Re: We're stuck with each other

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 09:38:35 MST

Louis Newstrom wrote:
> From: "Robert J. Bradbury" <>
> >
> > Not if you have the designs. Someone commented at Extro4 I think
> > that Eric Drexler had once designed a rocket-suit that consumed
> > diamond & oxygen as a fuel and you ended up in orbit in a skin
> > tight diamondoid space suit.
> LOL! You're doing it again! You are protesting that these things are
> "free" and then talk about burning diamonds for fuel and having a whole suit
> made of diamonds! I don't even think Bill Gates can afford this "free"
> technology.

Louis, *you're* doing it again. Right now diamond is expensive.
Nanotechnology produces diamond as a waste product. If you convert carbon
in its other forms into diamond, you get a large amount of energy *out* of
the chemical reaction. That's why diamonds are so hard - you have to
expend that amount of energy, add it back in, before you can break the
molecular bonds.

When you look at a description of a diamondoid space suit and protest that
not even Bill Gates could afford it, you are applying your
twentieth-century expectations to a surface description of the future.
You take this one concept, "space suit made of diamonds" (which it isn't;
"diamondoid" isn't the same thing at all), and then applying the
twentieth-century concept that diamonds are expensive, and concluding that
nobody can afford the space suit. But the concept doesn't exist in
isolation. Along with the concept of a diamondoid space suit goes the
concept of diamond, not as expensive rocks dug up out of the ground, but
as a waste material produced by exothermic and exoergic nanotech
manufacturing processes.

What you do have with nanotechnology is the diamondoid recycling problem.
As I pointed out at the last Foresight Gathering when the topic of
recycling came up, "a diamond is not forever", but it's probably more
efficient to disintegrate it - take the energy output of a power plant or
a solar mirror and run the diamondoid material through en masse - rather
than disassembling it atom-by-atom, as I've heard proposed.

Speaking of which, Robert, are you sure that it's possible to consume
diamond and oxygen as a fuel? Are you sure you aren't thinking of a
rocket-suit that got you into orbit by turning something else, maybe
acetylene, into the diamondoid suit?

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:36 MST