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Benjamin C. Kinney @BenCKinney
, 19 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Bam! Rapid-fire #SoCIA18 talks! Next up, terraforming: Brian Green with "Ethics for Planetary-Scale Interventions on Earth and Beyond." Opens with the comment that we are currently un-terraforming Earth. Oops.
So, okay, we're already modifying our planet. Should we do this intentionally? If so, how? What are the underlying moral & ethical questions?
Different questions for terraforming our planet, lifeless planets, places with native life, etc? (Three of 8 questions, whoof things are fast.)
What is the purpose of terraforming/geoengineering? Expanding human life, expanding Earth life, improving conditions for native life, proving our science/skill, or something else?
What ethicals ideas should govern these projects? Anthropocetrism, ratiocentrism, biocentrism (Earth or otherwise), cosmocentrism?
Is it morally defensible to terraform lifeless places (e.g. our moon)? Should we bring life to lifeless places? Why? (Is life better than non-life? Is the universe lacking in life by quantity?) Should lifeless places stay as they are?
How about terraforming places with native life? Should we introduce Earth-life to places with their own native life form? (Competition!) How does our judgment change with life type: bacterial, plant, nervous-system, etc
Does it matter if the planet is gaining/losing habitatbility? If degrading, are we more allowed to intervene? What if the trajectory is unclear or fluctuating
What governance considerations should exist for such projects? Who has a say, who decides who has a say? Who makes decisions during the project? After project ends (with success or failure!), who governs project or cleans up mess?
You need a LOT of insurance to cover a terraforming failure.
Should we spread life in the universe (directed panspermia)? Does it help the universe? Whose 'best interests' should we keep in mind?
By what moral authority do we get right to act? How does "authority" work in space? Do other life forms have authority over planets regardless of their development? What if they do/don't have concepts like ethics/law/property?

How far into space do "property rights" go?
Such great questions! Rooted in deep issues about meta-ethics, etc.
Is life good? Previously, argued that several theories of space ethics. Converging on six points, which I may not be able to write down fast enough. Trying to get a photo of them...
Okay! Got a picture of the 6 principles! (Thanks to @matociquala for the quick camera work)
Hubris and humility. We might have no choice trying to de-terraform Earth, but we have a choice when it comes to other planets. We need to be verrrry careful doing it there - but that doesn't mean never justified.
This was a great talk. All questions, no answers - which is the fun stuff. Must try to sit down over a beer with this guy and dig deeper. (But tbh I'd do that with most of the speakers I've heard so far.)
I always like to say, "Science is less about finding the right answers, more about finding the right questions." Apparently can be true about ethicists too!
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