Outrunning the Law: Extraterrestrial Liberty and Universal Colonisation

Part of the Space and Society book series (SPSO)


In the depths of space, how will groups and individuals interact? What will the dynamics be when law enforcement is in pursuit of criminals, or when powerful groups try to constrain the activities of lesser ones? Using some very general assumptions, it is possible to paint a picture of how these dynamics could play out. The most likely options for competing groups are either an exodus at a significant fraction of the speed of light, in order to escape their pursuers, or a mass expansion to claim as many resources as possible. Such a mass expansion could also be used to preemptively prevent escape. This paper assumes that future humans are capable of ‘recursive manufacturing’ (expanding their manufacturing base to make full use of any new resources) and that they can copy and co-opt natural processes, including some of the mental processes. Then both expansion and escape will be relatively easy for any reasonably-sized space-faring group. The ultimate shape of human society in space may well depend on which groups expand first, and under which circumstances.


Cosmic escape and pursuit Cosmic frontiers Intergalactic Fermi paradox Space-faring 



We are very grateful for comments, support and help from Milan Cirkovic , Pedro Ferreira, Eric Drexler, Nick Bostrom, Timothy Clifton, Toby Ord, Robin Hanson, Daniel Dewey, Nick Beckstead, Charles Cockell, Ian Crawford and Levi Leatherberry.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Future of Humanity InstituteOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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