Road to K3


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A conversation starter on why and how we should
build a 1 million member interstellar volunteer community

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Road to K3

  1. 1. Road to K3 A conversation starter on why and how we should build a 1 million member interstellar volunteer community
  2. 2. K4: Cosmic K3: Galactic K2: Solar K1: Planetary African Possible development path of human civilization inspired by Kardashev scale of technological advancement of extraterrestrial civilizations.
  3. 3. Intent Target audience: 100 YSS and the global interstellar community. Goal: We would like to find a way to amplify and fund the collective efforts of the global interstellar community. This is an open draft. Everything in this presentation is up for discussion. In fact, we’ve put this presentation together specifically to enable a discussion.
  4. 4. Inside Predicament Solution Next steps
  5. 5. Predicament
  6. 6. Starflight capability by 2112.
  7. 7. We all want to make it so.
  8. 8. There are (at least) two ways to think about this goal:
  9. 9. 2112 Technological capability Road to K3 We can think in narrow terms and focus our efforts on a single goal: to see a star-bound ship launched at the start of the 22nd century. We can think in broad terms and focus our efforts on building out a cultural infrastructure for K3 civilization, where technological capability is but one of the prerequisites.
  10. 10. One approach is “easy” but dangerous.
  11. 11. The other is “safe” but hard. Extremely hard.
  12. 12. Easy but dangerous Technological capability Narrow, single-minded focus produces results. We can be almost certain we will be able to tick the box on technological capability. Voyager 1 does not have enough fuel to get to another star. But we could probably send our first star-bound craft using beamed sails in the next 5-10 years. It may take a few thousand years to get to Alpha Centauri but it will be possible. Unfortunately, technological capability comes with no guarantee that it will be put to good use. Case in point: What have we done with our moon-landing capability over the last half a century? Narrow focus may be “easy” but it is also very dangerous. All of us reading these words right now may work very hard to get to star flight capability by 2112 but die with that nagging doubt—will they or will they not take it further?
  13. 13. Hard but safe Road to K3 Broad, multi-track focus is hard. Especially, when it needs to be sustained across people with completely different interests (e.g., breakthrough propulsion vs. global policy agenda) and across generations. It’s messy because humans are messy. It comes with a high collective action and coordination tax. Without effective organization, it may slow us down. Way down. But if we don’t just create technological capability but embed the interstellar dream deep in our collective psyche, in our civilizational goals—then we have a shot at something much more valuable. We could make interstellar civilization inevitable. All of us reading these words right now would work very hard to lay down a solid foundation for K3 civilization and die with some degree of confidence—it may take time, but human civilization will expand beyond our solar system.
  14. 14. Work load Illustrative Technological capability Road to K3 Find destination. Solve propulsion problem. Design starship. Design life-support systems in space and for destination planet. Engage the public. Get funding. Build starship. Recruit astronauts. Launch. All that, plus: Create a steady stream of identityexpanding, interstellar-dream-advancing content (books, movies, TV series, games, op-eds). Put interstellar on global public policy and entrepreneurial agenda. Catalyze industrialization of space, starting with our solar system. Catalyze solutions to a host of terrestrial problems, etc. etc. etc.
  15. 15. So it’s really more like this:
  16. 16. So the choice is between “easy” but dangerous and “safe” but extremely hard.
  17. 17. We should play it safe.
  18. 18. After all, it’s the future of our civilization we are talking about.
  19. 19. So how do we make interstellar civilization inevitable?
  20. 20. Who will do all this work?
  21. 21. Solution
  22. 22. Government. Business. Academia. Billionaire philanthropists.
  23. 23. All of them will need to play a role.
  24. 24. But having any of them in the driver’s seat will increase the risk of the mission.
  25. 25. After all, governments can get side-tracked on other priorities (and apparently even get shut down). Businesses can confuse the mission (serving a civilizational need) with the means (generating profit). Billionaire philanthropists can change their minds.
  26. 26. The driver’s seat needs to be filled with a force that won’t change course in the face of adversity.
  27. 27. We need volunteers united by a common dream. Volunteers who see the success of the mission as their primary goal.
  28. 28. We need… lots of them.
  29. 29. 1 million.
  30. 30. Are we smoking something?
  31. 31. Well, let’s do a macro-sanity check.
  32. 32. Availability With the advent of online tools that allow new forms of collaboration, as a civilization we are now learning how to use more constructively the free time afforded to us since the 1940s for creative acts rather than consumptive ones. The cognitive surplus—the buildup of free time among the world’s educated population—is now in the order of magnitude of a trillion hours a year. We are in the middle of Great Spare-Time Revolution. There is a massive reservoir of volunteer time that we can tap. Source: Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, Clay Shirky 2010
  33. 33. Will Five decades of behavioural research shows that most enduring motivations are not external but internal—the joy of doing something for its own sake. We do things because they’re interesting, because they’re engaging, because they’re the right things to do, because they contribute to the world. For people looking to contribute to the world, to be part of something bigger, we can create an unprecedented opportunity —contribute to the most ambitious mission in the history of human civilization. Source: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink (2010)
  34. 34. Precedents Wikipedia: Almost 20 million people are registered as contributors with Wikipedia (even though only a minority of them are regular contributors.) All the articles, edits, and arguments about articles and edits represent around 100 million hours of human labor. Americans watch about 200 billion hours of TV every year. Linux: More than 100,000 people have contributed to development of open-source software. Source:
  35. 35. So let’s assume there is availability, will and precedents we can learn from.
  36. 36. What would this 1 million Starfleet look like?
  37. 37. DESIGN PRINCIPLES Opportunity to contribute Design around opportunity to contribute. Membership benefits, privileged access, etc. etc. are all secondary. Elaborate game Structure Starfleet into discrete units with clear mandates—everybody joins a specific unit. Break down each mandate into discrete missions with different volunteering opportunities earning members star points, leading to a higher rank. Digital & physical Maximize use of digital collaboration platforms but create ample opportunities for physical meetups as well.
  38. 38. STRUCTURE COMMAND SCIENCE ENGINEERING HEALTH BAY Mandate: Overall vision, direction, coordination & funding. Mandate: Advancing all relevant basic research. Mandate: Propulsion, starship and habitat design. Mandate: Human and lifesupport system (re)design. SPACE ECONOMY EDUCATION POLICY Mandate: Pipeline of interstellar ensigns. Mandate: Putting interstellar aspiration on global policy agenda. CULTURE Mandate: Constant stream of relevant content. Mandate: Industrialization of solar system.
  39. 39. ENSIGN ACTIVITY REPORT Ms. Edward Lu Starfleet #00079 General Paid membership fee Recruited 5 new ensigns 1,000 5,000 Culture Wrote a blog on sailcraft Gave a TEDx talk on black sky thinking Created business plan for Interstellar Art Academy 500 1,000 2,500 miles miles TOTAL STARFLEET MILES EARNED SO FAR 10,000 Starfleet miles remaining to reach Lieutenant rank 90,000
  40. 40. FUNDING OPEX Membership fees Flat membership fee of $5-10 per month would be more compatible with the volunteer ethos than multi-tiered schemes that promise higher benefits in exchange for higher contribution. Annual sponsorships Create sponsorship opportunities for no more than 2-3 entities each year (creates scarcity). Offer temporary brand association and opportunities for story-telling Content We should seriously consider creating our own franchise based around the interstellar quest, a version of future history that’s 50-100 years ahead of reality.
  41. 41. FUNDING PROJECTS Crowd-funding is now a viable way to fund specific space-related projects. However, successful campaigns don’t just happen. They are heavily produced. For crowdfunding to become a serious source of funding, we need to develop inhouse skills.
  42. 42. FOUNDING FEDERATION The volunteer organization could be launched and run by a Federation of interstellar organizations (100 YSS, Icarus Interstellar, Tau Zero, etc.). They can nominate the admirals running different units. Volunteer contributions carried out for any Federation organization would earn ensigns star miles and count towards rank. Opex cost can be distributed to different organizations based on strategic priorities decided by Command.
  43. 43. RECRUITING ENSIGNS 1,000 10,000 100,000 1 million How: Tap existing combined networks of interstellar organizations How: Tap broader space and science fiction community How: Use our science fiction content franchise to create the pull in the general public How: Use our science fiction content franchise to create the pull in the general public 2014 2016 2019 2023
  44. 44. Building 1 million member volunteer organization is not obvious but it is possible.
  45. 45. Starfleet Stars: the next frontier. These are the adventures of Starfleet. Its hundred-year mission: to make the transition of human civilization to K3 inevitable, to catalyze the necessary scientific, technological and cultural breakthroughs—so that one glorious day at the start of the 22nd century we can boldly go where no human has gone before.
  46. 46. Next Steps
  47. 47. Before we get carried away, let’s think about this together first. We look forward to discuss these and other ideas to advance the interstellar mission!
  48. 48. About Us Tyler Emerson Advancing long-term thinking What if we cared about the long-range future of human civilization as much as we care about our own? What if these two concerns became one? For Tyler, these are not rhetorical questions. He rolls up his sleeves and builds organizations and communities that pursue long-range visions: he kick-started Singularity Summits and MIRI (Machine Intelligence Research Institute), produced New Organ prizes for the Methuselah Foundation. Tyler believes that embedding our interstellar aspiration in an ambitious volunteer organization has the potential to become a powerful transformational moment for our culture—dramatically expanding our collective time horizon. Erika Ilves Instigating hyper-visionary ventures Will human civilization have an unbounded future beyond Earth? Erika does not like wasting time on speculations. Instead, she spends her life doing everything she can to make it so. She has co-authored a multi-media book “The Human Project” where she put forward a long-ranging agenda for the human species. Through her advisory work and public speaking, she instigates hyper-visionary ventures—multigenerational ventures designed to advance human civilization. She’s helped construct several 100 year business plans and serves on advisory boards of several tech startups. In Erika’s mind, the interstellar vision is a powerful organizing goal, a fantastic springboard for hyper-visionary ventures across every domain of human civilization.