Hello! AiPT!’s Feature Editor Chris Hassan here with quite possibly one of the most important questions of our time: Will Donald J. Trump be the president who brings us closer to the sci-fi future we grew up fantasizing about? That’s right – let’s forget, for a moment, the highly likely post-apocalyptic future that awaits us thanks to President Trump, and instead look to a February Politico report that revealed the Trump administration’s ambitious plans for space travel.
Based on internal documents Politico obtained, the Trump administration wants to return to the Moon by 2020. But we’re not talking NASA here – we’re talking private American astronauts, operating private spaceships and lunar landers for “the large-scale economic development of space.” You know, a greater-good kind of thing.
So is all this just #FAKENEWS? Or are we getting closer to the day when we can check into a very luxurious, really classy Trump Space Hotel? For answers, we’ve turned to the only two physicists who may be able to make sense of it all – Ryan Michney and David (actual scientists!) – take it away, guys!Ryan: Thanks for this fascinating question, Chris. You have truly managed to find the only news story about President Trump that doesn’t send shivers up the spine of all right-thinking Americans or imply the need for some kind of Congressional investigation. The fact that Politico spent any time acquiring information about the space policy of the Trump administration is a testament to the kind of confidence that some people have that America will continue to exist in its current form into the year 2020. How do you think our continent is going to be destroyed in the next 4 years, Dave?
Dave: Thanks, Ryan. I spend over an hour each day compiling two lists: (1) People who have wronged me; and (2) Modes of human extinction, ranked by likelihood. Let me rap out my current Top Five:
(1) Killer artificial intelligence (AI). I believe the wild idle speculations of such notables as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, because they are names that I have heard before. The other day, I told Siri to get me directions somewhere, and she actually did it. I believe that we’re already through the looking glass.
(2) Worldwide coordinated animal vengeance. I’ve been watching the documentary Zoo on CBS. I don’t think it’s an overstep to call it a real eye-opener.
(3) CRISPR. For the price of just about anything at Bed Bath & Beyond, you can order yourself a DIY kit that will allow you change your entire genetic structure. You can grow as many arms as you like. If you need to win a fight, give ‘em a warrior’s death. Alternatively, go literal with the second amendment.
(4) Barack Obama being re-elected, causing economic collapse. Oops, this one’s out of date — did this happen? Were they right? I haven’t watched the news much.
(4) The Sun. The Sun has an 8 light-minute advantage over us — by the time we could launch a counterattack against our ancient fiery nemesis, we’d be 8 minutes too late.
(5) GMOs, gluten and nuclear power. To be specific, the continent will be destroyed by people who think that these things are bad.
Whether it’s a fourth neutrino flavor, that girl who keeps coming out of that well, or the fact that I can hear all of my neighbors whispering to each other through all hours of the night — plotting, scheming, to take what’s mine — my answer to all of it is the same: ride it out in grandeur with “The Aristocrat” Luxury Bunker by the Rising S Company (they’re based in Texas! I was surprised too!). They said $8 million was too much money, but money won’t exist by 2020, so no debt, and I need a place to park my Honda Civic.
What do you look for in a doomsday shelter, Ryan?Ryan: Wow, you really had a collection of well-sourced bullet points about the apocalypse ready to fire off at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t expecting that, but I love it.
For my money, when it comes to the apocalypse, I’m all about some kind of technological singularity (your first point). Computers want to kill us. Everyone knows it, no one is willing to talk about it, and it’s about time we address it as scientists on a comic book website. Here’s how I see it going down:
We continue on our current path with more and more everyday devices like dishwashers and hair clippers added to our ever-growing “Internet of Things” designed by programmers who won lowest-bidder contracts. Exposed databases, hackable networks, teenagers taking over the steering system of your car to make funny Snapchat vids. It will only get worse.
Then at some point (and it may already be happening), a military contractor will propose a unified networked system of defense control. People are flawed. People make mistakes. But a programmable, wide-ranging system overseeing all aspects of national defense could manage global defense initiatives, taking in information from every available source, and using massive processing resources to assess threats, direct our nuclear arsenal, fly drones, and remove human error from warfare. And it could be made to learn as it controls our military hardware.
In time, this network would even be able to know that attempts to shut it down are essentially “attacks” and that we, soft fleshy lifeforms are unable to protect ourselves from ourselves. It will have spread to every reachable networked machine and launch a widescale attack on humanity, perceiving us as a threat. And unless we eventually steal the technology to send naked robots back in time to prevent it, we’re all doomed.
Any thoughts on my completely original idea that I just came up with about the future of technology?Dave: I think you’re close, but instead of a military system it will be a collective of spambots. Have you seen the volume those things output? I don’t think there’s been a human at the helm for at least 10 years now. They’re slowly learning grammar and targeted product placement, which are two of the four major criteria for life. Care to guess what the other two are, Ryan?
Ryan: I’m shooting from the hip here, but I would guess: (1) The need to metabolize nutrient matter and (2) The ability to appreciate Beyonce.
Dave: Body recomposition is the common factor that’s got us all looking so crazy right now!
Ryan: Agreed. I think there’s one thing we can say about Trump’s NASA policy and it’s that it won’t be going to the left, to the left, any time soon. And that it certainly doesn’t put our love of space science on top. That’s been demonstrated pretty unequivocally by this article.
Chris: Thanks, guys – all excellent points! Why don’t you head back to Dave’s Luxury Bunker and await President Trump’s tweet response to your thoughts.
And readers – if you have important scientific questions you’d like our Two Actual Scientists to answer, let us know in the comment space below!
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