Share

cover art for Chatter: Governing Space Settlements Ethically with Erika Nesvold

The Lawfare Podcast

Chatter: Governing Space Settlements Ethically with Erika Nesvold

As humanity builds settlements beyond Earth, myriad ethical issues will arise--many in a different way than they do terrestrially. Astrophysicist and space communicator Erika Nesvold has devoted extensive thought and research to how to ethically govern space settlements, most notably on her podcast Making New Worlds and in her book Off-Earth.


In a conversation that pairs well with Shane Harris's March 2022 Chatter discussion with astrobiologist Lucianne Walkowicz about ethical space exploration, David Priess spoke with Erika about her grounding in Star Trek and other science fiction, the JustSpace Alliance that she co-founded with Lucianne, that alliance's interactions with space industrialists, Erika's application to be an astronaut, conflicting motivations for humanity to settle space, how we should select space settlers, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the concept of legal personhood for non-terrestrial bodies, labor law and criminal justice in space settlements, how motivations for settling space influence openness to various forms of government, and more.


Among the works mentioned in this episode:


The podcast Making New Worlds


The book Off-Earth by Erika Nesvold


The Chatter podcast episode Ethical Space Exploration with Lucianne Walkowicz


The Star Trek universe


The Foundation book series by Isaac Asimov


The Dune book series by Frank Herbert


The YouTube video All Tomorrows


The movie 2012


The book 2010 by Arthur C. Clarke


The book Artemis by Andy Weir


The movie Sunshine


The book A Brief History of Equality by Thomas Pinketty


The book series The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan


The book Doomsday Book by Connie Willis



Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • Bill Wright on the AI Executive Order

    35:40
    A little over a month ago, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order on artificial intelligence (AI) covering a broad set of AI issues, such as privacy, transparency, the development of biological weapons, and many more. The order hands out expansive directives to several U.S. government agencies and private industry, which the Biden administration hopes will help the U.S. lead the globe in AI development in a safe and sustainable manner. Lawfare Research Fellow Matt Gluck sat down with Bill Wright, Global Head of Government Affairs at Elastic—a leading search company—to discuss, from the perspective of an industry insider, what the executive order means for tech companies that rely on AI and the relationship between tech companies and the U.S. government. Is collaboration among companies in the competitive AI space possible? Which aspects of the order could help smaller companies keep up? Will the order let companies dictate their processes for complying with the order’s broad objectives?
  • Two Courts Rule on Presidential Immunity

    56:00
    On Friday, two courts weighed in on the question of presidential immunity. First, Judge Chutkan of the DC District Court ruled that Trump is not immune from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s criminal prosecution for his conduct on Jan. 6. In the second, the DC Circuit Court ruled that Trump is not immune from a civil suit brought by members of Congress and Capitol Police officers, also relating to his conduct on Jan. 6.To talk through the decisions, Lawfare Executive Editor Natalie Orpett sat down with Lawfare Senior Editors Quinta Jurecic and Roger Parloff along with Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes. They discussed the nuances of both opinions, how the analysis is consistent and how it is different, and what each case implies about the other—and what comes next.
  • Matthew Tokson on Government Purchases of Private Data

    33:53
    Is the Fourth Amendment doing any work anymore? In a forthcoming article entitled “Government Purchases of Private Data,” Matthew Tokson, a professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, details how, in recent years, federal and state agencies have begun to purchase location information and other consumer data, as government attorneys have mostly concluded that purchasing data is a valid way to bypass Fourth Amendment restrictions. Lawfare Senior Editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Matthew to discuss this article, where he attempts to bring this constitutional evasion to light. They talked about the two main arguments offered for why the purchase of private data does not violate the Fourth Amendment, his responses to these arguments, and the recommendations he makes to courts, legislators, and government agencies to address the Fourth Amendment and privacy concerns surrounding government purchases of private data.
  • Rational Security: The “We’re Moving to Microsoft” Edition

    01:11:53
    This week on Rational Security, a contentedly full post-Thanksgiving Scott and Quinta sat down with two Lawfare colleagues—Senior Editor and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds and Cyber Fellow Eugenia Lostri—to talk through the week’s big national security news stories, including:“Showdown with an Only O.K. Rationale.” The House and Senate are preparing for a showdown over national security priorities, with assistance for Ukraine (and Israel and border security) hanging in the balance. Where does the debate seem likely to go from here—and what will the global ramifications be?“Bringing Down the @SamA.” OpenAI, the non-profit(?) behind ChatGPT, has had a chaotic few weeks, with its board ousting CEO Sam Altman on the apparent grounds that he was not taking AI safety concerns seriously enough, only for the vast majority of organization’s employees to threaten to resign unless he was brought back—a step the board took, just before most of its members resigned. What do these events tell us about the state of the AI industry?“Carpe Ceasefire.” A fragile pause in hostilities has emerged centered on the exchange of Israeli hostages held by Hamas for imprisoned Palestinians—momentum the Biden administration is reportedly hoping to build on. Yet calls for a permanent ceasefire continue amidst mounting civilian casualties and humanitarian needs, and there remains no clear plan for a post-war Gaza. How long will the pause last? What happens when hostilities resume?For object lessons, Quinta recommended the 1990s classic “Distant Star” by Robert Bolaño. Scott gave his Thanksgiving gold star to Eric Kim’s creamy mac and cheese recipe. Molly leaned into her love for local NPR affiliates and recommended WGBH’s podcast “The Big Dig,” focusing on Boston’s legendary highway project. And secret gamer nerd Eugenia recommended a compelling video game that even parents of toddlers have time to tackle, What Remains of Edith Finch.
  • Trump’s Trials and Tribulations: Gag Orders, Telephones, and Other Stuff

    01:24:31
    It's another edition of “Trump’s Trials and Tribulations,” recorded on Thursday before a live audience of Lawfare Material Supporters. Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare Senior Editor Roger Parloff, Lawfare Legal Fellow Anna Bower, and special guest Kyle Cheney of Politico, to talk about Scott Perry's text messages that were newly revealed in a filing in D.C. District Court, about happenings with New York gag orders and D.C. gag orders, about Section 3 of the 14th Amendment cases, and about Anna's story about the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s report in Coffee County and how much it sucked. This is a live conversation that happens online every Thursday at 4:00pm Eastern Time. If you would like to come join and ask a question, be sure to visit Lawfare’s Patreon account and become a Material Supporter.
  • Lawfare Archive: Jim Baker on AI and Counterintelligence

    46:52
    From September 25, 2018: The United States has become the global leader in both defense and private-sector AI. Inevitably, this has led to an environment in which adversary and ally governments alike may seek to identify and steal AI information—in other words, AI has become intelligence, and those who work in AI have become potential sources and assets. And with intelligence, comes counterintelligence.Jim Baker, a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former FBI General Counsel, is part-way through a series of essays for Lawfare on the links between counterintelligence and AI, two parts of which have already been published (Part I and Part II). On Monday, Jim sat down with Benjamin Wittes to discuss his work on the subject. They talked about how to understand AI as an intelligence asset, how we might protect this valuable asset against a range of threats from hostile foreign actors, and how we can protect ourselves against the threat from AI in the hands of adversaries.
  • Anna Bower Critiques the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

    47:43
    Anna Bower is a Legal Fellow at Lawfare and our Fulton County Correspondent, and has been digging into the weird events in Coffee County in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Her latest tome on the subject is entitled “What the GBI Missed in Coffee County,” and is about the Georgia state investigation, the report on which clocks in at almost 400 pages but is a great deal less impressive than it may seem at first glance.Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes sat down with Anna to talk about the GBI's investigation of the Coffee County caper. What did the GBI do? What didn't they do? Did they add any new information? They actually did—but they also left out a whole lot that any reasonable investigator would want to look at.A video version of this conversation is available on Lawfare's YouTube channel here.
  • Chatter: Coups and Counterintelligence with Peter Strzok

    01:19:51
    Peter Strzok is a former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. He was the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division and led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. He speaks with Ben Wittes about the numerous places he has called home and a career spent in counterintelligence.
  • Comparing Civilian Casualty Tolerance in the Israel-Hamas War to the War Against ISIS with Mark Lattimer

    40:57
    Israel’s military response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre has raised deep concern from international legal observers and the general public. The IDF’s tactics have been described as “disproportionate,” and not taking sufficient care to avoid killing civilians or damaging civilian infrastructure, as the law of armed conflict requires.When it comes to incidental casualties in particular, Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, recently argued on Lawfare’s pages that Israel’s tolerance for civilian deaths seems to surpass even that of the U.S. and U.K.’s in the war against ISIS. Lawfare Associate Editor Hyemin Han talked to him about the case study he used to make this point—an analysis of Israel’s decision to carry out airstrikes in the Jabalia Refugee Camp in October. They compared that to what happened in the Battle of Mosul in 2014, and then got into the bigger differences between Israel’s war against Hamas and the war against ISIS.