There's a project in the works to send human DNA samples to various star systems thought to be suitable for planets that can sustain life as a kind of "backup system" to ensure the survival of the human species. This article was shared by Mr. L., and as you can imagine, it prompts speculations that are beyond high octane; they're...well... "nebul/ar-ous" to coin a double-edged word:
The project is sheer "Star Trek":
A project called Voices of Humanity would send data, messages and even DNA into space using laser propelled spacecrafts where “Your data will live forever in the universe. You will be immortalized,” according to the KickStarter page.
The team is hoping to initially raise $30,000 (£22,700) to launch computer chips full of images and data into low-Earth orbit by 2017, with more distant missions such as the moon and Mars in the future.
Once they have reached $100,000 (£75,000), “we will be able to build a sophisticated ground-based laser and robotic telescope that allows your data to be optionally transmitted via laser to the target of your choice in space”.
Those behind the plans add: “We will then be able to 'beam you up' by encoding and sending your data to the stars so you will travel at the speed of light into the universe.
The ships will use similar technology being developed for Breakthrough Starshot “In both cases, we will be able to 'back up humanity', using the universe as our 'cloud' with your images, pictures, text, tweets, video, and DNA!”
Esteemed scientists have given their backing to the project, including Nasa’s Philip Lubin, who is also working on Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Starshot project, which will also be using similar laser-propelled spacecrafts.
Well, if nothing else, this serves notice than even brilliant scientists are subject to apocalyptic fears.
However, there are some important questions looming in the background here and Mr. L's email was accompanied with some of the relevant ones: (1) who is funding this project? (2) who is selected to be included among the DNA samples? (and, though not included as one of Mr. L's questions, one might also ask: what are the selection criteria?) (3) Wouldn't such a project go against the "prime directive"? assuming there is one, of course.
But I cannot but help to think, in my "nebul/ar-ous" speculations, that something else entirely may be going on here, and that it's being cloaked behind yet another typically transhumanist bit of technobabble and technopromises of immortality. What if there is someone out there - our ancient genetic cousins perhaps - is demanding some sort of tithe or tribute, in this case, in the form of DNA information? What if this project is motivated by something else entirely than the public meme of "preserving the human species" by using all available current technological means to launch us to the stars. In this scenario, sending such information in effect is like signing a lien; it's a part of a commercial contract, perhaps millennia old, and as I averred at last year's Secret Space Program conference, perhaps this is all in aid of some ancient "cosmic Versailles treaty" as a form of "reparations", perhaps a kind of tribute to ward off the very sort of apocalypse being advanced in the article, but not by building a kind of "Noah's Ark," but rather by buying off a distant potentate threatening invasion if the tribute is not paid.
Of course, this is a wild and bizarre scenario, to be sure, and it may mask something much more mundane, namely, yet another project to garner more information for a genetic database: no "cosmic Versailles", no "reparations or tithes", not even techno-immortality.
All that said, I don't know about you, but I have the uneasy and lingering suspicion - wild and bizarre as my "nebul/ar-ous" speculations may be - that there is more going on here than meets the eye, and that like people in a room where one or two people are on the telephone and having a conversation with someone else, that we're only hearing one half of the conversation.
See you on the flip side...