Project

Democratic Futures in Space

Copyright

Jacob Lawrence x David Colby Reed

Jacob Lawrence x David Colby Reed

The space environment will likely produce authoritarian social relations. How might engineered and social technologies and create democratic counterweights?

How do you quit your job when you work in outer space?

The physical features of the space environment (big, and lethal, absent capital-intensive technological mediation) will likely create authoritarian patterns of social relations among humans living and working in space. It is difficult for a free society of equals to take root in a context in which surveillance is total, government is private, and noncompliance with authorities is lethal.

What might a democracy agenda look like in this environment? Sociotechnical systems such as law and economies offer the potential for democratic counterweights. By building out the architectures for systems of philosophy, law, economics, and technology design that center relational equality, we can lay the groundwork for democratic relations in space and other extreme environments, such as an Earth increasingly marked by climate change.

This project is my effort to outline the stakes and frame the challenges of building systems tha… View full description

The space environment will likely produce authoritarian social relations. How might engineered and social technologies and create democratic counterweights?

How do you quit your job when you work in outer space?

The physical features of the space environment (big, and lethal, absent capital-intensive technological mediation) will likely create authoritarian patterns of social relations among humans living and working in space. It is difficult for a free society of equals to take root in a context in which surveillance is total, government is private, and noncompliance with authorities is lethal.

What might a democracy agenda look like in this environment? Sociotechnical systems such as law and economies offer the potential for democratic counterweights. By building out the architectures for systems of philosophy, law, economics, and technology design that center relational equality, we can lay the groundwork for democratic relations in space and other extreme environments, such as an Earth increasingly marked by climate change.

This project is my effort to outline the stakes and frame the challenges of building systems that can accommodate democratic social relations in future space habitations and economies. I am incubating several projects and collaborations across philosophy, law, market design and development economics, science and technology studies (STS), and technology design that will collectively offer a vision of justice in our space futures.