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Vessel Archives: A Strategic Approach to Existential Risk, Human Survival, and the Future of Earth-Originating Life (Preprint submission version)

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posted on 19.04.2013, 20:14 authored by Heath RezabekHeath Rezabek

Preprint submission version of paper for the 100 Year Starship Symposium Proceedings (2012):


Vessel Archives: A Strategic Approach to Existential Risk, Human Survival, and the Future of Earth-Originating Life.



The abundance of ancient worlds detected by the Kepler Mission and others brings the persistence of the Fermi Paradox into stark relief. If an existential (sterilizing) risk to Earth emerged before an interstellar civilization were established, it could eliminate the prospects for complex life across an unknowable span of future time. In the absence of evidence of interstellar life, we must cultivate life on Earth as if the future of life in our region of the universe depended on it. Near-term, humanity must rise to its potential. Long-term, life must find a way. In this paper, we will propose an open project to collaboratively plan and build what we call Vessel Archives: Compact, focused habitats that foster our most sustainable methods and our most aspirational traces during our immediate challenges, emphasizing 100 Year Starship efforts as a milestone on our journey. Yet Vessel Archives would also serve as long-term cultural, biological, and geological archives within self-sustaining biospheres. We explore definitions and classifications of existential risk; the roots of Vessel Archives in architecture and archival; using the techniques of synthetic biology to encode digital data in DNA; tension between curation and sampling through the lens of Benford’s “Library of Life” proposal; and the aspiration that Vessel Archives serve as galvanizing beacons for humanity.



Existential Risk


Biophilic Design

Pattern Language


Synthetic Biology



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