Humanity will move most industry into space and allow only a select few to remain on our planet, which will be turned into a natural resort, according to self-funded space explorer Jeff Bezos.
The Amazon billionaire enthusiastically shared his predictions for what human civilization will look like in the future – with him personally helping to bring that future closer – during a talk at the annual Ignatius Forum in Washington, DC.
He expects vast cylindrical space colonies spinning to create artificial gravity for millions of residents to take over most industrial production. Meanwhile, Earth will be turned into a natural reserve with restricted access similar to US national parks today.
“This place is special, we can’t ruin it,” the founder of Amazon said of our planet.
“Millions of people will move from Earth to space over time. And that’s the vision of Blue Origin – millions of people working in space,” he said, referring to his own firm.
“Over centuries, most or many of the people will be born in space. It will be their first home. They will be born on these colonies, they will live on these colonies. They may visit Earth the way you would visit Yellowstone National Park,” Bezos predicted.
He said that the colonies themselves “will have rivers and forests and wildlife,” which arguably brought his speech out of the realm of futurology and towards optimistic science fiction. Amazon is infamously resourceful when it comes to squeezing its workers for every drop of productivity. That’s why the similarly rosy description of ‘Amazon factory towns’ solving economic inequality in the US was met with horror, when it was proposed by a Bloomberg columnist in September.
Bezos referred to Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, who proposed the concept of space habitats in 1976, as the source of inspiration for him. He said the sort of expansion he predicted was inevitable, if humanity is to grow in a sustainable way.
“This Earth can support, let’s say, 10 billion people to a certain degree. We’d have to work really hard to figure out how to do that without degrading the planet… The solar system can support a trillion people,” he said.
The entrepreneur didn’t comment on who he thinks would decide who gets to live on Earth in the future, when asked by the host of the event, Adi Ignatius. If historic precedent is any indicator, privileges granted by wealth and status may be involved.