Directed panspermia poem

Originally written: early-2023

This poem was a joint effort between myself and GPT-4, though I had to tweak the output a fair bit. Scroll down to see my original prompt; its about a paper I’m currently writing on the topic of directed panspermia. I like how this poem captures the general gist of the argument – will post a link to it here once published.

In vaulted heavens, a question doth arise,
Of sacred seeds flung ‘cross the cosmic stage,
Shall we, the Earthbound, in wisdom surmise,
To be the authors of life’s next grand page?

Biocentrism pleads we cast a cosmic ark,
For terrestrial life has an expiry date.
Life’s abundance across the cosmic dark,
To shield against the fickle hand of fate.

Yet welfarism, with caution’s steady hand,
Pleads for prudence, and risks to weigh,
Of sufferings dire, spawned o’er distant land,
For life unchecked may writhe in wild dismay.

In the present twilight of our understanding,
Directed panspermia bears risk outstanding.
We ponder more the seeds we dare to cast,
Shall we, with gentle hand, or forceful blast?

In seeking balance ‘twixt the dual creeds,
We weigh the worth of life’s unbridled bloom,
Against the risk of dire and woeful deeds,
That might arise and in the void consume.

Yet hope persists, a beacon shining bright,
Guiding our course through uncharted terrain,
By tempered reason, wielding wisdom’s light,
Life’s destiny forged in a utopian flame.

With foresight’s gaze, we’ll nurture life,
To guide its course, both far and near.
Our future light-cone free of strife,
Directed panspermia: the final frontier.


Prompt: Please write a Shakespearean Sonnet about the ethics of directed panspermia, taking into account both the position of biocentrism (which plausibly implies we should attempt directed panspermia in order to increase the universe’s total live biomass, and hedge against existential risk scenarios on Earth) and welfarism (which plausibly opposes directed panspermia because of its potential to create S-risks (suffering risks) if sentient beings eventually evolve on host planets, related to the problem of wild animal suffering). Use colorful language and vivid metaphors, and conclude that all things considered, directed panspermia is likely to be expected value negative in the short term future. However, in the long term future and with more knowledge, directed panspermia could be augmented to create large numbers of happy living organisms, thereby satisfying both accounts of value. If you run out of space in your response, let me know and I will prompt you to finish the poem.

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