Next Meetup

Cider + Space Tourism
SpaceX has just announced the identity of the first private citizen due to orbit the Moon on an upcoming mission. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maesawa will not be the first to visit space purely for pleasure travel, however. Space tourism has long been a dream, then a plan, and occasionally even an opportunity. Along with test pilots and other highly-trained specialists, the ranks of the space-faring has now expanded to also include the thrill-seeker with huge sums of expendable cash. And some industry analysts have proposed that, in the waning of nationalist fervor and sufficient support for scientific advancement, that space tourism may be what is required to move us beyond the relative stalemate our species has had in space travel since the era of the since-retired Space Shuttle and completion of the International Space Station (ISS). The Ansari X-Prize gave us Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, capable of supplying sub-orbital flight, ushering in a new type of commercial trip. Seven civilians have taken rides on Russian Soyuz rockets to the ISS. Bigelow Aerospace has developed an inflatable addition to the ISS to test out building a fully commercial 'space hotel'. What is the promise of putting regular (mostly rich) folks in space, in terms of underwriting the development of cheaper reusable launch systems and orbital structures? What types of space activity are, or should be open to private enterprise? Will the first human to visit the surface of Mars be there under the auspices of a government, to further science, or simply for a novel vacation? We will review the history and progress of private space travel, gauge its viability going forward (and what it would take to open up the experience beyond the super-rich), and explore its potential impacts. For example, many astronauts have described what has been called the "overview effect", of being profoundly affected by the perception of the Earth from beyond its atmosphere as a whole; is that likely to occur to someone paying for the privilege? And as we normally ask, what are the Good, Bad, and Weird outcomes of a burgeoning space tourism industry? Come share our space and imagine visiting the skies with us!

Brick River Cider

2000 Washington Ave. · Saint Louis, MO

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What we're about

"We have discussions about the future, in a non confrontational and awesome way. The singularity is coming! Let's all drink and gossip about what the future may be like!"

That's how David H. introduced the group back in Oct 2014. Since then, the potential Singularity (specifically the notion of a recursively self-improving Artificial Intelligence evolving past our comprehension) has possibly only grown closer. But more than just runaway AI impinges on our sense of the Possible supplanting the Familiar. Robotics, ubiquitous networking, gene editing, extra-terran colonization...all of these and more advances were once only explored in science fiction. Increasingly, they make it to the front pages of the news, and not always under the Science section. Proposed technologies can affect our jobs, our safety, our privacy, our potential for expression...even our self-notion of what passes for human.

So as of Fall 2017, we are re-launching Cider + Singularity 2.0 as a broad examination of the coming future. If this were a college course, it might be filed under "Philosophy of Future Technology." But our format has a few advantages over a campus offering: 1) drinking need not wait until after class; 2) free tuition; and 3) no tests!

The format will remain largely the same: discussions about the future, in a non-confrontational and (with your help) awesome way. We will focus, at least to start, on technologies or developments that have already have been proven plausible (i.e. no time travel...yet). Each month, we will pick a topic, consider both the Promise and the Peril it represents, and make a Prediction of how it will turn out. And, perhaps just as critically, we will meet to discuss it at a venue that serves cider, in keeping with our name.

Hope you will join and enjoy our discussions!

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