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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Wake Up and Smell the Future, Redux

by Ken Newquist / January 1, 2002

For some reason last month several readers responded to an editorial I wrote this time last year called "Wake Up And Smell The Future!" One asked if my demands for a high-tech future was a little too materialistic -- focused too much on gizmos, and not enough on the Big Issues, like eliminating pollution, global diseases, and poverty.

I figure a little elaboration is in order.

First, perhaps the scope of what I'm talking about is not apparent in the first editorial. I'm not arguing that we return to space to visit -- I'm talking about going there to stay. Not just weekend getaways to the Moon, but exploring, discovering and exploiting the resources we find there and throughout the solar system.

I'm talking orbital factories, asteroid mining and unlimited solar power beamed down to Earth. I'm talking about space elevators anchored at the equator, providing cheap and reliable access to space. I'm talking about pharmaceutical factories capable of refining ultra-pure drugs.

I'm talking about the resources to transform human life on earth, to eliminate pollution, to end dependence of fossil fuels, and to utilize resources that don't involve turning a single shovel of dirt in search of iron or gold. I'm talking about finally putting an end to a vision of humanity that ends at the horizon.

I'm talking about revolution.

That having been said, the real revolution I long for in my heart is not so much about space as it is about philosophy. I want to see a Second Enlightenment, a new American Revolution based on the core values of the first. I want to see a rebirth of reason, a return to rational self-interest, and an embracement of true capitalism, not this noxious half-breed we're forced to endure. With the acceptance of these values by the majority of humanity, all things become possible, and the conquest of this solar system -- and of cancer, hunger and a thousand other maladies -- would be the least of the accomplishments of that glorious age.

So that's my vision in a nutshell -- there's my dream. Some might call it too unpopular, too radical, too extreme or even too gosh darn libertarian, but that's what I want.