Saturday, May 10, 2014
Space Crime (1)
Crime follows wherever there is either want or money. Space will have both. It will begin as disputes over needed resources and will likely develop into full blown space pirates that could endanger ships.
In the early days of space there will be a few primary resources that everyone will need. These include water, fuel, and energy. These things will be the gold of space for many years. Space farers will trade these as they would currency. It will be a system identical to the old west trading posts. The trouble is, there will eventually be those that have nothing to trade. An asteroid ship that is out of fuel and has found no rocks with water to barter. While in the very beginning there will no doubt be a space "code of conduct" where people simply help themselves out because they know they all need it. A "do unto others" mentality, brought on by the greater purpose of space colonization. But eventually that will likely fade. Those that are in need may be ignored in order to gain a higher profit. This will be when the crime begins. Space farers will begin to steal from each other either to survive or to make a buck. Again, as in the old west, one could steal a man's gold or his canteen. In space these will be one and the same, at the start. This will be the beginning of crime. Taking the resources of others in order to satisfy an assumed need. Meeting a quota, going farther, or staving off thirst.
Later space will develop to where these basic needs will be able to be fulfilled easily. This is the point where space is no longer a frontier and is rather a fully developed economy. Ships no longer look for the bare necessities. They instead look for profit. Ships will transport precious metals, large supplies of water, or passengers. These become the target of true criminals that are not hunting out of necessity but out of greed.
Now in space it is nearly impossible to intercept another ship by chance, there is just too much space. So the old means of just floating around until something comes along will not be what happens. However, the space culture will have several characterisitics that will be of help to criminals. One, all ships will be able to contact each other and likely be tracked by some form of ground control. This information will be vulnerable to hacks, leading pirate ships to cargo ships filled with platinum asteroids. Second, even if pirates can't find ships in open space they will be able to lay in wait at major ports. Such as in orbit around the Moon and Mars. This makes it less difficult to organize targets.
In the case of waiting in orbit for a target. It will be possible because criminals will likely arrive before security services. This will change as space body guards and space police become established in order to protect the ships in port or even in transit.
As far as crime goes I have only truly spoken about theft. There are other facets that could be discussed but that would make this post go on for ever. Therefore those screws of the topic will be saved for future discussion.
Really, the best analogy for what space will be like, concerning crime, as it develops, is the Wild West. People will kill for your gold, steal your horse, take your pick, drink your water, and anything else you can think of. And it will remain like this until countermeasures are created.
Space is just a huge frontier that will require a much more developed and even multiplanetary society to maintain any kind of law enforcement or protection. When spacecraft come down to the cost of a large boat today, crime will become as commonplace as we see today in normal life. It will, primarily, be the responsibility of the prospectors and the explorers of space to find the means of protecting themselves as they go about their lives.