Thoughts on Interplanetary and Interstellar Commerce

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright October 2020


Interplanetary and interstellar commerce: What kinds of things will be moved for trade between planets in a star system and between planets in different star systems?

First, a basic: the 94 naturally occurring elements that make up all the matter on Earth are also found on all other planets. This means that while moving matter around Earth's surface can make economic sense, it is not likely to make sense to move matter from planet to planet -- the moving process, the shipping, is much more expensive. What will move instead is information -- information moves a lot faster and more cheaply than matter does.

This means that while it makes sense to move a rover to Mars to do exploring and having it send back images and other information, it won't make sense to move potato chips to Mars for human colonists there to munch on. It will make more sense to build a potato chip factory on Mars.

In the same vein, will it make sense to move colonists to Mars, or to planets orbiting nearby stars?

The alternative is to send a rover which builds a factory which then grows human clones. In this alternative most of what is being sent is information.

In the same vein, being a tourist to another planet will be accomplished a lot more cheaply and conveniently by sending a rover equipped with high quality VR recorders and sending the recordings back for the tourist to experience while in a VR machine on Earth.

Related: If an alien is going to conquer and colonize Earth the cheap way, they will send a rover which will first build robot warrior factories (or hijack human factories), and, after the conquering is completed, then build alien cloning factories to grow aliens on Earth who will then enjoy the fruits of the conquering success.

In sum: The real world of interplanetary and interstellar commerce is going to look very different from what is portrayed in Star Wars/Star Trek-style universes.



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