NASA image of a sunrise on Mars

If World War 3 happens, we could just take off and go to Mars

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Mar 31, 2018, 11:47 AM EDT (Updated)

Elon Musk has pretty much already taken over the world, and will be taking over what lies beyond with SpaceX if he manages to get boots on Mars ahead of NASA, and he may now have a solution for one of humankind’s biggest existential threats: World War III.

It’s not that a third world war is looming anytime soon. acknowledged Musk just wants to be prepared because he feels that, with the penchant for wanting to destroy each other that has been evident in our violent past, it is inevitable at some point in the future. We could have climate change and incoming asteroids to contend with even if SpaceX came into being because of his belief that humans should be an interplanetary species if we would rather not go the way of the dinosaurs.

"Last century, we had two massive world wars—three if you count the Cold War," Musk said earlier this month at SXSW, just in case your high school history textbooks didn’t tell you. "I think it's unlikely that we'll never have another world war again." 

Musk isn’t leaving the moon out of the question when it comes to Earth alternatives. Mars would still be the ultimate escape from any conflagrations between Earthlings, since it is so much farther away, but an additional lunar base with even more extraterrestrial human denizens would only boost our chances of survival.

NASA image of a Martian colony

What NASA imagines a future colony on Mars could look like. Credit: NASA

If there is another world war, Musk believes it will plunge us into a dark age we haven’t seen since the Dark Ages. The last time this happened, there was a standstill in human advancement for about 500 years. Even the most disastrous all-out conflict on Earth shouldn’t affect a human civilization on another planet 33.9 million miles away, except as a nightly update on the Martian news.

"Then we want to make sure that there's enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back and perhaps shorten the length of the dark ages," said the billionaire entrepreneur. "I think a moon base and a Mars base that could perhaps help regenerate life back here on Earth would be really important, and to get that done before a possible World War III."

This is why he’s been developing that mashup of a rocket and a spaceship known as the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket, though it’s often called the Big… Freakin’ Rocket).

What’s the one thing that scares Musk more than World War III? Artificial intelligence. This might be strange coming from the brains behind controversial neural network startup Neuralink, who obviously has no problem with the thought of turning us into cyborgs but is terrified of a robot invasion. So much irony.