Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes that “it’s time to go back to the moon, but this time to stay” in permanent lunar cities.
The Amazon boss has expanded his vision from lunar Amazon deliveries to establishing colonies at either pole of the moon. At The Museum of Flight’s Apollo Exhibit, Bezos described a vision for space stretching back to his early childhood. Inspired at five years old by Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the surface of the moon, he is only now finding a way to fulfill the ambitions of his younger self.
After multiple successful test flights, the New Shepard suborbital space ship project for Bezo’s Blue Origin space exploration company is gaining momentum. They will increase staff and could begin ferrying space tourists and science experiments as soon as 2018.
Bezos cited barn-stormers and joyriding as examples of our “long history of tourism and entertainment driving innovations in technology,” but his best example was the power of GPUs to advance fields like machine learning and artificial intelligence. Their origin? Bezos points out that it was “for one purpose, and one purpose only: They were invented by Nvidia for playing video games.”
But getting to the moon is just the first step. And with that goal already in sight, Bezos is moving steadily forward. He wants to see AI developed for use with probes and rovers in order to allow them to function without waiting for detailed instructions from operators, thus increasing the literal and figurative ground they can cover. He concludes that “if you had really good self-driving technology, machine vision and other things, those rovers could keep themselves safe and they could go faster and explore much more in a given amount of time.”
Advanced robotics with vision and learning capability could be used to “pre-position” and perhaps even assemble much of what would be required for the aforementioned lunar colony. That would pave the way for humans to arrive on one of the moon’s poles, which may contain reserves of water ice that would be useful for everything from drinking to producing rocket fuel.
Bezos “want[s] to see millions of people living and working in space” in order to meet the steadily increasing demands of the terrestrial population. Blue Origin is pushing for a future in which they, in partnership with public organizations like NASA, can make that a reality.
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