The Philosophy of the Starship

Date: 29 May 2013

Location: The British Interplanetary Society, 27–29 South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1SZ

I4IS are pleased to announce our first ever one-day conference, which will take place at the headquarters of the British Interplanetary Society. This exciting symposium on the philosophy of the starship will bring together people for an exciting day of discussions.

At some point in the future, humankind will build robotic and human carrying vessels which will go beyond the Solar System, out into interstellar space and onwards to visit worlds around other stars. As we prepare our civilisation 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 that were launched in the 1400s 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 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 organised this symposium in collaboration with the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. We invite innovative and thought provoking papers that explore these ideas. All submissions should be sent to

Speakers so far include: • Kelvin F Long – The Invention of the Starship • Keith Cooper – Von Neumann Probes: Close to Reality? • Stephen Ashworth – The Philosophical Heritage of the Starship • Bob Parkinson – The Starship as a Philosophical Vehicle • Frederik Ceyssens – Future Geopolitical Scenarios, Their Dominant Philosophy and the Impact Thereof on Deep Space

To book tickets, log onto the British Interplanetary Society’s website at

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