I'm just a lurker/casually interested in EA but I'm glad to see this. I agree this community rewarding people for doing what they feel is most impactful is a great feature. This talk also goes into personal details, which makes it more authentic.
Investigating exoplanets now to colonize them sooner may be like doing better lunar astronomy in the early 1800s for the purpose of expediting the Apollo program.
This is a good point. And space colonization is also too far out for us to bother with. We haven't even started colonizing Antarctica!
You seem to be another person who read Zubrin. Cool guy.
About humans on the moon, most of the rationales I have seen look bad. That being said, space telescopes based on interferometry on the lunar surface would apparently have important advantages. I wonder to what extent current programs would help with that. Edit 4/10. This looks debatable.
I think the science value of exoplanet missions is really underrated. We should build the TPF. We might be able to literally find aliens or at least worlds where alien civilizations had gone extinct in the past. And learning about what had killed them might help us avoid the same fate, at least for a while. Or we might learn something that we cannot foresee.
Edit 4/15. Today I found out about this: