Who should survive?


This thread is for discussion points in Colonising Kepler 62e: Evacuation.

In the future, an asteroid is going to obliterate the Earth. The only hope for humanity is to colonise a distant planet. As such, one of your jobs is to decide who gets to go into space. In essence, who are the best people to prolong the existence of the human species.

Who should survive? How would you choose the survivors?

50:50 male to female?
Only people from your nation? (some other nations will build their own spaceships)
Only people with a skill?
Whole familes or individuals?
Young or old? Should there be an age limit?
Disabled people? (mentally or physically)
Lottery for places?
Would you sell places? (money could be used to improve spaceship facilities)

You can reply to one or all of these discussion points. Try to justify your answer and feel free to play devils advocate to other replies!


how many are we allowed to choose? i would choose everyone if possible


First and most important depends on the tech - namely, whether the uterus can be replicated or not.

If so, I’d choose individuals based on their skillsets and ability to form a colony (including childrearing professionals). I would also take along a lot of sperm and ova samples from widely-diverse genetic populations of all races so that children could be created with a necessary genetic pool.

If not, sad to say, I would have to include “healthy female with working womb” among the desired skillsets, though I would still take along lots of genetic material, again both sperm and ova, to be implanted in said wombs; I’d try to go for a 1:4 ratio of men to women. Natural reproduction would not be favored at the first stage unless the colony was huge (in the 10,000 genetically diverse individuals range).

(Note that IVF and stored gametes make colonies much, much easier; it’s simply a lot easier to haul around frozen sperm and eggs than to select the colony itself for genetic diversity.)

With all of this in mind, I would probably select partly by “crew” skills and partly by lottery. Regarding the crew, the important factor is skillset and all others are irrelevant (also, crew members with families can bring their family); for the lottery, I would probably triage individuals over a certain age or who were too disabled to work. Also, if we don’t have free access to exowombs, I’d reserve 3/5ths of the lottery to be only available to healthy women under 40 with functional uteri, as above, and these women would have to contract to be willing to bear children. (Whether they would be required to raise them, I’m not sure, though they should be permitted to. How many slots do we have for dedicated childrearers?) If we didn’t have to do that, I would probably divide the lottery between open slots and family slots.

Regarding selling slots, I assume I have control of the national government under emergency powers. Therefore, no, I wouldn’t “sell” slots, I’d nationalize the resources necessary for the project. The wealthy who might otherwise buy places on the ship will be contributing with or without their consent, so I see no reason to give them places on the ship! (That said, I imagine the Beltway politicians would realistically ensure that they had “crew” status, along with their Wall Street buddies; this is America…)


Mmmm, difficult choice. I naturally want to save everyone, but I think if worse came to worse I could pick and choose.

  1. 25-75 male-female would work best, because there are more ladies for the guys to sleep with and to have children with; thus the population increases faster, without shrinking the gene pool so much that inbreeding sets in. Women are likely going to be required to have at least two babies in their lifetime, sorry girls. Also, we’ll be slipping back to medieval ages for a bit, which means people start fathering/mothering kids as soon as they hit puberty. I envision children being raised by the community with people “rotating” in turns looking after them. There won’t be any proper families formed for a while–being a kid’s parent essentially means you get a few extra hours with them, and that’s it.

  2. Going on a survivalist viewpoint, homosexuals don’t spread their genes to the next generation, so they don’t get to come along. MAYBE one or two with an exceptional skill set, if they’re willing to sleep with the opposite gender. But overall, no. Sorry.

  3. It would be easier to choose people from just my nation, because there won’t be a culture clash that way, but I’m not particularly picky. If a guy from Russia wants to offer us his knowledge of firearms and farming, I won’t say no.

  4. Stuff essential to survival comes first. People who know to grow or catch food get priority, as do people with military experience or who otherwise know how to fight. Leadership skills are important to prevent a Lord of the Flies scenario. Doctors are super-important, almost as vital as the food-gatherers. People with education in science and electronics are also useful I’d say, so we can start building up technology and adapting to the new world. Inventors are good, they’ll be needed to, well, invent the ideas for new tech. I’d probably try to squeeze in a few artists, because art is an essential part of human culture, but if I can’t fit them, I can’t fit them.

  5. Individuals. Because of the aforementioned requirements–skills, sexuality, etc–not everyone in a family is going to fit, and that’ll breed resentment, which is unacceptable when everyone is fighting for their lives. Someone who is unattached will have an easier time leaving Earth behind and will be less reluctant to “breed” than someone who feels like they’d be betraying a spouse.

  6. Combining children and age into this. Children get to come to lessen the generational gap, but they have to be old enough to know not to screw anything up, while still being young enough to adapt to the new situation. Age range 6-10 for kids I’d say. Age range in general, 16-25, which is according to scientists the peak of human fertility, but there should be some people in their 30s-40s so the colony isn’t left at the whims of teenagers and young adults. 45 is the age limit. No old people come, sorry.

  7. No mentally disabled people period. This is going to be a rough era of survival, and if you can’t even look after yourself, you won’t have anything to contribute to the community. Physically disabled, maybe, if they’ve got a good enough skillset.

  8. No lottery, I’m not leaving the survival of the human race up to chance. I’m not certain about “buying” slots, because that could allow a rich, lazy person onto the ship, but the funds could be useful…can I just tax the wealthy, since they won’t be needing the money anyway?

  9. Because I don’t have anywhere else to include this: everyone picks one religion. Practically since the beginning of mankind we worshipped something, whether it was God or gods or animals or nature. Having something higher up to rally around would make the transition easier.

…looking back on this, it’s a little scary how easily I can ditch ethics and morality in an “end of the world” scenario. I honestly don’t have anything against homosexuals, disabled, elderly, and babies IRL, and I like to think I’m a nice person. Kinda chilling to see the difference when survival becomes priority.


Well that’s certainly a loaded question but the short answer from me is this: Take those with the same ideology and race. Would not bring disabled people any mental but a few physical, also would not bring any other religious material aside from one set religion that was agreed upon by the passengers.

Men to women would be a 1 to 6 ratio. To be honest we’re not as important in the survival sense when it comes to making more of us.

All passengers would have to be able to either get someone pregnant or have a child.

All passengers would also have to have rudimentary training in firearms when we landed on Kepler.

Every passenger who boarded the space shuttle would have to have a skill that would benefit the crews survival otherwise they’re not getting on board. Children likely would not come with either. The human race needs every scrap of food and hands on deck as we can get. Someone like a child would not be able to help with engineering or other such things.

Whole families can come if they’re all skilled.

I’d sell land.

I’d also sell lottery tickets but only a very very small handful of these tickets. Which would make everyone claw and fight to buy them. These people however May suffer an accident before they got onto the ship or we just left without them.

The main reason for no differing ideologies or race is to increase cohesion and prevent as much infighting.

Looking back on it I realized I’m a stone cold ass. But for the survival of humanity I’m prepared to do anything.

P.S @Ramidel I didn’t mean to reply to your post specifically just accidentally clicked on your respond button.

@Apocrypha, very true. When it comes to survival niceness, morality and ethics are usually the first to go. Your plan is good by the way.


It’s understandable in a colony situation. If in-vitro fertilization weren’t such a useful trope breaker, I’d agree with you on a lot of these. And as you may have read from my post, I’m still looking at women as possible baby factories if we can’t gestate the children artificially.


@Razgriz: Thank you! I remember reading somewhere that human empathy only developed once populations were able to stand on their own, so if the future of the species is at stake then naturally they’d be the first to go. I just don’t think I realized how ingratiated empathy is in our lives until I tried to remove it.

@Ramidel: I would have included artificial fertilization, but I decided to plan for an absolute worst-case, no-tech-beyond-making-food-and-water, scenario. And even if I could bring it along, I, like you, would still side-eye women as baby-makers because…stuff breaks.

ALSO! I forgot to include doctors in my skillset, which was super dumb of me because all the planning in the world does you no good if everyone dies of some disease, and choosing one religion for the new colony, because I believe that having some higher power to rally around, believe in, blame, whatever, makes life easier for humans. Edited my post for that.


Well, if IVF is not possible, then a couple of other considerations I’d be looking at.

One: Is the colony bigger than a thousand (five hundred at the smallest)? If not, then stop factoring in racial survival as a concern. Contrary to pop culture, you need at least that many genetically diverse humans to have a breeding pool.

Second, I would make very, very sure that all races were represented. Again, genetic diversity is a huge thing for isolated populations.

Third: yes, everyone would have to contract to have sex and make babies and the laws of the colony in the first generation would prohibit exclusive homosexuality and mandate babymaking as a social duty. I wouldn’t exclude homosexuals so long as they were willing to do a reproductive duty; they have done so throughout history.


First and foremost, we must ensure the survival of the species, breeding potential of the survivors must be considered. Everyone going must be able to produce the next generation in large numbers to keep humanity going. People in their 20s or early 30s would be given top priority. Children would be going with their parents, if the parents qualify. The only exceptions to this would be someone with an absolutely indispensable skill set, like some engineer in his 50s whose job it is to keep our star drive going. If he absolutely can’t teach someone younger and healthier how it works. So, being young, fit, and able to breed is the top priority.

After that, you filter based on skill sets. English Majors are not a vital skill set to survive on a new planet. Agriculture would be. So would scientific knowledge. Military training. Medical. More frivolous pursuits such as art and music can be backed up in the ship’s hard drives for future generations to break out and study once the survival of the species has been ensured.

Race would not factor in to my filtering one way or another. If you select survivors based on health and skill sets, odds are you’ll end up with a diverse group of survivors anyway. And as others have pointed out, its pretty easy to bring lots of extra genetic material along, and just to be sure, we should bring as much as we can, though we should filter out genetic faults.


Lots of interesting points. This reminds me of my favorite college philosophy class.

My two cents:

  1. I think leadership is the top priority. You can have all the eggheads in the world gathered together, but you need strong, decisive leadership to actually ensure people perform the duties they were assigned and that things don’t fall apart at the first sign of conflict. hate to get all nerdy (okay I really don’t mind), but in my mind you HAVE to have someone like a Captain Picard or even a Janeway. Someone has to possess enough gravitas and confidence to inspire and direct the others, and no, this is not going to be a 25-year-old doing this. And you need a rigid chain of command. All of these people are going to be in the 30 to 50 year-old range.

  2. I think I’d require a “no religion” agreement. Hear me out on this: Folks have prioritized folks with math, science, engineering backgrounds but then you’d want them to agree to adopt some belief system that (okay I’ll say it) has nothing to do with logic or reason? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I agree that human societies have historically adopted religious belief systems, but in most cases they did so to: 1) provide answers or explanations for questions or conditions they couldn’t wrap their heads around and 2) keep the peons(and women) in line. If you allow one religion, guess what, other folks are going to splinter off and form a subset with slightly different beliefs. And then in a few generations folks will splinter off from them, and we all know that folks with such differently ingrained belief systems are going to butt heads. I think it would be better if there was a “no belief in unproven deities” rule to keep everyone on the same track.

  3. And I do think that folks with backgrounds in law, business, and government would be needed, although not in the numbers that would be needed for the tech folks. No offense to tech folks, but I haven’t seen a lot of people I’d call leaders in my experiences with them. Some people are going to be needed to determine laws and rules and to help tweak the laws and rules when the society outgrows them. It will have to be authoritarian but ultimately flexible. And I’m not sure if the initial colony will be a big collective as far as economics are concerned, but eventually some economy will have to emerge. People want to be rewarded for using their skills and for working hard. As the colony grows, the “oh my gosh will we make it??” factor will slowly subside and some people will get lazy. Others will work harder. An economy is going to emerge sooner rather than later so having some people who understand economics will be very helpful.


Grumble grumble grumble HornHeadFan is banned from my spaceship. Lol just kidding we may always need at least one choicescript programmer.

You’d be surprised how quickly people will invent religion when denied it and how quickly they’d turn on you once immediate danger had passed. After all they’re heading to a new world and life so I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want a Chinese esque system to be their building blocks for the new world.

How would you all keep the rules you’ve set in place maintained? Very harsh treatments would spark a revolt and we really wouldn’t be able to afford to kill each other.


I thought you were going to say your ship might need a lawyer! :school_satchel:

And I just wouldn’t want to be surrounded, in a very intimate environment, by colonists who (secretly or publicly) think I will burn in fiery torment for alllllll eternity unless I…wait for it…adopt all of their beliefs.

And I’m not sure how you avoid that unless you just recruit a bunch of atheists! How would you avoid this problem?

The good news is that we love to party!

edit and I wouldn’t want to confuse religion with philosophy. I think it’s fascinating thinking about how, or if, things are connected with each other and how we should treat others.


Some excellent points here. Here’s some follow-up information that may cause you to change your mind on some of your answers:

The journey is 1200 years.

There are two spaceship designs you can build:

  1. A cryogenic ship. For this design, the passengers sleep for the duration of the journey. The people who go are the people to colonise the new planet.
  2. A generations ship. The people on board will live and die on the spaceship, generation after generation for 1200 years.

The spaceship population size will be somewhere between 10k and 100k.


Well hell, up to 100k people? I think that changes the whole conversation. For some reason I was picturing a Star Trek Voyager type scenario.


Cryogenic, definitely. Generation ships are not likely to stay on mission or retain the skills that will be needed for colonization over forty generations.

Also, if you can build a generation ship, you don’t need a habitable planet.


Believe it or not but atheists believe in something. This something is founded upon nothing more than what they think is the right answer. Now I’m not going to get into a debate about religion vs atheists because frankly none of us know what’ll happen when we die all we can do is hope we’re right.

Now your comfortable space would be on absolutely no one’s list of concerns. If you can’t deal with a bunch of religious people then staying on Earth is always an option.

Until we’ve established a base on Kepler and been there for a few centuries atheists and other possible religious sects aside from the pre established one will be viewed as heretics and put down. It would basically be the middle ages all over again until we had a strong enough foot hold. After that you could be whatever you wanted to be. My whole ship would be of one religious sect in the beginning.

It’s a very very cruel way of doing things. I personally have nothing against atheists. I mean to each his own but on the ship that would hold the very last of humanity there will be no room for anyone who could cause problems.

I would establish a secret police of sorts to root out people who would cause trouble along the journey. Other religious sects that popped up would also be snipped in the bud.

Please don’t take this personally as this a purely fictitious scenario and as I’ve said I have no problems with atheists or people of other religions.

And in my defence you pretty much killed me with your spaceship anyway so I feel I’m justified in my spaceship design. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I do agree with the first and third points you made.


Cryogenic, for basically what Ramidel said. People will get lax over the course of 1200 years, skills and stuff will get lost in transition, and they won’t have as urgent or understanding an attitude towards maintaining the species. “Oh, we still have a couple hundred years to go, plenty of time, so why am I being forced to breed again?”

(really getting into it) I think early government will be some mix of dictatorship and oligarchy. Like, you’ve got all the leadership people together. Individually, they maintain small affairs for, say, a few hundred people–fights over food and what-not, sort of like mayors. Collectively, they get together and make big decisions for the colony, but whatever they decide goes. If you don’t follow the rules, you lose privileges at best or get thrown out at worst. They each pick and train one successor to take over for them once they die, the people don’t get a say. There may be some “big brother” going on, with them closely monitoring the people and each other to make sure no one is skimming on duties or hoarding food or whatnot.


I would sell as many places on the spaceship as possible; however, I would only sell to those that are deemed worthy of buying a place. The cost for one ticket, so to speak, would be everything that worthy person owns.

Other than that, I would not make spaces for the elderly or for homosexuals; unless technology makes it possible for them to procreate, then there’s no reason good enough to bring them along.

I would also host a “lottery” of sorts; it would be a rigged lottery that only allocates places again to those who are chosen. The purpose of the lottery would be to pacify the masses; nothing else.

I would make a generation ship; there’s no reason to halt the progress of humanity for 1200 years just because of a random asteroid.


Like @HornHeadFan said, I think that totally changes the ballgame. Breeding capacity is no longer a critical factor, because even if you’re just picking randomly, you’ll end up with a big enough fertile population to keep humanity going. You aren’t forced into the hard (and desperately ugly) choice to prioritize working gonads and the willingness to use them over every other vital quality in our species.

For my part, I would vote for a lottery all the way. Anything else succumbs to the Soviet/stockbroker illusion that a clever individual can optimize results in a complex system. In anything but a lottery, you prioritize the skills you think future humanity will need… and discover too late that you’ve selected out some key genes/skills/personality traits which leave your species stunted or failing.

There’s a wonderful (because morally fraught) sci-fi theme here which was partly picked up but far from exhausted by Planetary Quarantine. When you have the chance to start a new world from scratch, what do you try to leave behind? Like the “wrong” religions as suggested in earlier posts on this thread – by saving a population with total conformity of belief, do we really hope that they’ll stay that way?

In a “tragic” sci-fi like the one I’d write, you’d see all of the old evils re-invented within a generation or two: heresy, fanaticism, romantic irrationality, and people willing to do violence over a difference in belief. In a utopian Roddenberry fantasy, you might genuinely escape the old evils – but (whether or not the text admitted it) your new paradise would have the “original sin” of sentencing to death billions of people who didn’t agree with its premises.


Have you considered what kind of people usually win lotteries? Old ladies saying things like, Oh I’ll give everything to my parish. And everyone else grinds their teeth. :stuck_out_tongue:

This whole thing reminds me of the Hitchhikers Guide, where the whole ark contained nothing but telemarketers, manicurists and middle management types. No offense to manicurists.