Re: ...The evolution of Stellar Based Superminds...

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Wed Jul 19 2000 - 17:13:22 MDT

Greg makes some points -- lets partition them.

1) Remote colonization by "unconscious", "undivertable" sub-SIs.

In this case, I think it comes down to the problem of "remote"
matter (or energy) is of much lower value than "local" matter
and energy. It isn't the cost of getting the probes over to
the remote star that is the problem, it is the cost of getting
the remote matter & energy *back* to the local star where
it is of value to you. I haven't done the delta-V analysis
on the cost of quickly "returning" a solar system (star optional?)
across several light years to the orbit of Oort cloud where you
can use it, but I suspect it is very expensive.

Even if you don't send back matter & energy, presumably you do
communicate and the communication costs will be lower if you get
closer. How close you get will be determined by the cost to change
your orbit relative to the volume of communication you would
like to do.

(Spike might step in here -- how much does it cost to fling
a Jupiter out of a solar system?).

2) Colonization by unhappy sub-SIs looking to expand.

In this case, you have to make a case that the sub-SIs are
independent enough from the SI that they have sufficient
personal freedom and autonomy to accomplish this. England
certainly didn't let the colonies go "willingly". Presumably
the SI keeps sub-SIs either happy enough or relatively
powerless so that any sub-SI probe/colonization ships
that get sent out get zapped before they get very far.

Remember that the more information content the sub-SIs
intend to take with them, the more matter or energy is
going to have to be involved. Hey -- "What is that
Galaxy Class Starship you are building there?" "You
are only authorized to build "Delta Flyers!" As soon
as the SI gets wind of any solar-system changing
activities in a nearby star, you can bet it is going
to investigate. If SIs have the ability to dominate
local regions of space then the sub-SIs have to go further
away (taking longer or using much more energy, making
them much more noticable).

If you have a moderately open society, SIs might let sub-SIs
leave, but presumably there would have to be some very interesting
treaty arrangements for future allocation of interstellar resources.
(When you come down to the last 4 H atoms in the universe, who gets

It seems the only cases where colonizers have let colonies go
freely has been done is where the cost of administering them
was lower than any benefit they could provide or when the
colonies unexpectedly overthrew the administrative system
and grew so fast that the cost of winning exceeded any
long term benefit they might provide (from the perspective
of an analysis done at that time). It would be really
interesting to study all of the colonizer/colony cases,
their relative economic, military, etc. strengths & weaknesses,
abstract them to some basic economic principles and see
how they apply vis-a-vis the SI/sub-SI relationships.
You get into questions like, "Would the American revolution
have succeeded *if* America had been where France is?"

If the pilgrims has been "ants", I don't think King George
(a human) would have had anywhere near as many problems with
the colonies. (Insert cartoon of King George stepping on an
ant hill).

3) Colonization choices

There is a final aspect of this that I have been working on
which revolves around the question of if you have the freedom
to colonize, "What do you colonize?" It turns out that
brown dwarfs and M-class stars are *much* more abundant
than the stars we can actually see. Brown dwarfs particularly
are going to be easier to dismantle because they are smaller
and cooler (you can burn their H in thermonuclear reactors).
But so far my very rough calculations suggest that they
may take a long time to dismantle (perhaps millions of
years). If that is accurate, Robin's theories may be correct
but the colonization wave may proceed very slowly because
the time constraint *isn't* light speed, but time it takes to
dismantle large amounts of matter in gravity wells. So
large numbers of the Milky Way's Brown Dwarfs may be in the
process of being dismantled to contribute to the MBrain
population. That is interesting from the perspective of
what the Microlensing Observations *did not find* --
no rogue planets and no brown dwarfs! Our galaxy *may*
be being consumed and the tasty bits are going first.
The tasty bits *aren't* the closest ones but the ones
you can dismantle the fastest.

I suspect there may be a frontier beyond which it makes
absolutely no sense to quickly return any matter and energy to
the parent because the transportation costs are *so* high.
It may be better to send out a probe, construct only what
is necessary to give a brown dwarf or star a gentle nudge,
setup a "this system is the property of SI 293203 beacon"
(and berserker drones if necessary), then wait 10,000,000
years for it to show up on your doorstep rather than wasting
it all just so you can get your next meal a bit earlier.

(Keep in mind that if MBrains switch over from stars
as their primary energy source to thermonuclear reactors
(as R.F. argues strongly), then they can control their
thought (clock) rate and consume energy at exactly
that rate that guarantees they run out just when the
next meal is expected to ship in. (Of course taking
into account possible disruptions due to pirate


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