Re: SPACE: Brown Dwarf's and Superintelligences

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Apr 29 2000 - 14:51:59 MDT

On Sat, 29 Apr 2000 wrote:

> I wrote:
> << The failure to colonize the galaxy completely, argues that
> (a) intelligent technological life is very difficult; and/or
> (b) diversity desirability or morality function(s) come into play; and/or
> (c) the diminishing computational returns of widely distributed
> computronium supporting advanced "civilizations" make endless
> expansion pointless. >>

> Whoa! Or it might just mean that it takes 30 Billion years to produce MINDS*
> that are technologically capable of colonizing Brown Dwarfs as nano-class
> minds?

Why would you think that? I can detail a very clear path for dismantling
rock planets using solar power collectors and mass drivers (current
technology). Gas Giants (up to Brown Dwarf size) are a bit harder because
they don't have a solid surface to stand on, but the recent discussions
on dirigibles show ways to deal with this. Converting the useful material
into computronium poses no new technology requirements (just lots of
silicon wafer factories). Presumably the computers that result from
this (with perhaps some AI) are capable of designing nanocomputers,
quantum computers, etc. somewhat closer to the theoretical limits.
It might take 30 billion years to provably construct an "optimal"
megamind, but getting *most* of the way from where we are now to
where those limits probably are is something we will probably do
within the next 100 years.

> The cosmos might be mostly empty of intelligence of any kind for
> billions and billions of years. Just because a Von Newmann, or a Bracewell
> highlight the path, doesn't mean that there will not be huge bottle-necks
> along the way. But eventually...eventually...

In the 8 years since the publication of Nanosystems, people haven't
managed to refute it. If anything, there now appear to be more paths
to getting there than were imagined at that time.

You have to detail the bottle-necks so I can respond to them
or admit they seem real. If you don't you are just doing your best
impression of a Scientific American writer... :-) So far the most
difficult problem I can see is the one of dismantling stars. That
probably isn't impossible, it just may require more metallic material
than is locally available to accomplish this in reasonable timescales.
The path I outlined does not require that and would seem to have
moderately short time scales except for orbital corrections.


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