Envisioning the world of 2100

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by RAMA, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    No kidding. I thought this thread was about how human civilization and the world around us might be affected by technology at the turn of the next century, not a bunch of blue sky speculation about artificially intelligent interstellar super colony ships. I mean, what the fuck?
     
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    Ironically, you're correct this time, if only because the trillion dollar AI is the least impractical thing in that paragraph.
     
  3. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2012
    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 ones 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.

    Voyager 2 is proof of principle that voyages out of the Solar System are feasible. Voyager would have taken 80,000 years to reach the nearest star if it were traveling in that direction, a fission powered ion drive only has to go a few times faster than that to arrive at the star in thousands of years rather than tens of thousands of years, and we need some intelligent entity to monitor the systems and raise the children that will grow up to be colonists of the new worlds. A somewhat faster ship can arrive ahead of time and terraform the planet, or the original ship can arrive there and do the same, before raising human children to adulthood. if things get boring for the AI, it can slow down its consciousnesses so that time seems to pass more quickly for it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
  4. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    And who on Earth, here and now, or even in 2100, is served by doing this?
     
  5. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    the Frozen Wastes
    I admire your enthusiasm but you still haven't told us why anyone would be interested in doing that?
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    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.
     
  7. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2012
    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. Fortunately at that slow rate micrometers aren't that much of a problem, the ship would be barely traveling faster than the stars moving through the galaxy. Animals could be maintained in the ship's Ark, humans unfortunately are less predictable than animals, so they's be kept as frozen egg cells until needed, the Ark would serve as their childhood home as they prepared to land on the planet's surface to colonize the place. What's so impractical? these look like technologies that will be available by the late 21st century, I'm not even assuming we make a breakthrough with fusion.

    A specific impulse of 50,000 ISP could reach Alpha Centauri in 860 years with an overall fueled to empty ratio of 21.3:1 According to the Starflight Handbook by Eugene Mallove and Gregory Matloff, in principle a mission designed to last 5000 years could be done with a lower mass ratio than that.
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    And anyone who has ever played Marathon and/or Halo can think of at least one reason why that is truly a horrible idea.

    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.
     
  9. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Paging Hotblack Desiato....
     
  10. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    Hah. "What is impractical about sending an intelligent starship on a 5000-year journey?" It's astonishing that anyone could ask that as a serious question. :lol:
     
  11. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    But unlike a computer with the power of a pocket calculator, which could successfully fly a colony ship (even if we wire-wrap it with discrete TTL and magnetic rope memory), a trillion dollar AI could appreciate the coolness of being a space ship - in space!

    It could not only beat the astronauts at chess, it could then laugh and tell them they were actually playing Sargon I on a TRS-80 emulator! "Ha, you ignorant monkey test pilot!"
     
  12. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    I think you've hit the nail on the head there: the real purpose of having an interstellar ship run by an AI is so the AI will torment the human passengers/crew and make for a good sci-fi actioner. :lol:
     
  13. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2012
    How do you know what the cost is going to be? the trillion dollar figure is yours not mine, I estimate a computers such as that will be possible by 2020 to 2030, by 2100 they'll be much cheaper than the initial prototypes due to Moore's Law. A space going fission is likely not to be more expensive than a commercial nuclear power plant, Ion drives are already being used in space probes and satellites. The only thing that requires much development are the AIs and artificial womb technology.

    As for the purpose of an interstellar colony of humans, I would think that would be obvious, as an insurance policy for the survival of the human race. All this change wrought by AI technology may threaten the survival of the human race, so the purpose of an interstellar colony would be largely to achieve isolation from the rest of the human race so that any social phenomenon caused by the advent of an AI singularity will have time to play itself out when human colonists arrive at the surface of the planet. If humanity destroys itself or advanced AIs destroy it, then it will get a new start on a distant planet.

    Do you think insurance policies are a bad investment. There is some interest in the survival of one's children, an Interstellar colony can help insure that, and slow ships are cheaper than fast ones.
     
  14. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    It will cost a trillion dollars because someone in this thread's already thrown that out as a budgeting figure, and it's a government program, so no matter how much it should cost, a trillion will be the target. But based on studies of government contract projects, we should anticipate a 150% cost overrun, at minimum, so we're up to $1.5 trillion.

    It would be cheaper not to have the nuclear powered starship equiped with solid-fueled impulse engines on the saucer section, but the Senator from Utah made sure those were part of the basic design. The onboard AI spends 10% of its CPU time thinking about the stupidity of it.

    In any event, the ship just needs a pocket calculator to fly. It's the crew that needs to be AI's. Then they don't need space suits to go out on the hull and replace broken tiles for thousands of years, and don't have to procreate to make sure the ship doesn't run low on "tile-replacers."

    But, as was said during Apollo, why use computers when you can build more humans using untrained manual labor?
     
  15. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    comments 2 my butt
    A trillion dollars was my out-of-the-ass figure and you know that. It was a hypothetical to illustrate that we just don't know what something like that would cost in real dollars because we're nowhere near accomplishing it.

    You are right that it only takes a computer of minuscule power so properly guide a ship through space. There's not much involved besides some simple sensors and physics calculations. Just harden the thing against interstellar radiation and make sure it has an adequate energy supply and the damn thing should be able to run forever, or until it crashes into something.
     
  16. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2012
    How do you know it would be a government program? People buy insurance for their children all the time, and I believe that by 2100 there will be many privately owned spacecraft. A private organization could probably fund this expedition. Computer AIs will be established technology by this time and ion drives common place.

    Starships are usually hideously expensive because they try to get there within a human lifetime, to do that they must reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, this requires exotic propulsion technology such as antimatter drives or giant laser driven light sails, my ship would only require an AI, an ion drive powered by a nuclear reactor, a way of freezing cells for later revitalization, and of course artificial womb technology, which I believe is much easier to accomplish than indefinite suspended animation for the whole body.

    A conventional probe that takes 5000 years to get there would serve no purpose as there would be no one left alive that would likely appreciate its results.

    But they would not get to the Moon, the Earth is a finite sphere and we need to expand outwards for more resources, and the trends in AI technology is a bit troubling as they may make humans obsolete. getting some isolation for a distant colony 5000 years in the future could be a good insurance policy in case things go bad.
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    I'll again refer you to the Halo series, in which the AI construct 343 Guilty spark is left to tend to Installation 05, in which time he has no one to talk to and nothing to do but routine maintenance for 100,000 years. He eventually decays into a brooding neurotic with homicidal tendencies, which -- let's face it -- is a pretty impressive outcome for 100,000 years of absolute boredom.
     
  18. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    And nuclear fission reactors in space. And the technology to freeze an embryo that will remain viable for thousands of years. And the techniques to build and maintain an O'Neil colony, let alone the infrastructure needed to begin construction in the first place. And -- most importantly -- a DESTINATION.

    Which, much like a laptop computer half a mile wide, is a highly impractical way of achieving that or any other goal. Simply removing the step of sending your space ark to another solar system would increase its feasibility by an order of magnitude; taking it out of orbit, unrolling it and parking it on the moon removes the need for artificial wombs, cryonics or sentient AIs at all.

    That's what people mean when they say "practical." We have, for example, directed energy weapons like the THEL or the ABL that can destroy targets with laser beams; they are not, however PRACTICAL battlefield weapons, because the amount of infrastructure and hardware needed to make them work far outweighs any possible benefit to the technology.

    So your solution to the worrying tends of AI development is to place humanity's insurance policy under the direct control of... an AI?:vulcan:

    Only if you pay more than you should, to ensure against things that will never happen, which would pay off in a form you can never spend. It's like buying volcano insurance with a $700/month premium that automatically names your great grandson as the beneficiary of an '89 Ford Pinto.

    Let's be specific here. Almost anything you can think of to "insure" against the extinction of the human race would be mitigated far more effectively by targeting the thing itself. If rampant AIs are the potential problem, the simplest solution is to STOP BUILDING THEM. Get everyone to ban AI research and sign treaties that isolate countries that don't. If the problem is pandemics, asteroid impacts, nuclear war, alien invasion, Lady Gaga, the second coming of Jesus... all of those have very specific solutions, and the combination of all of them would be less expensive and more effective than developing a generation ship.
     
  19. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    Sojourner
    ^Just to play devil's advocate on that last part, how do you prevent the Yellowstone supervolcano from erupting?
     
  20. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    The destination will obviously be the source of the distress call we pick up. Most good episodes start with a distress call.

    A far more practicle approach is to use our impressive and accelerating advances in the human genome to start genetically engineering better humans, then crossing their royal bloodlines until some of them can see through space and time and successfully navigate ships at FTL velocities. Oh, and we need giant worms.

    Hey, an '89 Ford Pinto would be worth a fortune, because they stopped making them in 1980. ;)

    What if instead of a generation ship, we just built a giant fleet of RV's that slowly wander around Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico for thousands of years? If we do make huge advances in propulsion, we could even send them wandering into space. Siince we'd already have to genetically engineer people's dogs to use toilets (because in space they can't go outside to poop) we could go ahead and genetically engineer them to drive the RV's, too.