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Ethics of having children during interstellar travel?





JoryRFerrell
This idea is analogous of settlers traveling westward, with a sci-fi twist. Very Happy

How would we deal with reproduction during voyages which span several generations?
Quarters would be confined and cramped, so resources would be very, very strictly rationed.
Everything from personal space to water would be carefully monitored and controlled. Privacy would suffer a great deal though this might be far less of a concern for those born in this environment.
Every person born aboard a cramped flight would have no choice but to take up a "career" in fields that were required of them, in order to maintain the mission

So, considering these things, would it be right to force a child to exist in these conditions? Would it only be proper to conceive children aboard these flights, forcing them into the mission, if there were enough "freedom" given by enormous quarters and resources? A flight to Alpha Centauri would take immense amounts of time. Even with technology taking us approximately 10% the speed of light, the trip could span several adult, work-capable lifespans, requiring new generations to be born, or raised in-flight, for the trip to AC, the duration of any possible stay, and a possible trip back without an established, full blown, earth-sized civilization to support the effort homeward.
Idea

Obviously no immediate concern....but cool stuff to consider... Razz
badai
same as if you live in any isolated, self-sufficient community. nothing to think about, except maybe you need to have some control on how many and when children are allowed because those kids definitely cannot settle out of the ship while still in transit.
_AVG_
One big problem will be incest. If genetic trouble is to be avoided then the crew should be chosen such that at least 4 generations of offspring can be produced without incest. Otherwise we should assume that a civilization advanced enough will be able to do enough genetic manipulation such that they can "correct for incest".
JoryRFerrell
badai wrote:
same as if you live in any isolated, self-sufficient community. nothing to think about, except maybe you need to have some control on how many and when children are allowed because those kids definitely cannot settle out of the ship while still in transit.


It is something to think about. Consider Navy ships. Is it appropriate to have children aboard a warship?
Obviously there is a slight difference in that one is at war, while the other is not. Still, both are very serious, tense, focused missions. Is it right to force someone to live that kind of life? It's similar to if a couple had a child at a permanently roving warship. That child will be forced into the mission, like it or not.
90dota
Maybe, we would freeze ourselves in order to emigrate into the future to find adventure.
JoryRFerrell
90dota wrote:
Maybe, we would freeze ourselves in order to emigrate into the future to find adventure.


Maybe we will in fact develop cryostasis. But I am consider current technology. What can we do with technology that only allows us to make the trip fully conscious and "operative"?
SonLight
JoryRFerrell wrote:
badai wrote:
same as if you live in any isolated, self-sufficient community. nothing to think about, except maybe you need to have some control on how many and when children are allowed because those kids definitely cannot settle out of the ship while still in transit.


It is something to think about. Consider Navy ships. Is it appropriate to have children aboard a warship?
Obviously there is a slight difference in that one is at war, while the other is not. Still, both are very serious, tense, focused missions. Is it right to force someone to live that kind of life? It's similar to if a couple had a child at a permanently roving warship. That child will be forced into the mission, like it or not.


I see a big difference between the warship and the spaceship. Presumably children could leave at age 18 if they chose to, or possibly earlier with parent's permission if there were somewhere else to go. Also I would imagine the parents could change careers, or at least where they are posted, with a couple of years notice.

In an interstellar spaceship, it is conceivable that interstellar mining would provide resources for alternatives, although it seems like a long shot both because of high velocity and sparcity of materials. If we do assume that vehicles and in-space dwellings can be built, then it might be possible for some of the crew to decide to stay at an intermediate point or to return to Earth. Not too comforting an idea though.

This subject might be a couple of centuries premature. After all, we still haven't figured out how we're going to do manned missions to Mars!
codegeek
So, let's say that a spaceship bound for a certain far-away galaxy requires 100 human generations to reach the galaxy, study it and finally return home. I wonder how the humans who return from the galaxy to earth would interact with the humans who are living on the earth. Surely, there would be a huge leap in technology since the launch of the spaceship. Plus, the people aboard the spaceship would have never had any contact (other than perhaps signal transmissions) with the civilization on earth. I think it would be a pretty interesting thing to consider.
SonLight
codegeek wrote:
... . I wonder how the humans who return from the galaxy to earth would interact with the humans who are living on the earth. ... .


Presumably, there would be an opportunity to communicate video, etc. I would think it would be almost like meeting a totally alien civilization. Given a generation or two to visit, share each other's technology and cultural history, I think the return would be seen as a great boon to both groups.

Probably most medical and biological issues could be settled long-distance. It would be important to know if individuals from the two groups could have children together well in advance, for example. I suspect they would not be sure if one of the groups carried diseases which would be dangerous to the others, though. In the interests of safety, I would think they should be isolated from each other when the newcomers first arrive, except for a few thousand brave souls who would be willing to take the risk of discovering whether there were problems.
badai
suddenly i remember battlestar gallactica. i don't think they have any restriction, in fact they do need to have children in order to replace aging crews. just don't ask why adama refuse to grow old and die.

of course the children don't have any other choice except to take over everything from their parents. it's survival. if the people don't want to have any child because they think it's unfair for the children, then it would be the end of the species. so in order for humanity to survive they must have children.
shashwatblack
this ought to interest you,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrFhfmHTF-Y

the privacy issues would be far less of a concern.. more important concern would be the astronauts' and the children's health. Continuous disuse of the bones will wear them off, and the levels of radiation will pose fatal problems. The children having been conceived and born in a gravity-less environment won't have a proper growth, what will happen to them, can't be said with certainty..

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ocalhoun
It's the same as bringing a child into any world, only on a smaller scale. Your child will face hardship, and will have limited choices in life. This is guaranteed anywhere.

(What would be interesting, though, would be the reaction of space-born kids coming to earth for the first time. What would they think of it?)

shashwatblack wrote:
Continuous disuse of the bones will wear them off, and the levels of radiation will pose fatal problems. The children having been conceived and born in a gravity-less environment won't have a proper growth, what will happen to them, can't be said with certainty..

So spin the ship to give centrifugal 'gravity'*, and build it with really good radiation shielding**.
These are not unsolvable problems.

*Just as good as regular gravity, or your money back.
**Or maybe they'll invent an active radiation shielding method... perhaps by beaming out exactly opposite waveforms to cancel out incoming radiation... or perhaps by finding a way to convert the incoming radiation to a more beneficial and useful form of energy.
Dennise
It would only be an issue on first trips.

Then - later - the descendants could be given the choice of a link-up with a returning flight back to good ol' Earth.

And for trip descendants, there'd likely be lots of reasons why being born on a spaceship might be the only way to be born should the Earth not be habitable or even exist at such times.
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