The Arctic Liminal Zone

Jason Stone
4 min readApr 8, 2018

Space colonization should be liberal and human centric not authoritarian and ethnocentric! Perhaps we can begin to build large colonies in the Arctic Circle to explore the technology and cultural conventions that people should use in space colonies, including Mars.

Space colonies may tend towards authoritarianism, since organizers may prey on people’s fears about mistakes killing the entire colony. There may even be a tendency towards genocide if founders of a colony wish to control the founder population.

In addition to authoritarianism, space colonization may tend towards ethnocentrism and nationalism as different groups compete for international respect and recognition.

If we start now, we may be able to explore many different technologies and cultural conventions before large scale space colonization begins. We may be able to attract a large collection of people to live and work inside of experimental designs and using experimental cultural conventions around the Arctic Circle.

Some of the initial costs of the colonies could be covered through:

1. Crowdfunding
2. Government Grants
3. Reality TV Shows

In addition to exploring different technologies for building, maintaining, and enjoying life in an extreme environment — we could explore different forms of participatory government and rule enforcement regimes. Some communities may wish to be communal — with Universal Guaranteed Incomes and other types of guaranteed access to resources. Others may take a more competitive approach. Some communities may attempt to explore exile as a punishment over imprisonment. Other’s may attempt to build prison systems.

It may also be important to develop large, multigenerational colonies that are self-sustaining so that we can answer other important questions. How do children behave in dangerous environments? How do people express their individuality in environments that are generic and regulated? What type of customization can we allow the individual to have without causing safety concerns? How do they pursue political change?

At the same time we’re exploring different conventions, I propose that we initiate the creation of a new language. The basic grammar and initial vocabulary could be created through an open standards process similar to the one used by the Internet Engineering Task Force. This process could be open to internet voting. In addition, the vocabulary could be crowdsourced where new words are added to the official lexicon on a periodic basis, perhaps every six months. The words for the language could come from any source language where they could be normalized into a root form and transliterated into a standard phonetic model. The lexicon could include links to the world culture that each root word came from. The process of constructing this language and learning it could be a moment of global human cooperation which is appropriate, since colonizing beyond the surface of one’s indigenous planet is a once in a species seminal event. We should use this moment to draw the world together, not perpetuate divisive traditional languages or allow a single culture to dominate.

The language could also be designed to ease human computer interaction, including machine translation between natural languages. This could perhaps be done using Douglas Engelbart’s work on H-LAM/T. Machine translation could be aided by using the constructed language as a bridge between traditional languages, meaning that if a translator to and from this intermediate language is available, then a text can be translated to and from any other language that also has a translator to and from the intermediate language. Perhaps there could be an idiom guide that follows a translation, based on the language the text was translated from.

Since the language would be for a new human/machine civilization, since it would be a lingua franca similar to Sabir, and since Sibera may play an important role in the Arctic Circle communities that are built — I propose that we call the language “Cyber”. Since the communities in the Arctic Circle would serve as a transition point between earth habitation and space habitation, I propose that we call the civilization that forms there the “Arctic Liminal Zone” (ALZ). Some of the initial colonies could form in Svalbard, Norway — a visa-free zone that is open to the world.

I propose that the ALZ remain active in perpetuity as an earth based culture that reflects the culture of space colonies. It should provide people from around the word with purposeful activities, including suggesting design and cultural ideas through the internet and visiting the ALZ in person. Individuals considering joining a space colony could explore the style of living in the ALZ to help them make a more informed decision.