Man is a meddler. The measure of his meddling is his technology, begun mega-years ago when a forever nameless ancestor dare the hell of flame and tamed the forge that would one day carry his descendants to the Moon.
Since that first technological plateau, man has expanded his capacity to meddle so that the second and the third technological explosions will have to take place essentially together – a single chapter in the epic of his last 4 million years as homo-sapiens. The second revolution, the invention of machines, led sections of this earth into affluence unparalleled before – but at a price. Although most men of Earth still labor as did their ancestors 10,000 years ago, the world on which they live is not the same. Reduced by swelling numbers and their demand upon its bounty, the Earth they know has shrunk, becoming finite far too soon. Future history, therefore, depends intensely on the outcome of a race between pollution and depletion of the Earth, and awareness of the unprecedented nature of this age.
Solution of the problems facing Man requires yet again another revolution, the third technological upheaval in his reign of planet Earth: the quest for energy both limitless and non-polluting, complete removal of inherently polluting industries from Earth, and full development of electronic surrogates for men in tasks dehumanizing to man’s basic nature.
With these objectives firmly held in mind, the achievement of a dream can come to pass. The garden of the Earth can be restored, with men pursuing occupations that enhance the human soul, not degrade it. Attainment of the highest human aspirations – a world of peace where opportunity for full personal development exists for all – is possible: the second Golden Age, if and when the benefits of sophisticated automation are coupled with increasing use of manufacturing facilities in Space, and both are joined to social systems equally advanced.
Therein lies the future of a world worth living on, with myriad other human cultures in myriad other places across the solar system…
Hope for the full flowering, at last, of Man’s Humanity to Man.
Participants in discussions for the Third Seminar include:
Arthur C Clarke, author; Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society
Drafft Ehricke, chief scientific advisor, North American Rockwell Company
Robert Heinlein, author
Janet Jepperson, psychologist; member New York Academy of Sciences
Sarah Meltzoff, cultural anthropologist
Marvin Minsky, Director Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Keith Moore, psychologist
Linda Sagan, artist
G. Harry Sitne, author; consulting engineer
Resources of the Solar System
Manufacturing processes in near-Earth space, on the Moon, and in other environments of the solar system
Removal of heavy polluters from the biosphere into space
Commercial possibilities for the development of extraterrestrial capital
Transmutation of rare elements in environments uninhabited and isolated from terrestrial ecology
The search for artificial intelligence and its implications for the future of civilization