Private Space and wormholes

Eric Watt Forste (
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 20:13:25 -0700

At 12:40 PM 8/7/96, Robin Hanson wrote:
>I admit that wormholes are iffy, but given wormholes, I don't think
>most places could stay very isolated. They'd have to destroy *all*
>holes to their region, and then these holes could be rebuilt again
>very quickly from the "upwind" direction (from where each civilization
>began). Hopes for cultural diversity would have to be based on
>something other than isolation.

It's difficult to decide what sort of effect wormholes (iffy though they
are) would have on cultural diversity without considering what sort of
bandwidth they might provide relative to the routine bandwidth available
for local (non-wormhole) travel and communication. (I know that
generalizing bandwidth to cover travel and transportation is a little
weird, but it's hard to beat the bandwidth of a 747 loaded up with CDs or
humans. And increasingly inexpensive air travel, in my opinion, promotes
long-term cultural homogenization even more effectively than satellite TV.)

If the two levels don't differ much from one another, then you have a
situation that tends toward cultural homogenization. But if the local
bandwidth is very much greater than the available wormhole bandwidth, I
think that within a fairly small sphere (contained within the galactic
plane, say) you could get a great deal of cultural diversity in a short

But taking this further would require a highly speculative (to say the
least) economic analysis of wormhole construction, and considering how
speculative the physics and theoretical-applied-science is already, I doubt
anyone's going to put much work into that particular study anytime soon.
But it might be fun in a few more years.

Actually, I just realized that everywhere I said "bandwidth" above, I
should have said "bandwidth costs", mutatis mutandum. But if I carry this
on, I'll be doing the study myself, and fun as this is, other priorities
call me away for the time being.

Eric Watt Forste <>