What follows are quotes from articles by or about William Sims Bainbridge, the American sociologist and transhumanist.
“During the twentieth century, the proportion of the general population involved in agriculture declined rapidly, and society became heavily urban. This profound shift may have reduced the opportunities for new communal sects that try to re-create essentially medieval agrarian communities, without necessarily reducing the opportunities for more radical communal cults. This suggests that utopian ambivalence toward nature is increasing, with some groups embracing the Earth while others try to escape it. The sect–cult distinction is only a matter of degree, however, and either kind of group can evolve back toward conventional society. For example, the Amana sect became a household appliance corporation, and the Oneida cult became a silverware corporation.
“Acknowledging the instability that comes from their experimental character, we can learn much from utopian religious communes about building sustainable society in harmony with the environment. Their transcendent ideals and social cohesion allow them to work cooperatively for shared goals. The material lifestyle of successful communes tends to emphasize efficiency rather than luxury, and their need for social harmony causes many of them to develop effective means for controlling the birth rate. Humanity needs brotherhood and harmony with nature, so utopian religious communes can provide valuable myths for the twenty-first century and beyond.”
William Sims Bainbridge, http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/bron/ern/U.pdf
Uploading Life: Send Your Personality to Space (June 28, 2001)
“The gradual merging of human beings with their computers over the next century gives rise to the prospect of interstellar immortality, said William Sims Bainbridge at a recent George Washington University Space Policy Institute symposium.
“Cognitive neural science, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and information systems may allow the founding of a cosmic civilization, a possibility that does not require flying living human bodies and all the necessities of life to other planets.
“The technology already exists to start archiving personalities, albeit at low fidelity. We can begin now to make digital, audio/visual copies of a person’s perceptions, speech and behavior. In years to come, the ability to reanimate human personalities at ever-higher fidelity is a sure bet, Bainbridge said.
“That archive is what Bainbridge, author of the seminal work in the mid-1970s, The Spaceflight Revolution, calls Starbase. “Only a goal as valuable as eternal life can motivate investment in substantial scientific infrastructure on the Moon or Mars,” Bainbridge said.
“Starbase modules, filled with archived but active personalities of crew and colonists, could also make the first interstellar excursions. On their arrival, the crews need not waste time setting up terraforming operations. Rather, the colonists would adapt and thrive in whatever environment they are dealt. Follow-on waves of colonists can be dispatched as “radioed datafiles” across interstellar space, Bainbridge said.
“In future centuries, Starbase archives sent throughout the galaxy can be resurrected into robots, clones or cyborgs, Bainbridge said.
“By offering the stars to people living today, the second wave of the spaceflight movement would be spurred into being, Bainbridge said. The future demands a powerful, motivational force to create interplanetary and interstellar civilizations, he said, and a new spaceflight social movement can get us moving again.”
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