Re: Major Technologies

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 13:15:16 -0600

Billy Brown wrote:
> What impossible task? You're thinking in 20th century terms. With the
> technology we are talking about there is no problem hitting an object that
> moves at a paltry few tens of KPS, and one mega-nuke per comet is a cheap
> trade - I can easily take out as many comets as you care to throw.

I'm curious. What keeps me from throwing a mega-nuke at the planet?

Why can't I use that to defend the comet?

Also, how would you defend against a laser the size of a small moon, or even a system of mirrors focusing 50x normal solar intensity onto Earth's surface? As near as I can tell, the only defense is to prevent it from being built.

> If both sides have the same tech base, there is no obvious way to tell
> whether attackers or defenders will have the advantage.

As far as I can tell, the largest mass wins - BUT:

1)  The defender has to keep a living, fragile populace safe.
2)  The attacker has a whole solar system to hide in.
3)  You'd better control the entire mass of the solar system, especially
Earth's core, if you don't want someone to take it away from you.

So there is a very real advantage to the attacker. It only needs to control huge amounts of mass temporarily, and doesn't need to make a clean sweep; military-grade nano can be a lot less fragile than carbon; and it can launch surprise attacks.

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.