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Space Philosopher

Jun/07/2024 / by Abhijit Masih

A new book argues that all leaders need to have a competitive space strategy

A visionary known for her expertise in both people and technology strategy, Elizabeth Varghese has been at the forefront of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and robotics. In her latest book Stellar Singularity: Navigating the Spacefaring Economy, she navigates the emerging economic world of space. We spoke to her about how she sees the future unfolding and what leaders can do to keep up. 

In the spacefaring economy, what advice would you offer to leaders aiming to keep pace with innovation?

Three main trends drive what we’re going to see. The first is the democratization of technology and space as a canvas. The second is the complexity of our geopolitical models and the ways of operation. The third is the principles of space’s global commons, seeking to understand sentience and things we don’t understand. 

India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission cost less than it cost to make the movie Gravity. There is an aspect of cost arbitrage, which is accelerating the space sharing economy, and driving democratization. Many countries in the Global South skipped terrestrial infrastructure on wireless networks and moved to mobile phones and mobile payments.

That is fundamentally going to change the landscape of the spacefaring economy. Many more countries are going to participate, many more countries are going to accelerate their presence in space and individuals and corporations are all going to be participating in the space economy. We need to think about ourselves as a global community and treat space as global commons.

What motivated you to explore these topics in the world of space?

I’ve always been interested in space and influenced by the work of Carl Sagan. I watched the night skies a lot. The spacefaring economy is something that is going to be transformational in our business and the global community. 

At the start of the internet economy, you had companies who were brick and mortar and then had a separate internet division. But eventually companies realized that in order to thrive and be successful, you have to integrate that technology and integrate the internet economy. We are now in a very similar situation with the space economy and every company will have to become a space company and learn how to harness technology in space. 

Any advice for the next generation, especially women, leaders in technology, space exploration, or writing?

Just try. Just show up. Perfect is the enemy of done. No one’s perfect, but you’ve got to try. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Put your thoughts down on paper, give it a shot. Whatever it is. Maybe it is a movie, a song, but try it. You never know what the future will bring.

Seema

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