Re: MEDIA: NOVA on Gamma Ray Bursters

From: Wei Dai (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 17:44:34 MST

On Thu, Jan 17, 2002 at 12:27:20PM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> The problem is, as I believe Ken and Eugene have pointed out, once
> copied it doesn't remain the same. I am not the person that I was
> 10 years ago. Societies of individuals may vary even more.

Human individuals and societies tend to change because
individuals die and are replaced, or we adopt some idea that is initially
attractive and then find out that it doesn't work, or we learn something
new and surprising about the nature of reality. SIs presumably will not
have these problems. It seems plausible that they will quickly settle into
a stable state with long term goals that don't change over time.

In other words, I think rational design and goal-oriented action will play
a much bigger role than survival-of-the-fittest kind of evolution in
governing how SIs change over time.

> I don't know how you would go about preserving trust relationships
> over 1 million year evolutionary paths much less 100 million year paths.

Human beings are able to preserve trust relationships over periods
comparable to their life times. Why shouldn't SIs be able to do the same
thing? What problem will prevent them from doing this over millions of

> Sure, but you have to have sufficient metals to burn it in a fusion
> reactor. Until we have "reasonable" estimates for the metal-to-energy
> ratio for a "real" system (say the ITER) it seems difficult to assess
> whether star harvesting can be self-bootstrapping. If you've made a
> trip through a metal-rich region and built 0.01-0.1 M_sun worth of
> fusion reactors, then yes, I agree that would be able to dismantle
> stars much faster.

You can fuse hydrogen into metals and build your reactors in an
exponential bootstrapping process. It doesn't seem to be an insurmountable

BTW, do you consider full matter-to-energy conversion via small black
holes to be "magical physics"? If not that would allow you to disassemble
a star even more quickly.

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