Lets say you have developed a Utopian society. Let's say this society has in some way made a self-sustaining fully self-sufficient ecosystem.

For the purpose of answering the question, let's say its a society of 1,000,000 (one million) humans living in a huge space station.

You would ideally want this ecosystem to sustain itself indefinitely.

How can such an ecosystem be designed to have no single-point of failure?

I imagine there would be many small points of failure, but likely these would have backups, replacements, and redundancies.. But how do you guarantee no major, or critical systems or resources won't fail?

Some systems to consider:

  • Life Support
  • Waste Treatment
  • Raw Materials
  • Energy/Fuel
  • Living Space

This is not science fiction, there are no matter replicators, or zero-point-energy modules, etc.


This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

closed as too broad by kingledion, colmde, Azuaron, James, Hohmannfan Jan 5 '17 at 23:36

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ That's easy: never use the system/resource. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 5 '17 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thorough quality assurance & testing? Is there a specific type of failure you're thinking of? $\endgroup$ – colmde Jan 5 '17 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ Not specifically, but I will make a list and edit the question of some major things I can think of. $\endgroup$ – Inbar Rose Jan 5 '17 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ There are too many components involved in making a million person self-sustaining ecosystem. This is far too broad. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 5 '17 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'm confused... What do you mean by no sci-fi? You can't have self sufficient ecosystem with current technology, so you need to have at least some sci-fi? Can we at least assume technology that seems immanent (such as fusion) is available? $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Jan 5 '17 at 16:52

One Gadget Fails

Easy, have more than one of each gadget. Build your station in mirrored sections with airlocks in between, and make each main section completely self-sufficient. Each has a control room, a power plant, environmental systems, ..., even hairdressers. Design the systems so that they can be overloaded for a long period of time, so if one section breaks down the people can move to the other sections.

One Type of Gadget Fails

It could be that something "kills" the same system in each section at the same time. Perhaps a fungus gets into the life support, and spores spread into all sections before the problem is recognized. Or there is a software bug which affects all systems using that software.

To solve that, use different systems to do the same job. Perhaps one section uses solar power and batteries, another uses fusion, another uses fission. Perhaps the computers in one section use Linux, those in another section use Windows.

You tagged this . Do you really want equations and papers?


Don't put all your eggs (people) in a single basket (space station!)

Having all your people in one location makes them vulnerable to a single event (asteroid, biological warfare) killing all of them. I suggest you not put everybody together, especially in space, where many things can go fatally wrong in a hurry. Instead, have your utopian society spread out into several (IMHO, at least three) locations, and work to make each as resilient and repairable as possible. Space is risky for planet-evolved life forms: IMHO, don't put them in space if you have a viable alternative.


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