[FINAL] Speculative Futures, Immigration to Mars

Colonization of Mars ---> Immigration to Mars

To narrow my project focus for the final presentation, I decided that I wanted to assume that the human race has already established and colonized Mars and that I was acting as an individual which was recruiting people from Earth to immigrate to the planet.

Here is my process to get to where I ended up in the final:

  1. Documented Research
  2. Progress at Midpoint of Project
  3. Daily Practice Audition Tapes


After learning about Speculative Design, I was very interested in creating my final around the topic of Speculative Futures. Additionally, after presenting my daily practice audition tapes (#3 above), I got some positive feedback to consider moving this project into that direction. At first I was reluctant to do this, but in the end I decided that it was something I enjoyed doing and wanted to explore this potential way of presenting my commentary on immigration to Mars.

With that said, I researched the techniques of army and cult recruitment to create a character that I would play in the room for the final presentation--- I called myself Lt. Chris Stanley.  The presentation was Lt. Stanley speaking at an info session, trying to convince the students in the class that the move to Mars was something that they should seriously consider.  I focused on the opportunities that this planet has and encouraged them to submit all data about themselves so that they could be considered in the selection process. Obviously, the motivation of the Mars Department of Homeland Security is not only to maintain the human race by moving humans to another planet, but also there is definitely a push here to gain more information about our citizens.


Here is the deck for my final presentation

To be considered to be selected to go to the Premium Planet, The Silicon Valley In The Sky, aka. Mars,  the individuals would have to give up their agency to the Mars Department of Homeland Security in the following ways (only the elite/individuals that scored well would be selected to immigrate to Mars):

  1. Video Interview or In-Person Interview for Psychological Analysis
  2. 65 page questionnaire about your personal background and current life
  3. Social media access
  4. Genetic Information

As for #1 on the list, 'fit' individuals would be psychologically analyzed by AI and Machine learning as to whether they would be chosen to go.  Based on our current face tracking technologies, I was able to gather the following information from the faces of the following audition tapes that I created:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 5.03.05 AM.jpg

Simply based on this psychological analysis, neither of these individuals would be selected to immigrate to Mars. Truthful < 80% doesn't look that great, does it? However, this is very problematic because of the biases we are already aware of in Machine Learning and AI.

Regarding #3 above, in current immigration practices at the airport, people are asked to unlock their phones so that the border officers can look in to their social media profiles for concerning posts. Here are just a couple of articles about this:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/business/border-enforcement-airport-phones.html
  2. https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/4/15551492/aclu-us-customs-and-border-patrol-aaron-gach-phone-search

With that said, if the Mars Department of Homeland Security asks for this information to immigrate to Mars, it shouldn't seem strange, right? ...

As for the last request (#4 Genetic Information), I think this is the most alarming part of this commentary piece.  Can you imagine if this was a prerequisite to supply to come into a country? Are we moving in this direction? It might very well be the case when people want to move to Mars...

It's hard to say if anyone from the class would have actually moved to Mars and was convinced from my info session, but I think they got the point that there should start to be a real discussion about the following points:

  • Who will get to go to Mars?
  • Who will be the people that get to choose who gets to go to Mars?

Alternative Idea

There was one aspect that I wanted to include in my presentation that I ended up cutting out because I wasn't sure if it would land well.

I was still going to present the final as a recruitment info session about immigration to Mars, but what I wanted to start off with was to present each individual in the room with a pill (the demo pill that I would hold would look like this with the LED active),

Tracking Capsule

Tracking Capsule

and I would expect each individual in the room to consume their pill.  In the pills that I would be handing out to the room, they would simply be filled with sugar and to make it seem more real, I would inform them that the LED tracker would, in fact, light up once it was in the stomach fluid. Since this is a Speculative Future, I would inform them that this tracker would remain in their system for 1 week and the Mars Department of Homeland Security would be collecting these trackers at the end of the week.  These trackers would give us the information of the following:

  1. Genetic Data
  2. GPS Data (where did you go in the last week? Your psychologist? Spa? Are you taking care of yourself?)
  3. Heart rate (Are you doing Cardio in your weekly routine, etc.)

Along with taking this pill, we would ask for the 65 page questionnaire and social media access.

If people in the room didn't take the pill (remember, it is just a sugar pill for the demo) they would be asked to leave the room (I was then thinking of streaming my presentation out into the hall so that those students could see the presentation, but if this was a real case scenario, the people that aren't willing to give up all their agency right there and then, they would be asked to leave the premises.) I thought the idea of pressuring the individuals in the room to give up their agency right there and then, might be an interesting experiment, but as I mentioned, I decided not to do this.

For those that decided to take the pill, I would have given an altered, but similar presentation to the deck linked above.

[progress] Colonization of Mars

This is the location where I have been keeping record and notes of items of relevance for my final project.

Just the idea of colonization of Mars makes me nervous. Why? Because I feel like there are so many issues we have made here on Earth that can certainly propagate on another planet if we aren't careful.  Are we going to make the same issues on Mars that we have to the environment here on Earth? Will we have the same segregation and class problems there as well? These are the topics that make me concerned.

When I think about this project, I continually go back to the question of, "How will we decide who gets to go to Mars and who will make that decision?". SpaceX and Mars One are two corporate giants that are funded by investors that have an agenda for this jump to Mars.  Are they going to be the ones that decide? Will the government decide? And then I turn the question around to myself and ask myself the same question, "Who would I put on Mars?" and I can't say that I have an answer.  Will it just be the rich that get to go? Will it be the new Silicon Valley if Elon Musk and SpaceX gets there first?

I made some audition tapes of some potential candidates that might be some of the people that end up living on Mars for the rest of their lives. I'm not sure I would say that I would want any of them to go, especially based on a simple video.  How much information would we need to receive from a person to say, "Yes, you can go to Mars."? What traits, qualities, personalities, etc, would help a person get to move to Mars and which ones would prevent them?

This question fascinated me.

Because I couldn't find an answer for the person I would send to Mars I have been toying with the idea of creating and application package that would have a multi-page questionnaire and DNA sampling kit so that the government/company that is permitting you to help colonize Mars has all the information needed to make the decision if you should go or not. Additionally, since I've enjoyed making videos, I was contemplating making a TV advertisement/sales pitch about the kits explaining the reasons for them and their ease of use (similar to the 23andMe video but more corporate in feel).



Daily Practice

How do we decide who to bring to Mars when we decide to colonize the planet in the next 20 years. Who will be the ones that will make the decisions on how the planet functions? These are questions that I have been asking myself. With that said, I decided to create 7 audition tapes of characters for my daily practice to highlight what type of people might end up in our new world. Constraints for my daily practice:

I gave myself only 30 minutes to do the following:

  • research a past colonization strategy
  • create a character that might support that type of colonization

Day 1: