Embryo Space Colonization Against Potential Extinction…

Back in 2011 I co-wrote this little paper:
“Embryo Space Colonisation to Overcome the Interstellar Time Distance Bottleneck”

Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, vol. 65, p. 283-285 https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2012JBIS…65..283C/abstract

I was riffing on James Blish (“The Seedling Stars”), A.C.Clarke (“The Songs of Distant Earth”) and Greg Egan (multiple) when I wrote it, as well as contemplating high pressure hydrox environments that I’ve discussed with Gerald Nordley and Karl Schroeder over the years.

I had the rather uncomfortable experience of seeing it on the big screen as “Plan B” in “Interstellar” (you’ll get why if you’ve seen it). Since then, it’s inspired a new discussion by Matthew Edwards:

“Android Noahs and embryo Arks: ectogenesis in global catastrophe survival and space colonization”

International Journal of Astrobiology , Volume 20 , Issue 2 , April 2021 , pp. 150 – 158

https://doi.org/10.1017/S147355042100001X

In the most recent issue of the same Journal is this response (which I totally disagree with)…

“On the border between Science and Science Fiction”

International Journal of Astrobiology , First View , pp. 1

https://doi.org/10.1017/S1473550421000112

The Author’s Reply:

“Ectogenesis for survival in deep space and deep time: reply to Gale and Wandel”

International Journal of Astrobiology , First View , pp. 1 – 2

https://doi.org/10.1017/S1473550421000094

Some aspects of the discussion which I raised also need mentioning:

(1) Pantropy, the modification of humans to adapt them for new worlds, will be easier for ectogenesis systems to achieve. Somatic cell modifications, except via implantable symbiotes, is incredibly hard to do, as we’re discovering when attempting treatment of genetic diseases in adults.

(2) Body-Printing. We on the verge of useful organ printing. At some stage we might graduate to repairing brain tissue with cell printing technology. Is it much further along to image whole personalities being imprinted into an adult body? The information required is immense and we’re still none too sure how the Brain encodes a Person in conjunction with their Embodiment. If Greg Egan’s imagined N’Doli Device becomes a thing or we discover how to Upload a brain into more durable media, then the mode of Embodiment becomes a matter of taste and People will take up Android Bodies adapted to the challenges of deep space. Maybe Flesh & Blood really can’t inherit the Kingdom of Heaven? For now, I’m inclined to think we’ll be making people via people for a while yet, but ectogenesis (and Android Parents/Bodies) will develop for other reasons than ESCAPE missions.

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