DARPA wants to travel to the stars.
Fair enough - and very good in my mind. What I find even more intriguing in their Request For Information for a 100 Year Starship Study is that they are specifically interested in a business model that I've long maintained is an insurmountable problem for long-term investments. The RFI says:
"The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has initiated a study to inspire the first steps in the next era of space exploration—a journey between the stars.1 Neither the vagaries of the modern fiscal cycle, nor net-present-value calculations over reasonably foreseeable futures, have lent themselves to the kinds of century-long patronage and persistence needed to definitively transform mankind into a space-faring species... We are seeking ideas for an organization, business model and approach appropriate for a self-sustaining investment vehicle. The respondent must focus on flexible yet robust mechanisms by which an endowment can be created and sustained, wholly devoid of government subsidy or control, and by which worthwhile undertakings—in the sciences, engineering, humanities, or the arts—may be awarded in pursuit of the vision of interstellar flight."
I would love to respond to this RFI. Max submission is five double spaced pages, so it might be feasible. The problem is I have no clue how to surmount this problem. It's precisely this temporal externality that frustrates me so much and the best I can come up with is a government solution. That is riddled with problems itself, of course.
Anyway... I'm thinking on this now. The response has to be in by June 3rd. Would it be inappropriate to just submit something alleging there's no obvious solution and for the time being you have to rely on public investment (and make a case for why that's the case)?