February 4, 2016: Online Work Bee

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Thursday Agenda

  • Check in
  • Opening Blessing
  • Project Work
    • Brandon: Beginner’s study guide draft
    • Brandon: Create a project plan for the Gaia Statue
    • Brandon: Email Devera about the Gaia statues … contact the Portland Arts Council about the Gaia statues
    • Brandon: start writing a Gaian perspectives blogpost for Humanistic Paganism
    • Ben: Work on the talk I might get to give at the Contact Conference
    • Ben: Start writing a blog post for EarthSeed
    • Ben: Work on the "Gospel According to Ben"
    • Ben: Update something on Gaia.wiki
    • Ben: listen to the Lovolution podcast
    • Ben: Work on the hemisphere code
    • Eric … Write another blog for EarthSeed
    • Eric … Robot power supply kit and soldering iron tlc
    • Eric … Plan another Meetup for Gaia’s People
  • Evaluation
  • Closing Blessing


  • February 6 Service: 8 AM PST / 11 EST … Shelley

Check In

  • Brandon: I am feeling tired but glad to be talking with you guys
  • Ben: I am nervous about getting enough work done which hopefully I have today and packing which I have to do tonight, and eating leftovers in the break room fridge which might go bad if I don't eat them here and then go home and pack.
  • Eric: I am happy to have typed a nice long check-in for Ben, and to have meditated with both of you today, and to have a vague idea of how I'm going to get everything I need to do done in the next 2 days

Opening Blessing

We're part of a team that is working together toward a common vision … feel the gratitude that is in you, for each other. -- Blessed Be

Ben's talk

Biospheric Communionism scenarios

  • Let nature take its course
    • Doesn't even require sapient beings' involvement
    • Lots of invasive violence early on, eventual stabilization
      • Quote from "The Mountains of Mourning"
  • Sapient beings try to influence events toward more harmony more quickly
    • Engineer ourselves and our fellow species to be more like the aliens
      • Huge challenges, but major benefits if we can e.g. use the same amino acids they do
    • Prevent the unrestrained expansion typical of invasive species by changing our animals and plants to be fairly easy for aliens to eat?
    • Sapient aliens would help keep us honest
  • Turn things over to a higher power
    • Gaia probably isn't a giant sapient being...but could we turn her into one?
      • Crossover with some Singularitarian ideas
      • Maybe reference "Hob"
    • How would one such intelligence send an envoy to establish good relations with another?
      • Imagine a starship something like the living Stanford torus in the Gaea trilogy

The meet-in-the-middle solution

  • Two biospheres met in neutral territory and create something new out of a barren world
    • No risk of accidentally causing a massive crash in a mature biosphere, possibly even an original homeworld
    • There wouldn't be one party feeling nervous about "invaders" and another feeling resentful about having to make such enormous changes to fit in
      • Instead, both parties would probably end up making huge changes to themselves
  • Maybe once the new world is established, there could be gradual experiments with sending some of its residents to live on worlds dominated by one biosphere or the other

The next great leap

  • Imagine triggering a Cambrian explosion on an alien world
    • Could be intentional or just an evolutionary response to invasives
    • Raises thorny ethical questions
  • Now imagine what it would look like if a world like ours took a Cambrian-level leap forward in diversity!
    • Put two biospheres together and their diversity might not add, but multiply
      • Tens of millions of species from one biosphere each have to find ways to coexist with at least hundreds of species from the other
      • Each two-species solution is a jump forward in possibility space

Ben's Earthseed post idea: Seedships and where they're going

How do you bring Earthlife to new earths? There are two basic ways to do it. One way is to make those earths yourself: build a space colony and fill it with living ecosystems, or even plant life on a whole barren planet like Mars and help it shape that world into one that can support a self-sustaining biosphere. The other is to just go find an existing earth and try to live there. It sounds like the second way is much easier . . . but is it?

For one thing, there are clearly no other earths in our solar system right now--maybe some living ocean worlds encased in thick layers of ice, but we land animals couldn't live there any more easily than on a dead planet. So to reach another earth, we have to cross the vast expanses of interstellar space.

  • A starship could be a manufactured mini-earth
    • Not so easy, as Biosphere 2 showed and as discussed in the novel Aurora
  • Or just a "seed" carrying dormant life
    • With a small rotating human crew and/or AI pilot/maintenance system
    • It's not just humans who are the "seeds," it's all the animals, plants, fungi, and microbes we bring with us

If you reach someone else's "earth," what do you do when you get there?

  • Terraform it to be like our Earth, regardless of the cost to the natives?
  • Submit to the changes necessary to allow us to fit in on their world as it is?
  • Somewhere in between?
    • Being the small group of newcomers, Earthseed will have to adapt much more than the living world we're trying to live on (There is no end / To what a living world / Will demand of you)
    • But we don't have to (and probably can't) give up our power to shape change

Closing Blessing

We came together to work toward our common vision. We can feel our ideals beginning to blossom into full fledged communities of discussion and practice. May we bring our vision to the table and welcome the diverse visions of others who share most of what we believe. -- Blessed Be

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