From 2021 to 2022, mankind has never been so eager to immigrate as during this period. Or, more accurately, a small minority of the elite craves it.
The immigration I am talking about is divided into two categories: immigration to alien planets and immigration to virtual worlds.
Immigration to alien planets
Outward – When future generations write the history of space travel, there will likely be a chapter dedicated to it in 2021. This chapter could be called “The Year of the Billionaire.”
On July 11, 2021, billionaire Richard Branson arrived at the edge of space on a Virgin Galactic rocket ship, flying more than 85 kilometers and experiencing weightlessness for 4 minutes. The 71-year-old became the first person to sail on his own spacecraft, nine days before Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.
After about 20 years of commitment, Branson and Bezos are finally putting competing private spaceships into supersonic flight. Another billionaire, Elon Musk, spent his own money to fund a group of four civilian space tourists, including himself, on a three-day orbit around the Earth in the SpaceX orbital module. The distance jumped.
And this may just be the beginning. The three space billionaires, Branson, Bezos and Musk, have their sights entirely on the future. Over the past year, their visions have collided, sparking plenty of controversy and discussion.
Branson took the lead in entering space, but from the highest point of the flight, Bezos’ space flight was more than 16 kilometers higher than Virgin Galactic. At the same time, “no astronauts” has also become synonymous with Bezos’ flight. . The flight went smoothly for both billionaires, who emerged from their respective spacecrafts wearing custom flight suits and smiled for the camera.
And Musk’s SpaceX is not involved in the suborbital tourism game. His rockets and spacecraft took longer and were more dangerous to enter Earth orbit. While Musk himself has not announced any apparent plans to go into space at the moment, his company continues to prove its technological capabilities. It significantly expanded its space-based internet service Starlink, expanding the constellation to include approximately 2,000 satellites. Its Crew Dragon spacecraft is also helping astronauts fly to and from the International Space Station in 2021, and it topped the billionaire race for space tourism with a historic space tour in September.
In Musk’s space tour group, four passengers float around the capsule, playing songs, creating art works and staying in touch with the ground control center. The 4-meter-wide capsule orbits the Earth approximately every 90 minutes, traveling at 2.8 times an hour. Flying at speeds of more than 10,000 kilometers. Passengers have close contact with the stars through the 360-degree panoramic skylight of the space capsule, embarking on a real space journey.
Underlying all this competition is a shift in the driver of space flight from long-standing large-scale government projects to private enterprise. The shift toward privatization in space has not only put billionaire companies at the forefront of scientific achievement, but has also accelerated the push for space tourism projects. Although these projects are currently limited to the clubs of the ultra-rich due to high prices, there are already plans for luxury space hotels. discussion.
The billionaire said that exploring space is to make humans a “multi-planetary species” and formulated plans to colonize Mars “in case the worst-case scenario occurs and the demise of human consciousness”. This sounds exciting at first. Yet all the news about billionaires going to space has also sparked a flood of backlash, including criticism from high-profile figures like the United Nations secretary-general and Prince William. Critics point out that the huge investment in space comes at a particularly vulnerable time for the Earth – with the coronavirus pandemic still causing widespread death, and a historic heat wave prompting concerns that global warming has reached dangerous new levels.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in September 2021 that “a disease is spreading in our world: a disease of distrust,” adding that it included “billionaires joyriding in space while Earth Tens of millions of people are starving.” US$6 billion, according to estimates by David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, is what is needed to save the 41 million people around the world who are destined to die from hunger in 2021.
Immigrate to the virtual world
Inward – The Metaverse is portrayed as humanity’s next “habitat.”
During Facebook’s earnings call at the end of July 2021, Zuckerberg spent a lot of time explaining what the Metaverse is. “It’s a virtual environment where you can be with people in a digital space,” he said. “You can think of it as an embodied internet where you’re there, not just browsing. We believe this is going to be mobile The successor of the Internet.”
Just three months later, Zuckerberg took a groundbreaking step: Facebook took the prefix of the English word “metaverse” (meta, derived from Greek, meaning beyond) and changed its name to Meta (Full name: Meta Platforms Inc.). Zuckerberg gave a speech at the Facebook Connect conference held on October 28, saying, “The Metaverse is the next frontier, and from now on, we will put the Metaverse first, not Facebook first.” On the same day, Zuckerberg published an open letter from the founders, saying that the Metaverse “will touch every product we create.”
Like emigration to other planets, emigration to virtual worlds is also a rich man’s game. Technology and video game companies such as Epic Games, Roblox, Disney, Microsoft, and of course Meta are investing billions of dollars in these virtual worlds. In the age of the pandemic, when real-world experience available to the non-rich is increasingly limited, the pitch for the Metaverse seems persuasive. But my guess is that the metaverse vision inspires billionaires like Zuckerberg not primarily because of the new market opportunities it brings (which of course exist), but because of a personal interest in creating parallel Cosmic interest.
Create an alternative world, in which everyone must use your currency, act according to your rules, and at the same time promote themselves in it involuntarily. Such an idea of ”creating the world” is not suitable for rich people. , really has great appeal.
While the metaverse discourse is heating up, 2021 is also the year when cryptocurrency explodes. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken the art world by storm. Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is listed on Nasdaq, and MANA, a currency from the Decentraland virtual world, is rising on Coinbase’s rankings. Elon Musk sparked and then popped a truly wild Bitcoin bubble. Zuckerberg’s plan to release his centralized digital currency Diem (formerly known as Libra) is now battling regulators. Meta wants to distance itself from previous failed attempts, but reiterates that it will not give up on creating and managing currency for its metaverse.
What I find interesting is that whether it’s the statists—the tech giants whose power and influence rival those of nation-states—or the advocates of decentralization—those who are still bringing us some kind of influential Asia. Cryptocurrency innovators across the culture all view this new chapter of technological advancement in much the same way: as escapism.
Loss of human status?
From this point of view, for the few top achievers on our planet, immigrating to other planets and immigrating to the virtual world are actually the same thing. The immersive space of the metaverse and the alien colony on Mars are all turning science fiction into reality, and are super imaginations that overflow the boring current society. However, whether it is the metaverse or the Mars colony, it has never just been a fantasy about an alternative reality, but a fantasy about power. Now, these pioneers of future space have the capital and power to pursue their fantasies, and they are doing so.
In 1958, at the beginning of “The Human Condition”, Hannah Arendt touched on the confusion about a major scientific event. This event was the launch of an artificial earth satellite into space-it meant the beginning of the human space age. What seemed incomprehensible to Arendt was the desperate desire to escape from the planet itself. The question that troubles her is, what makes the world so unwelcoming that humans would want to flee their homes? Arendt believed that it was we who made the world uninhabitable, even uninhabitable.
She writes: “Earth is the epitome of the human condition, and we all know that it is a unique place in the universe that provides a habitat where humans can effortlessly function without the help of man-made objects. Walking and breathing on the ground. Artifacts in the world distinguish human existence from any purely animal environment, but life itself is external to this artificial world. Now a lot of scientific investment is devoted to making life ‘artificial’ , severing the last link that binds a person to the bosom of Mother Nature. The same strong desire to escape from the bondage of the earth is also reflected in the efforts to create life from the test tube, in the “removing and freezing of sperm from people of remarkable ability”, After mixing, it is reflected in the desire to ‘put it under a microscope to create superhuman beings’ and to ‘change (their) body shape and abilities.’ And I suspect that the desire to escape the human condition is also reflected in the desire to extend people’s lifespan to over a hundred years. In expectation.”
After reading this, we can’t help but be shocked by Arendt’s amazing insight: what she writes here is not the “human condition” (human condition), but has directly hit the “post-human condition” (post-human condition). human condition).
In 1963, shortly after mankind’s first space exploration and as NASA planned to launch Apollo 11 to the moon, Arendt was asked: “Has mankind’s conquest of space enhanced or diminished its existence?” Her answer “The Conquest of Space and the Status of Man” was later included in the second edition of Between Past and Future (1961). This essay originates from the preface and second half of The Human Condition, which together express Arendt’s views on how science and technology have changed what it means to be human in the modern world.
Arendt believed that science and technology were taking us away from common participation in society; it uprooted the masses and devalued interdependence, pushing more and more people into the dungeon of loneliness. Ultimately, in her view, science and technology are creating a type of people who find satisfaction solely in labor and consumption.
There is no doubt that for her, both kinds of human migration today mean human alienation: if we go into space and start to control the sky above us and the people on the earth, then we will become another entity ; Degenerated from the “subject” of the earth to the “object” of the earth, and is no longer the great and dignified human being it is now. If in less than a hundred years we “produce a future man who seems to have an ability to rebel against the existence given to man… he can replace himself with anything he can create if he so chooses,” then Humans would become “mindless creatures, controlled by every gadget technically possible.”
Re-reading Arendt today, the most profound insight we have gained is: No matter where humans move from the earth and from reality, those places will still be artificial planets and artificial worlds, because they will be completely designed and designed by humans. put up. There will no longer be a concept of “destiny” because humans will be able to control everything (provided the machines don’t rebel against humans). In this way, humans will disrupt natural processes and be able to avoid every natural thing they don’t like. Living in such an artificial environment, humans would be viewed as “things,” less human and less diverse, while also abandoning our earthly nature. Arendt summarized this as “the loss of human status”.
If this happens, it will be because wealthy elites disguise their business interests as technological advancement, thereby tempting us to dream of the unimaginable. While such parallel universe fantasies can easily lead to indulgence, it is worth bearing in mind Arendt’s reminder that we may avoid blind faith; faced with using our most advanced scientific and technological knowledge in these new directions, We “fail to think.”