Re: MEDIA: NOVA on Gamma Ray Bursters

From: Wei Dai (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 12:36:41 MST

On Wed, Jan 16, 2002 at 05:03:01PM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> I'm stating that its impossible to build a "maximally productive"
> intelligent agent with stable long term goals. Actually it isn't
> the "goals" that are relevant -- its the means that are allowed
> to achieve them.
> To allow maximal productivity you have to allow for "self-evolution".
> That allows the enabling of strategies that say "the matter and
> energy controlled by ones source is forfeit".

Maybe I'm missing some crucial context, but why can't you preprogram the
agent with the optimal strategies for constructing an M-Brain and a
transceiver, and then copy yourself over as soon as that's done?

> Stars have very large gravitational wells. It takes much more
> energy (and therefore a longer time) to extract material from
> such locations.

Are you assuming that we're only using the star's own energy output,
without generating additional energy with the extracted material? A kg of
material from the surface of a sun-like star has -2e11 J of gravitational
potential energy, but it can generate 3e14 J of energy through nuclear
fusion, so it seems quite feasible to disassemble a star quickly using its
own material as fusion fuel.

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