Space Property Summary
James Bennett comments on space development and universal basic income. He believes that within 24 months a demonstration of dramatically lowered costs may occur with SpaceX’s Starship. A mass accelerator could be used to create low cost shipping of bulk material to orbit. Space habitats could be built which take advantage of low cost shipping instead of being self sustaining – which would change the design and constraints of constructing such habitats.
The world administrative radio conference of the international telecommunications union divided up radio bands for global communication. It’s a good example of a terrible way to divide commons and make pseudo-property out of it. One entity one slot gives small nations large amounts of bandwidth which they can sell – which highlights the problem of “who counts as equal”.
Another issue is that laws require enforcement, and enforcement in an environment with no authority is difficult. On a global stage, each nation tends to enforce only its own laws. For space, it’s more efficient to give up on universality and use a more fragmented approach.
Universal basic income off of public natural resources seems like a good system, and works in Alaska. However, in certain political systems its possible for corruption or gaming of the system to break it. Headcount would need to be done instantaneously for the initial dividend otherwise exploitative breeding or migration strategies would emerge.
Property in Space
David Friedman speak about the nature of space property and the various solutions for handling it. The most important aspect is whether we will have cheap space travel, which leads to a space economy closely tied to the terrestrial economy – or expensive space travel which will cause the space economy to evolve independently.
Property ownership, scarcity, rights, and enforcement will be shaped by national and global interests over the coming decades.
Presentation: Property in Space
- There are two general ways of ending up with a space economy. If there is a cheap way of getting to space, an economy will develop which resembles the earth economy. If there is no cheap way, then a slow trickle of people and resources will go to space which then blooms into its own unique economy.
An explanation of property vs. commons. Property has ownership, commons has no ownership and includes most of the information and ideas of our society.
Treating things as property incentivizes people to take care of them and helps allocate materials toward their highest value usage. However, it requires monitoring and enforcement.
If something already exists, is hard to monitor, or is not scarce, it should not be property.
Space is typically not scarce, but some elements of space are. Geosynchronous orbit, L4 and L5 points, resource rich asteroids, and ‘solid angle on the sun’ locations are scarce.
Rights can be enforced in an earth-tied economy by courts on earth. If a space government develops, space courts could enforce rights. There are also several methods for private enforcement, such as commitment and trade secrets.
Spaceships and planets may also have property right issues.
Seminar summary by Aaron King.