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A recent question concerning generation ships made me come up with a rather original alternative in my answer. It was pointed out that the concept of embryo space colonization has already been thought of thoroughly although personally I never heard of anything alike despite being just as plausible as other ideas.

My question is not specifically aimed at the two aforementioned concepts – nor their perceived (in)popularity – but about colonization in general:

Considering the prospective technological advancement:

What way to go about interstellar colonization is likely to be the first one technically and monetarily feasible?

To get this going here a short list of approaches that will get updated as you suggest concepts that have not been mentioned.

Please note:

  • A basic premise is humans will be still humans, i.e. concepts akin mind uploading to (humanoid) robots are not within the scope of this question.
  • You might combine or modify known concepts.

Travel-oriented

Decreasing travel time

Decreasing travel discomfort

Other

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    $\begingroup$ I assume you are asking about colonizing planets outside our solar system? Since colonizing Mars or some moons would use neither: Just send the people "the usual way". $\endgroup$ – Burki Mar 12 '15 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki True. I edited my question to clarify the context is interstellar colonization. $\endgroup$ – Søren D. Ptæus Mar 12 '15 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly is the tech level.....modern, 50 years in future, 100 years in future? $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Mar 12 '15 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ @DustinJackson OP asks for the first method to become available. The timing is very much part of the question. $\endgroup$ – Taemyr Mar 13 '15 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, mind-uploading is more reasonable than FTL $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Mar 13 '15 at 21:32
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I would like to modify the answer provided by @ArtOfCode - While we can presently freeze bodies, the re-animation process is still not fully possible, and even if/when it becomes feasible, it will be quite some time until we'll be able to send a ship into space for a 10,000 year journey that they'll be able to reliably wake up from.

It is far easier to freeze embryos and keep them viable for a long period of time. It's actually in the realm of current commercially available technology (albeit at a relatively smaller scale and for shorter spans of time). We have also been working extensively on building cellular scaffolds for the purposes of observing cells in an in vivo environment.

My proposed addendum is as follows:

  1. Ship suspended animation gametes rather than any currently living humans. DARPA can already place rats in temporary stasis, so single cells should be easy.
  2. Upon landing on planet and setting up shop, use a robotic 3-d printer to craft scaffoldings for a roboticized human uterus. Since we can directly control design factors, we can easily eliminate any issues surrounding the birthing canal and general integrity of the womb.
  3. Combine the gametes together to get in vitro oocytes.
  4. Seed the robo-uteruses with stem cells cultivated from your oocytes.
  5. Feed the uteri with blood produced by stem cells cultivated into blood producing marrow.
  6. Keep the cells alive during growth with a nutrient chemical bath.
  7. Now you have a functioning human womb ready to accept a viable embryo!
  8. I guess, lastly, have some sort of caretaking robot that can help ensure the newly born, parentless humans don't perish until they can start learning to take care of themselves. Also, they need to be taught language and learn to read wikipedia. Caretaking robots for the elderly are already in limited existence. This is an extension and expansion of that same concept.

Almost all of these are things we can ALREADY DO with present technology at a decent cost!

The only major concerns are space radiation, machine reliability, and the morals/ethics of seeding a planet this way, I guess. You don't have to worry at all about maintaining a sealed, breathable atmosphere or avoiding high G forces that would kill a multicellular organism.

All in all, this would be the simplest, most immediate way (from our end) we could seed a planet outside the solar system with life.

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    $\begingroup$ I like that point 8 there is kind of a trivial "by the way". I think a working parent-bot is well outside of our existing abilities and will be for some time. Avoiding a Planet Of The Lord Of The Flies scenario would be quite challenging, if the newborn could survive that far... $\endgroup$ – glenatron Mar 12 '15 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @glenatron Not at all! we already have robots in limited production for taking care of the elderly! This is comparatively a small step in a different direction from current tech. We're already assuming the ability to create semi-independent robots that can run the ship and set this whole thing up as per the previous answer. A nanny-bot is way more feasible in the short term than solving suspended animation issues. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 12 '15 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ The elderly generally have a lifetimes experience of how not to get themselves constantly into trouble, though. Their mobility is relatively limited and their attitude tends to be more compliant. Children seem to deliberately go out of their ways to get into trouble and danger wherever possible. I think that a lack of existing society or community to grow up in would also present serious problems for the children of the new world. $\endgroup$ – glenatron Mar 12 '15 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ @glenatron The elderly also get alzheimers and dementia and wander into dangerous situations on their own. Regardless, you may be right, but the question wasn't about culture transfer or the relative success of that society - it was asking about technical and monetary feasability. What I answered is both within current technical capabilities and monetarily cheaper than any other option yet considered. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 12 '15 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ This idea is fascinating. Lots of animals go from birth to fully functional without any help. Human babies require physical help, which robots could provide. Their mental development would be a different issue. One concern is that they might all develop severe detachment disorder. Alternatively, it could happen that all the mildly autistic children would turn out fine. They could then act as parental role-models for the following generations. You would have to plan for the possibility of high mortality and/or insanity in the first few generations. $\endgroup$ – user3294068 Mar 13 '15 at 21:55
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While uploading human personalities to robots is out of the question, giving robots robot personalities, capabilities and intelligence is not. So:

Robotically Controlled Suspended Animation

This method, which I shall term RCSA, makes use of robots (who have no concept of time apart from milliseconds since some date or other) to control a colonising fleet.

  1. On Earth
    This method is very similar to just using great big generation ships. You build the fleet first. You then install the cryogenic SA modules. At the same time, you should be building a load of robot crew for each ship.
    You give these robots advanced AI that is capable of moving a ship around space and responding to scenarios. You throw them in a simulator for thousands of hours each to iron out every possible problem.

  2. Launch
    Once the ships and crews are ready, you load the colonisers. Each to his own cryo unit. (You could also freeze embryos or human gametes - there is another answer here detailing this). Activate the cryo units, launch off into space and get going.

  3. In Spaaaace
    Since you've done all the simulations with the AI, they'll handle all the space travel, navigation, and calculation necessary to get you to the target planet. You did remember Sim 62A/4D "Extraterrestrial Contact", didn't you?
    Note 1: now is not the best time to discover you should have given the AIs access to an emergency "wake people up" button.

  4. Landing
    Since you thought of everything and have given the ships enough heat shielding and retro-rockets to safely enter an atmosphere, this is still an easy part: you can still rely on the AIs. Now, press the wake-up button, and let your humans loose on their new home.


Please note: RCSA does not deal with terraforming or infrastructure setup on the target planet. However, I imagine you could also fly a supply ship over and some other skilled robots to help.

Colonisation Systems, Inc. does not accept liability for any lack of simulation or consideration of required emergency features by You. The simulation list We provide may not be exhaustive.

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