Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Overthrow a Martian Dictatorship

From the BBC:

The governments we create on other worlds might turn nasty. Richard Hollingham meets a group plotting revolution in space. 
Two short blocks from the London headquarters of Britain’s security service, MI6, a group of 30 men and women is plotting to overthrow the government.

Not – and I should make this abundantly clear for any spooks reading this – the British government, nor any government on Earth, but a tyrannical administration on an alien world in the future.

This is not a game. The scientists, engineers, social scientists, philosophers and writers gathered at the British Interplanetary Society in London are taking their task seriously – studying, with academic rigour, the problem of toppling despotic extraterrestrial regimes.

This is the third annual conference on extraterrestrial liberty. Last year the event tackled the challenge of writing a constitution for an alien settlement, concluding that successful space colonies should base laws and liberties on the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

“This year we’re discussing what happens if you don’t like the government you’ve created and want to overthrow it,” says conference organiser Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh.

Conclusions from these meetings will be published as essays, designed to serve as manuals for future spacefarers.

“We hope the discussions we have will constitute the first ideas on extraterrestrial liberty,” Cockell says.

“We’ve got a chance to think about what the problems might be in outer space before we go there.”
The scenarios the group is contemplating are easiest to imagine if you think about what a space colony might be like. Perhaps a domed settlement with a few hundred residents, beneath a thin dusty Martian sky. A fragile and isolated outpost of humanity 225 million kilometres from the home world. With a brutal dictator and his cronies in charge of the oxygen generators, for instance....MORE