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Old September 14 2012, 05:31 PM   #108
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

Mars wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Mars wrote: View Post

An atomic fission powered ion drive is feasible, an antimatter engine less so, warp drive is fantasy, so the only starships we will build will be slow one that take thousands of years to arrive at their destination, I think one could be built this century, we need to develop artificial wombs and AI technology to make this happen. I think it would be easier than developing reliable suspended animation, it is easier to preserve single fertilized egg cells invitro than a whole human body. egg cells are stored that way now
But none of these are PRACTICAL, not on the timescales you're talking about, or for the applications you're describing. In essence the sentient AI is the least impractical thing on the ship mainly because it actually serves a (somewhat) well-defined purpose at the destination. That same AI would be entirely unnecessary for a voyage that lasts five thousand years, however.
The ships systems would need to be preserved and maintained over that 5000 year journey, the AI could be woken up periodically with a timer to run a systems check, maintenance could be performed by remote AI Computer controlled robots. the ship will have to last 5000 years or more.
And anyone who has ever played Marathon and/or Halo can think of at least one reason why that is truly a horrible idea.

What's so impractical?
The fact that it otherwise serves no useful purpose to any living person, nor is the benefit for the eventual cloned humans at the destination point in any way justified by the massive expense required.

Put another way: if I had $2 billion, I could build a laptop computer with a screen two hundred meters wide and 160 meters high. This computer would have a similarly-sized keyboard; the "enter" key alone would be the size of a bus and the function keys would be large enough to park a minivan on each one of them. This laptop would have speakers large enough and powerful enough that you could play Wayward Son and have it heard sixty miles away. I also build this laptop with a scaled-up version of a standard motherboard and hard drive; the processor alone is the size of an apartment building and its smallest transistor is about the size of a dog. This laptop is going to need some serious power, so I equip it with a lithium ion battery 60 meters on aside with that stores enough energy to power an aircraft carrier for three hours.

Look upon the above specs, and know that this is an example of something that is impractical. The reason is this: it may be big, it may be impressive, it may be able to do things that a normal laptop can't do (e.g. play a song that can be heard sixty miles away). The reason it is IMPRACTICAL is because this computer serves no useful function to anyone or anything, and accomplishes nothing except to exist at all. It would certainly be a great engineering achievement and worth bragging about, but it isn't a PRACTICAL example of a "giant computer." In the same sense as your AI, actually, the least impractical thing on this computer is the set of giant speakers that can blast soft rock for sixty miles in every direction; at least here you could potentially put on one insanely huge concert, even if it would probably kill anyone standing next to the computer when the song started.
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