The Philosophy of the Starship


Date: 29 May 2013

Start time: 9.30 am
End Time: 5.30 pm

This is a symposium on the philosophy of the Starship. At some point in the future, human kind will build robotic and human carrying vessels which will go beyond the solar system, out into interstellar space and onto visit worlds around other stars. As we prepare our civilization to embark on this exciting journey to establish the new frontier, it is worth pausing to think, and consider how we should plan these bold and ambitious missions. That planning begins now. History has shown examples of societies who built great vessels for similar purpose, such as the Portuguese Caravel sailing ships which were launched in the 1400’s and used for 300 years hence to explore the coast of Africa. The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic Ocean in an expedition of three such ships in 1492, hoping to find a route to India to trade for spices. His mission was funded by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. The result was his discovery of the New World. Similarly, HMS Challenger set out in 1872 on a three year scientific exercise to lay the foundations of oceanography, going on to discover 4,000 previously unknown species.

For the future Starships, what sort of vessels should we send and what will be their function? how should they be constructed, financed and governed? What sort of technology should such vessels contain? What are the risk/benefits for making the trip? What are the implications for the future evolution of those star faring humans that made the voyage? Who should go, why and what characteristics should these Starship humans have? What will we discover when we get there? Do we understand what is meant by the romantic phrase “Starship”? The Institute for Interstellar Studies™ has organized this symposium in collaboration with the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.

We invite innovative and thought provoking papers which explore these ideas. All submissions should be sent to

Speakers so far include

The “Invention” of the Starship
Kelvin F. Long

Von Neumann probes
Keith Cooper

The Philosophical Heritage of the Starship
Stephen Ashworth

The Philosophy of the Starship – Revisted
Bob Parkinson

Future geopolitical scenarios, their dominant philosophy and the impact thereof on deep space
Frederik Ceyssens

Avoiding Intellectual Stagnation: The Starship as an Expander of Minds
Ian Crawford

Workshop Discussion: Project Dragonfly – led by Kelvin F. Long

To register please click here or download a registration form

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