Our Future in Space Will Echo Our Future on Earth
Abraham Loeb: On October 19, 2017, we discovered the first interstellar object in the solar system, ‘Oumuamua. As I have argued in recent papers, ‘Oumuamua could possibly be a message in a bottle from another civilization, swept to our solar system shore. Over the next century, we will likely develop the ability to send our own technological bottles to the shores of other planetary systems. Such spacecraft might include robots equipped with 3-D printers, allowing them to use the raw materials they scoop elsewhere to make artificial objects based on blueprints carried with them from Earth. We could also populate these spacecraft with tiny astronauts in the form of microbes that can establish colonies of life elsewhere. Artificial seeding of life-as-we-know-it would constitute so-called “directed panspermia.” But long before we accomplish these goals in space, our society on Earth will likely be transformed by the same technological advances that will enable these space missions.