I’m fascinated by the idea of Mars One. It may be an exercise in absolute optimism, but I believe it’s possible to pull it off. I’d be applying myself, except I have obligations to people here on Earth.
In fact, I have an obligation to every person who’s ever going to live on Earth and beyond. I think, while it would be an amazing and enriching experience for all of us to send people to another world, we don’t get to do that. Not yet. We don’t have the right to spread our problems around like that; we’re not ready for the responsibility of leaving our home.
When you can look me in the eye and tell me that if we meet people out there, alien cultures with whom we can communicate, without any risk of reacting to these people with selfishness, with revulsion or with hostility — not take their stuff if it seems they lack the ability to stop us from doing so, not pass judgement if they seem strange, not resort to violence if it seems they may pose a threat — if you can absolutely guarantee that our representatives in space will engage these strangers with respect and patience and dignity and peacefulness and curiosity and credulity and good intentions; then you may go to space.