Amazon’s boss reckons that humanity needs an HQ2

JEFF BEZOS wants humans to live in space. On May 9th the founder and boss of Amazon, who also runs Blue Origin, a private rocketry firm, unveiled plans for a lunar lander. “Blue Moon”, as it is called, is just one phase of a bold plan to establish large off-world settlements. It is a vision ripped directly from 20th-century science fiction. Having persuaded people to take other leaps of faith, from shopping online to placing his firm’s always-on listening posts in their homes, he could be just the person to convince millions to leave Earth. But it will take a unique economic pitch.

Unless Mr Bezos obtains the state-like power to order masses of people around, his plans will require émigré Earthlings to leave voluntarily. Their motives need not be entirely economic. The Puritans left Britain for America in search of freedom from religious persecution. Mr Bezos might well find recruits among unhappy minorities—or among deeply devoted believers in his vision for humanity. He is not an entirely implausible cult figure.

Per his presentation, however, Mr Bezos’s cities will be home to millions: numbers demanding a cost-benefit proposition with mass appeal. People might line up if the costs or risks of staying on Earth were to rise—because of a deteriorating environment, say, or imminent collision with a massive asteroid...

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