These planning pages (circa 1999) are kept here for reference. The ongoing project is now here.

Self-replicating technical artifacts such as dogs, corn, and trees have been in use by humanity for thousands of years. While humans cannot lay credit to the original creation of such systems, they can claim the adaptation and selective breeding of these for defense, food, and building materials.

In the past few millennia, many people have become dependent on technology that is not self-replicating. Primarily this technology involves fairly pure forms of metals, plastics, and crystals. These technologies have expanded the earth's human carrying capacity in the short term, but are not sustainable in the long term. Such technologies lack the closed resource cycles, independent operation, redundancy, and resiliency found in natural systems. A symptom of the use of such non-sustainable systems is the fear that a single problem (like Y2K) could cause a major disruption of life-support infrastructure in the developed world.

For example, both Brittle Power (Amory and Hunter Lovins) and Energy, Vulnerability, and War (Wilson Clark and Jake Page), make clear how vulnerable our energy infrastructure is. As Brittle Power (pg.391-392) mentions, this vulnerability also holds for food and manufacturing production:

"The production and distribution of food are currently so centralized, with small buffer stocks and supply lines averaging thirteen hundred miles long, that bad weather or a truckers' strike can put many retail stores on short rations in a matter of days. This vulnerability is especially pronounced in the Northeast, which imports over eighty percent of its food. In a disaster, the lack of regional self sufficiency both in food production and food storage would cause havoc, but no one is planning for such possibilities."
And in reference to energy production:
"The Joint Committee on Defense Production notes that American industry is tailor made for easy disruption. Its qualities include large unit scale, concentration of key facilities, reliance on advanced materials inputs and on specialized electronics and automation, highly energy- and capital- intensive plants, and small inventories. The Committee found that correcting these defects, even incrementally and over many decades, could be very costly. But the cost of not doing so could be even higher -- a rapid regression of tens, or even hundreds of years in the American economy, should it be gravely disrupted."
In a long-term space mission or a space settlement, a self-sustaining economy must be created and supported. Therefore, addressing the problem of technological fragility on earth is an essential step in the development of the development of human settlement in space.

The heart of any community is its library, which stores a wide variety of technological processes, only some of which are used at any one time in any specific environment. If an independent community is like a cell, its library is like its DNA. A library has many functions: the education of new community members; the support of important activities such as farming and material extraction; historical recording of events; support for planning and design. And the library grows and evolves with the community.

The earth's library of technological knowledge is fragmented and obscure, and some important knowledge has been lost already. How can we create a library strong enough to foster the growth of new communities in space? How can we today use what we know to improve human life?

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