Mars is very good for us to consider, and is maybe a first step towards attaining the kind of wisdom that we need to someday be smart enough – not just technically, but also ethically and in terms of collective decision-making – to terraform Mars.

Kim Stanley Robinson: I think that Antarctica will serve as a good analog for Mars. (Mars) will be a distant place that’s cold. There will be scientific stations there. And it’ll be interesting to the rest of humanity, but somewhat remote. Scientists will be rotating crews coming back after their stay. And what we learn there will teach us more about taking care of the Earth. So, if you want to think about what Mars can be compared to in the rest of human history, because in many ways it’s entirely a new thing, I think Antarctica is a much better model than the Wild West or any other model that’s been proposed.

But this question of should we terraform or not, I find it really interesting because the scientists are still split on the question of whether we have any good expectation of finding indigenous life there. So it becomes a kind of decision-tree that we have to answer – like forks in paths, we have to come to a fork, find a way to make a decision, and then move on to the next decision.

More here.