No, Humans Will Never Achieve Interstellar Travel
- Never. Not ever, even 100 quadrillion years from now. Never. Clearly, what follows is just my highly speculative opinion. It seems to bother people. Some call it pessimistic. Some call it overly optimistic. Whatever. Just my thought.
Should our species remain extant for the next thousand years —meaning we don’t kill ourselves with bio-engineered plagues, or Yellowstone doesn’t erupt and kill us all, or a KT-like impact doesn’t happen— we will eventually cease being “human” in a few centuries.
Centuries? Not millions of years?
Yes. Provided that we continue (a) existing and (b) advancing in technology, by the middle of this century, we will have access to our entire genome, nano-technology (or at the very least, micro-robotics) and AI. Those technologies, if we try really hard to extrapolate their logical course, mean that at some point in the next few centuries, there will be no more homo sapiens. Perhaps a few “museum humans” will choose to remain in their old form, but those beings will live on Earth or space stations, too frail and ephemeral; too needy to package into dense vessels for interstellar travel.
If our descendants survive, they will adjust their genome. Maybe it won’t become prosaic until 2125, but at some point very soon, the temptation to remove all “negative” traits will be overwhelming. The temptation to enhance with some genetic coding from other beasts will become overwhelming. The temptation to enhance with artificial bits—that connect us to instant information, right to the brain— will be overwhelming. The temptation to create new biological features un-imagined by “Mother Nature” wholly invented by us and our super-advanced computer technology (maybe a new cell wall, completely re-engineered mitochondria, or a cell part that we cannot imagine today) will become overwhelming.
At some point, after sufficient changes, we won’t be human any longer. We certainly won’t be homo sapiens. We’ll be something else…IF “we” survive that long and continue advancing technologically. A global disaster could destroy our civilization but leave a few hundred thousand of us thrown back the equivalent of five millennia. But if we survive and continue advancing, then homo sapiens is done in a few centuries at the longest; a century at the shortest.
At some point in time, the advancing technology will unlock self-assembling, self-making robotics that leverage exponential growth that will either be our end or our elevation to the pinnacle of abilities in this cosmos. With lives extended to the many millennia, with intelligences in VR and AI’s meandering about the solar system, “time” won’t have the same cachet as it does today. A journey at .01c, taking 1,000–1,500 years to cross the gulf between stars will be meaningless in the lives of those beings — beings that are effectively immortal who see time as a non-obstacle.
Those beings, if they end up coming into existence, will achieve interstellar travel. Not us. Not humans. Never homo sapiens, but them.