Re: Archologies

Anders Sandberg (
Mon, 9 Sep 1996 13:00:49 +0200 (MET DST)

On Sun, 8 Sep 1996 wrote:

> Chris Hind writes:
> <Arcologies!! Imagine having a 50 story view looking down on a
> rainforest? Cool.>
> The economics of the architecture requires that most people wouldn't get
> any kind of view at all, living and working in the interior. Secondly, if
> people were allowed "ouside" for recreation, that rainforest would get
> trampled for some distance.

What? Don't you believe the beautiful architect sketches of how nice the
new building is going to be, and how happy and social the inhabitants
will be? :-)

As others pointed out, good 3D windows would give everyone a perfect
view, with no need to build an Arcology with apartments only at the
surface (Hmm, a very long and thin wall - could separate two ecosystems
in an aesthetic way). But in that case, you don't need to build the
arcology in the rainforest either. The big problem with this is
psychological: many people would feel constrained if they knew they lived
in a big hive.

> BTW, if that window view of nature is so important to your determination
> of "cool", doesn't it seem likely that a connection to nature is somehow
> necessary to the human psyche, perhaps more than an archology can
> offer.

Why not integrate both? I seriously think the arcology of the future will
be more lush and natural on the *inside* than on the outside. With
ecotech, genetic engineering and some clever planning we might live in
(say) vertical tree-cities (shades of the Evoks in Return of the jedi),
around artificial trees that are both living and structural support,
contains the plumbing, networking equipment etc. Instead of trying to
move as far as possible away from our ancestors, we might do a synthesis

> I go for the solution of more space or less people.
> Now mile high buildings within a traditional city are another matter. That's
> cool! (But who will put up with a five minute elevator ride several times a
> day?)

Not to mention the pressure differentials. I really get annoyed by even
small changes in pressure.

The answer is of course: don't think of the elevators as elevators, see
them as taxis or local trains. We somehow accept having to move around in
a city several times a day, despite it taking several minutes and more.

One ideal sturcture might be a superscraper city with buildings linked by
quick transit lines on bridges, with an extensive park level on the
ground (and probably local ecologies higher up). Sounds a bit like
classic sf.

> Okay, I know Max Moore is going to pummel me on this one, but are we
> all sticking to the party line that FTL travel is really impossible? Even
> teleportation?

Party line? It is a scientific question, not ideological. FTL is currently
regarded as extremely unlikely since it would mess up some rather likely
assumptions in physics (matter and energy can only exist as positive
energy densities, cause and effect and all that). It might be possible,
but there is no evidence for its possibility yet (although some intriguing
theoretical possibilities like wormholes, the Novikov consistency theorems
and the Alcubierre drive).

> Here's an informal poll? What do you all consider the comfortable
> carrying capacity of the planet? Not the maximum.

Depends on how you want to live. Some people might like an agrarian
lifestyle, which would require larger areas than a highly automated city

Personally I like to have big cities, and little between them (although
there will no doubt be many people who would want to live there; myself,
I like to have wast tracts of self-running nature which I don't have to
deal with but can admire). This could lead to very high or low population
numbers, depending on the number of cities and their size.

Resource-wise, I think we could estimate that a few billion people could
live sustainably with close-to-present technology, and probably several
tens or billion with nanotechnology. But it depends on more factors than

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y