Re: predictions if wave passed here

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sat Oct 21 2000 - 07:54:51 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> >My model assumes fixed technology.
>... I suppose Robin's premise is that by the time you have a spherical wave
>of near-light-velocity seeds rampaging outward, effectively all knowable
>physics and technology tweaks have been discovered ... I'm not convinced
>that it has to happen quite so quickly, ... clever physicist ... bypass
>tedium of *travelling* to places, ...

My model doesn't actually care whether light-speed is the speed limit, but
it does depend on there being some increasing cost of sending seeds faster.

Actually my model would work fine with this form of changing tech: Tech
gets invented toward the center of the colonization wave, and is broadcast
outward on light-speed signals so that all colonists get access to it.
It would also work fine if tech were invented at random in small increments
relative to where you are in the wave.

Even so, assuming physics really doesn't care about us, there must be real
physical limits, and at even current economic and tech rates of progress
we should get very close to those limits within a thousand years. And if
progress accelerates, it could happen within a century. On the time-scale
of a wave expanding across the cosmos this is very fast.

If tech progress peaks before we reach severely diminishing returns in
energy and mass growth here in the solar system, the best colonization
strategy is probably to wait here until after tech growth peaks. Resources
spent leaving before then probably get lower returns than resources that
wait and grow with the solar economy and tech.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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