Following the visionary cosmism of Nikolai Fedorov and the recently published final book of Stephen Hawking, I think the future of humankind must be out there among the stars.
Singleton’s essay is republished in “#ACCELERATE: The Accelerationist Reader” and Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS Vol. 67, 2014). See also the review “Benedict Singleton: The Accelerationist Cosmism of Nikolai Fedorov.”
Singleton notes that “the doctrine of cosmism begins with an absolute refusal to treat the most basic factors conditioning life on Earth — gravity and death — as necessary constraints on action. As manifest through the intoxicated cheers of its early advocates that humans should storm the heavens and conquer death, cosmism’s foundational gesture was to conceive of the earth as a trap. Its duty was therefore to understand the duty of philosophy, economics and design to be the creation of means to escape it.”
“This could be regarded as a jailbreak at the maximum possible scale, a heist in which the human species could steal itself from the vault of the Earth.”
I love the “Maximum Jailbreak” meme, and I will use it as the name of a new space media project that I’m planning with the Space Decentral team. Singleton has graciously granted his permission.
In the far future we’ll join the community of God-like civilizations among the stars, learn from them, become God-like ourselves, remake the universe, and resurrect the dead. Following Fedorov, I think this is our cosmic destiny and duty.
Here and now, a vigorous space program can give us the strenuous mood and drive that we need to start advancing on the sacred road to the stars (Chapter 10 of my book). With a fraction of what we spend for useless gadgets, games, apps, fashion, cosmetics, unhealthy food, boring entertainment, and dumb culture, we can start colonizing the moon and the planets now. We can, we must, and we will.
In my tribute to Stephen Hawking titled “To Boldly Transcend All Limits: The Visionary Legacy of Stephen Hawking” I emphasized that, to me and to many other futurists, “Hawking was — is — a hero who represents the indomable human spirit.”
Hawking’s final book, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” (2018), was published a few days ago. Before his death Hawking was working on the book, which then was completed by family and associates. From the pages of the book, Hawking speaks to us one last time about the Big Things.
According to Hawking, science can fully explain the universe and it follows that there’s no God or afterlife (I don’t think it follows), time travel might be possible, Artificial Intelligence (AI) research will soon develop superintelligent machines (which is both a big opportunity and a big threat), we’ll inevitably remake ourselves into superhumans with genetic engineering (assuming, that is, we’ll survive looming existential risks), and there’s plenty of life and intelligence in the universe.
But the key message in Hawking’s last words, repeated many times in the book, is that humanity must expand into the solar system and beyond. Hawking soberly emphasizes that space exploration has a unique potential to inspire whole generations, and expanding into outer space is our only protection against existential risks and the key to our long-term survival.
In the conclusion of the book, Hawking’s pragmatism seems to morph into Fedorov’s visionary cosmism:
“We will transcend the Earth and learn to exist in space. This is not the end of the story, but just the beginning of what I hope will be billions of years of life flourishing in the cosmos.”
Hawking didn’t believe in survival after death, but echoing Barack Obama’s tweet I hope he’s having fun out there among the stars.
First published in Turing Church.