on Mars is high, even once re-supply from Earth is no longer necessary, then you have to also admit that the value of local production on Mars is astronomical.  The same accounting-methods that are used to estimate the value of ISRU for missions sent from Earth apply to early Martian industry- except that the Martians themselves can do all the necessary R&D to develop it.

Colonizing a new planet requires different ways of thinking about economic value.  Your conclusions are incorrect because your PARADIGM is incorrect- you need to think of Martian industry not in terms of how valuable the products would be on Earth, but how valuable they are to Martians when used on Mars.  A tiny 5-man workshop on Mars that produces life-support equipment weighing 10 metric tons each year easily produces an annual value in excess of $10 million US dollars...

Edited by Northstar1989

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9 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Stuff happens.  Crop failures happen here on Earth too.  But if you work hard you can produce enough surplus value in your good years to buy food in your bad years from other farmers.

Crop failures happen on Earth and people die. It's not a matter of working hard or not.

9 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Nobody ever implied that just because a Mars colony as a whole needs to eventually become self-sufficiency, every individual family and farmer needs to become self-sufficient.  Obviously there will be trade and mutual interdependence between Martiasn colonists.  You know as well as I that individual autonomy on Mars (or Earth, for that matter) is impossible- which is why you're using it as a straw-man argument...

I'm not. You are demanding a huge investment from society/investors/corporations/governments to establish a city on Mars that might or might not work, then to send millions of people for a leap of faith (figure it out or die), and then 100 years later, the investors might recoup their investment in... IP ?

It doesn't make any sort of economical sense.

And you think there will be individual farmers ? If the colony is set up for efficiency at a huge expense by private corporations, then it will most certainly be industrial farming with heavily automated crop production facilities. There will be handful of jobs as agricultural technicians employed by the corporation, but that's it.

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There is no reason to pump trillions into Mars, though. However many tons per person that needs to go from Earth to Mars for maybe hundreds of years, at a cost of at best hundreds of $/kg. What sustains a martian? 1M$/year per person? Any economic activity they have must exceed the cost.

As was pointed out, above, you need to attract people as well. Do you only attract deadbeats who want to live off millions of subsidy from Earth? Who on Earth who has a decent life would want to leave that for Mars, unless Mars was made attractive (i.e.: prebuilt and waiting to move in as a techno-paradise)?

10 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Back to more "reasonable" stuff, one issue with BFR is that its serious overkill for most satellite launches.

That's the thing, it's NOT.

It's hard not to look at something bigger than Saturn V and not think, "overkill." But "overkill" in launching has exactly one metric. Cost.

If the cost per launch is a few million dollars, then it is only overkill compared to an expendable that costs less. Say it's 4M$/launch. If Vector or someone can launch your tiny sat for 2 M$, then yeah, don't hire a BFR all to yourself to launch. Of course if your sat could be slightly heavier with maneuvering such that it could comanifest and still launch for 100k, then you'd be silly not to do that, instead.

3 minutes ago, YNM said:

Regarding living on Mars :

Colonies are always fed. Until they get hold of their own feet. It wasn't easy in the 1500s, even on Earth ; it hasn't gone easier today or anytime in the near future (<20 yrs) for the outer space. Literally we're still doing baby steps.

Colonies brought some food for sea travel on Earth, but nearly everywhere on Earth has food for the taking, if nothing else, fishing (they by definition have boats, after all). Space colonization has almost no overlap with any historical colonization whatsoever.

Edited by tater

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8 hours ago, tater said:

It makes far more sense to build a mature colony---your bootstrapping really requires immediately building a country on another world, complete and self-sufficient---in space. Haul some raw materials to a parking orbit, and build O'Neill colonies. There is no difference from Mars, except that everything is easier. 100% built is 100% built, why not a huge torus instead of trying on Mars?

Home is close. Raw materials can be simply imported from space (asteroids, etc). People are certain to thrive at 1.0g instead of 0.38g. The product? IP, I guess. They can also mine rare earth elements, and they can sell them to Earth, since they're just in orbit, anyway. 

Mars has always been sort of silly to me as a place to live.

An O'Neill colony will NEVER be self-sufficient or self-expanding.  The lack of any mineral resources in LEO and the difficulty and very limited supply of obtaining asteroids to mine ensures that such a colony will PERMANENTLY be dependent on re-supply shipments from Earth.

That is not to say that such a colony couldn't eventually be PROFITABLE.  At the very least, orbital colonies could someday allow us to increase our population without overcrieding.  But an O'Neill colony is a fixed investment that can NEVER hope to grow in size on its own.

A Mars colony, on the other hand, can grow out a network of new colonies across the entire surface if the planet and eventually build orbital colonies of its own- all using mineral resources mined locally on Mars.

Minerals, not food or energy (the Sun provides plenty of the latter, and food can always be grown when you have energy, and humans to eat the food and recycle their waste as fertilizer), will ultimately be the limiting factor on human civilization as it expands out across the solar system...

Edited by Northstar1989

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2 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

An O'Neill colony will NEVER be self-sufficient or self-expanding.  The lack of any mineral resources in LEO and the difficulty and very limited supply of obtaining asteroids to mine ensures that such a colony will PERMANENTLY be dependent on re-supply shipments from Earth.

A Mars colony will always be dependent on re-supply shipments from Earth, just like America is dependent on imports for lots of stuff (including food, energy, and hi tech devices).

A Mars colony, to have a viable economy, is going to need a commercial balance just like any other country. That balance will pretty much always be negative, because there are no resources to export. Yet you want it to still attract investment from Earth and immigration.

2 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

That is not to say that such a colony couldn't eventually be PROFITABLE.  At the very least, orbital colonies could someday allow us to increase our population without overcrieding.  But an O'Neill colony is a fixed investment that can NEVER hope to grow in size on its own.

Increasing population should not be a goal. Population should be controlled so that it matches available resources. That's basic ecology that will need to be applied everywhere, regardless of the environment, if we want to be a sustainable species.

2 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

A Mars colony, on the other hand, can grow out a network of new colonies across the entire surface if the planet and eventually build orbital colonies of its own- all using mineral resources mined locally on Mars.

But you don't need to go to Mars to do that. We could build Earth colonies that could reach over the oceans for a fraction of the cost of living on Mars.

 

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8 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

Crop failures happen on Earth and people die. It's not a matter of working hard or not.

Actually, it is.  It's a matter of productivity- which is the product of hard work and technology.  If one farmer produces twice as much food as he eats in a year, then theoretically (ignoring spoilage and his need to trade food for other goods and services) his crops could fail every-other year and he'd still be able to feed himself so long as he stored or traded away for money (which he then held onto) his surplus on good years.

Similarly, if a factory worker could survive if he only were paid twice subsistence-levels and found work every-other year, but held onto every cent he made on good years.

Survival, generally speaking, is a matter of productivity, savings, and trade.  Of course the whole picture is made more complicated when you work for an employer- for whom you might produce 500x as much food as you need, but only be paid barely enough to feed yourself if market conditions allow the employer to pay his laborers a low enough wage...  On Mars, economic justice will not just be a matter of fairness- but of the survival of society.  No society can persist for long if all its labor starves to death due to the greed of the rich few who own all the capital...

 

18 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

I'm not. You are demanding a huge investment from society/investors/corporations/governments to establish a city on Mars that might or might not work, then to send millions of people for a leap of faith (figure it out or die), and then 100 years later, the investors might recoup their investment in... IP ?

It doesn't make any sort of economical sense.

Colonizing Mars is a risk- but so is war.  Statistically, It's a much better investment than invading another country if we weigh the cost and risk vs. the benefits we can expect (an entire self-sufficient second planet for humanity) if it proves successful.

And nobody is *demanding* we do it- only pointing out that it would clearly be in our own best interest as a species to cut back on military spending and building new coal power plants, and spend the time and money on colonizing Mars instead...

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29 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

And you think there will be individual farmers ? If the colony is set up for efficiency at a huge expense by private corporations, then it will most certainly be industrial farming with heavily automated crop production facilities. There will be handful of jobs as agricultural technicians employed by the corporation, but that's it.

The farms will obviously be large, probably in most cases corporate-owned, but there will be THOUSANDS of them for a population of millions.  Farms on Mars probably won't be nearly as productive as those on Earth (at least not as productive as in rich industrialized nations), so a significantly greater proportion of the population will haver to be dedicated to farming...

And, it would be EXTREMELY unwise for any individual colony to allow all of its farming to become controlled by just one corporation.  You've heard of Too-Big-To-Fail, right?  It would be neither wise nor ETHICAL for a colony on a virgin planet with poor transportation infrastructure to allow a single owner to gain control over all its food resources.  So of course there will be multiple farms, and multiple farmers.  And hopefully, if they take a diversity if approaches to what they grow and how they grow it, not all those farms will fail at the same time... (this is also what granaries and food warehouses exist for, thpugh- to store surplus food in good years so there will be enough in bad ones...)

Edited by Northstar1989

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10 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Actually, it is.  It's a matter of productivity- which is the product of hard work and technology.  If one farmer produces twice as much food as he eats in a year, then theoretically (ignoring spoilage and his need to trade food for other goods and services) his crops could fail every-other year and he'd still be able to feed himself so long as he stored or traded away for money (which he then held onto) his surplus on good years.

There will be no such things as "farmers" or "miners" in a high-tech space colony. There will be technicians, employed by whoever invested to set up the food production facility. It's likely that the crops will be GMO especially engineered for the task and imported in order to maintain a proper revenue for Monsanto or whoever is providing them.

Your idea of a Mars colony is way to influenced by some romantic vision of the American wild west. It will be nothing like that.

10 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Similarly, if a factory worker could survive if he only were paid twice subsistence-levels and found work every-other year, but held onto every cent he made on good years.

You've never worked in a factory, have you ?

There won't be any factory workers on Mars either. They are already disappearing on Earth.

10 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Survival, generally speaking, is a matter of productivity, savings, and trade.  Of course the whole picture is made more complicated when you work for an employer- for whom you might produce 500x as much food as you need, but only be paid barely enough to feed yourself if market conditions allow the employer to pay his laborers a low enough wage...  On Mars, economic justice will not just be a matter of fairness- but of the survival of society.  No society can persist for long if all its labor starves to death due to the greed of the rich few who own all the capital...

How do you get that massive upfront investment without capitalism ?

Freedom is rather limited when you have to rely on artificial life support just to breath. ECLSS on a Mars colony will be expensive to run and probably a centralized utility, like power and water, that you either you will have to pay for, or your employer pays for you. Nothing is free in a resource-limited closed loop bubble.

10 minutes ago, Northstar1989 said:

Colonizing Mars is a risk- but so is war.  Statistically, It's a much better investment than invading another country if we weigh the cost and risk vs. the benefits we can expect (an entire self-sufficient second planet for humanity) if it proves successful.

Sure, but you're not going to eradicate war or military spending, so you can pretty much forget that as a source of funding. It's not going to happen.

In today's world, if you want to fund something, you borrow from the banks, but you've got to have a pretty compelling business case, especially if your expected ROI is in 100 years.

 

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Why would this corporation invest in Mars in the first place, and how would the colonists pay them for food? Oh, they're all doing important intellectual labor? This should really be in a colonization thread...

As for O'neill colonies, they are not harder than Mars. You can move NEOs to a parking orbit here, and it can take as long as needed to do that. Such an object with rare Earth elements is actually valuable, unlike virtually anything on Mars, which would have pretty much zero value on Earth. That's the one place where "Mars One" is not entirely crazy---the only possible product that could generate money from Mars is likely media, and it would generate interest because it's like "Man vs Wild," but with a real chance they could all die.

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(please note that I don't think O'Neill colonies are any more economically realistic, just easier)

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26 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

A Mars colony will always be dependent on re-supply shipments from Earth, just like America is dependent on imports for lots of stuff (including food, energy, and hi tech devices).

America trades because it has the OPTION to, and trade enables a better standard of living than would be possible without trading

Similarly, a Mars colony will likely trade with Earth because it will have the OPTION to, and that trade will enable a better standard if living on Mars.  However, what will CONSTITUTE the items of trade will most likely not be material goods, but intellectual property and knowledge.

Almost anything that can be made on Earth will eventually be able to be manufactured on Mars, and vise-versa.  With the enormously-high transport costs between Earth and Mars, it will almost never be beneficial to ship material goods from Earth when there is much more money to be made by a bootstrapping an industry and figuring out how to make it on Mars.

Why would anybody on Mars ever choose to run an import-export business between Earth and Mars (except in rare goods like artwork) when there will be much more money to be made by starting up a factory to make a good on Mars that would otherwise have to be imported from Earth?

The only trade in physical goods that is ever likely to occur will be in the early days, when it will be a physical impossibility to manufacture certain goods in Mars' early colonial economy, and the colonists will have no choice but to import them from Earth.  Once the colonies there have sufficiently matured, they will make all necessary goods on-planet, trading between various cities specialized in different industries just like on Earth.

Edited by Northstar1989

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Freak Musk out and demonstrate that the first successful Mars colony will be a von Neumann machine colony making more AIs, lol.

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