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Old September 17 2012, 08:11 PM   #154
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
So tell me why can't you run a nuclear reactor for 5000 years?
Because running at full power, a typical fuel rod will only last for 20 (25 if you're lucky) before it decays to the point of no longer producing useable heat and subsequently becoming a serious radiation hazard.
Ah, but you forget, in space no longer usable fuel rods can be tossed overboard and never seen again, you don't need to store them anywhere or worry about their radiation.
I didn't forget that at all. It's immaterial, because whether you store them or eject them, radioactive waste can't be used as a fuel source and the reactor must be completely overhauled at regular intervals to replace those fuel elements.

But slow starships are relatively cheap to build
Spoken like someone who knows anything at all about how much it would cost to build a starship.

As for World hunger, AIs alone could solve this problem
Not in the next 50 years they won't. Though, admittedly, automation will probably begin to raise the quality of life for the third world long before it empowers humanity to build utterly impractical traveling space colonies.

Machines would be in the same peril from obsolescence as humans.
Humans are not in peril from obsolescence. Humans are imperiled by the greedy machinations of other humans. AIs, on the other hand, are no more threatened by obsolescence than a fork is threatened by a spork.

Well this ship can certainly be launched by 2100
On the Islamic calendar, sure. But not any time in the next 80 years; we don't have anywhere near the spaceflight infrastructure needed to even dream about that sort of thing, and we'll be lucky to even be DEVELOPING it by the end of the century.

More to the point: the advent of AIs might make that entire concept moot, since by then we'd have developed computerized spacecraft that can explore the solar system by proxy and will avoid the expense of maturing manned spaceflight altogether. Your generation ship would simply be a probe the size of a winnebago containing three thousand frozen embryos and a set of really beefy landing thrusters.

I remove myself from immediate consideration, it is the rest of humanity, those that will come after me that I am concerned about
I am not sufficiently concerned with the rest of humanity to make a substantial financial investment to ensure the continuation of the species against a threat that may or may not never materialize in a plan whose outcome will probably never be known. That is simply not a smart thing to EVER invest money on. Because I am probably not in the minority in this opinion, a generation starship of the type you describe will remain another "cool but impractical" concept in science fiction.

Why does one buy life insurance, this is life insurance for the human race, I think it is worth some effort and expense.
It is. So freeze the embryos and hide them in an ultra-secret bunker a thousand feet underground. We could do that with TODAY'S technology... IF we had any reason to believe humanity was threatened with extinction at any point in the near future.

People buy life insurance because they know they're going to die. We don't know this is true of humanity yet, so there's no reason to ensure against it.

I hate to tell you this, but its not working, North Korea has acquired the nuclear bomb and Iran is acquiring it
And before them, Pakistan and India, none of which were signatories to the non-proliferation treaty at the time (North Korea is sufficiently isolated and sufficiently broke to render this a non-issue).

And Iran is not interested in a nuclear weapon (if they were, no one would care). They're after nuclear POWER, which is economically and politically destabilizing in ways that a nuclear weapon can never be. With the capacity to build warheads, Iran can only make empty threats and rattle their nuclear sabers to make their voters feel better. With nuclear ENERGY, they can apply leverage to oil production and commercial transit through the Persian Gulf, hiking global energy prices to impose political change to their own advantage. It is this reason, also, why nobody cares that North Korea has nukes: with a nuclear warhead you can only destroy one really really big target and then duck your head down and suffer the consequences, which otherwise still leaves you politically powerless on the world's stage.

Keeping AIs out of the hands of pariah states becomes a far greater imperative because that sort of technology would have the effect of economically and politically empowering anyone who masters it. The treaty would doubtless be written to reflect this, allowing powerful first world countries to continue to use and develop AIs while everyone else gets carpet bombed if they get caught researching the subject without a U.N. permit.

Its hard to predict the unpredictable
Really? You don't seem to have any trouble throwing around suspiciously accurate predictions as if they were certainties.

And we're back to starting a nuclear war aren't we.
You don't need nukes for something like that. Just ask the Iraqis.

Its not the numbers but how far they are spread out that matters. If you can pack one billion human beings within the radius of one nuclear bomb blast, then they all die if one goes off
No they won't. ALOT of them will die instantly, and a lot of them will die days and weeks later to medical complications due to radiation poisoning. Even then, a nuclear detonation in a metropolitan area can be expected to produce casualty rates between 40 and 70%.

So even if half of the human race is clustered together in a densely urbanized society, then of the 4 billion people endangered by the attacks, at least 1 billion will survive, and humanity's overall population would drop by about 30% at most.

A nuclear war or even a really bad conventional war will not threaten the survival of the human species unless a targeted campaign of genocide goes from town to town specifically targeting individual communities that otherwise have no strategic value except that people live there. This sort of campaign would require a MASSIVE military force, easily larger than the combined armed forces of all the nations on Earth, which is only to say that even if every soldier everywhere decided to kill every non-soldier on Earth, it would STILL take decades to accomplish this. It would take twice as long if this was being attempted by an outside force independent of those military forces (e.g. an AI rebellion). And if somehow this happens at a time when the AIs control all the military assets of the world, then it wouldn't NEED to happen because humans would no longer be in control of their own defense anyway.

It is the limited scope of humanity on one planet that is the danger.
Absolutely. Just not in danger of EXTINCTION, not on anything less than a geologic timescale. Simply put, there are too many of us and our resources too well developed, and a huge number of things would have to go south before we get anywhere near that point.
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Last edited by Crazy Eddie; September 17 2012 at 08:24 PM.
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