Nitwittery abounds when people try to predict the future -- and knowing a lot doesn't seem to help. Hand humanity a new technology or idea, and people will take it and figure out things that the inventor never intended. (Mass production lines give you cheap cars. Cheap cars give you drive-in theaters and carhops and eventually, drive-through fast food. Cars with bench seats give you kids making out in secluded locations. This gives you all sorts of aftereffects. And so on. But who saw all that hitched to the first Model T?)
Space travel has its own predictors of the future, back as far as Jules Verne and then H. G. Wells, and plenty of engineers not long after. Fill your tank with Cavorite and settle the Universe! The softer sciences were on that train, too (we can probably lay attracting their attention more at Mr. Wells's door than M. Verne's). This (eventually) results in think-pieces like "Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space."
Tl;dr? That's okay. The upshot is that the fellow who wrote it worries we -- and/or our institutions -- will mutate and this will result in distrust, wars and general awfulness.
There are a couple of problems with this line of thought -- first, we've already done just that and learned to cope (however badly). Second, it's straight-up racist.
Yeah, yeah, I know, overused word, et cetera, et cetera. It still means something. The central thesis behind "We Should Think Twice..." comes crashing down here in the United States when you turn on your radio to listen to the jazz station while you drive your German car past the Japanese grocery store on your way to the Italian restaurant while remembering the wonderful French pastry you enjoyed at breakfast (and that's just in my neighborhood. Yours may offer even more choices). Yes, we fight -- we also raid one another's fridges. If you can drink milk as an adult without discomfort after, some of your ancestors were milk-sucking mutants who drank from their herd animals instead of making cheese -- and lactose tolerance is a trick our species has worked out at least twice, in multiple places, with several different creatures, from goats to camels to cattle. Humans don't all look alike. Our cultures vary. This does not doom us to nothing but an endless succession of wars: we trade. We marry. We steal -- er, "appreciate" -- one another's music and cuisine, fashion and religions.
Our descendants might do the same thing in space? Well, so what. Space is vast and travel is slow. Barring someone figuring out how to cheat at physics (unlikely but humanity's full of surprises), interplanetary war is iffy and interstellar war is damned near impossible. Sorry space-opera fans: it's too far to go, especially when you have a whole solar system right at home, full of sunlight, water (there's ice all over the place), metal and other useful material. In space, we're more likely to be insulated from one another by distance and more likely to swap low mass, speed-of-light-transmissible songs, books and ideas than raw materials. And the more widely humanity spreads through the universe, the more likely there will be people around to do the swapping. Maybe they'll be blue-skinned, live on sugar water and smell terrible -- think what a nightmare monster you'd be at the court of Tiglath-Pileser, any of 'em, with your Raybans, Spotifty-blaring iPhone and crazy-tall height compared to most of them. And that's before we get to what you're wearing (you left the house in that?) and how odd you'd smell to them.
Let's get out there and make new homes in space. Plenty of other people will stay home.
BUILDING A 1:1 BALUN
2 years ago